Correct me if I’m wrong, but your view seems to be that a GJP would be preferable in every way to a Universal Basic Income. I reply that: (1) a GJP becomes useless in the Blade Runner Scenario, when there are no potholes to fix because too many humans are economically superfluous thanks to automation; and (2) a UBI is far less vulnerable to bureaucratic bloat, lobbying, fraud, etc. because it is designed to not require any bureaucratic decision-making — the UBI bureaucracy only makes sure that the checks go to the proper place, it doesn’t decide where the proper place is. It’s like the Post Office.

I would say that GJP is superior to UBI as long as there are jobs to be done. It is certainly superior to UBI during “Phase I”, when there are actual productive jobs going undone, as there are today. I’d also consider it superior to UBI in a “Phase II” where they are still jobs to be done, but they are not productive. (The critics of the Japanese programs in their press used to wonder if the next step was to “pave over the ocean bottom”).

If we ever get to a true Phase III, where robots do everything (Phase II is really what I mean by a “Blade Runner” scenario) then I don’t think that either program really works. We’re all wards of the state at that point.

I quite agree that UBI could be set up in a mechanistic way, like Social Security. The downside is that I believe a UBI would create moral hazard and thus increase health care costs on the back end due to substance abuse, similar to what we are seeing now in rural America. The human creature does not seem to respond well when there is nothing to do. The GJP would indeed be a bit of a bear to manage, but there is social upside in doing so, in my view.

If I thought we would quickly get a UBI when automation really began taking jobs, I wouldn’t be so worried. But since I don’t think our democratic government can move sufficiently quickly, I think we should have a small UBI now so that the program is in place for when automation begins really taking a toll.

I get that point. My concern is that a simple UBI would be latched on to by the “other party” as another means of redistribution. Once it’s in place, the risk of slippery slope forms. If it’s not in place, there’s no slope.

[There are also studies showing that one of the most effective forms of charity is direct cash transfer. UBI is an application of this finding.]

Hm. Soup kitchens.

PS. Given that I can cite exactly the reasons I came to my conclusions, how is it “scurrilous”?

Because I don’t think in a linear fashion. Hyperanalyzing specific word useage isn’t going to tell you what’s in my head with that level of specificity.

Written by

Data Driven Econophile. Muslim, USA born. Been “woke” 2x: 1st, when I realized the world isn’t fair; 2nd, when I realized the “woke” people are full of shit.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store