Twat is twat

John Harris wrote this in the Guardian this morning:

Welcome to the world of a unconditional basic income, or UBI,

John Harris suggests £100 a week.

This is not abstract thinking.

This is plausible.

This is Howard Reed and my take on the issue,meh owing it can be done to really transform the economy.

Ritchie’s report suggests £300 a week (60% of median income).

One of those two might be plausible the other less so. The latter costs more than total tax revenue……

68 thoughts on “Twat is twat”

  1. Tim Newman

    I have heard both used but I agree it was originally Universal – the unconditional was added when people suggested limitations on who might receive it – when I asked Murphy about whether it would apply to immigrants I was told I was a troll – when I asked Reed he suggested there would be a form of bilateral arrangement with the nations whose people were coming in – I have no doubt British people are lining up to go over to Syria or Eritrea in a bilateral arrangement.

    I also love how one column means ‘it is entering the mainstream’ whereas a fusillade of columns attacking both him and his absurd ideologies is ‘trolling’ – the man is delusional!

  2. Thought Experiment: Let us suppose that this comes to pass and UBI is et at 60% of median income. What percentage of those 60% currently receiving wages at less than this figure would decide that working was for the birds and that the UBI was sufficient? This removes a proportion of low wage earners from the market. This in turn will increase the level of the UBI which will then lead to more dropouts.

    Or is it the Professor intending to introduce forced labour (slavery) so that everyone receiveing UBI must work?

  3. So – has Ritchie explained how he will deal with what will happen if you give everyone ‘60% of median income’?

    If you peg it to the 60% of median income mark, that works *right now, this very instant* but once you do that you’ve distorted the data and now, how do you figure out what 60% of the median income is in, say, 10 years? How do you figure out whether that CBI needs to go up or down, or how much?

    Because as soon as you give people this money you’re increasing the median income – therefore increasing the number of people under 60% of it, therefore needing to give ever more people this CBI.

    CBI isn’t necessarily a bad thing – though it’d be better to lower effective tax rates instead of taxing people and then giving money back to them (but what power do you have if you don’t take the money first?) – but pegging it like that in a nation that is *rife* with quangos that *love* to deliberately exclude tax relief and welfare payments out of their poverty ‘calculations’, well this just seems a self-serving proposal intended to help Ritchie’s employment prospects at the cost of the nation.

  4. “Arthur Dent
    April 14, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Or is it the Professor intending to introduce forced labour (slavery) so that everyone receiveing UBI must work?”

    Yes. That is completely in keeping with personality revealed by his public writings.

    This is a man that has advocated for invading UK possessions because they won’t implement the tax and reporting structure he prefers. He’s advocated not only capital controls on money but on the free movement of people.

    He’s been a pretty blatant supporter of the idea that your money belongs to the state and you get to keep what the state decides you should and not the other way around.

    This is a man who, without much prompting, would be signing warrants for imprisonment in re-education and labor camps late into the night – just doing his duty to the collective.

  5. “Van_Patten
    April 14, 2016 at 9:36 am

    I also love how one column means ‘it is entering the mainstream’ whereas a fusillade of columns attacking both him and his absurd ideologies is ‘trolling’ – the man is delusional!”

    I certainly hope he’s not trying to position this as *his* idea. A CBI has been tossed about in (American) libertarian circles for decades. I can’t imagine that our counterparts across the sea haven’t been discussing it for as long (hell possibly even longer).

  6. A non-socialist, libertarian proposal to distribute spending power is given an airing and the comments on here swiftly turn to forced labour and compulsory re-education camps!

  7. As others such as Van Patten have pointed out ad nauseam, Murphy is (probably) such a simpleton he is blissfully unaware of even first order consequential effects, so cannot possibly comprehend that there might even be such a thing as further order effects, let alone what they might look like.

    The alternative view is that he has some notion of such potential effects, but is such a sociopath he does not care.

  8. “DBC Reed
    April 14, 2016 at 10:02 am

    A non-socialist, libertarian proposal to distribute spending power is given an airing and the comments on here swiftly turn to forced labour and compulsory re-education camps!”

    Wat?

    In the US, even the libertarians who support it don’t consider is libertarian (it is *forced* wealth redistribution after all), just a better alternative to the current way welfare is done.

    If you’re going to have welfare, best to do it in a way that minimizes overhead.

  9. @Lud,

    Sure it’s not from the wilder fringes of libertardistan but is supported by a number of European liberal parties (which are mostly more liberal than the UK “liberal” democrats).

    Has anywhere tried it yet? The weakness I see is that, whether you set it low or high (and high creates the obvious problems) you have to claw it back with relatively high tax rates on relatively low incomes, which amplifies the work disincentive. The scale of it is such that “soak the ‘rich'” can’t feasibly pay for it.

    DBC is right on this occasion, anyone who suggests anything marginally to the left of the narrow libertard mindset is instantly wanting to enslave you in concentration camps, a fascist, or communist, or all three. Far from pursuing the liberal ideal of free exchange of ideas it can get remarkably like a student union debating chamber here – just with a different default political setting.

  10. @ BiG
    Yes, Kuwait and Alaska have a universal income for citizens. But we have 50 times the Kuwaiti population of Kuwait, 80-odd times the population of Alaska and less oil than either of them.

  11. Why does no-one ever address the issue that I repeatedly raise on UBIs – plenty of people get more than £300/week (let alone £100/week) from the State in one form or other right now. Are they going to get less under UBI? If so how is it ever politically feasible to reduce payments to people who are currently considered ‘in need’? And if UBI is on top of some of the current swathe of benefits then its hardly universal, or affordable in any shape or form.

  12. DBC Reed

    I think the problem is easily solved by a Land Value Tax, which will also cure cancer and indeed could be seen as the key to life, the universe and everything, no?

  13. “DBC is right on this occasion, anyone who suggests anything marginally to the left of the narrow libertard mindset is instantly wanting to enslave you in concentration camps, a fascist, or communist, or all three. Far from pursuing the liberal ideal of free exchange of ideas it can get remarkably like a student union debating chamber here – just with a different default political setting.”

    To call out thieving socialistic scum for what they are–such a crime. eh Biggie?

    Who has or could stop these clowns from announcing their ideas about how thievery is a good thing ?. Who can prevent you from pronouncing your ill-reasoned piffle? Who is trying? Far too many morons will read their crap and nod approvingly. They are free to sling their evil tripe and we are free to throw it on the fire. Or are you claiming there is a worldwide shortage of rotten leftist bullshit in any–let alone- every –media?

    To point out the stupidity and worse still the evil that lies at the very heart of these schemes is a service to mankind.

    And –for the millionth time–fascism IS socialism.

  14. “PF
    April 14, 2016 at 10:32 am

    BiG

    Are you confusing / muddying liberal and libertarian?”

    Since he likes calling us ‘libertar*d*ians’, I’d say yes.

  15. I’ve said this before, but Charles Murray’s book In Our Hands is worth a read on this subject, and he’s no leftist.

    In his version there are incentives for people to stay together after having kids (and think harder about having them), there are vast savings made by the abolition of the bureaucracy, and there is a ‘we really are all in this together’ element to it that means we all start from position X and when others say I want more you feel more able to say to them ‘No, I know what you get, you get the same as I do and if you want more you need to work for it like I do.’ No opportunities for fraud, either, not that that is an enormous issue.

    Murray does the maths quite well and (ISTR) shows that it does add up – a bit more expensive than the existing US system at first (like 10% or something) and gradually settling down to less expensive.

    It is a US plan though. Probably not applicable here so it’s only food for thought..

    Obviously, none of us want this, but I think it’s probably on the way and it would actually be better than the current hodge podge.

  16. @PF,

    The notion that there’s a single definition of either (and that my definition is right and your slightly different definition is wrong) is perhaps the problem. Both are on a spectrum of a broad church, clearly with the libertarians somewhere on the fundamentalist end of that spectrum.

  17. BiG: “QED”.

    You clearly don’t get paid by the word do you? Or for your command of logic.

    But it will be some comfort to you know that when your adopted homela–sorry–Fatherland–starts to ensure that all your new dear Islamic friends receive a decent UBI without being oppressed by work–your money will be going to good cause.

    Hasta la vista Biggie.

  18. BIG

    I don’t think Murphy’s ideas could be described as ‘narrowly to the Left’ of some imagined centre – and despite paying lip service to the idea of democracy his tenor and attitude are profoundly contemptuous of free discourse and alternative viewpoints (much like here you might well say) As I said before, I attempted to ask a question about who would be entitled to the Minimum Income he and reed were proposing – his response was to call me a troll – at least Reed attempted to respond with a suggestion for some kind of bilateral quid pro quo with the countries where the immigrants might come from. How this would work in practice is anyone’s guess.

    As it happens I recognise your second paragraph’s arguments which I would also have put to Murphy (and agree with it for the most part) – but as he refuses to recognise the concept of disincentives it is likely to fall on equally deaf ears…..

  19. Jim, Malcolm Torry has in effect answered your question. A simple replacement would leave some worse off. So an affordable scheme would have to be phased in and the benefits-to-be-replaced phased out.

  20. And to echo Agammamon – It is not head to see a Murphyite society descending into Soviet like oppression, you only have to read the witterings in the comments over at TRUK of Andrew Dickie or Ivan Horrocks to see they would heartily approve of such a move, provided the victims were ‘neoliberals’, tax evaders’ and other ‘enemies’ of ‘society’ (the ‘Civil’ part seems to have been dropped)

  21. The logical end to Murphy’s direction of travel is probably a Palais de Downham Market with the Sun King in residence at a palatial improved Old Orchard.

    Welcome sign reading L’etat c’est moi.

  22. ‘A non-socialist, libertarian proposal to distribute spending power’

    Libertarian redistribution of wealth? What?

    It would have been fair to say a Republican proposal. Mr. Newt used to talk a lot about how Republicans could do socialism much more efficiently than Democrats.

    The inflationary effect of government pushing money out into the economy will result in prices going up sharply, such that the people ‘helped’ will see minimum benefit.

    As the productive economy cannot support such wanton spending, the government would have to resort to extreme borrowing, until no one would lend them money. Then they would have to print money to pay for the largesse. Inflation will ensue. The county is doomed.

  23. The basic income or negative income tax rates are not leftists ideas at all. In favt jniversal benefits go against Murphy’s agenda, which he would be able to see if he could ever join the dots. This is the blogger who, along with Jolyon Maugham has argued against raising PAS and NIV thresholds because it “disenfranchises” the poor and rich people benefit as well.
    My biggest fear is Murphy being able to spend the next few years claiming he and that.moron Howard Reed invented this. The ranting on this blog can only help that claim.
    Please peiple, what would Uncle Milt say?

  24. @ukliberty: So you think its politically feasible for hard cases (of which there are thousands, probably millions, for any given large benefit system change) to be told ‘You’ll get £X for the next year, then slowly morphing over 3 years into £X-25%’?

    Given the hoo-hah over the ‘bedroom tax’ etc etc and the howls of pain emoted for anyone who happens to lose a penny of State benefit, regardless of whether they deserved it in the first place, how viable is it for potentially millions of people to be told ‘You’re going to lose £x/week’ even if it is phased in over Y years?

    As far as I can see it there are only two ways to reform Byzantine welfare systems of the type we have in the West today: either have a big bang change, and accept that there will be hard cases, even people who die as a result (which there would be – a significant proportion of society are now so infantilised that if you withdraw the drip drip money drug they have come to expect they would be unable to cope on their own two feet), or you go for changes that are introduced on a generational scale, changes that occur so slowly the impact is never really felt by any individual, just different individuals over time.

    I personally favour the time limited benefit system – announce that from date X everyone of working age can claim State benefits for a maximum of (say) 15 years. Use up your 15 years before pension age, you’re on your own. This would have the advantage that a) no-one loses any money for a minimum of 15 years, so can’t really complain if they’ve done nothing to sort their lives out in that time, b) people over the age of 50 would this be largely unaffected, limiting its initial effects to younger people with more time and energy to effect changes to their lives, c) cost nothing initially, but still have immediate effects – there would be a step change in people’s attitudes as they realised every year that went by was one year closer to their personal cut-off date, and d) would return the welfare system to the safety net it was supposed to be, rather than the long term support system it has become. In fact the welfare system could become more generous over time, precisely because it was time limited and no-one could take out for more than a certain time.

  25. The weakness I see is that, whether you set it low or high (and high creates the obvious problems) you have to claw it back with relatively high tax rates on relatively low incomes, which amplifies the work disincentive.

    The work disincentive to people on benefits isn’t taxation, it’s benefit withdrawal. The point of a UBI is that you can abolish that trap, abolish the minimum wage, and make everyone free to work, if they choose, for the marginal value of their labour. And allow us to get rid of swathes of bureaucracy administering the current complex system.

    The basic state pension is about £120 a week. That’s a reasonable starting point for discussion. (Adult jobseeker’s allowance is about £73 a week.)

  26. Ironman

    You are right of course – the idea is not one from the Left originally – but his implementation of it most certainly is Leftist. While not an idea without merit in principle – as interpreted (or not) by him it would be a fully fledged catastrophe so surely we should be happy, indeed enraptured to let him and his equally bizarre sidekick take the credit for it? Or am I missing something – if I am apologies!

  27. @ SJW
    Largely agree, but impossible to take away the pensions that retirees “have paid for” so it would have to be for non-pensioners – so starting at JSA rates with no clawback in respect of earnings makes better sense.

  28. “Surreptitious Evil
    April 14, 2016 at 11:04 am

    This is a man that has advocated for invading UK possessions

    This is a man who thinks that “British Overseas Territories” are “UK possessions”.”

    This is a man who is an American, so sue me if I’m not up on the details of your territorial organization.

  29. Bloke in North Dorset

    Agamammon,

    “I certainly hope he’s not trying to position this as *his* idea. A CBI has been tossed about in (American) libertarian circles for decades. I can’t imagine that our counterparts across the sea haven’t been discussing it for as long (hell possibly even longer).”

    It was also around in UK long before he adopted it and was amongst LPUKs early proposals, and they certainly didn’t come up with he idea.
    @DBC and BIG

    It’s not a left right thing, it’s about Murphy being an authoritarian shit who can’t put an argument together because he refuses to read beyond the Janet and John version of an idea or listening to anyone who raises legitimate questions.

    Chris Dillow is a supporter and makes a good well thought out argument http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2005/04/the_case_for_ba.html

    But I don’t think anyone on here would accuse him of wanting to enslave us all.

  30. This is a man who is an American, so sue me if I’m not up on the details of your territorial organization

    We can righteously accuse Murphy of many things. I didn’t think Americanism was one of them.

    But, as you seem to think it referred to you, I don’t care where you are from but if you are going to comment on it, a modicum of knowledge or a smidgen of research might have helped you.

    The point being, it’s not _our_ (ie the UK’s) territorial organisation.

  31. I’m not a Guardian reader, but it’s a little… interesting that John Harris came up with £100 a week. When I’ve suggested that the US should consider a UBI a little napkin scratching leads me to the conclusion that we could afford one of about $8,000 a year, which is basically £100 a week.

    The US is somewhat wealthier than the UK, but the UK collects a bit more in tax revenue relative to it’s wealth so without looking at a UK budget at all that number seems somewhat reasonable.

  32. So at a 100 a week it might be an interesting idea, but it would be the implementation that would be the problem. It sounds highly implausible that post implementation would look anything like the original. The real world does not work like that.

  33. Jim,

    @ukliberty: So you think its politically feasible for hard cases (of which there are thousands, probably millions, for any given large benefit system change) to be told ‘You’ll get £X for the next year, then slowly morphing over 3 years into £X-25%’?

    As I understand it the suggestion is to put new applicants on the present system not the old one and the problem with the old system will naturally expire. BICBW, etc.

  34. The immigrant issue can be dealt with by giving adult UK nationals residing here a basic annual income of 5k, but taxation is 25% on all earnings, dividends etc. No tax free allowance. No NI for employers or employees, too complicated and it taxes employment. No minimum wage.
    Non-UK nationals resident here would get a tax-free personal allowance of 25k, then 25% above that.

    The devil is in the detail of course. People on maternity pay will moan that they got £120ish for 39 weeks then 3 months unpaid under the old system. But now you get £100ish all the time. And that would be just the beginning of it.

  35. £300 a week is twice what I need to live on. I suppose I’d spend the surplus stimulating the economy somehow.

    Actually, I’ve no idea what I would spend it on. Even saving it for my old age is irrelevant as I would still be getting the 300 quid. A new secondhand car every month? Oo oo. A week in a holiday cottage every two weeks!

  36. “Has anywhere tried it yet?”

    Yes, we already give over-65s more than 100 quid a week regardless of circumstances. If they haven’t paid enough NI to get the full £100-whatever (so haven’t “paid for it”), if they have no other income then pension credits top them up to £100-whatever. So, we already do have a universal basic income for a section of the population.

  37. ‘One of those two might be plausible the other less so. The latter costs more than total tax revenue……’

    Sorry but that’s bollocks.

    If I got an extra £300 per week the amount of tax I pay would rise (by at least 30% as a basic payer).

    Prices of a week in a holiday cottage would rise (increasing the total tax take from said cottages).

    It’s not like I get to keep any of the money, at the end of the day the tax man taketh all.

  38. As I understand it the suggestion is to put new applicants on the present UBI system not the old present one and the problem with the old present system will naturally expire. BICBW, etc.

  39. Ken,

    ‘The UBI is untaxed.’

    That would be nice.

    Except ALL income is taxed, the first £10600 is taxed at 0% and so on.

    Your net income is then taxed again as you spend it in the form of cumulative added value tax.

    The company that receives your money either pays tax on their profits, the shareholders pay tax on dividends or the employees pay tax on their wages and the money goes around again and again until it is all gone in tax.

  40. Since there are so many questions on what would happen under UBI here are two real world test cases in Namibia and India.

    From these trials we can say that UBI does not appear to reduce the incentive to work. If fact it is argued that the opposite is true. The availability of additional capital in the hands of consumers drove demand. Instead of being lazy many people on UBI chose to try to get their neighbors to buy goods and services with their payments. In Namibia the crime rate dropped by 36.5% as the economy expanded by 29%.

    In the trial cases we’ve seen a lot of impressive results. At this point we have sufficient evidence to debate on what is needed in a developed world test case. While I doubt we will find a way to pay for the program there is a good chance we can identify ways to improve the current welfare system.

  41. @Liberal Yank: if you think what happens in Namibia and India forms a good comparator to the UK (and other western social democracies) you need to get out more. In those countries there was no (or very limited) welfare before the UBI. Thus its introduction in those countries can in no way indicate how it might affect people in countries with pretty generous existing welfare systems.

    @ukliberty: well thats no better. Do you really think it would be acceptable to have people living side by side, same age, same living situation, one getting UBI, the other getting old welfare of X% more? No-one would accept that.

    This is the trouble with UBIs. The sort of countries that could introduce them with no problems can’t afford them (because they can’t afford even low level means tested benefits) and the sort of countries that could perhaps afford them can’t introduce them without horrendous social upheaval because they already offer quite generous means tested welfare (more generous anyway than the basic UBI for many welfare claimants).

    I personally say that its impossible both practically and politically to replace an existing means tested welfare state with a UBI. One either makes it universal (in which case there will be lots of losers, which is politically unacceptable), or one gives all manner of exemptions for extra payments, which means its not a UBI any more, just a more generous welfare system, with none of the UBI advantages.

    I actually like the concept. Its just that I can’t see any way that we can get to one from where we are today.

  42. Jim>

    You assume that people talk about how much they’re getting much more than they actually do. We already have a system where people get different amounts for no particular reason: the difference between signing on at one jobcentre and the next one along can be bigger than the difference between Tory and Labour governments. Similarly for disability assessment centres, local councils, and so-on.

    Aside from that, there’s no reason to think a basic income can’t start off at a higher level than current means-tested benefits and stay there, just as long as the difference is affordable. If, hypothetically, ten years down the line there’ll be millions of people back in work and earning (and paying tax on) good incomes, all thanks to the BI, then it’d make a great deal of sense to subsidise it until that point.

    In addition, it seems obvious to me that a BI would not actually cover every single case entirely, only the vast majority which fit within certain bounds. We’re bound to end up providing extra help to the severely physically disabled, for example.

  43. “Surreptitious Evil
    April 14, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    But, as you seem to think it referred to you, I don’t care where you are from but if you are going to comment on it, a modicum of knowledge or a smidgen of research might have helped you.

    The point being, it’s not _our_ (ie the UK’s) territorial organisation.”

    I did think you were referring to me. And while you’re right about research, all I can say in my defense is that you guys have a very convoluted set of relationships with different parts of the world. For us its mainly ‘are we shooting at you or not’.

    BOTS, Crown Dependencies, Commonwealth, UK, Great Britain.

    For example – Crown dependencies are self governing but E2 is HoS.

    BoTs, *some* are self-governing but have E2 as HoS. And not too long ago they were called ‘British Crown Colonies”.

  44. “You assume that people talk about how much they’re getting much more than they actually do.”

    They damn would talk about it if the entire system was being changed.

    “there’s no reason to think a basic income can’t start off at a higher level than current means-tested benefits”

    What, for everyone? There would be zero losers in transitioning from the old system to UBI? How the hell would that be affordable?

    “We’re bound to end up providing extra help to the severely physically disabled, for example.”

    And therein lies the problem. Who exactly are the ‘severely physically disabled’, and who gets to decide who gets the extra free dosh? Does a ‘bad back’ qualify? How about mentally ill? What about morbidly obese? Depression (the single largest disability welfare claimant category)? There are currently over 3m people claiming DLA in the UK – are they all going to get UBI on top of their DLA? If so how the hell can we afford it all?

  45. The Inimitable Steve

    its impossible both practically and politically to replace an existing means tested welfare state with a UBI

    Yes. It’s one of those whizzo ideas that works great in theory, but would be an absolute nightmare in practice. Because we’re not a society full of rational actors or even people acting in good faith.

    Bearing in mind that the people we’d be entrusting to set it up and run it are the same set of geniuses who gave us our current welfare state.

    So a UBI would be good if:

    * it replaced all/the vast majority of existing welfare payments, so isn’t a huge net additional spend
    * it doesn’t apply to immigrants
    * we sack hundreds of thousands of civil servants because they’re no longer needed to administer a simple UBI
    * it’s set at a relative pittance, and stays that way – so bread and water money, not “spend the rest of your life sitting on the couch laughing up your sleeve at taxpayers” money

    Can anybody see any of the above coming to pass, in 2016 Britain? There’d be riots in the streets.

    Here’s what would actually happen:

    * So many urgent and essential exceptions would be found that it would just end up being yet another layer of welfare
    * Immigrants most certainly would get it, further attracting free riders
    * The pencil pushers continue to push pencils at great public expense
    * Every election becomes a referendum on how much you want your UBI money topped up to

    David Cameron couldn’t even get rid of quangos. Margaret Thatcher herself found she couldn’t meaningfully tackle local taxation.

    So file it alongside other great quasi-libertarian ideas that are almost guaranteed to fail. Like how school vouchers would fail. Or how student loans have failed.

  46. Jim,

    Did I not make it clear that while I love the theory and the results from Namibia and India I am certain we wouldn’t see the same in a developed country. Nationwide there is no way that the US or UK would see the same 29% growth. Once again what we need now are some trial programs, in developed countries, to expand our data sets.

    So far all that we have learned is that when we give people direct control over their welfare money most will spend it far more efficiently than the government. Since most readers of this blog take that as a fact I didn’t bother to state it before. In terms of broadening economic opportunities basic income makes more sense than our current system. What is left are real world issues like how do we pay for it and what returns do we actually get.

    I expect that we will not find a good way to pay for UBI. The reason I am for attempting the pilots is that we are examining ways to deregulate the welfare system. We might find less drastic steps we can take that reduce the size of the bureaucracy, unless…[sarc]YOU’RE ONE OF THEM[/sarc]

    *still run away just in case

  47. Jim>

    I would suggest that people don’t speak about it in the way you say, comparing themselves to their neighbours, because they don’t know what their neighbours are getting.

    “How the hell would that be affordable?”

    Affordable as in we could afford to subsidise it – whether through borrowing or total tax revenue. As I said, if it would bring great future benefits to the budget, it could make sense. Please note, I was arguing with you saying ‘can’t’ – I agree it’s probably not likely to be how it works in practice.

    “And therein lies the problem. Who exactly are the ‘severely physically disabled’, and who gets to decide who gets the extra free dosh? ”

    That is indeed the problem – but, we get to be much tougher all-round when we start with everyone getting the BI anyway.

    It’s a lot easier to be wishy-washy about it than to propose a detailed policy, and I’m somewhat going for hand-waving here: the idea is that the BI covers the things all or most of us go through at some point in life, and that anything on top of that should be for the rare instances of extremely bad luck.

    I would point out, though, that depression doesn’t require adapted living quarters and so-on, and that was the kind of extra help I was talking about.

  48. Ottowa ran a five year trial in Dauphin. There’s a Wikipedia entry on it. The state finally released the archive of results and there are a few good articles on it. Ottowa is apparently going to do a new trial starting this autumn.

    In the first the trial, biggest effect on employment seemed to be that young mothers stayed at home, and teenage boys joined the workforce later, after finishing their education. Had a significant impact on social costs by reducing crime, mental illness, and health care usage. Hospital visits for example were down 8%.

  49. At some point you have to ask, what is the problem it is trying to solve. We are in a position where mostly the problems we have to solve are incremental sticking plaster problems. Until people know that meat on our plates comes from a once living animal, and more importantly, have to get it from animal to plate, we are fucked!

  50. @ Jim

    If UBI is agreed to be providing what anyone needs to live, then additional payments for disabled people can be limited to necessary additional costs.

    So if your bad back or depression means you can’t work, then you don’t need extra money. If, however, you require daily care visits.. then the state can directly or indirectly fund them.

    The problem these days is that being unemployed because you’re disabled, rather than because you just can’t/won’t get a job, is heavily incentivised (for both the recipient and the stat-wielding authorities).. Remove that incentive and watch the numbers fall.

  51. One of the attractions of the basic income system is that you’ll supposedly be able to get rid of vast swathes of bureacracy and so the total bill will be similar (or even less) than before. This seems unlikely to me in practise. It could be done with a radical enough government, but in reality it’s much more likely that the bureacracy would actually grow rather than shrink, and the welfare bill would be even more enormous than before.

    The public service sees every big change as an opportunity for growth, and that’s usually what happens. Even when the point of the change is to reduce staff, you always end up with more staff. And even if you initially manage to cut staff, it won’t be long before the numbers creep up again.

  52. “So if your bad back or depression means you can’t work, then you don’t need extra money. If, however, you require daily care visits.. then the state can directly or indirectly fund them.”

    Well you’ve just blown your entire UBI scheme up right there. The whole point is that there are currently vast swathes of the population who get ‘disability’ benefits when they don’t actually need them to cover extra living costs, its just that (they say) they can’t work because of the ‘disability’. Thus instead of getting JSA alone (which is a shit amount to live on) they get enough to subsist on instead (or live quite well if they have kids too). Its a way to disguise the massive under employment that exists in western societies.

    So if you propose a scheme whereby someone with a bad back or depression no longer gets any DLA and just the basic UBI, because they actually have no extra direct costs of living (unlike say a person in wheelchair, or with a severe physical disability) then what you are proposing is the very same cuts to disability payments that were spectacularly overturned in the recent budget. This is obviously politically impossible in the current climate, so to propose a UBI on that basis is utter folly.

    This is what I keep banging on about – a UBI either represents a hefty cut in welfare to a large % of the existing welfare (of all descriptions) claiming population, or it its on top of it, in which case its massively unaffordable, and will have very little of the beneficial effects claimed.

  53. “One of the attractions of the basic income system is that you’ll supposedly be able to get rid of vast swathes of bureacracy and so the total bill will be similar (or even less) than before. This seems unlikely to me in practise. It could be done with a radical enough government, but in reality it’s much more likely that the bureacracy would actually grow rather than shrink, and the welfare bill would be even more enormous than before.”

    Precisely. In the same way we were told the NHS would fairly rapidly have lowering costs as everyone got healthier and healthier due to it positive effects.

    Give a massive State bureaucracy a big new scheme to implement, and guess what – they’ll implement it in a way that needs an even more massive State bureaucracy……….

  54. @Liberal Yank: “So far all that we have learned is that when we give people direct control over their welfare money most will spend it far more efficiently than the government. ”

    No we haven’t actually. What we have discovered in the UK at least is that a fairly significant minority of the population is so infantilised that if you give them the cash to pay their rent they spend it on other things and then run into rent arrears, and end up evicted. This is what is happening right now in the UK – housing benefit for private accommodation tenants used to be paid direct from the State to the landlord – a not ideal situation fraught with issues around rent levels and quasi-State support for landlords, but at least the people who needed a roof over their heads had one. Now HB is paid to the tenant direct, who then has to arrange to pay the landlord themselves. This budgeting is beyond many, who end up in rent arrears and finally get chucked out of their house.

  55. “What we have discovered in the UK at least is that a fairly significant minority of the population is so infantilised that if you give them the cash to pay their rent they spend it on other things and then run into rent arrears, and end up evicted.”

    In other words we have identified a likely problem if we every were to try to implement UBI. The next question is how severe the problem is. Would this be a long term issue or will most people learn to budget better after a transition period? More importantly how far should the government go to coddle people?

    “Now HB is paid to the tenant direct, who then has to arrange to pay the landlord themselves. This budgeting is beyond many, who end up in rent arrears and finally get chucked out of their house.”

    How bad is this problem?

    How long has it been since payment procedures changed?

    If 99.9% of current welfare recipients can figure out basic budgeting within 2 years we will have a different conversation than if only 80% can. Since I haven’t come across numbers that let me say anything with confidence I’ll add this to the list of things we need to identify in the pilot project.

  56. If I’d got 300 quid a week for nothing when I lived in the UK, I’d have quit work without a second thought. If we suddenly got it over here, we’d both quit work, and my girlfriend and her mother could go on a cruise every couple of months.

    I can only see two possible results:

    1. So many people quit work that the economy collapses.
    2. The additional money causes enough inflation that everyone still has to work and the people who were on welfare are now worse off.

    That anyone takes it seriously is just bizarre.

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