Wednesday, August 24, 2016

More on Universal Basic Income

 https://www.thenation.com/article/a-basic-income-would-upend-americas-work-ethic-and-thats-a-good-thing/

" But there will also be popular resistance. In June, a Swiss referendum resulted in only 23 percent support for a nationwide basic income. This skepticism was not unique to that prosperous and fairly conservative nation. Basic income will generate resistance because of practical matters, like a rise in taxes. But even if those challenges are overcome, the reform will confront resistance because of the cultural upset it will generate. There will be deeper fears in play, not easily assuaged by wonkish arguments showing how the bills can be paid.
Could it be that people are afraid of being freed from wage work, even from a portion of wage work? What would they do with their newfound free time? Watch television or play with their iPhone? A shorter work week, or no work week would make a rich leisure life possible, and it would make a dense social life possible. There would be time to invest in our communities, and time to care for one another, and especially to care for the young, the old, and the sick. But if the patterns of that leisure, the elements of that community, have become invisible to us, well, maybe everyone might as well go to work for whatever camaraderie the workplace provides."

 This article covers some of the skepticism of the plan.  I am a firm skeptic of current economic theory and think this will actually help economies in the long run.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Have we built an infrastructure that's too big to maintain?

http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/transportation/blogs/why-one-vermont-town-tearing-asphalt-instead-repairing-potholes

"Simply, un-paving is less expensive than repaving as petroleum-base asphalt isn’t cheap. Faced with dwindling annual road repair budgets, rural towns like Montpelier are finding that regressing saves a significant amount of cash — cash that might be better used for larger and more urgent infrastructure needs. Case in point: by un-paving in lieu of repaving Bliss Road, a notoriously pothole-y lane just outside of town, Montpelier saved $120,000. With a population hovering just above 7,000, the city’s annual road repair budget is a mere $1.3 million.
If Montpelier’s happens to become flush with dedicated funds for road repair projects in the near future, workers can always go back and repave."

This article fits into my concern that we have built an infrastructure that's too big to maintain.  Here in my home town, the main street needed to be rebuilt.  It will take 3 years to accomplish. That's 3 years with the 4-lane road reduced to 2 lanes.  And then it's good to go for 30 or so years.  But also, it's on to all the other roads in town that need maintenance.

Have we built our infrastructure without thinking about how or whether we can maintain it all?  Roads, bridges, equipment, on and on?  

Sunday, June 26, 2016

living wage calculator by state

http://livingwage.mit.edu/pages/about

"The living wage model is an alternative measure of basic needs. It is a market-based approach that draws upon geographically specific expenditure data related to a family’s likely minimum food, child care, health insurance, housing, transportation, and other basic necessities (e.g. clothing, personal care items, etc.) costs. Detailed description of the data used in the tool can be found on the landing page of each state."

This is pretty useful. Planning to move?  check this site out for your future home.  Is the economy keeping up with family needs?  Find out here.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Basic income pilot project for Oakland, CA

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/06/can-high-profile-bay-area-tech-incubators-basic-income-plan-work/

"OAKLAND, Calif.—Earlier this month, Y Combinator, the famed Silicon Valley incubator dropped a bombshell: it had selected this city to be the home of its new 'Basic Income' pilot project, to start later this year.
The idea is pretty simple. Give some people a small amount of money per month, no strings attached, for a year, and see what happens. With any luck, people will use it to lift themselves out of poverty.
In this case, as Matt Krisiloff of Y Combinator Research (YCR) told Ars, that means spending about $1.5 million over the course of a year to study the distribution of "$1,500 or $2,000" per month to '30 to 50' people. There will also be a similar-sized control group that gets nothing. The project is set to start before the end of 2016."

This is one of those great ideas that will be universal after my lifetime.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The demise of the truck driver job

https://www.buzzfeed.com/coralewis/as-tech-evaporates-jobs-tipping-point-will-be-driverless-tru?utm_term=.gyr11q4XD#.gqQJJZwDl

"Based on your research, how are automation and technology hastening policies like a basic income?
I think the tipping point will be driverless trucks. It’s the largest job in 29 states. It’s 3.5 million truck drivers. Then there are 6.8 million people in auto repair, insurance, rest stops, gas stations and emergency rooms that all live off those 3.5 million people. They won’t disappear overnight, but you know business will deploy labor-saving technology before you or I debate whether we want it and wait until our next car comes.
Business is not going to wait if they can eliminate large numbers of workers. And then we’re going to have this mass problem. Let’s assume it’s two or three million people distributed all throughout the country. That will make what happened in the steel or auto industries look tiny."

Bus drivers too.  And taxis, Uber, pizza delivery, etc.  What will these people do?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What's the barrier to universal basic income?

http://www.businessinsider.com/interview-and-analysis-with-basic-income-advocate-rutger-bregman-2016-6

"Speaking to Business Insider in late May, Bregman - whose book Utopia for Realists explores realistic ways of putting into place ideas like UBI and working for just 15 hours per week - said that before there's a real chance of a basic income being accepted worldwide, there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way we think about the concept of work, what we define as work, and why we pay for some types of work but not others.

'The most important obstacle for basic income is a moral obstacle, it is in the ideas that we still have about work. We still work with a very outdated definition of what work is. We define work by getting a salary in a hierarchical relationship with an employer, and you have to get paid.
'All the other things, caring for the children, caring for the elderly, doing housework and volunteer work - we don't consider that as work, even though obviously it is. Try and stop doing those things, go on strike as a careworker or stop doing the dishes and you'll see that it is going to be a problem.'"

I'm still thinking this will happen, though probably not in my lifetime. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Switzerland rejects universal income

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36454060

"Swiss voters have overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to introduce a guaranteed basic income for all.
Final results from Sunday's referendum showed that nearly 77% opposed the plan, with only 23% backing it.
The proposal had called for adults to be paid an unconditional monthly income, whether they worked or not.
The supporters camp had suggested a monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs (£1,755; $2,555) for adults and also SFr625 for each child."

Alas, we'll have to wait for a test of this idea.