The new European Citizens' Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income has been launched. It will be examined by the commission if one million citizens support it, so I invite you to sign it and share it:

@anton I hope so too. The previous initiative, 7 years ago, had collected almost 300k signatures.


I understand what #UBI is as a *concept* what I don't follow is how it would work in terms of *math*.

Can someone please explain the *working math* behind the concept?

Also, how is it expected to interact with the Laffer Curve?

#economics #politics

@profoundlynerdy @changaco

Laffer curve is about taxation so these are really orthogonal concepts. There's nothing in either UBI or Laffer curve concepts that makes them mutually contradictory etc.

There's valid concern that UBI would increase inflation and/or prices, but in countries that introduced similar programs and faced similar concerns this did not happen.

@profoundlynerdy @changaco

In terms of maths, it depends on the implementation.

UBI is no different from social benefits that almost all countries have except that they're mostly conditional (for child, for unemployed, for homeless etc) while UBI is simply unconditional, granted to everyone.

Then UBI can be compared against tax free income, or income threshold for which you don't pay income tax, that is universal except it only applies to people who earn money from employment.

@profoundlynerdy @changaco

Utilitarian: to reduce income disparity in the society beyond levels at which they threaten stability.

Based on Christian/Muslim ethics: because it's the right thing to do.

@profoundlynerdy Thomas Paine's “Agrarian Justice” contains one of the many possible answers to your questions. He wasn't advocating for a full UBI, but his reasoning can be used to justify this kind of policy.



@changaco @profoundlynerdy

Also worth adding that in terms of general "why benefits" there was a significant discussion among early economists on that subject back in 19th century. One of the most systematic voices on that topic was... Adam Smith, who is today associated with laissez-faire market - incorrectly, and mostly by under-educated neoliberals. In his "Inquiry ..." he lays ideas that today would be probably classified as "socialism", especially in the US.

@kravietz @changaco While not the ~~droids~~ math-y response I'm looking for, citing Adam Smith is helpful; thanks!

Is that his first book *Wealth of Nations* or his other work? I can't remember the title of his second book. Too much blood in the caffeine stream at the moment.


"Inquiry..." is what I linked, the other is "Theory of moral sentiments" and goes even deeper into the ethics of free market.



Probably the best modern retrospection into that work of Smith - Tomas Sedlacek


@kravietz @changaco @profoundlynerdy Worth repeating indeed. Adam Smith's views on the role of the state are still relevant today.

@wim_v12e @kravietz @changaco I'm mostly a night-watchman state guy. I want to see the State do as little as possible beyond providing for the common defense.

@profoundlynerdy @kravietz @changaco
Adam Smith envisaged a rather greater role for the state, but there is no reason why you should agree with him.

@profoundlynerdy @wim_v12e @changaco

The power of capitalism lies in its flexibility and "whatever works" pragmatism. If you start artificially limiting what is allowed and what is not then it's not, then it loses this pragmatic approach at the cost of dogmatism. Smith specifically did not come up with his ideas for public schooling (as an example) from ideological position, but he built an evidence-based argument for it.

@profoundlynerdy @changaco @kravietz Every European country is a social democratic mixed economy with a welfare state, and with social benefits.

A system of social benefits is in practice setting a minimal level of income, but it's an awkward one. It requires a heavy bureaucracy, the purpose of which is to deny social benefits to an appropriate number of people, and it introduces a benefits trap where you might not be able to afford to take a particular job, because you would lose more in benefits than you would gain in salary.

A UBI turns this on its head by not having any conditions on the minimum level of income. You can maintain the same money supply through income taxation instead, and this eliminates the benefits trap.
@profoundlynerdy @changaco @kravietz Why social benefits?

Some people like Otto von Bismarck, the conservative who invented the welfare state, want it because it undermines support for communism and stops the poor from overthrowing the state.

Others want it because they don't want to live in a country where some people don't have homes and/or cannot find a better means of survival than begging.

Many people don't think capitalism needs to apply all the way down to not having any income at all to be an effective way to promote productivity and entrepreneurship.

@clacke @profoundlynerdy @changaco @kravietz what’s the point of garbage collection in a programming language? So we could focus on more interesting things. When citizens have *basic* needs covered then they can start activities on higher lever. So if we want less drones and more citizens then UBI could be an efficient implementation.

Having basic income doesn’t turn off drive for more. Hell, even having billions don’t stop rich from wanting more. So UBI will not stop greed but shift focus on more important tasks than buying cheapest bread or paying rent for a rubble.

@clacke @changaco @kravietz

> Many people don't think capitalism needs to apply all the way down to not having any income at all to be an effective way to promote productivity

This is why voluntary mutual aid societies need to exist. They're local to the community and understand who can be helped and who cannot be helped. They have an incentive to provide the most efficient forms of aid and keep overhead low.

Yes, we cannot underestimate the ills of the #bureaucracy. In many cases they get things wrong. In #Australia one need only find the #robodebt problem, but there is a long list of way they get things wrong. And people are not reimbursed for the hundreds of hours they spend clawing back what they own, because they can't show actual losses, being #unemployed.

Its quite vicious.

Also #FutureWork of the #AustraliaInstitute found that…(1/2)
@profoundlynerdy @changaco @kravietz

@clacke @profoundlynerdy @changaco @kravietz
(2/2)…Also FutureWork of the AustraliaInstitute found that the bureaucracy surrounding #UnemploymentSupport including #enforcement and other auxillary services costs around 100 billion per annum, and that a #UBI would cost around the same amount.

Also removes a perverseIncentive to buy property as a nestEgg for the kids and the need to pump a country with more people to boost house prices etc.

(Also see our Progressive #LandTax (on #RentalValue))


To be honest, having this discussion here at this level of evidence-based argument is one reason why I love Mastodon.

@clacke @profoundlynerdy @changaco

@kravietz @dsfgs @clacke @changaco Indeed!

I've had some very deep conversations with people on this site, often over disagreements just like this.

@clacke @profoundlynerdy @changaco @kravietz

and, of course, the costs of bureaucracy itself are not to be underestimated. in one case in florida, where welfare payments required drug-testing, the drug-testing part cost more money than the amount that was "saved" (and, of course, it ran on a rather dubious idea that people who have a drug addiction shouldn't get welfare).

@clacke @changaco @kravietz

Right, but I have yet to see hard math that says (a) this will work as described and (b) the "cure" isn't worse than the disease.

I understand you have your eye on the poor, but I'm worried about the opportunity cost of helping the poor *in this specific way* with UBI.

See "Economics in One Lesson" (Kindle/Audible) for a deep dive on opportunity cost concerns.

@profoundlynerdy It's impossible to prove with “hard math” that UBI would work as hoped. We can discuss the issue until we're all blue in the face, and run lots of simulations, but the only way to know for sure is to take the leap.

@clacke @kravietz

@changaco @clacke @kravietz You're correct and you're not.

The ability to simulate human economic choice runs into hard limits. Just look at New Coke: it was focus grouped to death and everyone thought it was the next big thing. A sizable percentage were *pissed* and flipped people in the middle. There is no way to simulate when that kind of thing will occur.

But "does enough wealth exist to make this a viable possibility?" I think we can answer with hard math. I strongly suspect the answer is, "No."

@profoundlynerdy The answer to “can we afford a UBI?” is almost trivial. You can easily compute how much money is needed to fund a UBI of a specific amount in a specific country, and compare this gross cost to the country's GDP and any other relevant metric.

If I remember correctly the result for France is a gross cost of approximately 25% of GDP for a UBI with an amount similar to the current benefits. The net cost is almost exactly half the gross cost, and of course UBI would replace most of the existing benefits, so in this scenario transitioning to a UBI would increase public spending by 12% of GDP at most.

@clacke @kravietz

@profoundlynerdy @clacke @kravietz Errata: it was 25% of the sum of taxable incomes, not 25% of GDP, so the numbers in my previous message should have been 15% and 7% of GDP respectively.

@profoundlynerdy @changaco it's not driven by math, but putting $180B/mo into the US economy distributed into the hands of *everyone* changes all sorts of things.

Most of that money won't stick, it'll get spent *fast*, which will be a boon to the businesses where it gets spent.

I'd put an extra penny in fast food stocks.

@changaco oh wow, I didn't know online EU citizen initiatives were a thing! it doesn't allow for direct initiatives but that's still quite valuable

now on the UBI topic, I'm personally very conflicted about it and I never arrived to a conclusive solution, but I will think about it since I can actually do anything about it
@changaco just looked into it and apparently the EU rejected making anything about an UBI just last year

"According to the Treaties, the design of social protection systems, including related income schemes, is the primary responsibility of Member States"

I'm trying to find what the treaties say about this ( but I can't figure it out right now

@xerz The goal of a citizens' initiative is precisely to push the Commission to do something that it wouldn't normally do.

Of course the Commission can't force any member state to implement , but it can study the question in depth and try to convince the member states. Having the Commission on our side would be a huge win even though it doesn't have the power to implement UBI itself.

@changaco, please, don’t.

Any social initiative like that eventually leads to more restrictions on immigration (visas/citizenship). It’s already shit show to get work visa in the EU countries.

Freedom is incompatible with any kind of socialism.

@dump_stack @changaco although UBI is really the way to go if we want more freedom for citizens. Also, it replaces some other guarantees, and usually is cheaper option (than providing healthcare, education, etc. through private contractors) for government overall.

@dump_stack @changaco Alternatively, people need to be prepared to distinguish between residents and residents. Maybe you don't immediately qualify for UBI when you move in.

@dump_stack I thought I had seen every argument against UBI over the years, but I don't remember seeing yours before. It's far-fetched and unconvincing, but original.

@changaco, ironically, your message itself is not original ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It was not about convincing someone, but about stating the fact.

And the fact is that countries with more social benefits are more restrictive (even for tourists). I doubt that even more social benefits can lead to something opposite.

@dump_stack There aren't any factual statements in your first message, only controversial claims without any sources to back them up.

I don't know much about work visas, but I doubt that there is a strong correlation between how generous a country's social safety nets are and how difficult it is to get a work visa.

Your claim that UBI is a kind of socialism is also disputable.

@changaco, well, it’s controversial only for someone who has never experienced moving to other countries with visa restrictions.

For the rest of the people it’s as obvious as “water is wet”.

Sources are obvious, it’s called “immigration policies”. You can also use logic to derive it from the fact that you can’t just give away something for free, otherwise system will be unbalanced.

@dump_stack Firstly, saying that something is only controversial for someone else is ridiculous. Controversiality isn't subjective, it's a factual assessment of whether disagreements exist or not. I disagree with your claims, therefore they are controversial.

Secondly, as far as I know having a work visa typically doesn't entitle you to any social benefits in the country that delivered it, so your claim that an increase or broadening of social benefits can only result in a tightening of restrictions on work visas is dubious.

@changaco, some countries are providing social benefits (e.g. in the EU), some countries are not.

Ones that are providing is more restrictive in compare to the others. More social benefits? More restrictions.

JFY: social benefits are from access to the public healthcare (Spain, France etc.) to even unemployment package in some countries (e.g. Germany).

Public healthcare is also disaster for immigration, by the way. Some countries (e.g. Canada) will not allow you to immigrate if you have specific (and I’m not even taking about HIV) pre-existing conditions.

Freedom, isn’t it?

@dump_stack @changaco "If the fire department has to put out fires for immigrants they'll enact stricter immigration laws"
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