Critical Thoughts on “Free Money”

The UBI in Bikini Bottom? (Probably not)

No, nor the literal idea.

Of course I want free money.

If the Koch brothers came up to me right now and said, “Hey, here have some money no strings attached .” I’d be pretty skeptical of that claim but let’s presume it’s true. Would I take it? Fuck yeah. I mean, depending on how much and so forth I would definitely take it. Let’s say the Koch bothers give me $10,000, what would I do with it? I’ve thought about situations like this (who hasn’t?) and I’ve decided I’d likely do a few things here.

  1. Move out of my grandmother’s and get my own room
  2. Pay off my college debt
  3. Save the rest

The first one outs me as a poor person who is dependent on others in order to produce the content for this blog. No, I’m not happy with this situation which is why I write so much, produce so much content and do as much as I do. I’m trying to do all of this so I don’t have to depend on others to get by. So my goal right now is to keep building up the money I get from Patreon, C4SS and the services i offer for pets (walking, house-sitting, boarding, etc.) until I can do 1.

But if I had free money, I’d likely just rent a really cheap apartment for myself (like $400 – $500 a month) and give first and last month’s rent, etc.

…And then I’d keep doing what I’ve been doing.

To be fair, I’d probably be doing it a bit more confidently and securely. I might give some donations to C4SS, invest in better equipment so I can do an Abolish Work Podcast and so on. But the problem with doing much more at $10,000 is that number two is so crucial and costly ($6000 which isn’t a lot for most students, but is a lot for me) that I’d need to keep at least half of the rest for myself. So maybe I’d save $2000 for myself so I could have it just in case of a rainy day.

But after I spent the $6000 I’d be pretty cautious with the remaining $2000 for personal use. Maybe $1000 of the $4000 left over would go to C4SS, the rest would go to various health related issues or medical things I’d like to do for myself as a gender non-conforming person (i.e. electrolysis).

The point being that I probably wouldn’t end up on a drug-induced stupor and lay on the sidewalk. Why? Well, it’s not because I’m magically better than most people. It’s probably for a handful of different reasons but here are some of the big ones that come to my mind first and foremost:

  1. I’ve been poor my whole life
  2. Material wealth isn’t important to me
  3. I’m used to making decisions that affect me directly

So, as far as number one…surprise?

I’ve been poor my whole life and never particularly prosperous in what I own or what I aim towards owning. I don’t consider any of these things morally relevant, but I think they’re things that influence my abilities to deal with wealth. It’s true I’ve used foods tamps (when I have them) many times to have snacks or unhealthy foods. I’m totally willing to cop to the stereotype that, as a poor person,I have sometimes used foodstamps for unhealthy foods.

But so what? It’s my body and the state is going to steal the money from folks anyways. I get tons of pleasure from eating bad food every once in a while. And more often I get food that I need. But when I worked at a convenience store I often got the sweets since I was working and didn’t have time for much else. So in that sense, maybe the conservative case against food stamps as encouraging unhealthy eating is also a case against work? Something to ponder.

Other times when I went shopping I’d often get what I really needed and tried to only get minimal sweets. A few items here or there. No matter what I did in these situations though I bore the costs of my actions. This was important money for myself and I could let it slide a little into unhealthy foods but overall I still needed the essentials. I took care of myself while still indulging and keeping in mind that these were costs that no one else could subsidize.

Of course, the money itself is subsidized via people’s tax money and I wouldn’t deny that. But there’s no barrier past that for me as a poor person. And I would rather use someone else’s unjustly stolen money than starve or suffer undue hardship in an unjust system under some silly sense of “moral purity” or “consistency”.

I’ve said this for a while, but if your movement is going to tell me that its ideas are more important than my health?

Than fuck your movement.

This is all a round-about way of looking at an article that  Coders Against The Drug War sent me a month ago.

The article is entitled Free Money by Sarah Perry and featured on a blog called Ribbon Farm. Ribbon Farm is a a “longform blog” started by the Venkatesh Rao, the same guy who wrote Breaking Smart (which I looked at here).

Contrary to the title, let’s start with some positive comments.

I appreciate that Perry blows away some myths throughout her article. Arguments like, “but people will stop working if they get free money!” hasn’t been shown true in various studies she cites throughout her article. According to Perry and her studies (which, for sake of argument I’m taking for granted) people tend to reduce their work hours sometimes but usually they don’t change much at all. They keep doing what they’ve been doing, maybe a little better, maybe more efficiently and maybe they switch jobs for a more salaried one. But overall people don’t become video game addicts.

I also like that Perry critiques the work ethic, though I find her appraisal of its effects on the economy off-base. Still, it’s always nice to see a general critique (even if it’s admittedly mild)  of the work ethic. The idea that work is in of itself valuable and a good thing is something that Perry suggests as largely disappeared from discourse. I wish I had her optimism on such matters, I tend to be more of an cynical optimist or something.

Lastly, Perry’s points on procrastination and laziness via a paper by Seth Robers are well-taken.

At one point Perry quotes Robers as saying

the tools, knowledge, and networks that made work more productive also made free time more productive – and free time is an especially fertile source of innovation. I have never come across an economist who considered free time productive. But this theory says that hobbies — and the innovations they produced – were in a sense the beginning of where we are now. In the beginning, all innovations came from free time. It is entirely possible that people are more innovative during their free time than during their job. People have more freedom during their free time. They are under less pressure to produce fast results. They are under less pressure to please others. It is entirely possible that the most important innovations in the next fifty years will come from what people do in their free time. (emphasis Perry’s)

But okay, those are my nice words to say about Perry. It’s pretty clear that, overall, they aren’t taking a very radical stance on these sorts of things. And as an anarchist taking radical actions against work is what really matters to me. I don’t mean “radical” as some cute little word either. I mean getting down to the roots of what makes work operate as it does today. I mean to say that if we are really to improve people’s lives we’re going to wan to challenge capitalism and the state, the systems of power that I feel reinforce the evils of work the most.

To the end of improving society Perry is advocating for a universal basic income (which I have mixed feelings on) and part of her argument is to try and get across that people wouldn’t necessarily work less, quit their jobs ,destabilize the economy or generally affect it in some significant way if enacted. But ironically these are all problems I have with the UBI.

I’ll start with her definition:

  1. It is universal – everyone in a particular political jurisdiction receives it.
  2. It may be (partly) need-based in its initial award, but in its purest form it is universal in the sense that it goes to everybody. In this form, it is sometimes criticized as “welfare for the rich.”
  3. Even if it is need-based in the initial award, it is not reduced by increased income after the initial award (often distinguished from a basic income guarantee). In other words, it has a low or zero “take-back rate” or marginal tax rate.
  4. It lasts for the foreseeable future of the entity providing it (“for life”).

I will accept her definition for sake of argument and also accept that all of the studies that she cite are true and accurate. Most of those studies, by the way, are small case studies based on things sorta like the UBI which, as an anarchist, I sympathize with. I have to do that with arguments for an anarchist society sometimes, so my sympathies to Perry.

But still, these limitations in the studies should be taken into account. I’m sure the fact that a negative income-tax did well in the 1970s (in the US and Canada) sounds promising to some UBI proponents. But the difference in times, governmental structures, technologies, landscape of ideas and culture and lack reproduction of the results  all affect my pronounced skepticism. Particularly within the realm of the UBI  actually doing much of substance in practice.

Regardless, I always like it when folks use studies and try to base their claims in some empirical research, however limited it may be in practice. To that end, Perry uses a PROGRESA study in Mexico of free money, Belgian lottery winners and negative income-tax systems in Canada and the US in the 70s as I mentioned before.

The results alongside the prediction that “people will work less”?

A study found no significant effect of cash transfers on adult workforce participation, and in the small Belgian study hardly anyone quit their job, and very few reduced the amount that they worked.

As predicted, there was some reduction in labor force participation. People didn’t tend to leave the workforce altogether; they spent more time between jobs or worked fewer hours. Male heads of household reduced their work the least (Widerquist reports between 0% and 9%, depending on the source and the data); single mothers reduced their work a bit more; and married women and teenagers living with their parents reduced their work the most, presumably having equally socially important things to do, such as care for families or study.

Taken together, the studies suggest that a basic income program with no reduction in benefits for money earned will have very little effect on labor force participation. What effect it does have, such as allowing one partner in a two-earner household to work less, is likely socially beneficial.

The main outcome reported by the Belgian lottery winners was that they felt more secure about the future. Of course this is not replicable in a five-year study.

The problem here is that if people are working in jobs they dislike then according to these studies it’s unclear to me that their time there will be reduced. There’s no word on whether the labor force participation shifts to jobs that individuals actually want more than their current job. There’s also nothing here that says that the UBI substantially challenges the state or capitalism. So for me, I just don’t see the appeal in a UBI in terms of effectively challenging work.

Feeling more secure about the future is a great and laudable result, for sure. No qualms there! …But did it actually end up playing out like after the study was concluded? Were there any follow-up studies on these individuals? This isn’t a game of “gotcha” for UBI folks. It’s a real question and one that I think should be taken into account before we get too far ahead of ourselves. The fact that it made people feel better is nice and the fact that other programs helped out married women, teenagers and others who had less to do in the workforce is great. But did these things persist?

I’m happy for people to work less but that’s not, in the end, what I’m after. I would prefer if people didn’t work under state-capitalism at all and only marginally getting us there in some limited aspects doesn’t cut it for my margin of making the UBI worth struggling for. And of course, it would be a struggle in a political landscape that apparently can get Donald Trump as a presidential candidate.

I just don’t feel like anything meaningful is being progressed towards in the long-run. It just seems like we’re marginally improving folks lives and then leaving the rest for state-capitalism to handle. Which, doesn’t tend to end well.

Perry’s second prediction that people won’t become entrepreneurs is also distressing:

In the PROGRESA study, adults tended to try to shift their work from poorer-paying home-based work toward salaried work. Zero winners of the Belgian lottery became self-employed. Entrepreneurship is a risky and self-selected endeavor.

So if people aren’t going to change their jobs much except move to more intensive ones, if they’re not going to work for themselves and they’re going to continue to work under bosses…what exactly has been changed? Structurally, I mean, it just seems people have had a few things taken off their back. But why would this last? Wouldn’t capitalism correct itself?

If a UBI isn’t helping create alternatives for individuals then what’s the point? Just to have a little bit more money on the side while still working at jobs you may not like, for companies you aren’t invested (literally or figuratively) in, in an economy that has largely stagnated your wages for decades now? That doesn’t seem appealing to me.

When I look at work as an economic activity, I see subjugation of workers under bosses and the oppression that follows from being under their finger tips. Constantly having to depend on the permission of the bosses to make the most basic decisions. Can they go to the bathroom? Can they just give the guy 10% off and not make such a big deal for everyone involved? Can that homeless guy stay in here for a few more minutes instead of freezing in the snow?

I also see the deprivation of people’s time, energy and lives. People are sticking around in places they feel low-investment in with folks they likely don’t enjoy in fields of work that have become barren of fun for them. And why wouldn’t they? When you’re forced to do it for over 40 hours in a given week how in the world could something still be fun?

These are all dramatic things that need dramatic actions and a radical strike at what makes work tick. Trying to eradicate the very much real work ethic that’s still in play (even if people aren’t as loud or obvious as they used to be about it) is going to take a lot more than giving people a few hundred bucks in their pockets.

Finally, I’ll move on to a discussion of Perry’s ideas of the work ethic:

Ancients would have laughed at the notion that work is ennobling, says Baumeister; they had no such illusions. Work was to be avoided if possible. The work ethic was invented during industrialization, when religious justifications for social structures and work were fading. If work were valuable in and of itself, then people could always be motivated to work hard.

The new work ethic ultimately failed. It proposed that work was at once an act of self-fulfillment and an act of self-denial; but how could this be? It promised value based on individual self-determination, but in practice delivered work in corporations and bureaucracies. Social mobility proved to be limited. Working less and consuming more proved to be more attractive than working for work’s sake. The motivation of individual self-esteem and prestige through a career proved more sturdy than the motivation of the work ethic.

What I don’t understand is that if it failed and we’re in all of these restrictive contexts (corporations, bureaucracies and low social mobility) then why would a UBI be desirable? I mean, if things don’t actually affect the job market in any substantial way then what’s the point? More to the point in what way did the “new work ethic” fail? It’s caused many people across many cultures to suffer. The Japanese still seem to be involving themselves in this ethic when they kill themselves over their lack of commitment to work.

Many people still seem to have an internalized sense of work similar to this. Many politicians and people in the news are lauding the prospect of “jobs” and saying how much hard work is to be valued in the pursuit of some fanciful American Dream.

Is the ethic “dead” in that it didn’t accomplish what it wanted?

Here too, I’m not so sure. It seems like the intention behind these sorts of ethics is to get social mobility limited and confine people to corporations and faceless bureaucracies.

I mean, if you ask me the work ethic was wildly successful.

The work ethic is still called upon by those who work in order to feel superior to those who don’t – and feeling comparatively more valuable than others is an important basis for a sense of meaning in life. But the work ethic was never very real, and has ceased to be much of a motivation.

We probably do not need to worry about universal basic income “eroding” it. Researchers should measure loneliness and depression, social participation, and the sense of meaning and happiness, not just workforce participation, in the study and control groups.

I don’t know what “never very real” means. But I’m sure the individuals who decided to sacrifice their families, time spent with friends and enjoyable activities, might have a few words to say about it not being “real”. Was it “not real” in the sense that it’s a false idea that we should take meaning out of work in of itself? Sure, that’s agreeable.

If I’m not being clear though the real problem is that Perry isn’t clear in what way the work ethic was “false”. As a result, it’s hard to get at whether I disagree or agree. And just to be clear, I read and read this section more than a few times.

What good is work? The more it is not necessary to the economy, the more value it must provide to the individual worker. Work provides a sense of being valuable and not a burden, and gives people opportunities for social interaction and daily ritual. If they can find other ways to provide for these needs, then perhaps work is not so necessary.

People are mostly not very creative. We will not each come up with a new, fulfilling way to live life without work. Rather, a few innovators will come up with new ways of life, which will spread. In this way, rare human creativity and the more universal ritual stance (doing the same thing over and over) could interact to usher in whole new ways of peopling.

The first part is one of the better passages in this piece but the second falls flat for me.

People aren’t creative? Based on what? The studies you’re suggesting have nothing to do with claims about whether people are creative or not. So where exactly is the evidence coming in for claims like this?

On the other hand, let’s presume Perry is right. Well in that case maybe the lack of social mobility and being confined into corporations makes people less creative. That seems like something that’s pretty plausible to me and falls within her own logic. But in the meantime, according to Perry, us non-creative people should be…what? Dependent on the few creative people who do the work for us? That sounds like a good elitist argument for government but not one I find particularly appealing or convincing. And if that isn’t the conclusion of her argument then I’m unsure what is.

And I guess that’s my main takeaway from this article: Okay, but so what?

To the radical, the UBI seems like a dead end.

And hell, to the reformer it may as well be too.

If you enjoyed this article you can contribute to my own personal UBI…which I guess defeats the point.

Joking aside, my Patreon is a great way to donate to the site!

$1 and $5 monthly donations are greatly appreciated!

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13 thoughts on “Critical Thoughts on “Free Money”

  1. To me this issue of UBI is clouded, because it’s framed in the context of a capitalistic system (or at least … mindset). Once you attach the baggage of a capitalistic system, an UBI seems necessary once you take away some of the “work opportunities” that system provided humans (with technology, etc…).

    Capitalism is a mechanism of sorts that creates a necessity to have income, and if technology (OR other influences) take that away, UBI becomes a seemingly necessary replacement for that income.

    Trying to discuss “creativity” or whether “humans are creative” under circumstances like “having to pay rent” (as one of many examples) is much different than say … discussing creativity under a socialist system where more (not all) basic needs are met already.

    I suppose my main thinking here is different economic systems create different “mental tensions” that may affect ones ability to “be creative.” UBI could relieve that “tension” in different ways under different economic conditions, allowing different degrees of creativity for humans.

    (e.g. If you’re under tremendous financial pressure, how easy is it to “be creative”? UBI could help with that.)

    • Hi, Joseph, thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I agree with your main point that “different economic systems create different “mental tensions”‘ but disagree that a UBI would be the way to relieve the tensions of a capitalist system.

      Things vaguely comparable to it only seems to work minimally on the margins and even then, based on the research Perry has done it isn’t clear if it last very long or not. In addition, even if it was more effective and lasted much longer it still isn’t radically challenging our current context of capitalism and state-power. And in the end, I think not doing so means any good that it’ll do will likely be canceled out.

      In addition, pople having more money isn’t necessarily the same as people having more freedom. It’s an important factor in today’s world but if we’re trying to move *away* from today’s world then it seems counter-productive to reinforce those same dynamics.

      Then again, I’m not against money, just for the record. But I also think that trying to move away from government-issued money to alternatives (like bartering, Local Exchange Trade Systems, Bitcoin, etc.) are preferable to trying to reinforce it. For me, the UBI doesn’t quite do anything that I’d consider a meaningful improvement over the system that (for example) community exchange systems, mutual aid, solidarity networks and so on couldn’t do and more effectively and all without relying on the state.

      • “In addition, even if it was more effective and lasted much longer it still isn’t radically challenging our current context of capitalism and state-power.”

        But could it be part (not all) of the solution until we have radically changed things?

        The radical upheaval of state-power (and capitalism) is a large undertaking … so wouldn’t that require at least some measure of methodical, progressive (not the political idea), process-oriented thinking (combined with faster, harder-hitting, more radical ideas)?

        I would tend to think of UBI as part of a temporary solution to ease the transition into bartering, LETS, Bitcoin etc… and that “easing” will be necessary because not everyone can adopt immediately radical ideas after so much conditioning by the capitalist and state-power mechanisms.

        That, and there are so many differences within the Homo sapiens sapiens … I would think some sort of transitional period will be necessary. UBI could (as one approach of many) act as grease in the wheels to aid in that transition.

        I suppose I wouldn’t think of UBI as an end – solution, but rather one “baby step” towards a much bigger over arching goal of usurping a seemingly insurmountable (to quite a few people) system with so many moving parts.

        In short, I also agree with you too … just trying to think through the way to “get there” that factors in a large human population base with many moving parts.

        • Understood, Joseph.

          And I appreciate the “transitional” approach more than the “ends” approach and sympathize with it more as a result of that appreciation.

          Still, I think that the tactics I laid out and the networks of action and living I’m advocating are perfectly practical (see for example Food Not Bombs) and can be done here and now without appealing to state power (a Most Dangerous Game if there ever was one!).

          I agree with you that it’s important to factor in human populations and the complexities of society. That’s why I think anarchist tactics work best.

          Especially as we tend to advocate much more flexible organizations based around distributed power, horizontalism, decentralism and those organizations being small-scale as well as community-based All of these qualities makes anarchist organizations much more likely to be receptive to people’s needs and desires than state-based programs that tend to be bureaucratic in practice and time-consuming to implement.

          I think we share a lot of similarities on this matter. We just disagree about the best way to progress towards a better world. Which doesn’t mean I don’t think your ideas lack merit, of course. UBI surely has more going for it than our present welfare system in many ways.

          But that’s not exactly a high bar to reach (as many UBI proponents would agree I’m sure) and I think there are (as I said) better ways to transition folks to a better world and much more sustainably without a UBI.

          So in sum, I suppose I’m cynical about the role of UBI. I’m more positive about it having a part, I guess. But that’s still not something I see as very practical or efficient even if it was just emphasized as a “baby step”. Particularly given the horrendous incentive structures that the state tends to foster.

          Thanks for your thoughts!

          • “Especially as we tend to advocate much more flexible organizations based around distributed power, horizontalism, decentralism and those organizations being small-scale as well as community-based All of these qualities makes anarchist organizations much more likely to be receptive to people’s needs and desires than state-based programs that tend to be bureaucratic in practice and time-consuming to implement.”

            This ^^^^^ times 10^99. 🙂

  2. UBI might not be the end goal but for me personally it would be an incredible liberation and although its probably un-quantifiable I’m gona wilfully estimate it would take of 64.7% of my general background stress (87% -again my own unprovable guess – of which occurs due to ‘HAVING’ to work in an unfulfilling job) ..

    even more importantly from my perspective would be something like abolishmeanstesting dot com, does that exist? Ive not checked, but means testing as you have mentioned before is pretty abhorrent and destructive. I would personally rather have £50pw UBI with and without work guaranteed that the current £73pw (job seekers allowance) or so which I would have to essentially work for if I lost my current job.

    Even if UBI is brought in at a tiny level (in comparison to US/UK gdp-pp) say £100pcm ($150) this would relieve so much of the tension for those like you who can live on minimal sums and I know from job experience that overnight a huge number of UK means tested benefit recipients would drop out of that (which requires 1-25 hours of proving you are doing something p/w and again from my experience Id say 3-75hours of worry, plus the regular heart attack, starvation, etc deaths and multiple health conditions caused). There would be a swift reduction in health costs and care burdens. Not a panacea of life but an improvement in conditions for the lower 70% – see most of scottsantens work for the evidence of these positions.

    • Hi, Hugh. Thanks for your thoughts as always.

      I don’t deny the UBI might help folks, just that there are easier and more effective ways to do that.

      I share with you a concern about health costs and care burdens and so on but would suggest associations based on mutual aid and solidarity over state-based programs.

      • Yeah 🙂 …. but ..! we live in a top down monetary system and for all its faults it may be the thing that brought great prosperity to millions from 1933-73 or thereabouts.

        You may be right and it may be that cryptocurrency/local currency sovereignty can come about quickly, but I see actual momentum behind UBI and its the ONLY world political issue that already receives across the political spectrum support for not only the people, but the elites (possibly along with free healthcare but we already have this in most of the developed world with the one big exception of uncle sam).
        Finland will report (and it looks like they wont be alone, with canadian provinces, parts of holland etc) in 2019. After that I think we could see widespread implementation. Also take a look at charles kennys blogs and the reports he highlights from the SGDs (updated millenium goals for 2030) at Addis Addaba – the world bank is likely to give direct transfers from 2020-2030 to the poorest 400mn people to ensure no-one has under $2 pday. This is enought to justify it for me, I dont see local charity and mutual help being enough to achieve that kind of change in such a timescale.

        • I think the monetary system has given us a lot of benefits and a lot of harms (at least if we’re talking about the US). In general, it’s true that modern capitalism has given us many gadgets and things to make our lives infinitely better. But the means of distributing these benefits are centralized into top-down organizations and *by* top-down organizations in many cases. Which dilutes the dispersal of benefits that could otherwise take place. So I think there’s a lot of room for skepticism here.

          Even so, I think a lot of the history of capitalism proves the efficiency of markets *in spite* of capitalism and state power. But that’s an argument for another time…

          You may be right about the UBI and its support, I’m not sure. That’s not something I’m very aware of. But in any case, any substantial change in the way we live will be hampered by relying on those very elites to be implemented. Historically, any change that relies (in part or in full) on the elites to take place is something that’s going to have it’s interests and means seized by those with more power, wealth and social capital. This isn’t a deterministic thing, I’m not saying it’s *impossible* for it to be otherwise. But I just don’t think y’all have the odds are on your side, historically speaking.

          I’ll check that blog out, but I don’t trust the world bank and I think people would be better off making substantial changes in their local communities and networked relationships. Especially over relying on a bank that has historically screwed the lower classes many times throughout history and is widely criticized for doing just that.

          In terms of timescale, I think it’s important to realize that bigger institutions with bigger resources make bigger goals. That doesn’t mean they’re going to reach them and it doesn’t mean it can’t be done any other way. Or that the biggest goals are always worth striving for as soon as possible. In addition, The World Bank, like many other big institutions, wants to justify itself into perpetuity and will do this by making these huge goals as big as possible.

          Meanwhile people are coming together in everyday life to ensure that the other doesn’t suffer. They’re forming bonds, networks with other people, sometimes institutions and associations, even. There’s great precedent for mutual aid networks and institutions in terms of healthcare especially.

          I recommend Roderick Long’s, “How Government “Solved” The Healthcare Crisis”.

          Appreciate your thoughts but still disagree with the UBI.

  3. I agree with everything in your last comment. I dont trust the world bank, I dont like the top down system, I dont believe the elites are likely to have our interests at heart. Nonetheless, I still dont see a new monetary system/decentralisation on a large scale until at best the 2030s. I see 2019 as results time for UBI and I believe they will be overwhelmingly positive. I think its the only realistic way to improve things for most of us in the next 15 years.

    If you ask almost anyone in the UK, and especially those like the elderly in my family, the NHS literally saved their lives and those of their friends and families, multiple times. They remember the change over and how different it felt to know that care would be provided for free. It was a tremendous liberation. Now, whether this is ultimately a case of it being necessary in order to keep the top down system going, maybe thats true. But it shows that those at the top will provide improvements when serious pressure is put upon them. Keynes and maybe Roosvelt saved them as well from another revolution. But this doesnt mean we shouldnt be happy with the NHS, and now with a UBI. If the alternative might be a war/revolution, well, Im not sure thats for me, and I know it isnt something most people would go for right now.
    Implementing the change we want without that is a goal and I want to be part of that change, but I just dont see it happening in the short term.

    I’ll note down that book, it might be hard to get in the UK, I dont really enjoy ebooks.

    • I disagree. The incentive, knowledge and structural issues of governance that are largely inherent to the issue of government themselves give us far less control over what a UBI would look like or any sort of realistic change that we might want. Historically speaking when people try to use government as an arm for good, even amongst direct and heavy pressure it can often backfire.

      Think of the effort to make prisons include women’s prisons as well so they’d be sexually assaulted less. This was certainly a laudable goal and intent, but the result was that the prison population of women *tripled* in Illinois not long after this resolution was passed there. Good intentions and direct heavy pressure don’t guarantee much when you’re dealing with an institution with an incredibly poor incentive structure that is confronting all sorts of knowledge and legibility problems with regards to what to do and how.

      I think acting on our decentralized and distributed power through loose networks of loose associations is a much more flexible, less cost-intensive and more realistic way of achieving a way to post-work world.

      At the same time, I have no doubt that direct and heavy pressure can help make the state have slightly better policies that may even save lives. But that’s what is often *seen* what is much less talked about is scenarios like my friend in Canada (a supposedly “socialized” healthcare system) where her mother had been waiting for life-saving surgery for *years* and when she could *finally* afford it has now been denied.

      And now she will likely die.

      That’s what is less often talked about in the news and from families. Because people don’t want to admit that the system *can’t* be reformed and that there are real structural and root issues going on here that is going to require much more than a UBI to tackle it.

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