Re: Would you work if you didn’t have to?

Zenaan Harkness zen at
Fri Sep 18 04:33:40 PDT 2015

Hi Jim, I remember suggesting this to M about 5 or 6 years ago. I have
not looked into the economics of it (i.e. how Australia's national
budget could make it work) and so it was heartwarming, or at least
very interesting to me, to read the article you forwarded which had a
few (small) examples in the last century where this has been trialed -
and that in at least one example, inflation went down, not up, quite
contrary to "normal economist" expectations!

Very, very interesting. What this tells us, is that "the abundance
community" (or rather nation), can indeed work - and with robotics and
automation being spearheaded heavily this year by Japan we may well
need such a new economic model for nations in general. The fact that
it has been shown it works in at least a couple examples, is generally
great news of course.

I experience in the "free software"/"libre computing" community -
Debian GNU/Linux, RedHat/Fedora and more, and from me-as-programmer
experience, it is a world of abundance - hackers (the good ones - i.e.
those who do stuff to benefit the community) essentially have an
abundance of the raw material or tools of trade - i.e. all you need is
a computer and away you go, you can write whatever program you think
people might enjoy using - since electricity to run your computer is
close to free - add a few solar cells and it is free.

So in truth all the "information worker" needs to manifest their
creativity (besides their computer) is food and shelter - same for
musicians and certain other creative artists etc.

And since the marginal cost (incremental cost) of duplicating a
(digital) song, or computer program, is very close to zero dollars
(just download it for a tiny bit of electricity expense), then when I
give my computer program to society as free/libre software, I am
causing an exponential benefit to society, since as many people as
have computers, can benefit from my creation.

This is an "abundance economy" in action, and although I don't get
wealth in this situation where I give my computer program away, I get
credos/ ego satisfaction, recognition, esteem from my peers and or the
users of my program, and potentially a job doing something I really
enjoy (supporting users who benefit financially from my program, who
are willing to pay for some support, training, and or enhancements to
my computer program - this will normally just be the companies that
use my program - but RedHat demonstrates that it's possible to build a
billion-dollar company just supporting free software which is pretty

As long as I can do a bit of travel, have food in my belly and a warm
couple of rooms to live in, I'm basically content and happy with life,
since it is my nature to be creative (with computers) and to give away
my creations.


On 9/18/15, Jim <jim.sovereign at> wrote:
> The idea of universal basic income will likely become a human rights issue
> implemented by many countries due to rising under employment and
> unemployment, caused by increased technology automation reducing the demand
> for many jobs requiring menial or repetitive labour.
> Jim
> Would you work if you didn’t have to?
> Frank Chung
> September 17, 2015
> IF YOU were paid $30,000 by the government every year without having to lift
> a finger, would you still try to find work?
> And if you did, would you settle for a menial job cleaning toilets, or would
> you demand something more glamorous?
> More importantly, if in the next, say, 20 years, those toilets are being
> cleaned by robots, shouldn’t those now out-of-work toilet cleaners have a
> right to that $30,000?
> These are the questions at the heart of the debate over unconditional basic
> income — an unconventional policy idea which argues every person should be
> paid a standard amount, regardless of whether they are working or not.
> Like the dole, it’s meant to make sure every person in society can meet
> basic living standards. But it differs, in that there is no work requirement
> or means test — meaning you could have a job and pocket the $30,000 cash on
> top of your wage, or not work at all and live off the $30,000 alone.
> Some conservatives like the idea because it would theoretically streamline
> and simplify complex systems of social security payments and subsidies,
> cutting down administrative costs.
> It’s already being trialled in the Netherlands with 300 residents of the
> town of Utrecht among a number of Dutch pilot sites, while the Indian
> government has also embraced the idea, and previous small-scale experiments
> have been hailed as great successes.
> A new lobby group has formed in the US, Basic Income Action, to coincide
> with the eighth International Basic Income Week, and the campaign to give
> every human being a basic minimum wage, no questions asked, appears to be
> picking up steam.
> The group, taking a cue from recent similar campaigns around gay marriage
> and marijuana legalisation, has launched a petition calling on US
> presidential candidates to support basic income.
> “Basic income is a remarkably powerful and timely idea, and Basic Income
> Action will be a great resource for longtime activists and people who are
> learning about this for the first time,” said Steven Shafarman, author of
> the upcoming book The Basic Income Imperative.
> It’s not a new idea, but with rising under- and unemployment, increasing
> cost of living and low to negative real wage growth — not to mention the
> growing automation of menial jobs — basic income has become a popular cause
> of the Left.
> Canadian author Naomi Klein recently released a manifesto which, along with
> universal childcare and an end to international trade deals, called for a
> universal basic income.
> Next year, Switzerland will hold a referendum on the issue after a petition
> gained more than 100,000 signatures, although the government has come out
> against the idea, urging its citizens to vote ‘no’.
> It’s an idea which appeals to both sides of the political spectrum.
> Classic liberal economists including Milton Friedman supported the idea in
> the form of a ‘reverse tax’, or a threshold under which, rather than the
> government taking your money, it pays you.
> Progressives, who often throw around terms like ‘wage slavery’ when
> discussing universal income, see it as a way of expanding the social safety
> net and elevating the human condition above the drudgery of performing
> soul-crushing jobs just to survive.
> The key question is whether people can be trusted not to sit around doing
> nothing. Conservatives naturally assume the worst of people, while
> progressives hope for the best.
> Arguments against the idea are generally that one, we can’t possibly afford
> it; and two, it would dampen labour market participation by removing
> incentive to work, putting greater tax pressure on those who do.
> A study conducted 40 years ago in the tiny Canadian farming town of Dauphin,
> Manitoba, found the payments actually had a “social multiplier effect”, and
> despite the fears of a dip in labour, people still had the incentive to work
> more hours rather than less.
> One big danger in implementing such a system, however, would be pressure
> from the welfare lobby to apply different loadings for various interest
> groups, undermining the generic distribution.
> Mikayla Novak, senior research fellow with free-market think-tank the
> Institute of Public Affairs, wrote in 2013 that while basic income was a
> seductive idea for people of “varied philosophical persuasions”, it could
> “risk ending up as another initiative in which good intentions do not align
> with desirable results”.
> Another common criticism of basic income is that it would lead to inflation
> — if everyone has more money, everything would cost more.
> Writing in Medium, basic income advocate Scott Santens provides two
> real-world examples where that proved not to be the case: Alaska in 1982,
> and Kuwait in 2011. In both cases, inflation actually decreased after the
> government introduced a partial basic income to citizens.
> Supporters argue that in general, since the income is provided by the
> government through existing, not printed money, the inflationary effects
> should be minimal.
> He told Motherboard the momentum which was lost in the 1970s was coming back
> and, due to advances in technology, was “here to stay”.
> “Step one to all of this is growing the conversation for basic income to a
> critical mass and connecting the people who believe it needs to happen,” he
> said. “And that’s what BIA is for, to grow and connect, and to win.”
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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