The New Zeroes

In the coming decades, Western nations are going to be faced with a number of problems stemming from the technological revolution. Some are already with us. We are now post-scarcity societies, where we have more than enough food, medicine and housing for our citizens and even some non-citizens. The pruning force of scarcity is no longer doing its magic to keep the population fit or even sensible. The next big problem is what to do with the tens of millions of extra humans, no longer needed to contribute to society.

The hardest part of the automation wave coming in the next decades will simply be language. What do you call people who no longer have any purpose, in terms of producing goods and services through their labor? For as long as anyone has been alive, the very small slice of the population that has fit this definition could simply be dismissed on moral terms. The underclass is assumed to be lazy or anti-social. Trying to fix this has been a good way to keep the useless off-spring of the middle classes busy is social work.

When the numbers swell as automation eliminates the need for human labor in wide swaths of the economy, it will be impossible to dismiss the idle. When many of the idle are people who formerly occupied office jobs or semi-skilled laboring positions, blaming their condition on a lack of ambition is not going to be possible. The current labor participation rate is about 63% right now. This is about where it was in the Carter years. In the coming decades, that number will fall below 50% due to automation and demographics.

The other challenge is how to support the swelling ranks of the useless in a way that keeps them from causing trouble. The hot idea currently is the universal basic income, which is being experimented with in Finland. In the US, some states are talking about how to replace their welfare programs with something more simple like the UBI. Libertarian economists like the idea of the UBI, because it theoretically allows the under classes to participate in the market economy, unencumbered by the state.

The trouble with this idea, one that they can never overcome, is math. If all citizens have a floor, in terms of their basic income, whatever that floor is, will be the new zero. The only possible way to have a negative income, in real terms, is if someone is paying their employer for the right to work. There may be some bizarre situations where that exists, but in the main, zero is the smallest number that can appear in box #1 of your W2. If that number is bumped up by the UBI, that becomes the new zero, the lowest possible.

Think of it this way. Imagine the government decides to help BMW sell more cars, so they offer every citizen $5000 if they spend it on a BMW, rather than some other car. BMW is now facing a wave of people coming into American dealerships toting a $5,000 check payable to BMW. The logical thing for BMW to do is raise the price of their low end models by $5000. That way, they don’t increase production costs, but they increase the profit per car. In effect, the floor for entry level buyers was just raised by $5000 by the government.

There’s a pretty good real world example of this. The government decided to do something to help working class people get into college. Since many need remedial help, before taking on college work, the scheme was to offer a subsidy to be used for community colleges. The students would use the money to prep for college then head off to a four year university, presumably using loans and aid at that level. The result, however, was the community colleges just raised their tuition by about 65% of the subsidy.

The Universal Basic Income would most likely follow the same pattern. By guaranteeing that no one would earn less than some amount, in lieu of traditional welfare payments, the absolute floor becomes the subsidy level. In effect, the new zero becomes the subsidy so all other wages would be based off that, as the price of goods and services would correspondingly adjust. It is really no different than printing up money and dropping it from helicopters into the ghetto. The UBI would be as inflationary as debasing the currency.

The truth is, the zeroes that our rulers will be forced to address are zero population growth and zero TFR among the surplus populations. For example, you could fix Baltimore in a generation with mandatory Norplant for the underclass. A generation of childless females means the last generation of 80 IQ residents with a propensity for violence. The reason Baltimore is a violent city is not an excess of hard working, college educated STEM workers. The reason the city is a violent mess is the surplus of violent stupid people.

It also means zero immigration. When 80% of today’s immigrants end up on public assistance, the immigrants of tomorrow will be nothing more than useless people to police, feed and house. Japan is the model to follow. They have no immigration and their population levels are about to drop in the coming decades. They are the only nation on earth that is truly ready for the automated future, as they have the demographics to meet a shrinking demand for labor. They also have the cultural confidence to pull it off.

There’s one other zero the West will have to tackle and that is zero participation. The fact is, free-market consumerism and mass democracy work when the right answer is not obvious. As automation takes over more and more tasks, the number of issues that need to be hashed out collectively will diminish. Rule by robot means exactly that, which means voting and popular government will have to be reconsidered. What’s the point of being mayor when there are no more patronage jobs to dole out to friends and family?

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97 Comments on "The New Zeroes"

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Reluctantreactionary
Guest
Section 8 housing vouchers have already created a new zero for renters. While the underclass lived in projects and slums in the 1970’s, today’s poor live in nice apartment complexes. (at least they are nice for a short while) I needed to go back to renting an apartment for a few months after owning a house for years. I was surprised to find that $1400 per month was about the minimum rent required to remain out of a high theft apartment complex. There were nice looking apartments available at $700 per month, but these complexes were full of immigrants. When… Read more »
Member
We have alarms on a lot of our houses, but in some cases, we end up disabling them because the tenants are so irresponsible — the police only put up with so many false alarms before they start charging you for the privilege. We have had a number of section 8 tenants and we are ambivalent about them. On one hand, the rent checks show up on time. On the other hand, so does the property damage. Our anecdotal experience is that Section 8 tenants are notably more destructive to the property than paying tenants (not that the paying tenants… Read more »
Rev.Hoagie
Guest

Subsidized section8 housing has driven up rental rates in every major city. In Philly as you mentioned there are large areas of newer homes that are subsidized but in order to live in a safe area one would need to pay at least double the subsidized rent. I think that’s how the democrats herd their blacks now instead of plantations they build them ghettos.

Rev.Hoagie
Guest

I can guarantee that patronage jobs will never, ever be taken over by robots.

Jim Burnham
Guest

Wonder how that would work, anyway? Robots hardwired to vote Democrat? Calls for robot suffrage?

james+wilson
Guest

They may not get the vote but the progs will work up some three fifths thing to suit themselves.

Xray
Guest

You can count on it. The left will call for equal rights for robots. You can emotionalize anything, even command prompts and scripts.

Rev.Hoagie
Guest

You mean there is a difference between a robot mindlessly pulling the democrat lever and their usual constituents? I very much doubt that.

RubberDucky
Guest

Robots don’t stink as much.

pyrrhus
Guest

Democrats in places like Chicago, where I practiced law, don’t really need anyone pulling levers in many of the precincts. The votes appear regardless…

Roulf
Guest

Already on the way…

http://bit.ly/2ioJolQ

Reziac
Guest

Then they can literally manufacture votes.

Severian
Guest

I’m sure there’s a hopeful, cheerful, optimistic answer out of a 1950s sci-fi novel, but I’m going with the pessimistic one. What do you call the unproductive unskilled low IQ types with no incentive to work and no ability to make anything anyone would want anyway? Cannon fodder. Worked for the Soviets. “The man with the rifle shoots. The man without the rifle follows. When the man with the rifle gets killed, the man that follows picks up the rifle and shoots.”

Drake
Guest

Vote-fodder? I do not know why else western leaders would think importing unskilled third-world mobs is a good idea.

JohnTyler
Guest
Really? Frau Merkel of Deutschland Uber Alles and Pelosi, Schumer and ALL the rest of the democrats here in the USA think it is a great idea. Why? Just listen to the lyrics of the former Beatle, John Lennon’s “IMAGINE;” – Imagine no religion, no countries, etc, etc., Karl Marx could not have said it more succinctly. He, Lennon, encapsulated every utopian dream of Marx and the global elitists. They may not call themselves Marxists, but ideologically they are. When WWI broke out in 1914, communist leaders/activists actually believed that workers (e.g., able bodied men) would refuse to join their… Read more »
The Usual Suspect
Guest

Thank you for using our beloved John Lennon as an example. I loved the Beatles and their leader dear John Lennon. however… “Imagine” is the worst song he ever wrote and one of the worst songs ever written. It’s godless, “Imagine there’s no heaven” I have never liked it. I think Lennon would have come to see the error of his ways had he not been hit.

Alzaebo
Guest

Seen on twitter:
The Kindly Ones

bad guest
Guest

What do you call the unproductive unskilled low IQ types with no incentive to work and no ability to make anything anyone would want anyway?

Or proles

Mike@Mike.Mike
Guest

Minimum wage laws reflect this zeroing effect. One of my first employers, who was a small business owner in LA, taught me how mandatory minimum wage laws are useless. Every time the state enacts or raises a minimum wage, the first thing business owners do is raise their prices to deflect that new cost onto the consumer. So the increase in wage is negated by the increase in cost of goods and services.

Reziac
Guest

Had an interesting discussion with a Walmart employee. She said she was good with her wages, because she’d done the math and she saved more in low prices and employee discounts than she would gain from a wage increase (and its concomitant effect on pricing).

Member

The consumer pays for it until the vendor’s marginal revenue drops below his marginal cost due to slowing sales. Then the vendor pays for it big time.

Corn
Guest
“Every time the state enacts or raises a minimum wage, the first thing business owners do is raise their prices to deflect that new cost onto the consumer. So the increase in wage is negated by the increase in cost of goods and services.” On a smaller scale I live near a city that is headquarters to a large, unionized manufacturing company (Caterpillar). It was a much bigger employer 40-50 years ago before automation and moving some stuff down South. My parents always told me that back in Cat’s heyday, whenever the new union contract with raises went into effect,… Read more »
Aggie
Guest

The state mandating a raise in the minimum wage is effectively putting in place a stealth increase in its tax collections. It’s a way for the state – and the Federal Government – to increase their takes. The taxpayer is the one who loses the most.

edwhy
Guest

Just like the Big 3 and the UAW in Detroit, Flint, just agree to every raise and maintain labor peace. What could go wrong?

Mike@Mike.Mike
Guest

So you live near Peoria? I live in Joliet, where the Cat plant here seems to strike about once a year for one reason or another.

A local economy taking advantage of its main source of revenue seems like a bad idea – if it weren’t for Caterpillar, Peoria/Morton/Pekin would have little reason to exist, other than Bradley University (where two of my sisters-in-law went to college) – but maybe there’s other factors in play.

But that’s still not as bad as the state mandating labor costs.

Corn
Guest

Yeah. I live outside Peoria. And you’re right about reason to exist. If Cat ever closes down the plants they have left in Peoria the local economy here is fucked with a capital F.

I talked to men in the construction trades last summer/fall who complained about work being slow. I’m sure the decision to build an office HQ outside Chicago played a part in that.

Olddog
Guest

True. The consumer pays for everything. Wage increase, VAT, production and excise taxes, political “contributions,” regulatory increase in production costs.

calsdad
Guest
More precisely : the FINAL consumer pays for everything. Unfortunately this is a concept that an awful lot of people can’t seem to get thru their thick heads. The best way to illustrate the problem – is talk about buying a meal at a restaurant. When you buy a meal, the cost of producing it is what you’re paying for – plus some profit for the restaurant (hopefully – but not always). That means all the cost of food stuffs that were bought, cost of renting the building, cost of paying property taxes, cost of paying waitstaff, cost of paying… Read more »
soapweed
Guest

Calsdad: Sad, but major metro areas are marketing their processed poop to the farming community. The solid non organics have been removed, but the organics are on your food.
The end dumps you are following maybe a waste/sanitation entity or a subcontractor. And most think the Asians are the main end users, so to speak………soapweed

Susan
Guest

And….those are the low IQ people who are never going to really contribute anyway. Exactly the kind of person the post was about.

BTW you can use humanure for fertilizer but it has to be composted for at least 3 years I think at at least 150 degrees. That’s not taking into account medication residue in the manure – I’ve not read anything that discusses medication breakdown during composting.

Daniel K Day
Guest

According to this book, 1 year of composting is sufficient, and the temperature needed to kill the toughest bacteria in the gut is about 134°. You have a valid point about medication residue.
https://www.amazon.com/Humanure-Handbook-Guide-Composting-Manure/dp/0964425831/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515157276&sr=8-1&keywords=humanure+handbook

RDG
Guest

But now you see the genius of price controls that ought to follow mandated cost increases. Works every time to create scarcity. And with scarcity we are back to solving our zero problem. I vote that the Commiecrats institute price controls as soon as they gain power again.

A.B. Prosper
Guest
Singapore solved the housing problem by having the state be the primary landlord . California can do this if it wants too It worked alright but people in Singapore are such strivers that even a public/private partnership and mass immigration won’t increase fertility Apparently people don’t like living in multicultural societies on a small island. Also re: minimum wage. Paying an adult a wage that can’t put food on the table or put a roof over their head because “muh market” or ‘muh business model” is not healthy or ethical Muzzle not the Ox that Treadeth the Corn, the workman… Read more »
UKer
Guest
New zeroes: I have long argued that once you set a level playing field of incomes by taking the money of people who have worked and saved and then distributing to the ones who didn’t work or save (a plan theoretically loved by lefties, providing it doesn’t include them) then within a year — human nature being what it is — some will have more than others because they will have saved some of their ‘common income’ If that as allowed to continue, in ten years you have people having more money to spend. To stave off angst by the… Read more »
Jim Burnham
Guest

You are right about that. My Dad used to say that if all the wealth in the world was redistributed so everyone had an equal share, within TEN YEARS the distribution of wealth would be restored to what it was before the redistribution occurred. Having known some people who are literally “financial black holes”, I guess he was right.

bad guest
Guest

I think Huxley had this figured out long ago in Brave New World.

You get everybody to have lots of non-reproductive sex with everybody else and you give them soma (marijuana).

Is it just a coincidence that actors like Soros and the foundations seem to be pushing both agendas?

Corn
Guest

This is what pisses me off about the legalization movement. Not to sound militant straight edge but don’t these progressives and libertardians realize our ruling class would love it if we stayed stoned and stupid on the couch?

Member

Is someone holding you down and forcing you to get stoned? People who choose to stay stoned are probably a net benefit to me — they’re not competing with me effectively and they get off their asses to vote at lower rates (and they’d probably vote for leftist programs to subsidize their stoner lifestyles).

Alzaebo
Guest

We could stay drunk like our genius class betters from the binge-drinking elite schools in the Northeast, where the ruling class and all their wonderful ideas come from.

Roger Hedgecock (former mayor of San Diego):
“Congressmen drink all day. They start with one or two at brunch, several for lunch; they drink through the afternoon, meet for drinks after work, then at dinner, then drink all night at endless fundraisers.”

Another radio host, a former doctor:
“Go ahead, Congressman, have another taxpayer-paid six Martini lunch to wash the Prozac down, then go pass another drug law.”

bad guest
Guest

Somebody needs to get the memo to Sessions:

Trump Administration Taking Step that Could Threaten Marijuana Legalization Movement https://tinyurl.com/yb2ka6k2

Honestly, what the hell is wrong with Sessions? Is he TRYING to get forced out?

A.B. Prosper
Guest

The pothead states all went Hillary or nearly so what is there to lose if he attacks recreational weed?

Lorenzo
Guest

Given the ongoing soft coupt attempting to overturn the 2016 presidential election (a coup largely orchestrated by sections under the AG’s management) one would think that the AG appointed by the embattled president could find something more important to do than chase pot heads. If this coup succeeds, it will not matter a damn how anybody votes in the future, legalized pot states or anywhere else. It is astounding how pot smoking clouds the minds of those opposed to using the stuff.

Drake
Guest
I’ve been hearing about robots taking our jobs my entire adult life. They will do simple tasks but I’m skeptical about them replacing anyone with actual skills. Robots have been doing repetitive welding in factories for decades – but qualified machinists and welders are in very high demand these days. Robots will be flipping burgers at fast-food joints, but actual chefs aren’t going anywhere. I work in a corporate headquarters – our systems suck and will continue to suck until well after I’ve retired. Automation might allow us to keep our service levels (turn-around-time, cost, quality) on par with the… Read more »
Rev.Hoagie
Guest

If you’re only trying to stay “on par with the competition” I doubt your company will be there in a decade. This ain’t the 70’s any more. A company that let’s stuff slide for a decade or whose goal is to be on par with it’s competition is headed for a big problem. BTW, the biggest upside to automation is no overtime, healthcare, paid holidays, vacation pay or retirement benefits. Oh, and they can’t sue the boss.

Drake
Guest

Lab business – the problem is acquisitions. Somebody starts from scratch they can build a nice uniform system that works just right for the target customers. As soon as you buy or merge with another lab, you know have 2 systems and conversion is expensive for you and a pain in the ass for the customers. The big labs are constantly doing acquisitions, which means their systems are a constant mess.

bogbeagle
Guest

It’s not … strictly-speaking … robots, which are on the horizon. Robots are automata, and have been in every home for decades. We are on the cusp of introducing new life forms to the Earth. They may not be carbon-based, but they will soon be both very smart, and very capable. Good luck trying to tax those guys, when they work out that they own the products of their labour. Could easily be the case that our creations will turn out to be the real Revolutionaries.

Dutch
Guest

The problem with the AI beings, whatever they will be, is that they will be able to replicate like plants (or Toyotas), without sex, births, nurturing, and so on. Like plants, many of the offspring will not survive, as the survival strategy will be to replicate in numbers beyond the high mortality rate.

Unlike plants, they will have mobility, likely the ability to think and reason in some crude fashion, and perhaps discern their friends and enemies. They will likely be better adapted to the future than we will be. It will be interesting.

LFMayor
Guest

Menthol-Grape flavored heroin/methyl alcohol. With a pinch of bittersweet berries for that warm orangey color.

We could add cadmium to cheap brands of tattoo ink, too.

Gotta help get the part Darwin got correct back up and running without impedance.

Olddog
Guest

From past reading my understanding of the UBI was not a leveling, but more of a “rising tide” type of thing. Even if a UBI of $500 per month is the new zero, it is still more than nothing. If it raises the price of a small bit of weed or crack from $20 to $35, that’s still 14-15 purchases some homeboy can make before he has to steal a $700 smartphone to make today’s buy.

Member

UBI is just communism in another name. They’re trying to repackage the cereal packet that nobody is buying, (apart from Venezuela). The Marxists and socialists have been using the threat of automation stealing jobs since the 1870s.
The reality is that productivity increases. Instead of one person doing a job, in the future they will be monitoring a screen of 50 AI robots doing the job and performing 50 times as much work. Spread across the economy this essentially means that society becomes 50 times wealthier.

Member
This concept works only up to a point. The dems thought that by increasing regulations all they were doing was creating new zeros and increasing employment by companies forced into compliance. Even a lot of big companies bought into the idea. They got to see some of their competition shaved off and all it cost them was a bit of compliance cost at the new zero. Sarbanes-Oxley was looked at this way. It’s why we have so little local banking anymore. The problem is that when this concept is ridden too hard, even the beneficiaries start having trouble. This is… Read more »
Alzaebo
Guest
Licensing and compliance cost nothing to create, so their 100% profit margin soon becomes a club to use negotiating the price of the waiver. Asking permisssion is becoming the biggest racket- er, business- in the world. Classic supply-demand economics cannot address the equation of patronage. No cost of goods sold. Future cash flow streams would be the calculation. (Would CDO’s be a feudal system or a slave system?) Price floors serve in physical commodities’ such as ag, though. Need enough tractor fuel to plant next year. Look what happened when Wall Street ‘free traders’ pulled the price support from Mexican… Read more »
Al from da Nort
Guest
Z Man; Not so sure our robot-future will be in any way idyllic. To begin with, pre-industrial peasants were valuable to any owner, likewise workers. Useless, unproductive proles will not be. So, will whomever is running the Cloud at the time want their average, reverted-to-the-mean spawn to be idle, useless lotus eaters_? If the answer is that they’re OK with this (and we know what their wives’ answers will be), it sets up a real incentive for chronic inter-elite warfare at greatly reduced population levels. For a recent example of how this might look, consider Michael Milken, of the Predators’… Read more »
Alzaebo
Guest

Robo-helots puts a different spin on “in the future they will be monitoring a screen of 50 AI robots doing the job and performing 50 times as much work”, don’t it?

Now, how many programmers does China/Pakistan have?

james+wilson
Guest

It would be more accurate to dis-include 80 or ninety percent of government workers at all levels from the labor participation rate. Not only are they being paid for work that should not exist in the first place, they multiply themselves through making work difficult for those outside government. So perhaps the labor participation rate is already closer to 50%?

Alzaebo
Guest

Government workers don’t pay taxes, they recycle them.

FDR started including government numbers in the GDP to hide the staggering cost and losses to an already rationed economy.

John Derbyshire
Guest

>The only possible way to have a negative income, in real terms, is if someone is paying their employer for the right to work. There may be some bizarre situations where that exists, but in the main, zero is the smallest number that can appear in box #1 of your W2.

Waiters in the restaurant of the London Waldorf (& no doubt similar establishments) ca. 1960 used to pay the maitre d’ to let them work there. They lived on the tips.

Member

Apropos of absolutely nothing.
I just witnessed the perfect example of the difference between men and women.
I perpetrated a minor balls up and said “Damn, look what I just did.

One hour later the wife did something similar.
The comment?
“I hate it when that happens”.

Life in 12 words.

Rien
Guest

The more I think about this, the more likely it seems that society will split into two classes. Rabbits and Wolves. The rabbits will just nibble happily away at things, while the wolves will be running the show.

Oh wait… has that already happened?

pyrrhus
Guest
The whole problem with world population is that a few modern countries have been subsidizing the massive growth of population in the third world, at the cost of draining their supplies of fresh water, topsoil, energy, and other resources. And at the cost of enormous amounts of medical aid as well. At this point, only a handful of countries can feed themselves, and none in the third world. Meanwhile, the Earth is entering a solar minimum, which historically has meant much colder temperatures and much worse harvests….There is nothing stable about this situation, and robots are not going to improve… Read more »
Member

“At this point, only a handful of countries can feed themselves, and none in the third world.”

Apparently, you’ve never spent time in Argentina, my home country. Trust me, we have many problems, but feeding ourselves isn’t one of them. Anyone here with a gram of get-go eats a far better diet than nearly everyone up there, albeit a bit heavy on the meat consumption.

Reluctantreactionary
Guest

Those who have not yet seen the NASA solar science prediction might wish to take a quick look:

comment image

The year 2022 may be a bit chilly.

Saml Adams
Guest

That Maunder is a bitch.

Alzaebo
Guest

A cold bitch at that!

TomA
Guest

Our species evolved (and has persisted) based upon a continuing improvement in robustness over the past few hundred thousand years. This was driven by a natural selection process that favored robustness improvement, and we are descended from the survivors of that process. Today, we are hell-bent of reversing all of these gains in the space of a few generations. If you want to provide people with an opportunity to life a life well-lived, then give them an environment of extreme challenge and hardship (not handouts and dependency).

Saml Adams
Guest

True. Can look back through the family tree to the late 1500s (and Saml Adams is a cousin–New England was small in those days) Astonishing number lived into their 80s in the 1600 and 1700s. G-g-g-g-grandfather was still on the Revolutionary War Pension rolls at 83. Always had the same theory about the original slave populations. Anyone who landed alive had survived capture and transport from the interior, time in the infamous “slave castles” and a voyage on a “blackbirder” to the New World. Anyone still alive was a genetically tough m-f’er.

Dr. Dre
Guest
Love looking at 17th c. Connecticut vital statistics. My ancestors were among the founders of Hartford and other towns around it. They had decided the Massachusetts Puritans were no fun so they left the Bay State after a couple of years. Amazing how OLD these folks lived to be! Saml Adams and I have Rev War pensioners in our backgrounds. I’m distantly related to Lemuel Cook, originally from CT, after Rev War went to upstate NY to farm. Worse weather than CT, but he ended up being the oldest Rev War pensioner — he died after the Civil War was… Read more »
Saml Adams
Guest
Then yours must also be part of Rev. Hooker’s congregation that left the Bay Colony in 1636. I believe the quote at the time was “we came to found the kingdom of Heaven on earth, not the kingdom of the Winthrops”. Am actually named after one of the folks on the obelisk in the old burying ground in downtown Hartford. Would be the “6th” if we still kept count. Both sides fought in the “land bounty” regiments during the Revolution and moved to the midwest to collect their grants–pioneering the howling wilderness in 1795 beat the hell out of farming… Read more »
james+wilson
Guest

By 1750, for Caucasians who survived to the age of 18, life expectancy in the North was 65, in the South, 41,disease accounting for the difference. From what I can see lots of people died in their middle fifties of things that now require a week or so off work, which left the remainder to sail past 65.

Alzaebo
Guest

Hell, then, I’m toast.
I thought REM sleep was cardiovascular exercise.

(My health regimen, overheard at Katz’ kosher in Jersey:
“I need a fifth of Ballantine’s, a carton of Lucky Strikes, and 5 pounds of Columbian caw-fee”)

Ryan
Guest

Ancient Egyptians responded to the post-scarcity problem by building the great pyramid. Maybe we rediscover religion and put all the excess resources and labor into building Cathedrals? There’s probably a race issue here, but I would prefer universal basic employment, universal opportunity to make some meaningful contribution to society, over universal basic income.

bad guest
Guest

Only problem with that is cathedrals to what? The great pansexual antiwhite revolutionary consciousness that envelopes the land the way Christianity did Europe back when our ancestors conceived the idea of diverting some real consumption (no Fed back then to print up dollars) to create monuments to what we saw as the highest and holiest idea?

I’d hate to see whatever they’d come up with today.

Saml Adams
Guest

Unfortunately I think we already have versions of that today. Look at the proliferation of administrative jobs and specious “studies” programs at universities, public policy think tanks, “diversity” managers in private companies–ditto in government jobs…add nothing to GDP or civilization. For the low IQ underclass the bread and circus routine will work. Everyone else will be subject to the intrusions of busybodies micromanaging their lives. Problem is, these busybodies think theirs is a “meaningful contribution” so much more so than a farmer, machinist, welder or engineer.

A.B. Prosper
Guest
You could pay people not to reproduce but big business and big religion would have melt down, people who aren’t born, don’t immigrate neither buy things nor fill pews This might also provoke a revolt, either Pol Pot had a point style or religious Also if people go along with that and if there is too little work you end up sterilizing your working and middle class as well . They are more likely to cooperate voluntarily since they don’t want the “one child” to starve This means you have the cunning and dissolute class with kids a few tradesman… Read more »
Cloudswrest
Guest
I claim that a better solution than Universal Basic Income is Universal Basic Job. The purpose of this job is not necessarily to accomplish anything. The purpose of it is to properly meter out the dole. For example, walking on a treadmill for a fee of $10/mile, or perhaps pumping water uphill. These are also useful to the individual as they provide exercise. Again, the purpose of this is simply to make people DO something for the money, and keep them off the street. Something every able bodied person can do. For people with disabilities mutatis mutandis.
RafterRat
Guest

Nothing would make me smile wider than seeing all the welfare layabouts in my extended family picking up trash along the highways, or sweeping sand off sidewalks, or painting over graffiti on bridge abutments.

It would be infinitely better than watching them sell their excess EBT credits for pot and alcohol, take free trips to the ER for every sniffle, and collect more of my tax dollars for every kid they pop out into their section 8 shithole apartments.

bad gues
Guest
That’s similar to how Keynes proposed the government do deficit spending. The idea was the same. He realized part of the resistance to the idea was that people would be getting something for nothing. “If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with bank-notes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coal-mines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be… Read more »
Alex
Guest

There are three major economic sectors that the USG has an outsized influence in: Education (backing loans), Home Ownership (backing loans) and Medicine (give away’s and price fixing).
All three have had (or will have) massive dislocations in the past two decades.
Who wins no matter what? Wall Street.

wholy1
Guest

yo Zman, how in the HELLo do you get/continue to be soooo very blessed with such INCITE – especially when you apparently CHOOSE to remain domiciling in “Lagos on the Chesapeake”. Is it possibly the “social contrast”?

Abelard Lindsey
Guest

Of course, all of this is assuming that AI and robotics are going to be a profoundly impacting as the current hype would have you believe. Remember, we are in the third great tech bubble (the first, only real one was the early 80’s, the second was the dot-coms) and lots of techno-hype gets bandied about during such bubbles.

Member

Great post. Great comments.

RichH
Guest

However if every robot has a social security number…

PapayaSF
Guest

Japan is not really prepared for the future. Their social security system is (like ours) a Ponzi scheme: current benefits are paid for by current workers. That’s one thing when each retiree is supported by (say) 20 workers. But as the population ages, the ratio shrinks toward each retiree being supported by just a few workers.

james+wilson
Guest

They may be doing a shitty job of it right now, but they are sure doing one thing right and that is the biggest thing. They will figure it out because there will still be a they to figure it out.

Alzaebo
Guest

Oh man. Amen to that- the One True Thing.

They seem to be the only ones preparing for ‘depopulation’, a natural post-Boomer correction.

Jimmy
Guest

This is not to be taken as a full throated endorsement (“threat” of tyranny ha…how cute) of the article but as food for thought regarding politic implications of a UBI.

Key upshot: libertarians should be the last to support this scheme…but then again considering second order effects of their political positions has been a bit of a blind spot of late…to understate the case.

http://quillette.com/2017/10/09/universal-basic-income-threat-tyranny/

ErisGuy
Guest

That was a good article. The author confuses “democracy” with “mass democracy,” however. Few people subject to Athen’s laws could vote. Few people subject to D.C.’s laws could vote (in 1800). A state with a UBI which required temporary sterilization and loss of civll rights for accepting UBI—starting to sound like “Starship Troopers” here—could still be a democracy. And the people who own the country ought to govern it.

Member
Something similar happened in Georgia with the Hope Scholarship. It was a boon to us, paying our son’s tuition and fees and a bit for books through his Bachelor’s degree. Initially, the requirement was a 3.0 GPA in high school and maintain a 3.0 to keep the scholarship. Now, about thirteen years later, the high school GPA is 3.7 and maintain a 3.3 plus a 1200 SAT. Initially, there was no Hope SAT requirement beyond a college’s admission requirement. Requirements have risen through grade inflation in both high school and college due to demands that students qualify. Colleges and universities… Read more »
Sam
Guest

The massive amount of violence that will be brought to the west by mass immigration will bring us down a technological peg or two. Jobs for everyone!

Member

Get good on a backhoe. There are lots of holes to be dug.

We are finally going to get Barry’s “Shovel ready jobs”.

Jimmy
Guest

Lol, full marks

bad guest
Guest

Worth noting that the article Z referenced states:

“Tech titans in Silicon Valley like Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are some of the biggest advocates of universal basic income.”

As, El Rushbo used to say, it’s an idea with legs.

Michael Gladius
Guest
There is a solution: agrarianism. Think about it. Automation replaces hand labor, not skilled labor. So the urban areas will only have use for engineers, tradesmen, and the merchant class. On the flip side, most of our food comes from government-subsidized factory farms that require a lot of chemicals and fuel to sustain. So how about this for a new society? The majority of the population moves out of the cities and into the countryside. Instead of factory farms, 5-acre family farms that utilize companion farming and livestock become the norm. Now, the majority lives close to the land, and… Read more »
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guido bacala
Guest

no problem, the masses will have free VR and 24/7 sport channels and drugs and the Suckerbergers, Clooneys, Goldbergs and Washington crowd will live and delight and pander to the masses from their moated kingdoms protecting their “citizens” from the evil empires (doing exactly the same)…Suckers!