Video Of The Week: Rutger Bregman on Basic Income

A lot of people were buzzing about Rutger Bregman‘s talk on Basic Income at this year’s TED. While that talk is not yet online, here is Rutger’s talk from a TEDx a couple years ago.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Twain Twain

    I think about Thomas Paine’s maxims as I re-engineer Natural Language AI.https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…I knew the existing set-up was wrong and would surface legacy data biases (every -ism possible) before tech blogs wrote about it.

  2. Twain Twain

    This: UBI as a “dividend of progress.”

  3. LE

    Like most things that I have read or watched on UBI avoids discussing the nitty gritty and details which would actually be needed to have this work. Great theoretical broad overview by a young ‘author and historian’. Doesn’t at all explore unintended consequences. Obviously. Which always exist for any significant change. All upside. No ability to see or consider ‘unknown unknowns’.Untended consequences? Developing and using the A bomb against the Japanese to save lives has actually led to a greater costs to society and threats with nuclear proliferation. Bitcoin has led to the ability to efficiently implement ransomware (story yesterday in the news). Internet has led to things like wikileaks which has allowed and aided such hacking. Put people out of jobs at Macy’s. Airbnb leads to landlords raising rent and increase in housing prices. Calm down: [1] Oh yeah, Government regulations protecting workers have made it more cost effective to pay for and use robots and automation which has displaced jobs. Ditto for unions back in the day. Worker protections and regulations to protect leading to loss of jobs. Wasn’t the idea, right?Giving examples such as what happened with homeless people? There is the contrast principle there so throw that one right out the window. (Also see Hawthorne effect for that matter). Ditto for using as an example the people in the audience who wouldn’t stop working if given money (makes sense) contrasted with how they think others would react (they’d stop working is the point). Ignoring that many people have shitty jobs they don’t like that aren’t fulfilling and they can’t wait until the whistle blows. A nice portion of the population is summarized by ‘thank god it’s Friday’ or ‘hump day’ or ‘monday morning blues’ ‘calling in sick’. Right?And despite what the article below say (by, once again, a writer) giving away money (or redistributing it and not printing it) would cause prices to go up. Particularly housing costs.…[1] Not an argument for or against progress. Just mentioning that it’s naive to think only of the upside and not consider the great deal of downside and displacement that occurs.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      While some jobs may be displaced by technology, the aggregate total of jobs in the United States continues to grow. Our economy shows no signs of running out of things for us to do.https://uploads.disquscdn.c

      1. JLM

        .A nuclear physicist loses his F/T job. He was making $200K.He’s a hustler and gets three P/T jobs. Aggregate of his three P/T jobs is $125,000.Net impact on the numbers?1. Total jobs INCREASE by two.2. Nuclear physicist is down $75,000 on income.3. Economy is missing $75,000 in economic firepower.But the JOBS guys say — halleluh, we got two more jobs.Jobs is a one dimensional screen. You have to look at:1. Labor Force Participation rate in toto and segregated by age cohort;2. Jobs as a percentage of population — has the same problem but as a percentage is not as skewed;3. U-3, U-6, U-7 BLS unemployment rates;4. New unemployment claims; and,5. Average time unemployed.Go to and look at his info over a longer period of time. Also, look at the FRED numbers on everything. Don’t cherry pick.Bottom line is the economy is still quite fragile. In my view, we are still enmeshed in the slowest post-WWII recovery ever.There are some glowing embers, but right now most of it is psychic. Timber, coal, energy, steel, meat — the mindset is better, but the hiring hasn’t really started. It is painfully slow.We did not get in the ditch overnight and we will not get out overnight.When Obamacare — which is in a cold stainless steel drawer in the morgue — is put out of our misery and tax reform (capital repatriation is part of tax reform) hits, the wave will begin to crest.Oil WTI tested its TTM low last week and the price of oil is going to be dicey. We could be looking at sub $40 oil again. This is a tax cut for everyone but the oil companies.I think we are looking at two years, not six months.This will get serious in six months, when we are a year from the 2018 elections. The Republicans — undeservedly — will pick up seats in the Senate and hold serve in the House.When the Republicans pick up nine seats, it’s game over. There are 23 Dem seats up for grabs and Trump won more than half of those states, some handily.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  4. iggyfanlo

    B.I.G. basic income is an idea whose time has come; has historical bipartisan support (MLK, Mandela, Nixon, William F. Buckley)… REALLY!? what other idea has that? And now the US Congress has a $1 trillion EITC expansion (negative income tax/Basic income) pendingColor me HAPPY

    1. JLM

      ,Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Richard Nixon, William F Buckley — color them all dead?Dead guys aren’t really much in the way of bipartisan support. They can only vote Democrat, right?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  5. jason wright

    the uber wealthy need to take a haircut, and be happy to do so, rather than have it taken by the ‘mob’. i’m sure that on reflection the French aristocracy would have wished they’d modified their approach. alas they failed to heed the warning signs. today the warning signs are everywhere.

    1. LE

      I was watching the excellent “Blackout” on Netflix last night (was a pbs originally about the 1977 power outage in NYC) and was thinking that liberalism in NYC probably got even greater after that event as a result of people in the city fearing what could happen if the poor people weren’t taken care of.

      1. jason wright

        the first rule of government is to keep the lights on. bad things happen in the dark.

  6. LE

    By the way Rutger’s using Nixon to support this idea is dishonest. According to what I just found it was actually this:The next year, Richard Nixon was on the verge of making these economists’ dream a reality by enacting an unconditional income for all poor families. It would have been a massive step forward in the War on Poverty, guaranteeing a family of four $1,600 a year, equivalent to roughly $10,000 in 2016.So ‘for all poor families’. That is not UBI. And of course I think it’s fairly well known that people will have more children to get a higher payout as well.…Honestly is this any better than how a certain President throws around facts to suit a particular goal?Separately all of the ‘experiments’ I believe were short term. Like pharmaceuticals nobody knows the long term consequences or changes in societal behavior that would result over time once it becomes commonplace. (Edit: Will also mention the unintended consequences of the war on drugs.)

  7. JLM

    .When a man has a job he receives pay (money) and two other things — ego enrichment and self-esteem nourishment.When you give a man a check, he gets money, but no sense of accomplishment.Ego enrichment and self-esteem nourishment are the fuel which motivates that man to pursue a better outcome for his life encouraged by what he has accomplished.A ditch digger becomes a millionaire driven by his self-perception.Programs like UBI (BIG) just create dependencies without creating any sense of accomplishment, ego enrichment, or self-esteem nourishment. They create unquenchable dependencies which will demand more and more financial crack because now they are “entitled.”If you have never gone to a labor pickup point and had four guys jump into the back of your pickup, work for a day, pay them, give them a McDonald’s sack, you may be tempted to believe this is all bullshit.A man was created to work and his self-worth is measured in the fruits of that labor.Not everybody can be a successful … whatever — VC, businessman, lawyer, doctor.Some guys want to have a job, a wife, a family, kids and say, “I put that food on that table.”I know those people. Some of them are suffering standing at the labor pickup point at 5:30 am this morning.You want a great program — help every man get a job. Make the economy so robust a man can fall in love, marry, have kids, put a roof over their heads, and food on the table.Solve that problem first.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…PS — Know why the voters — one reason — liked Trump? He talked jobs and he said they were getting screwed. Already, coal, steel, timber, energy are coming back.Know why the voters were not enthralled by the other candidate? She’d been on the public sugar tit for her entire life. [Maybe not a fair characterization, but that’s what they think.]The intelligentsia in America care about whether Pres Trump has one or two scoops of ice cream and the BIG/UBI. The rest of the country care about jobs. Think.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      I think the point about work is an important one. I think a lot of smart or simply creative people living in coastal cities would be quite satisfied to have a basic income and pursue their passions. However I think there is also a large cohort of people that need guidance and want to be told what to do. That being said, I don’t think coal is coming back anymore than the fax machine or Blockbuster video.

      1. JLM

        .You’ll have the XXXXXS passion on $30K a year. Passion is pricey.The hinterlands taxpayers should support the coastal entitlement brethren? Tough sell, that.Coal is energy trapped in a hard form able to be mined and transported enmasse. It is the energy locked up inside it which is being transported.When China stopped buying NK coal whose did they buy? The US of A.No, coal has legs if people will stop thinking of its emissions (which can be controlled) and focus on the BTUs being transported, stored, and used on demand.Coal is cool.Coal producers have to be forced to be good stewards of the land from which they are extracting it. Not hard to do, but requires a bit of oversight.The vast majority of people not only NEED to be guided, they WANT to be guided. That’s why leadership is so critical in any enterprise.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. JLM

        .Note of reality.Most of what is covered under the title of “creativity” is vanity.There is a lot of creative work product which is terrible. That is why motherhood is so important — somebody to tell you your stuff isn’t crap.Happy Mother’s Day!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  8. JLM

    .Institutional programs are wholesale failures. War on … drugs, poverty, head lice.The only two social welfare programs which worked were the Marshal Plan and the GI Bill.The Marshal Plan filled Europe with a full enough belly they were able to withstand Communism.Subsequently, they turned on us, but we kept them on their feet.The GI Bill (WWII GI Bill) built the country. Thirteen million men came home and got the fuck to work. It was a trade.I went to undergrad in engineering and got an MBA on the Vietnam Era GI Bill. It changed my life and all I had to trade was 5 years (got stop lossed so it was a year and a half longer) of going in harm’s way. Worked out for me.These kind of mass financial crack programs don’t work.Hell, the gov’t couldn’t keep their hands off Social Security. It was supposed to be segregated, but Pres Johnson jammed it into the “unified budget” in 1968, thereby commingling the funds and putting some crappy IOUs in the Treasury.We could never make this work.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  9. JLM

    .Further postage access denied, limit reached. Adios, MFers.Be good and play nice, y’all.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. JimHirshfield

      What does this mean?

  10. Seine

    Lets start with adjusting something easy…There is broad recognition that the current poverty line ($22,541 for a family of four in 2010) falls far below the amount of income needed to “make ends meet” at a basic level. When established in the early 1960s, the poverty line was equal to nearly 50 percent of median income. Because it has only been adjusted for inflation since then, and not for increases in mainstream living standards, the poverty line has fallen to just under 30 percent of median income. As a result, to be counted as officially “poor,” you have to be much poorer today, compared to a typical family, than you would have in the 1960. Is n’t it time to put this issue on the political agenda?

  11. ShanaC

    what did he say this year?

  12. Matt A. Myers

    I didn’t post here yesterday, and it looks like a lot didn’t – my guess is it’s just the same echo chamber of regulars who have more shallow views or understandings of the benefit of a basic guaranteed income, and just pointless to repeat the arguments with them.