Which instance to you represents real growth and value produced for society?

There is no answer to the question posed in that fashion. GDP is simply the total market value of finished goods sold over a given period of time; no value judgements on relative value to society are therefore valid. To your example, ONE HOPES that the 1000 encylopaedia sets that were sold in a given month for 1000 (so, contribution to GDP 1000x1000=$1,000,000) is replaced by a website that generates > 1,000,000 in subscription fees, making the change in sales channel a wash.

But what does “employment” really mean to you?

Something that has three characteristics: 1) you get a wage, 2) you get a task, and 3) there are expectations of you that you must meet in order to stay employed. Charity work or family caregiving don’t qualify.

Is the fact that someone has decided to attach a dollar value to that labor the reason it has meaning and gives satisfaction?

Yes, to the 87% of the population that does not intrinsically motivate.

Does 40 hours per week have some significant meaning, or is it an arbitrary number?

It’s arbitrary, and likely to change in the future, when we need to go to job guarantees due to automation.

And what does any of this mean in a near future when that doorman will be let go, replaced by a robot, along with 50% of the labor market?

Hence my support for job guarantees.

Was standing still in the same spot all day really an effective use of that human being’s time and talent anyway?

I travel a lot, and often have a lot of bags. So, I must answer “yes”.

but is this a challenge we can address by pretending it doesn’t exist?

I am not aware of anyone claiming that globalization and automation have no long term employment ramifications.

Can we find new forms of employment to provide us meaning and fulfillment, rather than relying on current ones that may or may not remain valid and are arguably beneath our talents?

Well, “we” don’t find employment; the market creates functional needs, which are traditionally filled by employees. The enire problem here is that those functional needs are suddenly being filled by things that are not-employees.

As for “talents”, I am sorry to say that the vast majority of people lack the motivation to hone them, unless their job depends on them. After 40 years in the technological workforce, I continue to be amazed at how little motivation people have.

Does my status as “creative” have any bearing on the content of my argument? Would this classify as an ad hominem line of argument?

No. It is an observation.

Does it lend my argument greater credibility to know that I was a mechanical engineer, working in missile systems and energy technologies for years before becoming an actor/writer/filmmaker? If it does, should it?

Certainly. A polymath is always of greater societal value than an idiot.

Aren’t produce and create synonyms? Is the only difference between the two that one has found a market value?

Correct. Anyone can “create” something; its uptake (usually measured at the cash register) measures its value in the economy. People can certainly “create” and find personal satisfaction in doing so, but that’s not something to be done on the taxpayer’s dime.

Are you using “the creatives” as a pejorative here? Do you disdain those who create?

No. What I have disdain for are people who actually plan how to live on the public dime. Regardless of who they are.

Do you think “creatives” are the only people who might embrace UBI for this reason?

Not at all. There are no shortage of lazy people in the world who would love just enough income to have a modest apartment and sip latte all day. Sweden, where I have relatives, actually cut back on some of their welfare spending a decade or so ago when an international study showed that they had the highest percentage of people in the developed world of working age who weren’t. They reviewed their programs and realized they were enabling sloth. So, they cut back on various aspects of their welfare structure.

Can you accept there might be a difference between embracing guaranteed income and rejecting guaranteed job schemes? Why not have both?

See above.

But what do you do if a jobs guarantee is your only plan, but it turns out that there are far fewer income-generating “jobs” than there are people?

I cannot imagine this to be the case, at least in the short term. There are so many jobs that go undone because (speaking of the public sector alone now) the tax base cannot support more teachers, teacher’s aids, day care workers, pothole fillers, public parks gardners, etc, etc, etc.

How does proclaiming to guarantee a job solve that problem? What is the actual method for guaranteeing those jobs?

Well, you raise taxes (obviously that’s part of all these programs) to fund them. The job guarantee worker gets paid less than the guy next to him that actually works for the city//state/county. So, he is motivated to work hard, because what he (or she) wants is to actually be HIRED for the real job when an opening occurs. The guaranteed job thus becomes a job training/job interview program.

What is money to you? What does it mean/represent? Does money = value per se? Is someone with more money or income than you inherently a more valuable human being than you?

No. It means that their work is valued at a higher level than mine is. It is not a personal indictment of any sort.

Does our current economic system perfectly reward value with money? If not, is it wrong to take steps toward addressing that discrepancy?

I don’t let perfection get in the way of the practical. One can always make the case that the teacher is more INHERENTLY valuable than the lawyer, that the cop is more INHERENTLY valuable than the hedge fund manager. You can try to address that all you like, but it’s not easy.

If you object to my ballparking methods, can you suggest a different measure by which to assess how large of a flat income tax (again, not my preferred method of paying for UBI, but a rhetorical jumping off point) could pay for it?

It’s not going to happen with either an increase in the income tax or a tax on GDP (aka, a “VAT”). There’s way too much that will blow up in your face. An 18% VAT craters sales activity and moves jobs offshore; an increase in the income tax that you’re suggesting (1% brings in about 100B a year, roughly) would be across the board 35% increase, or thereabouts. You’d have people (like me) moving to Romania without a second thought, and the capital flight would be enormous. You would literally break the banks.

If you look at two methods which are sometimes discussed as ways of dragging in a boatload of money, neither works. One is the financial transactions tax, the other is a net worth tax. Try to get 3.5T out of either one, and anyone with any money at all is living in Bucharest.

There is only one way I know of to generate that much money, and that would be a tenth of a percent taken on all of THIS:

A tenth of a percent isn’t much, but I can’t promise there’s no mess caused here, either.

Is that increase necessarily bad, especially if it’s going to individuals and not disappearing as a government expense?


If the largest earners, the top 1% and 0.1% and 0.01%, are making most of the money and paying a fraction of what they should in taxes due to entitlements and loopholes and low rates on unearned income, then could doubling or tripling the tiny percentage they (and corporations) pay back make up this kind of percentage taken as a national average?

Full stop. It is a myth that these “largest earners” are paying a “fraction of what they should be paying” due to “loopholes”. In 2013, the top 1% paid an effective tax rate of 34%; back when we had the “old top rates” of 50% under Jimmy Carter, they paid an effective rate of 35%. There is such a thing as a carried interest “loophole”, but very few people work for partnerships and can take advantage of that loophole. You hear about it in the press a lot more than it deserves.

Again, this is not how I actually suggest paying for all of a UBI, but raising taxes on the super wealthy, to whom our system funnels profits, is a thing I already think needs to happen.

Raising taxes on the 1% by 4.6% (as Obama got done in the Boehner deal in 2011) added about 60B to tax receipts. 60B is 1.5% of our federal budget. So, you can keep raising taxes all you like on them, but there’s just not enough of them to move the needle. They’ll all be in Bucharest long before any financial issues the US has gets solved.

If UBI frees people to create more art, start up more businesses, contribute more to their communities, and become more active in politics, is that not a formula based around truly productive work?

Not in this context. “Create more art” reminds me of the content battle between HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, whoever. We are already, in this venue, producing far more “art” than we can possibly consume in a lifetime. Good art needs no subsidy. Only poor art does.

And, unfortunately, a 12K stipend really isn’t enough to start a serious business on.

Is the concept of UBI really a dole, or is it a dividend recognizing that we’re all shareholders in this country, and all should have a share of the opportunity to be our best selves?

It’s a dole. I would rather have the work of a person’s hands and pay him for it. To use that prior example you raised, I am sick and tired of lugging my own bags into hotel rooms because minimum wage has destroyed the bellman profession. I am tired of having middle school classrooms of 40 because we can’t afford more teachers and aids. My ass is chapped from waiting in lines at Wal-Mart because only four of the fifty checkout lines is open. There are a ton of jobs for people to do, we just have to get creative and figure out how we want to get them done.

That person is a fearful person. I’ve been there, and I know I’m much more valuable to society when I’m not there.

I’ve been there too. I retrained. it was motivating.

I want anyone with a good idea or purpose to pursue to have no excuse not to fling themselves passionately at it.

But the vast majority of them won’t. This is the point of my chart above. When the factories left the midwest, the people didn’t come up with great ideas to reinvent themselves. They didn’t go chasing a dream. What they chased was crystal meth and booze.

If you don’t think people really will behave productively and proactively in the way I describe, is that a reflection of real human nature, as you referred to it, or a reflection of yourself and your perceptions after living your life in a world that doesn’t encourage this sort of mindset? Can you really base your conclusions about UBI on past experiences of human nature 1) when your experiences are limited to your circles and your history and your perceptions and 2) when what UBI is calling for is a massive paradigm shift in which the way society functions and the ways people engage with it are drastically altered?

No. I base my views on data. As I mentioned before, there are about a million studies on life satisfaction, and the #1 bar none factor that affects life satisfaction is a productive job.

I have never seen a study in the 25 years I have been reading educational psychology literature that shows that the intrinsic motivations that must exist in order for your utopia to flourish are present in more than a moderate to small percentage of the population. I always remember 13% because it was on a test when I was working on my Masters; but now we see that intrinsic motivation is so weak in the population that school districts are starting to pay kids to take tests and to show up for school on time:

…..and if that’s not bad enough, we have some researchers saying that NOBODY is truly intrinsically motivated; that whatever we do, we do so because we hope to get something out of it other than the pleasure of “doing”:

So, no, I think your program stands to benefit the liquor companies quite a bit. I would not be surprised to find them lobbying the government for UBI. :-)

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.

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