The Basic Income Guarantee

My partner Albert has begun a series of blog posts on a concept called The Basic Income Guarantee. This is fundamentally different than a minimum wage. It is essentially a safety net for a world where robots will be doing more and more of the manual and difficult labor that has, until now, provided income for unskilled workers.

I don’t have a formed opinion on this idea. I know that welfare didn’t work out too well in the last century. So I’m nervous about any system that encourages or incents people not to work. But if we really are headed into a world where there aren’t any low skilled jobs, then I guess we need to be talking about ideas like this.

All of Albert’s posts on this topic are here.


Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures

    Initial reaction against this. But, upon thinking about it-I’d be for a small basic income guarantee if they got rid of everything else in the govt safety net. There is so much waste in those programs, and in administration of those programs. I invested in a company called In doing diligence, learned it cost $200B to manage $500B in govt grants.

    1. Rick Colosimo

      I agree – simplicity of legislation leads to simplicity of administration. Complexity in our tax code certainly leads to increased compliance costs and the creation of odd incentives. Given the complexity, it requires supreme hubris, of the kind only Congress is capable, to believe that the entire economy of the US and by extension, all the economies of the world that touch ours, can be fine-tuned by even tens of thousands of words.Occam’s Razor dictates that we start with the simplest rules and the smallest possible changes so that we can see if we even get the results we want. (You could call it TDD for the tax code.)I don’t know if basic income will lead to no one working and to people just sitting at home. I do know that if we allow small experiments in small places (and pay attention to those in other countries — Switzerland, Canada), we might learn a few things one way or the other.Entrepreneurs are running real-time experiments in the economy. Those who have the right hypothesis stay in business for a while. Why would we (at least the readers of this blog) think that government is immune from the same need to hypothesize and experiment? Why does politics demand certainty ab initio while enlightened investors recognize that sometimes a pivot is required?

    2. B12N

      I agree with this. If you institute a basic income and then remove government programs and/or privatize a lot of the government services (say education), you’re hopefully unleashing the power of free-markets. Instead of sending your kids to poorly ran public schools, parents can send their kids to private schools of their choosing. Bad schools will lose money, good schools will get more money, and there will be more innovation and costs will hopefully come down.The question is, what yields better results: government-ran programs or the choices people make with their basic income (because obviously people aren’t 100% rational).I think in most cases, the free-market wins. If all government programs are essentially redistribution of income, why not make it more direct and efficient with a basic income for everyone?

      1. ShanaC

        I’m curious why people say “privatizing schools means bad schools will lose money”Parents get attached to schools irrespective of quality. And determining quality after say, 6 weeks of instruction, how would someone transfer out if they thought the school is bad?

        1. Winston Blake

          more taxes = more police = more of a police state…

        2. Aaron Klein

          It might take a year, but believe you me, parents talk about school quality all the time.

          1. ShanaC

            yes, but they don’t switch. And also, that year to switch is a huge upfront cost to the kid, which seems just morally off.

          2. Aaron Klein

            They do switch when a school is bad and they have choices. Definitely.

          3. disqus_ldTeP6rX6V

            Switching schools only works if there are schools to switch too. Public schools are funded with property taxes so the poorer the neighborhood the worse the school,

          4. PhilipSugar

            I did.

        3. B12N

          Right now, parents are basically stuck with the public schools in their district, where funding is highly dependent on the wealth of that district (local/state taxes make up most of public school funding, not to mention whatever registration restrictions there are), and a lot of them cannot afford to send their kids to private schools elsewhere (85-90% of kids go to public school in the US).A basic income guarantee, or even a voucher system, will give parents a choice that they don’t have right now. I know for a fact that some parents do care, but are limited by the way the system currently is and their personal wealth limitations. I don’t understand the objection for the increased ability to shift your money to a school you feel as a parent serves your kid the best?

    3. Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg

      On what basis do you find $200b for managing $500b wasteful? If you combine those numbers to come to the overall budget, than you see that they’re spending less than 30% on program administration, which I’m pretty sure is above the norm for nonprofits. For example, the BBB uses 35% as its threshold for accountability:…Have you ever worked with, for, or at a grant-making nonprofit? I think the idealizing of the private sector and the demonizing of the worst government ever (after all of the other governments that have ever existed) says more about bias than it does about the efficacy of government.

      1. pointsnfigures

        If you total up the salaries, pensions and benefits of all the people it takes to administer all the grants at the local, state and federal level, plus the operational costs, it is $200B.I haven’t worked at a non-profit, but I am on the board of the http://www.nationalww2museu…,. The private sector does 99% of things better than a government. Always. Government is woefully inefficient at doing most tasks.As Milton Friedman said, “It the govt managed the Sahara Desert, in three years it would be out of sand.”

        1. Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg

          So you’re just pulling this stuff out of… Thin air. As the facts I pointed to illustrate, $200B for managing $500B in government grants is good by private standards, & great when you consider the reporting and oversight needed for .gov grants.I find your anti-government stance to be both irrational and anti-American. On the rational side, remember when GE defeated Germany? When AT&T ended the Great Depression? When GM landed a man on the moon? When US Steel ended slavery? When Bank of America pulled our elderly and disabled out of debilitating and demeaning poverty?On the anti-American side I’ll just quote our greatest president ever: may the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, never perish from the earth.”I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”You sir, pledge allegiance to what exactly, since you obviously have nothing but disdain for our great Republic?

          1. pointsnfigures

            Actually, I am not pulling stuff out of thin air. I invested in a company, that helps manage grants for government agencies. In my diligence, I found incredible numbers when it came to managing grants. A massive bureaucracy has formed to do it. That costs money.Alex, responsible small government people want a strong military. A strong military defends their freedoms. Reagan was for a strong military and look what happened.Government that is limited and not full of crony capitalism is good government. That’s what the founders envisioned.To point out that the government is too big, or is doing things it shouldn’t isn’t un-American. I am on very very good economic and intellectual ground when it comes to saying American government has run amok. John Cochrane, John Taylor, Casey Mulligan, Tyler Cowen and many other economists would say the same. If we look at Nobel Prizes, Stigler, Friedman, Lucas, Becker, Miller, Samuelson, etc all felt private markets could do a better job of allocating resources and making decisions better than centrally controlled bureaucracy. USV invests in the thesis that network beats hierarchy and they have been successful with it.I am all for a basic income for every American—provided we get rid of every other government program and support network that basic income replaces. Otherwise it’s just layering on more bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy. Result will be higher taxes and less individual liberty for citizens-a transfer of wealth, not a social safety net. Friedman talked about it here:…I say the pledge, and I am proud to be an American. There isn’t another country in the world like it. But, as Franklin said, we have a Republic if we can keep it. Currently, we are in danger of losing it if we are not careful.

  2. Richard

    “Any map of the world that does not include utopia is not worth even glancing at” Oscar Wilde

    1. Mac

      Let’s hope that never happens. They’d kick us out.

  3. JimHirshfield


  4. Jon Michael Miles

    This calls for a basic redefinition of currency. I remember reading Being Digital many years ago and thinking about Negroponte’s statement of atoms vs. bits and how he thought drinking Perrier in Hawaii made very little sense. Why in the world would someone pay to drink bubbling water from France in the middle of the pacific ocean? If you take money, the abstract notion that we created, out of the equation, then a great deal of things start to make little resource sense. Taking Sockeye Salmon from Alaska to China to debone it? Assuming you’re burning fossil fuels, probably more harm that good. Tubular steel from South Korea sent to Williston North Dakota for fracking operations instead of using what’s made in Texas? Dumb idea. The idea of UBI – universal basic income – as I’ve heard it referred to is interesting, and in light of Foxconn installing robots as reported this morning in Slashdot this idea will need to be addressed sooner than later, and more likely in China before the U.S. As they are communo-capitalists I’ll be interested to see if they have the ideological will to pull it off and what we in the U.S. might make of what they do.

  5. Jon Smirl

    I’d much rather see the US government doing something like China did with Shenzhen. Take a useless piece of land and declare it tax free at all levels. Wow – forty years later and there is a major city on that spot. Probably a million jobs created. Every time something like that is tried in the US there are so many strings attached that it always fails.If you really want a basic income read about the economics of Star Trek….

    1. Jon Michael Miles

      No one starves on the Starship Enterprise.

    2. JLM

      .Taking lessons from the Chinese in capitalism.Giving lessons to the world on authoritarian overreach.How things have changed, no?JLM.

    3. MikeSchinkel

      @jonsmirl:disqus – Those two approaches are not mutually exclusive…

    4. Matt Zagaja

      Even if it’s tax free it only benefits those who already have capital to buy the land, I don’t think it’d be as impactful.

    5. Dave Pinsen

      China has a unique, inexhaustible resource: Chinese people. Chinese have prospered under different systems in different countries, from Malaysia to the US. It seems to take a really stupid system, such as Maoism, to keep them from prospering.

      1. ShanaC

        Chinese people age and die like everyone else. Plus due to the one child policy, they are below replacement rate

    6. ErikSchwartz

      I think there are a couple of spots in Shenzen where the air is breathable today. Unless of course you are “sensitive”.

      1. Jon Smirl

        All of China has the same lax environmental protection, not just Shenzhen. Hopefully they will start fixing that in the future.I’m not a fan of solving environmental problems by driving all of the manufacturers out of your country. Much better to keep the jobs and figure out how to safely handle the pollution.

  6. awaldstein

    If there are no low skilled (and low paid) jobs, we won’t have a restaurant industry.Better way in for some industries that simply can’t be automated, is minimum wage.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Not necessarily. Remember this NYT piece on Balthazar?:…Tonight, the waiters earn $345 in tips, the runners $207 and the busboys $172, which does not include the $5 an hour Balthazar pays them.Assuming an 8 hour shift, that’s $26.50 per hour for the busboys.If McNally can make money and pay his people well, so should other successful restaurateurs.

      1. awaldstein

        Two retorts:Who washes the dishes, mops the floor, cleans the urinals, washes the kale? To them busboys look like a job to aspire towards.And to hold up what McNally (genius btw) can drive at his successes and the rest of the restaurant world are not I think the same.So yes, there are exceptions but on a base level, no tips, out of the restaurants balance sheet, the model doesn’t support much.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Who mops the floor in Australian restaurants? The minimum wage there is close to $17 per hour (… ).It’s important to challenge the premise that the restaurant business needs to treat its lowest level workers like crap. There is a feudal aspect to the industry that may be traditional, and that has been abetted by mass, illegal immigration in this country, but it may not be necessary.

          1. awaldstein

            This is a great topic and glad you brought it up.I’ve invested in but never run a restaurant so I don’t have the details.I will tell you that in the food business generally, especially the artisanal businesses, the place to challenge your assumption is in the margin structure of the product itself.Complete aside–there are groups of M & A people at all the big food and beverage companies whose job it is to buy artisanal brands that pop. Their two criteria are: 1) brand that has more than just sizzle but true roots in the market and nutrition, and 2) it can scale. If it can scale with machines, good. Not all can and can’t escape the margi, hand labor stranglehold.

        2. LE

          Want to add that as an interesting side to the entire concept of tips is that it allows the restaurant to have lower price points on the menu. If tips were built in in theory (in order to pay everyone somewhat equally) the price point of the menu item would have to be raised.That would (in theory and I do support the theory because I have seen it in action myself multiple times) result in lower total sales and profits.So instead of that steak being priced at $28 it might be priced at $33 and then of course there would be sales tax on the delta which would add even more. (Likewise the fact that sales tax is a separate item also helps as well).Point being that people focus on what I will call “magic price points” and make buying decisions on those points. In general extras don’t change the mindset as much as bundling might in, at least, certain circumstances.

          1. awaldstein

            I don’t eat at restaurants that have a mandatory built in tipping % on the menu.This is more than about price, it is about human nature and what tips are all about.

      2. Jordan Thaeler

        That’s also a fine dining establishment on a Friday/Saturday or a resort during tourist season. Most restaurant employees earn pittance. 25% of restaurants go under every year, and most are barely profitable.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Most tech startups fail and yet most of their workers are well paid. Obviously, there are plenty of differences between the two fields but I’m challenging Arnold’s premise that the restaurant industry requires low wages.Maybe Fred can weigh in here. I know he and his wife have some angel investments in the restaurant industry.

      3. ErikSchwartz

        You’re talking about a restaurant where the average bill at dinner is probably over $200. I’m not sure how well that extrapolates to the restaurant industry as a whole.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          I guess it could never work in a restaurant like McDonald’s.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            It’s not going to work at Ruby Tuesday’s or Sizzler either.I really like Balthazar, but they charge $20 bucks for a cheeseburger.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            View the image in my comment above.

          3. ErikSchwartz

            Right. But Balthazar doesn’t pay its workers well. Balthazar customers have large bills and pay tips as a percentage of the total bill. Balthazar employees do well, but not because of direct compensation. Using Balthazar as a reference point for how restaurants can pay well is not particularly useful.Fast food (especially franchise based fast food) is a whole different industry.

          4. ErikSchwartz

            Are Danish McD’s franchises or corporate O&O?

        2. awaldstein


      4. laurie kalmanson

        Hungry now

    2. pointsnfigures

      Machines will put high end occupations out of biz. Anesthesiologists, X-ray docs. Heck, machines have put a lot of traders out of business. ; )

      1. awaldstein

        I agree with that and see a lot of change in that area.The strong movement towards more organic/natural/artisanal producers in out food supply chain will be definition demand hand labor to not even scale, but to subsist.

      2. LE

        Machines will put high end occupations out of biz.This happens over time and isn’t an overnight thing. Like the third man in the cockpit there are still two. Maybe there might be one some day. Maybe someday there might be zero. But it’s not an overnight thing. And labor will then shift to something that is appropriate for a person of that skill level. Over time.Separately, if you know anything about medicine and how doctors operate (I do) you will understand that the judgement issue is big in medicine and it all can’t be quantified and put into an algorithm. As much as people want to think it can it can’t. So there will be a need for less but this is not “no need for an elevator operator anymore”.Heck, machines have put a lot of traders out of business.So let me ask you then. Trading is really deal making? So computers have put many traders out of business. But they haven’t put deal making out of business, right? Look at yourself. You are doing something even if it’s not trading and even if you didn’t leave trading for a different reason. Otoh I know of people who, because of labor contraction (say lawyers), who aren’t working as lawyers but in some shit job. Or a girl I dated once her husband was a trader, made a good living, things went bust and iirc he ended up in a shitty job. That’s not an issue with trading going out it’s an issue with him not being able to be of the quality (that you are) to find something good to do with his time.

    3. jason

      I think the affect to the restaurant industry would be similar to a (high enough) minimum wage: If you want somebody to cook and serve your food, you should pay enough to make it worth their while.

      1. awaldstein

        I agree in spirit but it is not that simple.It’s about margins.You can sell this plate of food for $x, it costs $y to produce. Not everything is variable and the labor is where the squeeze is.

  7. JLM

    .Just as no revolution was ever launched on a full belly, most truly goofy (oops, unsound and ill advised?) ideas emanate from folks who are overfed and living large.What the world needs is jobs. To be truly obvious, if the world is going to be ROBOTS, then we need to train folks to service robots.We have become a society which is killing both incentive and self worth by avoiding the obvious learnings — we are defined by our work.This blog is not called: “Musings of a Philosopher King Who Just Happens to be a VC” for a reason.What we need is less dependency and more work, jobs. We need hard work and good jobs.The problem with full bellied liberal utopian ideas like a “basic income guarantee” is the burden is just laid at the feet of the productive to support the unproductive.Then the marginally productive are nudged into becoming truly unproductive.How much juice does the government expect to get from that particular lemon? The tax burden is already confiscatory.If the government cannot balance its books in the presence of the highest revenue receipts in the history of the US why should it be trusted to do anything?I color this idea as “unsound” and “ill advised” while really wanting to call it “goofy” but I know better than that.JLM.

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      With the pathways of increased productivity minimizing end cost of all goods, the basic guaranty doesn’t have to be thought so much as being a welfare check.A real leader who can inspire the desire to be part of improving the way we live in our locality along with world instead of preaching envy would be welcome.

      1. JLM

        .It is tough to see how getting something for nothing is not welfare.It is all just words but the basic concept of getting value for no work is caustic and debilitating to the human spirit.It creates a dependency.JLM.

        1. PhilipSugar

          We agree completely. Funny that like most things its actually circular: if you grow up seeing your parents not work because they are too rich or too poor the results end up being very similar.

          1. B12N

            “… if you grow up seeing your parents not work because they are too rich or too poor the results end up being very similar.”Wouldn’t the former still be rich in most cases? Both might be “lazy”, but their circumstances would be quite different.

          2. PhilipSugar

            Maybe the substance of abuse might be different, and you are right one has to blow through their money. But the behavior is the same.

        2. Dave W Baldwin

          Agreed. Part of the problem is thru envy many who do have so much compared to 2 generations back do not appreciate what they have. Then you have the pronouncements of redistribution enforcing the something for nothing. Until the side that wants to enlighten get their message together, the reward goes to those who stir bigger population with stick of envy.

        3. B12N

          I’m not sure why you’re using a basic income guarantee in a context where everything else is the same? There already is taxation, redistribution, and “welfare programs”. If we swapped all those inefficient systems out and introduced a basic income guarantee instead, would that not be better than what we have now?

          1. JLM

            .Yes, of course, that is the selling point for it all. The problem is there has been no tax in the history of the US which has ever been abolished.”Revenue neutral” has never been achieved.I love my country. I do not trust my government.The flat tax, the simplification of the IRC, the reform of entitlements — not going to happen.But theoretically I agree it is possible. Pragmatically it will not.The government and politicians are addicted to raising taxes forever and burdening the society with more and more programs.JLM.

          2. MikeSchinkel

            “I love my country. I do not trust my government.”When people say that I am always amused.Note that I definitely do not trust our government either, but what exactly is it that you love about your country? Is it something tangible, some specific aspect? Is it the people? It is the Constitution? Is it the land mass?Or is it just the ideal you hold in your head, the ideal that is unique to you and is (at least somewhat) different for every other citizen?Or it is just the meaningless but politically correct thing to say in an open forum?I honestly want to know, from you and from everyone else that makes that statement. Knowing will help me process a statement whose meaning is so abstract that I currently don’t understand it.

          3. JLM

            .I love the notion that the United States of America — from the Founding Fathers to today — stands for freedom and by that freedom unlocks the human potential within its people. This is where it all begins.I love the goodness of our people. I love the justice of our laws though I think we have an oversupply of laws and a paucity of justice at times.I love the leadership and character of Washington, Marshall, Eisenhower and the way they formed and fashioned our country.I love the Marshall Plan. I love that a man of war became the rebuilder of Europe and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. I love the Statue of Liberty and its beckoning to the world of America’s limitless opportunity.I love the American Dream.I loved serving in the military. I loved the trust placed in me to lead 46 rifles and ultimately 186 riflemen. I loved moving a company in contact. I love the sound of big guns doing my bidding.I love the entrepreneurial fertility of our system and the rewards available to hard work, creativity and risktaking.I loved going in harm’s way to defend that way of life and to even ensure that those with whom I disagree had the right to disagree.I love the land, the sky, the mountains.I love the skiing, the body surfing, the break at Jaws, the fishing in the Keys, the thunderstorms in Tampa Bay, landing in Wilmington after a long flight from Austin.I love being an American and knowing we are an exceptional country.I love the idea we have peacefully changed governments since our inception without a single tank in the streets.I love our country. I do not trust our government.Hope that helps.JLM.

          4. MikeSchinkel

            I love the notion that the United States of America — from the Founding Fathers to today — stands for freedom and by that freedom unlocks the human potential within its people. This is where it all begins.So what is freedom? An abstract concept that means different things to different people, or something objectively definable? Does freedom apply to all humans, or only those who won the birthright lottery (US citizenship?) What about Freedom for those in countries with strong US interests, like people in Saudi Arabia? Or people in lands where we have strong ideological ties, i.e. non-Jews in Israel? What about people in lands we decide to occupy (i.e. Iraq), do all of those people get Freedom? What about people who fight to deny a woman the right to an abortion?Or is the Freedom that unlock human potential only for the special people who are not in the cross-hairs of American strategic interest?I love the goodness of our people. You mean the goodness of the people who fight to deport poverty stricken “illegal aliens”, like Rick Perry in Texas and all those who rally around him to oppose the mothers and children who try to enter the US in search for a better life? Or do you mean the goodness of our people who fight against raising the minimum wage so that more people can we close to rising out of poverty?Or do you mean the goodness of out people who lobby to deny our Gay citizens the same rights that our straight citizens have?Or do you mean all those people who watch Fox New because they fan the flames of left-vs-right debates and thus view “liberals” as their enemy?I love the justice of our laws You mean the justice that only those who can afford legal representation can truly receive? The justice that has anyone not rich enough to spend $50k or more on defense to be relegated to a highly overworked and typically under-skilled public defender? That justice?Or the justice that has ~40% of the prison population for a race that in the broader population accounts for about 10%, and a race that is constantly profiled by law enforcement? That justice?I love the leadership and character of Washington, Marshall, Eisenhower and the way they formed and fashioned our country.I’ll give you that one, albeit too many people today invoke their writings to support ideas that would have them turning over in their graves.I love the Marshall Plan. I love that a man of war became the rebuilder of Europe and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. And I’ll give you that one too. But it’s not our country, it’s one man and then men that supported him many years ago. That’s not our country today.I love the Statue of Liberty and its beckoning to the world of America’s limitless opportunity.Yet another I’ll give you, albeit I think everyone who fights against “illegal immigrants” has forgotten that idea, if they ever even recognized it. I love the American Dream.File under “grossly abstract concept.” I loved serving in the military. I loved the trust placed in me to lead 46 rifles and ultimately 186 riflemen. I loved moving a company in contact. I love the sound of big guns doing my bidding.In other words, you loved our ability to subjugate others to perform our will? To assert power and impose authority over others, especially where there is strength in numbers? So you loved participating in and being part of the institutional lynch mob?I love the entrepreneurial fertility of our system and the rewards available to hard work, creativity and risk-taking.Agreed there, but how is that different from startups sprouting all over the globe?I loved going in harm’s way to defend that way of life and to even ensure that those with whom I disagree had the right to disagree.Well, that’s about you, not about the country.I love the land, the sky, the mountains.What about our land, sky and mountains makes them better than the other 93% of the world’s land masses?I love the skiing, the body surfing, the break at Jaws, the fishing in the Keys, the thunderstorms in Tampa Bay, landing in Wilmington after a long flight from Austin.So those exceed other countries in the world? And what about the other parts of the country? Toledo Ohio, for example? Or the Rust Belt? I love being an American and knowing we are an exceptional country.Exceptional how? Because we have the ability to kill more people with our military than any other country, and that we use it consistently? Exceptional because we have the world’s strongest economy, one that’ll soon be eclipsed by a nation with 5x as many people? Or one that may well be eclipsed before this century is over by a nation with 4x as many people?I love the idea we have peacefully changed governments since our inception without a single tank in the streets.And that offsets when we’ve killed +100k people during other military misadventures? Best to remember the good times and forget the bad?I do not trust our government.I don’t either. Not the point.I love our country. The point is that “I love my country” is code people use to signal they have likeminded ideologies. That they don’t actually love the ~50% who are left leaning or liberal. That they presume our country is special and that individually we are superior to any individuals outside the USA (well except for those “wrongheaded” liberals.) That we have a right to subjugate any non-citizens to our will, and that we shouldn’t question our military or the people who advocate the use of our military. That “collateral damage” is just fine and a perfectly acceptable outcome of our asserting our will on others, as long as the “collateral damage” is not an American citizen (well unless they are an out-spoken liberal, then it’s okay.)More simply, “I love my country” signals to others that you won’t accept any criticisms of our country except for those you and your fellow “love my country” partisan choose to make. All in Eric Hoffer’s[1] opinion because it “helps you feel better about yourself.””I love my country” is a nonsense position because everyone who says it has a myriad of things they hate about their country, and it’s used too often to squelch intelligent debate.Frankly, I think Urban Dictionary has a rather appropriate take[1] on the matter.[1]

          5. JLM

            .Yawn! Stretch…oh, Mike, sorry didn’t see you there.I don’t feel any particular compulsion to negotiate my answer to your question. It is what it is.One is tempted to categorize your comments as shallow, inconsequential and insubstantial but I shall resist the temptation.One might note you wander into a bunch of liberal tripe, not I. If you want to know what Rick Perry thinks about something, then perhaps you should ask him.At the risk of giving tripe a bad name, tripe it is otherwise.Boring, predictable to boot.JLM.

          6. MikeSchinkel

            @JLM – I see that when hard questions are asked you just rely on old tired dishonest debate techniques. Specifically [1] 1.) #24 Theatrical fake laughter (in written form) and #40 Mockery.Not that I’m surprised.[1]

          7. JLM

            .Not really a hard question, Mike. Boring.Give it a rest.JLM.

          8. MikeSchinkel

            “Give it a rest.”Says the man with arguably the largest quantity of contrary and often borderline insulting comments here since I’ve been following…

          9. ShanaC

            Guys…. Politics brings out crop from everyone. It’s a hot day. Don’t let it affect your emotional temperature

          10. ShanaC

            Actually, I’d listen if you’d answer, since I find some of the ethical implications of potential answers hard to deal with

          11. LE

            Or it is just the meaningless but politically correct thing to say in an open forum?I’m surprised you didn’t comment on this. Because I think you are about as politically correct as I am. Which is to say it doesn’t even enter your mind. You say what you believe and what you feel and let the chips fall.

          12. B12N

            You’re not necessarily getting rid of a tax – and while you may argue that no tax has been abolished – certain taxes have gone down. You’re just changing how it’s being transferred. Through the byzantine welfare programs we have today, or a more direct method.Whether it can be practically implemented in the U.S. nationally with the government it has today, it’s going to be very very hard, but mini-experiments in towns/cities can be a good start.

          13. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Untrue of all taxes currently in force – BS argument sorry

    2. ShanaC

      robots can and do service robots.

      1. JLM

        .The sexual practices of robots is none of our business.JLM.

        1. ShanaC

          Ha – but robots repair other robots. You don’t need that many people to repair robots, unless everyone moves to part time

        2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          Man…man., … i missed the AVC community for the last 6-months :-)…was hibernating on a new start-up….

    3. LE

      most truly goofy (oops, unsound and ill advised?) ideas emanate from folks who are overfed and living large.I know. I started to read Albert’s manifesto and he lost me at this:First, it sets human creativity free to work on whatever comes to mind. For many people that could be making music or learning something new or doing research.What’s with this renaissance man shit? Or is it hippie shit? How about some people just feel good from a hard day’s work?And we definitely need more music and art, right? Because there is already not enough of that to go around. And not enough people already not doing something useful because they are creating more and more art and music. Or youtube videos. Or uploading to soundcloud.And “learning something new”? File that under “entertainment”. Nice if you are a retired person in NYC (or suburbs) and want to take classes at the 92nd st. Y. Or that one day University thing. Learn from the masters. (You could also just buy some books, right? Oh, it’s more fun to be in a room with other people and feel like you are really learning I guess.) Or if you want to learn something in order to do something with the learning. Doubt anyone learning about history is going to do anything productive with it. Maybe someone dabbling in some other useful thing (learning microprocessors, say a dentist but he has a job already he isn’t loafing to fill his time) might (out of 10,000 people who go that route) go on to do something useful with it. For the rest it will just be entertainment and a fun thing to do. The fact that it isn’t riding a roller coaster or surfing doesn’t make it any better. It’s still entertainment.I learned many things on the side. But at the same time I was earning money doing something else. (And the things I learned paid off many years later.)I color this idea as “unsound” and “ill advised” while really wanting to call it “goofy” but I know better than that.Goofy is fine because: Fred properly distanced himself by framing this as “I don’t have a formed opinion on this idea.”. Same way he floats some investment ideas for the community here to feast on. This is Albert’s thing. Albert doesn’t get the same protection that Fred does. Hence the crime is Alberts. Not Fred’s. That said Albert is speaking from his perspective and the way he sees the world. Luckily there are people like you to clear things up.

      1. JLM

        .The problem with the Renaissance man mien is the RM is not on unemployment and requires no assistance to be the RM.He is already the RM and is funding it himself.Everybody cannot be a RM, somebody has to make the A/C work.There are damn few folks on dependency of any kind who are there looking to be Renaissance persons. They don’t even know WTF it means.JLM.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Your last graph echoes my comment above.More generally, it illustrates a blind spot that I think fuels a good bit of liberal politics: the inability to grok that there are lots of people who don’t have anywhere near the intelligence, discipline, or intellectual curiosity of an Albert Wenger.

          1. JLM

            .Or the pocket book.JLM.

          2. LE

            the intelligence, discipline, or intellectual curiosity of an Albert WengerI’ve worked, over time, with a wide range of people. I’ve stood and have conversations with electric line men and heard how they don’t like getting paid triple time and being put up in a hotel when there is a storm in another part of the country. They’d rather be at home with their family.My point is it’s a good idea to have an understanding and conversations with a wide range of people to know how they tick.Fork of the day As only one example I worked in my Dad’s warehouse as a kid and picked up a great deal from that experience. Like about the drunk who my dad had to pay in cash and but also keep some money for his wife or he would spend it on liquor on the way home (the wife would show up every Friday to get part of the pay directly from my Dad, in cash). And as another example the night before the NY Gift show he would have to make sure the people responsible for setting up the booth actually went to sleep and didn’t go out drinking the night before or they wouldn’t show up the next day to assemble the booth (which meant you had to pay union wages). Or the fact that you had to payoff the union guys so you could even bring in your own cheaper employees (even with the hotel and meal expense).

          3. PhilipSugar

            You, LE, and JLM are going to have the liberal police gunning for you!The one thing you are never supposed to say is that somebody is in a bad situation because they deserve to be. That makes you a bad person. Just because one doesn’t graduate from High School has children out of wedlock and has a substance abuse problem, it is not their fault, its mine.I would suggest taking kids out of the equation by having orphanages but now I have really crossed the line.

          4. LE

            The one thing you are never supposed to say is that somebody is in a bad situation because they deserve to be.Well I actually stopped saying that a long time ago. (I did say it at one time).My attitude has shifted over time to just believing that people are the way they are as a result of their circumstances. Some of those are in their control and some aren’t. Some people could try harder and some can’t. Some just have bad genes and are stupid and/or weak. Some are lazy to a tipping point. Maybe health who knows.That’s where we end up coming in to clean up the mess. And the problem will never be eliminated it just has to be minimized and kept contained. That makes you a bad person.My father in law (who was somewhat of a hippie) is a true blue bleeding heart liberal (former school teacher got to retire early). He actually got into a heated discussion and called me names over some stupid social issue that was akin to this “makes you a bad person”. Was out of left field.This is a real sickness. Why? Because why in the fucking world would you get upset with someone who is close to you (and you have to see repeatedly) over a bunch of fucking people (and issues) that don’t even know you exist? And it was something totally out of left field (had to do I think with the shooting in Connecticut at a school and guns or something like that. )

          5. Dave Pinsen

            Agree partially with LE below. Sometimes “deserve” has nothing to do with it. If you’re born with a 75 IQ, you’re not going to become a venture capitalist. Life will be a struggle for you. Tough to say you deserved that.Perhaps not coincidentally, Charles Murray, coauthor of the much-reviled-but-not-refuted book The Bell Curve, was an early advocate of a basic income.My preference would be for not a basic income, but the ability for most average Americans to find some economic security in the private sector. I think many on the right have forgotten the lesson of the Reagan Democrats: that they were free to vote Republican because their good private sector wages and benefits made them less dependent on government aid. With the hollowing out of the middle class — in part due to automation, but also a result of bad trade and immigration policies — Americans are more dependent on government than ever.Nevertheless, a basic income may be preferable to the status quo, if it can be used to replace the benefits ‘aristocracy’ Glenn Reynolds just wrote about.

          6. MikeSchinkel

            The one thing you are never supposed to say is that somebody is in a bad situation because they deserve to be. That makes you a bad person.Not a bad person, just arrogant and judgmental.Almost no one is in a position to judge the decisions of another (albeit where dictated by law) because they don’t have all the facts relevant to that other person’s situation.For example, the parking garage for one of my client’s has people park two-up and requires people who block others to leave their keys. Yesterday I gave my keys to the attendant when I arrived. In the evening I had a nasty note on my car window calling me an asshole for not leaving my keys and “costing them 1/2 hour before they could get out some other way” and threatening to “not be so nice next time.” Well the attendant had misplaced my keys and it took the security guard over an hour to find them. So she (the writing was too nice to be a man’s) assumed she knew I was a jerk and judged me, not knowing we were both victim of a screwup. And taken at her word she might take action against me if it happens again, all through no fault of my own.Similarly, most people who say others “deserve to be” in their bad situation have no context to judge the person. And the fact those judgmental people constitute a large faction politically means that “outrage against those who don’t deserve something” continues and solutions to the problem are never actually sought.The same is true with the immigration debate. Or at least that’s the rationalization for it. We can’t solve the problem because in too many people’s eyes the immigrants “don’t deserve” to be here, even though the irony is by and large they are harder workers than those the US citizens who the judgmental people claim deserve to be in a bad place.And as long as people exist with those kind of attitudes we’ll never solve the problem because it’s too easy for the politicians to fan the flames of outrage to gather campaign donations and gin up votes.Just because one doesn’t graduate from High School has children out of wedlock and has a substance abuse problem, it is not their fault, its mine.I doubt anyone making or influencing policy has ever said that it is “your” fault, or the fault of any group you are associated with.

        2. LE

          He is already the RM and is funding it himself.I think the exception to this might be some guy who keeps getting more education (while working in a restaurant as a waiter) because he is putting off being in the real world or can’t bring himself to have an office job which he can actually earn a living from. So just more degrees and more learning to put off entering the real world because of all the “you must love what you do” shit that goes around.somebody has to make the A/C work.Agree. And you can earn a decent living do that.I feel sorry for some of these guys though. I’m trying to get a handyman to do some work for me and this guy is booked solid, doesn’t return calls (because he has so much business). And I think, hmm, instead of charging $25 per hour, doing estimates for free, why don’t you jack up your pricing? Then I think, hmm, why don’t I just call him and offer to pay him $40 per hour?I had this discussion with an electrician once. After he did a bunch of work for me I told him that he was charging to cheaply and he could get much more for what he was doing. He had no clue he was simply an electrician and not opportunistic in that sense. [1] [2][1] They guys that are are the ones that drive up in the big fancy hopped up trucks with the trailer hitch for their jetski which they take out on the weekend.. Those guys telegraph “you will overpay” to me.[2] This is an “only as honest as the competition” thing. They all should charge for estimates but because as a group they don’t a single operator can’t pull it off. Same thing happens with how realtors waste their time as well. (Doesn’t happen with lawyers..)

          1. JLM

            .When you take competitive bids for a meaningful bit of construction work, you will get a range of 100% from low to high.The low bidder will be a guy with “pickup truck” overhead, no website and running his business on his cell phone.He will likely be a pretty damn good craftsman because he owns the business. He will have good tools. He will be tough to get in touch with.I have done this thousands of times.JLM.

          2. LE

            The low bidder will be a guy with “pickup truck” overhead, no website and running his business on his cell phone.One wonders why the younguns haven’t disrupted by building a lean mean back office (and estimating) machine to tame some of these guys so they can spend more of their time actually doing the work rather than a bunch of non productive shit. And not in a way that just makes the best more busy either.You know I’ve always marveled at the people who work in doctors offices. They fill the cue tips and get everything setup. Front office, billing etc the whole shebang. Then the doctor walks efficiently (somewhat) from room to room just seeing patients. He’s not ordering shit from the pharmacy and collecting receivables. He’s a single function machine in a sense. Imagine what costs would be if that wasn’t the case.

          3. timraleigh

            …damn, you nailed that one.

          4. JLM


        3. timraleigh

          “There are damn few folks on dependency of any kind who are there looking to be Renaissance persons. They don’t even know WTF it means.”Very funny and unfortunately true…

        4. Eric

          The point you’re missing is that robots are going to making the A/C work. And other robots will be servicing the robots.In the not distant future we’ll have robots that are simply faster, stronger, less error-prone than humans when it comes to doing *any* kind of physical task. We’ll also have software that’s simply faster, smarter, better, less error prone, and more capable than humans when it comes to doing *any* sort of cognitive or knowledge based task.In such a world, exactly what jobs will be left for humans to do? Not driving trucks or taxi’s. Not mining. Not flying. Not medicine. Not restaurant service. Not manufacturing goods. Not farming. Not administrative tasks. Not accounting. Not janitorial work. Not wiring or plumbing or HVAC or construction. Not when there’s robots that can do all that and more, better for nothing.There’s just not going to be enough work to go around. Certainly not enough work with enough value that everyone can put in 40 hours and get out a living wage. Hell, some would argue we’ve already hit that point.So what’s the answer to mass unemployment if not a basic income guarantee?

          1. MikeSchinkel

            @ejp1082:disqus So what’s the answer to mass unemployment if not a basic income guarantee?Some would say “Let them eat cake.”

      2. Dave Pinsen

        I like Albert and give him credit for taking on big picture topics like this on his blog, but the renaissance man stuff suggests a lack of awareness of what folks on the left half of the bell curve like to do with their free time. They’re not spending it at the 92nd Street Y.

        1. LE

          Well, like Bill Gates and his wife who take the time to travel to Africa and cure all this shit going on over there I wonder if Bill Gates has ever spent time in some of the shitty places in our country?I’ve always had a theory on the reason for this. Could be that it’s much cleaner and a better trip to go to some exotic place (and most importantly be able to keep your distance and sanitize the experience) than it is to go to Camden, Newark, Detroit or even a bad area of Brooklyn. Plenty of things need to be solved here in our country. It’s Gates money to do what he pleases with but I’ve always wondered why none of these billionaires do the same here.Oh sure if they do it’s always put toward education. Which is perceived as some magic bullet to every problem. It’s not. Why don’t you live in the neighborhood and see? (I know for security reasons could never happen so send a hidden camera and someone else..)Unfortunately given the neighborhood and family issues in these areas education isn’t going to come close to solving the “problem”.

          1. B12N

            The “shit going on” over there is probably worse than the “shit going on” over in the USA. When you’re dying of polio and malaria and starvation – you’re saving a whole lot more people from dying. In terms of the number of people’s lives being dramatically, radically improved for the amount of effort/resources you put in, I think it’s pretty clear why they go there.

          2. LE

            They are free to do whatever they want it’s their money.Personally I’m more worried about what is going on in my own back yard since it is going to have an impact on me. What is going on “over there” isn’t. I am sometimes amazed at how shitty things are (in some of these war torn countries that is) or what is happening with the refugees coming into the US from Ecuador. But I don’t lose sleep over it. Unfortunately I can’t. I do feel bad about it. But I’m not doing anything about it and probably won’t.Anyway if resources were always allocated toward the “best use” nobody would be doing anything with their money other than help people dying somewhere. So instead of kickstarter or going to a movie they would feed a child in Africa. (Used to be ads “you can turn the page or” and “for only pennies a day” etc.)Anyway this is all about the person giving feeling good about themselves however they spend their money and getting positive feedback.

          3. B12N

            We’re all humans on a single planet. A life in Africa is suppose to be worth no less than a life in the USA. The only difference was pure luck why you were born in one country and not another.But yes, you’re right, they can do whatever they want with their money in terms of charity. I don’t necessarily agree with the countless numbers of animal rights activists, or the heaps of money that are piled into art museums, when there are a whole bunch of other things that need fixing, including your own country.

          4. LE

            or the heaps of money that are piled into art museumsThis type of thing is as much about buying into a social network and having fun as it is helping what they might also feel is a good cause.For example if you have a charity that helps people in Harlam or Newark you get to attend rubber chicken dinners in Harlam or Newark with people that you probably almost certainly aren’t going to want to be around or socialize with (because they aren’t like you).But if you support the Art Museum or the Opera you get to attend nice affairs with the type of nice people that you might like to be around. (Might also be good for business for some people as well).Human behavior is usually pretty predictable and you can usually drill down to why people do what they do.As always, there are exceptions.

          5. sigmaalgebra

            My guess is that what Bill and Melinda are doing now is nearly all from what Melinda wants and heavily got from the nuns in her schooling. So, look at some aspects, norms, ideals, doctrine, etc., of the Roman Catholic religion and see a big theme of ‘save the world’ and ‘save the poorest of them’, and that may explain what Bill and Melinda are doing.In some parts of Christian religion, this ‘save the world’, mostly just for women, stuff is really strong: Indeed, in major parts of that culture, it is often assumed that the main purpose of a woman is just that.Melinda looks like one heck of a sales person: She’s raised, what, $100 billion or so, from Bill and Warren? And, as I recall, she was a force behind the Giving Pledge which apparently has been signed by Simons, Case, Ellison, and more.My guess is that Melinda talked Bill into the broad direction of their projects. I would credit Bill for the more scientific aspects, e.g., eliminate polio, beat malaria, a better condom, etc.

          6. LE

            You know I think you are right.The other night I caught (some of) Bloomberg TV repeat with both Gates and Mike Bloomberg. MB joked “it’s what he wife wants”. I thought it was just a general joke about “happy wife happy life” but now what you are saying makes more sense (as far as wife’s motivation for pushing in a particular direction).…(I think the above is part of what I watched but I’m not sure).Gates mom of course was big with the Red Cross (how he met IBM) and I had heard that Melinda was like his mom or something. That’s the Harville Hendrix stuff at work.…(Not sure above link talks about this concept but I will offer it anyway.)

      3. timraleigh

        “How about some people just feel good from a hard day’s work?”Hear hear! well said.

    4. christopolis

      The world doesn’t need more jobs. China is proof of that. They have a relatively low unemployment rate. What the world needs more decentralized power. Centralize power and centralize wealth, Decentralize power decentralize wealth. Its pretty simple really.

      1. JLM

        .The US has 90MM not in the work force. The US has real unemployment of in excess of 15%.The US needs jobs.JLM.

        1. christopolis

          The source of jobs is wealth and it always will be.

          1. christopolis

            And do you think we would be better off like China with 300 million in rice fields?

    5. SubstrateUndertow

      Nice rear view mirror you’ve got there !”we are defined by our work”

Yes, us humans have always been defined by our CREATIVE-EFFORTS as empowered by our uniquely human abstract imaginations.WORK is simply an historical(rear view mirror) sub-flovor of CREATIVE-EFFORT that was necessitated by our lack of the technologies required to free ourselves from those lower level material survival struggles.
As that technological trajectory continues, ever larger proportions of humanity can potentially be pulled up out of the old WORK fields into productive CREATIVE EFFORTS that are becoming evermore indistinguishable from the pure pleasures of CREATIVE socials participation.
Good work is CREATIVE EFFORT that is pulled along by personal satisfaction.

Robotics, software-algorithms and networks may be eating the world but the really important issue is what WE HUMANS WILL ALLOW those technologies to shit out in their wake.
Do we have the abstract CREATIVE-EFFORT(modern work-ethic) on board to reconfigure our values systems around that robotics/software-algorithm/network revolutionary technological productivity-beachhead? Or is that productivity beachhead going to be squandered by shoe horning it into an obsolete wealth-distribution value-system.
The industrial revolution pulled most of us up out of the fields(agriculture) by elevating our work into more abstract/pleasurable CREATIVE EFFORTS.
The robotics/software-algorithms/networks revolution will either elevate/FINANCE our CREATIVE-EFFORT(WORK) into an integrated fabric that is indistinguishable from creative social participation or it will collapse us into a counterproductive food-fight between a gated 1% and the rest of us.
That pointless, obsolete, foot-dragging, food-fight based old wealth-distribution business-model will ultimately collapse under the weight of its own illegitimacy and ultimately be replaced by a more distributive/sustainable social wealth-distribution business-model.
The only question is how much gnashing of teeth we will be required to endure at the hands of our short sighted incumbent wealth-class before we all realize that a more inclusive culture of wealth-distribution is to everyone’s mutual advantage including the mutual advantage of a more legitimized wealth-class.
”Imagination is more important than Knowledge”
it is our uniquely powerful human empowerment
it supersedes the limitations of a rear facing perspective
.The COLLABORATIVE-IMAGINATION required to create new collective-productivity governance-mechanisms, well now, that unfortunately has not been granted us as an evolutionary endowment. COLLABORATIVE-IMAGINATION survival-tools/strategies are technical biological-extension we will have to construct for ourselves.
Constructing such COLLABORATIVE-IMAGINATION toolsets as required to effectively experiment with new forms of collective-productivity/distributive-governance/distributive-risk-management mechanisms is job-one for any software that plans on eating the world without cannibalizing ourselves in the process.
As per yesterday’s discussion about SV lacking “solutions to big problems” I agree with Marc Andreessen’s tweetstorm #12
12/I think this is 100% incorrect: Communication tech/apps including Internet are the foundation for everything else we’ll do for 100 yearsIt is all these coalescing atomic-table of social-communications Apps that are setting the table for “solving the big problems” like COLLABORATIVE-IMAGINATION toolsets that can in turn set the table for solving the even larger problems like experimenting with modern network mechanisms for collective-productivity/distributive-governance/distributive-risk-management.The old “keep your hands off my stack” is not a recipe for economic success in an age of technologically-enforced, high-flux, organically networked interdependencies.Wealth-distribution needs to flee to higher ground post haste !
”history is a race between education and catastrophe”
and with
the wealth of the top 85 people = the bottom 3.5 billion
time is running out !

    6. sigmaalgebra

      > What the world needs is jobs.For whatever reasons, and as you have pointed out here at, here in the US we have high unemployment. Economic change threw a lot of people out of work; a lot of them were highly qualified, experienced, talented, and motivated but were essentially 100% absolutely, totally, permanently unemployable at any job that would let them have a triple of an apartment, car, and job that would not lose money. That’s just a fact about the situation. Part of it is, no one wants to hire someone 50 years old although they may have 20-25 more years of good productivity. Their only option is to start a business and somehow pay the bills. Whatever the causes are, that’s just the way it is.One broad macro economic strategy is to keep giving unemployment to people out of work. Then those people buy things — food, clothing, housing, transportation, medical care, etc. Eventually with enough such people consuming but not producing, the people producing will need to produce more and will hire some of the unemployed and then maybe the unemployment rate will go down.There could be a fear: If all the unemployed were forced into the job market, under any conditions, at any ‘market clearing’ wage, then wages might fall to, say, $1 an hour. Then a lot of contracts would fail, say, mortgages on real estate, car loans, student loans, etc. Likely we’d be in a massive deflation and, then, a great depression.Broadly the problem really should have a solution: We already know what people want in the famous one word answer “more”, Well, that can be much more, some factors of 10 more, and a factor of 10 in productivity is tough to get. That is, there is a lot of work to be done to provide people with more. So, as people want “more”, they should be willing to work for more; I believe that they are, but so far we don’t know how to adjust the job machine to let people have the jobs they need to get more. So, we sit here, with the massive waste of nearly everyone except the 1% wanting more, huge unemployment of people eager to provide more and, thus, get more for themselves, but no way to connect the two.

  8. kidmercury

    no. debt is the only problem and debt cancellation and revision is the only solution. those who have done the math know this. any other “solution” not rooted in debt restructuring only shifts the problem around; it doesn’t solve it.

    1. Richard

      you can’t look at debt without looking at assets.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      One man’s debt is another man’s asset so your also talking asset restructuring and taken together your talking about a massive redistribution of wealth.Not going to happen in any logically controlled way !

      1. kidmercury

        if it doesn’t happen logically and controlled, it will happen chaotically.

    3. ShanaC

      If we did debt cancelation and scheduled it for a month from now, what do you think would happen to the economy tomorrow?There is a reason hillel the elder invented the pruzbul.… In the Roman period the year before the Jubilee year in the Jewish calendar famines would happen as people refused to loan money and do business with each other.

  9. Eric

    The idea as it’s usually proposed wouldn’t incentivize people not to work, because unlike most welfare programs today the benefits wouldn’t go away because you took a job. It’s best thought of as “Universal Social Security”, because it would work just like that except it would benefit everyone, not just senior citizens. Seniors get checks regardless of their lifestyle or wealth; this just expands it to everyone.Further it would probably replace a lot of existing welfare programs. Rather than the complicated set of agencies offering tax credits, housing vouchers, food stamps, etc, you get one check to spend as you wish, whether you work or not.If you want to improve your lifestyle, do and buy nice things, you’ll work. But your subsistence will no longer be tied to having a job and willingness of others to pay for it. It would probably incentivize against people taking particularly shitty jobs for especially low wages. But that’s probably not a bad thing. It’s true that some people are lazy and wouldn’t work, but I think there’s not nearly as many of those people as some think. I think that there’s a lot more people who’d spend their time engaging in high societal value (but currently low paid) activities. Art, teaching, volunteering, etc. And you’d probably see a big rise in entrepreneurship thanks to the security of a guaranteed income.I think it’s inevitable when you consider the implications of software and robotics, but even if it wasn’t inevitable it’d still be a good idea.

  10. MikeSchinkel

    @fredwilson:disqus – While I fully agree with you I can’t even imagine how much Libertarian and Free-market ideological vitriol that’s going to get spewed in your direction. You are asking that we collectively slaughter the sacred cow, even though that cow looks like it might have eaten other cows with Mad Cow disease…

    1. B12N

      A basic income guarantee could be more libertarian friendly and free-market friendly than the current system now.Here’s a libertarian trying to make that case: http://www.libertarianism.o

      1. MikeSchinkel

        Ha! There’s classic Libertarianism that studies it and reads academic papers and then there’s modern day American populist Libertarianism; the type which gets adopted as identity and defined by what seems to be in the short term best interest of the perceiver. I was referring to the latter. 🙂

        1. B12N

          The “Tea Party”? 😛

          1. MikeSchinkel

            @bnme:disqus – Well, now that you mention it… 😉

      2. jacopogio

        another very good reading!

  11. reggiedog

    “I know that welfare didn’t work out too well in the last century.”On what do you base your “knowledge”?Not that I have any data myself, but it seems like a blanket statement that would require a detailed counterfactual argument to assess. Was welfare ineffective or harmful vs. not having it?Certainly everything can be done better, but I just don’t know if we have enough data to show that statement correct. (I wouldn’t invest in a startup based on that hypothesis alone ;-)Would you say that society advanced overall, and some people did very well, in a system that included “welfare” (by whatever definition you are using for the term)? Our are you saying that “welfare” was a bad policy/action that should never have been undertaken?Again, I have no opinion other than thinking that things moved forward somewhat in the last century.My own bias is to see the main societal problems we are facing today as not being caused by giving money/support (however you pitch it) to the lower economic tier, but rather too much “support” to the upper tiers of society. WWI and WWII were more likely caused by upper tier than lower tier, to name some bad stuff that happened in the last century.Are the societal problems of poverty caused by lower tier people themselves? Is the tragedy of the commons created by the people without the cows?

  12. Tom Labus

    Since we are now the world’s largest producer of oil and are about to be energy independent, lets really put petal to metal in that sector and produce more good paying jobs.I think that there will be a lot a robots but also that we have no idea how that will play out

    1. JLM

      .The US could be energy independent in a couple of years with the right decisions being made many of which are staring us in the face right now — Keystone, nuclear power, refinery construction, offshore drilling, etc.Absent energy dependency, oil/war economics change immediately and monumentally.Who GAS about the Straits of Hormuz if we are energy independent?Unemployment in the Oil Patch in the US is non-existent.JLM.

  13. Matt Zagaja

    I like it because it would lower the transaction and administrative costs associated with many of today’s social safety net programs and provide people with the freedom to choose if they want to spend it on say food versus medical care, etc.

  14. Duncan Logan

    I’m not so pessimistic that there will be no low paid jobs. I am sure people had the same view with the evolution of the steam engine or combustion engine when 50%+ people worked in Agriculture. (Now less than 2% in developed nations) New jobs will be created. I heard this morning that less than 12% of the worlds population have ever been on a plane, all those people will one day probably need services.

  15. Chris Jagers

    This concept sounded crazy to me when I first heard about it, but I have come around. Here is a Medium post that briefly makes a powerful case:

    1. jacopogio

      very good reading!

  16. William Mougayar

    I’m still wrapping my head around this one. I’m not fully comprehending why it’s a good thing, but I’d like to learn more.

    1. jacopogio

      start by reading the 2 suggestions by Chris Jagers and B12N : they give a good approach to the subject.

  17. LE

    FYI for multiple days now comments aren’t coming up under ios6.

  18. MikeSchinkel

    I ran a meetup for web entrepreneurs in Atlanta from 2007-2011 and one of the biggest considerations for starting a business was would they be able to survive long enough on no income before their business was able to provide them an income. So one potentially great benefit of a Basic Income Guarantee is it could free up an untold number of people to become startup entrepreneurs.

  19. mark

    So the implication is that in 10s of years, private companies will have armies of robots replacing middle & low class workers? Is that the pain that’s driving this need?I guess deliveries, transport, repair work, jobs across a large range of professions could migrate to robots quickly if we meekly allow that to happen.The problem is I find it hard to believe that setting a basic income is going to make such a huge social transition tolerable. In such a society there wouldn’t be jobs even if people wanted them. The very notion that giving a basic income would stop people wanting to work would be irrelevant given there wouldn’t be jobs for many people.You’d have to start by mapping out the kind of society that would tolerate robots taking over all of these jobs. I don’t know what would happen in the US but I can tell you the truck drivers in France would be destroying the robots before they were out of their boxes. There would be an army of hammer wielding workers breaking the things apart in very short order.Once robots start really taking jobs people will start fighting. I mean you only have to look at how people react to migrant workers when they threaten their jobs to realise that a basic wage is the tip of a very large iceberg and isn’t going to pacify the masses.

  20. LE

    But if we really are headed into a world where there aren’t any low skilled jobs, then I guess we need to be talking about ideas like this.How about we talk about birth control (and for that matter abortion) and get off this notion that everyone can have as many children (born into poverty) as they please regardless of their mental health or ability to care for the children?Of course we aren’t going to go there, right?You know I had two kids and the ability to pay for them came into the picture when having those kids. And the women I remarried had two kids but earned a good living so I didn’t take on marrying a women with kids (and no job, she has a really good one actually) it was part of the thought process in deciding to remarry. Likewise she almost certainly evaluated $$ as part of the reason to marry me (not that I have so much but that I wouldn’t be a burden on her is my point). I’m sure when you (Fred) had 3 kids you most definitely gave that some thought. [1] Otoh there seems to be this premise that people can just have kids and offspring because that is universally good (like religion, education, and love) and others will end up having to take care of the problems created by that.Bottom line: Safety net = “have more kids born into poverty”. “More kids born into poverty” = “more problems”. That was part of the unintended consequence with welfare. You get more money with more kids. People have kids to have more money. (Or so I am told I haven’t personally verified this but believe it to be true.)[1] And as you related when you hit it big again Joanne said “we can move back to the city” you recognized that you couldn’t do that until the $$ came. It was not an expectation until then.

    1. Emil Sotirov

      Albert mentions in his post that the BI would go to people above certain age – like 16. That would prevent, I guess, having babies as a way of getting more BI in the household.

  21. jason wright

    if robots are deployed on that scale a basic income guarantee will be the only way to prevent a populist revolution on the streets of the US and other western countries. it’s a pay or pray choice for the affluent. the point to remember is that people living at minimum income levels do spend most if not all of the money they receive. it does drive the economy at the lowest levels of the pyramid.the ‘something for nothing’ morality dilemma doesn’t concern me one iota. i would suggest though that people in receipt of BIG should not be permitted to own a telly. they should be encouraged out of their dwellings and be made to account for their ‘working week’ in some way or other. it doesn’t have to be the draconian ‘sweeping the streets’ approach. set people free and they will flourish. if you don’t believe that this is possible then you’ve been taken by the rhetoric of the elite political class and their backers.

  22. christopolis

    It works great in Alaska. So well that they have way more time to PARRRTYY…

  23. christopolis

    Also Milton Friedman sums up the issue perfectly here…

  24. Doug Gibbs

    I did not see this in any other comments, but I skimmed.Let’s assume the government can give a basic income without work for the robot displaced workers. If I am on this program would I get more income to cover the cost of my child?That makes sense, kids are expensive. Please won’t you all think of the children!!!We have just build an incentive system for people on the basic income program to have as many children as possible and use the money for purposes other than the best possible care for those children. I am not saying all, but some will abuse the system.A large and growing group dependent on a much smaller, intellectual, wealth creating group is not a good recipe for society. The alternatives are not very politically correct either.

  25. jseliger

    I don’t have a formed opinion on this idea. I favor it some in theory but less in practice, for reasons articulated by Megan McArdle and Tyler Cowen.Perhaps the bigger problem than whether it’s a good idea in theory is that I see no good way to evolve from where “we” currently are to where a Guaranteed Annual Income might lead us.

  26. ShanaC

    I’m for it. It would kill a lot of overhead. Plus I assume that most people know how to spend money best for them, including the poor.

  27. Lance Sun

    For the most part I’ve thought of a basic income as inevitable. But then what happens to all the people who are unable to work, and a “being a productive member of society” (as currently defined) is not something they’re able to do? What do you live for then?I don’t think everyone is going to make money (or even get much personal fulfillment) by being the millionth person to make jewelry on Etsy or YouTube videos that nobody watches. But I do think that contribution to society can be more than just economic, so maybe this is the wrong framework. Maybe those on basic incomes will spend their day participating in Meetups based on different interests. We already see some of this with stay-at-home moms coming together to socialize and do activities together. Leading or participating in a yoga class or music group may not be an economically viable business, but it provides a sense of community where people can grow and connect and feel proud of what they’re a part of. And I think there’s value in that.So maybe participation in community-based interest groups will be the new metric for success that replaces labor participation.

  28. Michal Haltuf

    I must say I generally oppose this idea, as it seems to be very socialistic for me.In case, it’s inevitable, there are many challanges to be solved.1/ Make sure, that Basic Income will really replace the current social systems. Governments all over the world (I’m not from US) are very reluctant to cancel old systems. If we set up Basic Income, but leave current regulations (like minimum wage) and social systems running, it would probably just worsen everything.2/ What will be the long-term incentives effects? How will BI affect the natality? How will BI affect “social pathologies” like alcoholism, drugs, gambling – won’t it be an excuse for government to tighten regulations even more in these areas? (like the tragic and futile 40-years lasting War on Drugs in U.S. that just kills innocent people)How will BI affect the prices of basic goods with inelastic demand? Housing, food, gas, utilities … It might easily happen, that most of the extra money from poor people will just pour into the pockets of producers, landowners and houseowners.What about migration (flat BI same for whole country would present an incentive to move to U.S. cities with lower price level)? What about immigration?3/ How much will it cost? Where will we get the funding? Rising taxes just to fund BI is a terrible idea. Maybe some changes in banking system could be a solution. Presently, banking system in USA creates 765 billions of new dollars per year, ex nihilo – through monetary transmission channels – without any inflationary effect at the moment.Maybe crediting these new money directly and evenly to the people could be one source for such funding (although not sufficient)Anyway, I percieve this idea as a potential way to the socialism and therefore I’m watching it very carefully.

  29. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    I see Albert getting bad press here. But you know what he won’t care.Why because he has freed himself in Platos cave.He dares to think.Socrates did that, It inspired Plato to protest the difference between thought and leadership.Without Plato no Academy no Bologna, Paris, Oxford, Yale – No “so full of their own importance that they forget to look down on the Giants upon whose shoulders they stand”So – maybe you will destroy Albert, or maybe not, but maybe they will talk about his ideas in 2,300 years – which is a lot more than can be said of the 99.9999% at AVC.When you have thought – that is spent time to think and reflect – and you find people are still inspired 2300 years hence – then (maybe) you are ready to devalue the luxury (the word luxury comes from “light” as in lux). Meanwhile go back to your cave and believe Albert imaybe blinded by leaving the cave. – You too can be anonymous prisoners of your security – but Albert chooses to think otherwise – AND THAT is the basis of innovation,Summary – Don’t knock something you have never even tried.

  30. jim

    “I know that welfare didn’t work out too well in the last century.” Ouch. I’ve been a loyal, daily reader of this blog since 2006. I guess all it takes is one line, though — this will be the last post that I’ll ever read from this blog.

  31. Ciaran

    Your comment that welfare didn’t work out to well is one that I would suggest that most of Europe’s history in the latter half of the twentieth century could argue against. If by welfare we mean a system that is designed to stop people dropping off the edge, and enables them to set themselves up to do better, then it does work. I give you Scandinavia as a living case study.The problem is that the accepted political dialogue of the last 30-40 years has been that the welfare state (different to simple welfare) is a massive drain on the state whereas the real drain is the highest percentiles who benefit from all the infrastructure and safety nets these systems provide but then do everything they can to duck out of helping to maintain it.I’m not suggesting there are no problems with welfare (they’re often set-up badly) nor that they should be allowed to run amok, but when 27% of people in the UK think 27% of spend is wasted on benefit fraud when it’s more like 1%, the problems lie in perception as much as reality. The biggest recipients of benefits/welfare are pensioners. How often is that part of the conversation?I think the biggest problems are ones you often address around the impact of money in politics; we should all be more worried about the drive to allow corporations to object to and twist the laws of democratically elected governments than how much welfare does or doesn’t work. If politicians spent as much time trying to fix the loop-holes that allow corporations to (legally) avoid billions of dollars in taxation as they did bashing people who have to claim things to survive, the world would be a much better place.

  32. Amyp Colyer

    I­­­­­­­­­ am ­­­­­­­­­making ­­­­­­­­­a ­­­­­­­­­good ­­­­­­­­­salary ­­­­­­­­­from ­­­­­­­­­home­­­­­­­­­*5500­­­­­­­­­-­­­­­­­­­*7000/month ­­­­­­­­­, ­­­­­­­­­which ­­­­­­­­­is ­­­­­­­­­amazing,­­­­­­­­­under a ­­­­­­­­­year ­­­­­­­­­ago ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­was ­­­­­­­­­jobless ­­­­­­­­­in ­­­­­­­­­a­­­­­­­­­horrible ­­­­­­­­­economy. ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­thank ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­God ­­­­­­­­­every ­­­­­­­­­day­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­was ­­­­­­­­­blessed ­­­­­­­­­with these ­­­­­­­­­instructions ­­­­­­­­­and ­­­­­­­­­now­­­­­­­­­it’s ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­my ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­duty ­­­­­­­­­to ­­­­­­­­­pay ­­­­­­­­­it­­­­­­­­­forward ­­­­­­­­­and ­­­­­­­­­share ­­­­­­­­­it ­­­­­­­­­with ­­­­­­­­­Everyone, ­­­­­­­­­ Here ­­­­­­­­­is ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­started..,.,.,.,…..

  33. ZekeV

    We essentially already do this, as our tax system is heavily redistributive (except in important exceptional cases where it’s the opposite, such as property taxes and SSI). In principle I find this objectionable, having money stolen from me at the point of the gun to finance another person’s indolence. But the real problem with this thought is at the premise that technology is responsible for unemploying the young and unskilled classes. I actually think it’s the interventionist attempts to remedy unemployment that are at the heart of the problem. Institutionalizing this redistributive ethos with a universal welfare state would make the problem worse, not better. Although, I do think it’s interesting to imagine the class of services that would spring up around the minimum income ecosystem — restaurants where you can eat 3 meals a day on EBT rations.

  34. Raoul

    What I like about the basic income idea is, if you give people money, they can buy things, make a demand on the market, be a target audience for entrepreneurs and innovators. It’s a fundamentally important aspect of not being in poverty.

  35. David Gillespie

    Welfare in America and welfare in Europe, Canada or Australia are worlds apart. The country would do well to shed its ideological approach to everything and consider systems and approaches beyond its own borders.

  36. Andrew Ghobrial

    The way I see it, there are two options for a society where robots handle all manual/unskilled labor. Either abolish capitalism and have citizens living in a Utopia where everything is free, or the more likely option, curb population growth, so you have less “redundant” citizens that need jobs artificially created in order to give them an income.

  37. Mark Essel

    Also curious how this affects the elderly, in light of social security and it’s long term trouble delivering a minimum level of income to our seniors.Not sure how this becomes applicable to the US without a drastic change in our economic system to more closely resemble Switzerland or maybe Norwegian nations.

  38. paramendra

    Everybody having a place to live and food to eat —– I think that “safety net” would lead to a creative undercurrent of humanity. It would not cost much. The place to live need only be basic.

  39. disqus_ldTeP6rX6V

    I got 4 job offers in the past week, two in the arts and two in the sciences. All four wanted me to work for free. This is not just about low wage workers. America is run by a small group of people who are still sore about the Reconstruction Amendments and want to get around it.