So what if people spend their $1000/month guaranteed income — Andrew Yang’s “Freedom Dividend” — on heroin? We already spend money on stupid shit like schools. Teacher John Taylor Gatto:
School is a twelve-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know. (from Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling)
Which use of money nets a better return on investment, funding schools or giving a heroin addict $1000/month? It’s not clear to me.
To begin with, how many heroin addicts steal to pay for their habit? How many car windows do they break? How many FEWER car windows will they break if we give them $1000/month? Let’s say ten fewer per month per junkie. That’s ~$3000 worth of damage avoided. Add the cost of police work, the cost of inconvenience, the value of items stolen, and the $1000 given to the heroin addict is an awesome deal for society.
Meanwhile, there’s considerable evidence that most of school is at best a waste of time and resources, and at worst a breeding ground of drug addicts (how many kids take Ritalin — legal meth — for school induced ADHD because they won’t pay attention to lousy lectures and complete lame assignments?) and incompetent, incomplete narcissists who learn to never ask questions except for perfunctory ones like “how are you,” to which they only want to hear perfunctory responses such as “I’m fine, thank you.” With conversations so scripted and unimaginative, it’s no wonder so many people are lonely and turn to drug abuse. Watch 3-5 year olds, they’re constantly asking questions and exploring. After even a few years of schooling, most of them will be addicted to affirmation and only know how to beg, brag, complain, and compliment when conversing.
This guy is a behavioral economist. Meaning, he’s a lot less biased than educators when evaluating the merits of education.
What if They Won’t Work?
That’s fine too, why should everyone work? The “dignity of work” is bullshit. There’s no dignity in working a job you hate and don’t see the point to other than to make money. Seventy percent of Americans say they hate their jobs. As they should: most people hate selling things they don’t believe in; following procedures that don’t require creativity; doing tasks that don’t accomplish anything; working for bosses who don’t care about them. Why force people to endure abuse? Would we force someone to play in the NFL because we think doing so builds character? Do retirees lack dignity? Or do most people find meaning outside of work — as stay at home parents, as volunteers, gardeners, grandparents, and so forth?
Universal Basic Income versus Welfare
Welfare requires a bureaucracy of administrators and social workers and god knows who else to enforce rules and regulations. Bureaucracies aren’t cheap, and their primary goal is to keep themselves alive — a lot of jobs at stake here — rather than fix the problems they’re supposed to fix. That may be why the rapid expansion of welfare programs — LBJ’s War on Poverty — starting in 1965 haven’t reduced poverty.
Note that poverty rate was declining rapidly until…the War on Poverty began. Coincidence?
The above chart claims that poverty rate would be LOWER today without the War on Poverty programs, just as some think that the literacy rate — which was increasing before the popularization of public schools — would be higher today without compulsory education. Let’s look at the cost of failed programs:
Yikes, what if we’d spent that on updating our infrastructure? How many fewer manufacturing and heavy industry jobs would we have outsourced if we’d had a modern transportation infrastructure?
Universal basic income, on the other hand, is *universal*, meaning, it’s given to all citizens above the age of 18 regardless of individual financial circumstance. It treats citizens as shareholders of a company (ie USA) who deserve a dividend, a small share of the company’s profits. Put differently, it gives taxes to the people instead of government bureaucrats who’ve proven over and over again that they mostly waste the resources they’re given and will subconsciously sabotage poor people’s lives to keep their jobs. Programs that tell the poor that they have poor diets and shitty lives because they’re poor is an example of sabotage — how can one have hope when life is so simply and easily determined and salvation is possible not from that struggle within but only from government aid?
What if They Spend the Money on Heroin?
Who knows, and at this point, why care? We don’t have enough data about the consequences of each spending habit and I showed above how spending on heroin might be better — against popular opinion — than spending on school. But we do have lots of data that suggests American government bureaucrats are, as a whole, incompetent narcissists who create stupid lobby influenced guidelines like the Food Pyramid that some think contributed to the obesity crises. Let’s suspend judgment for now and see what happens when the government stops telling people how to live their lives and we let people figure out how to live the life they want to live.
How many more like Steve Jobs would we have if we didn’t have compulsory schooling?
Dumber than the second dumbest idea — “free college for all” — because I can at least imagine that program helping a few people (and hurting most) while jobs for all fucks everything up for everyone.
To begin with, most people are unemployable *in the present economy*. Just because someone has a job doesn’t mean that that person is employable — “suitable for paid work” — most who work are just live bodies filling in space that needs to be filled, like the kid stuck in right field because he can’t catch a pillow thrown at him. And then there are those who are unemployable because they consistently produce negative value: give them a dish to wash and they’ll break it; a car to transport things and they’ll run over people; a bank to run and they’ll start a nation-wide recession. There are plenty of those and the goal should be to keep most people from working, not to give people jobs they’re sure to fuck up.
The Pareto Principle: the 80/20 Rule
Once upon a time, an Italian renaissance man named Vilfredo Pareto noticed that ~80 percent of the peas in his garden came from ~20 percent of the pods. He looked around some more and saw that ~80 percent of land in Italy was owned by ~ 20 percent of Italian citizens. And 80 percent of the food was grown on 20 percent of agricultural land. This 80/20 is everywhere.
For instance, 80 percent of wealth is owned by 20 percent of population, and that’s typically true across all nations (aberrations are eventually self-corrected). Eighty percent of Microsoft Word users use 20 percent of its features, while 20 percent of users use 80 percent of its features. Twenty percent of employees generate 80 percent of revenue and vice versa. Twenty percent of people commit 80 percent of crimes and vice versa. You get the idea, the Pareto Principle is a law of nature and when you go against the law, you get something like the Killing Fields — disaster.
Pol Pot was a Social Justice Warrior. He executed 1.5 million of his countrypeople in the name of social justice.
It’s always been this way, most people have been un or barely employable, regardless of era and regime, and that’s never going to change. Men sitting in basements jerking off and playing video games isn’t a unique symptom of our post-industrial society, it’s a variation of what men have been doing for centuries, except ours is less violent because the routine acts of violence are virtual rather than real thanks to Nintendo and Playstation.
Customer who is a Boeing engineer told me that she mostly goofs off at work (and she was concerned about what that was doing to her work ethic and mental health). The reason she goofs off is because her manager isn’t an engineer, he has an MBA and has no idea how long it should take an engineer to solve an engineering problem. He gives her, for instance, two weeks to complete an assignment she finishes in four hours.
So who hired the barely competent, hardly qualified project manager who is too lazy to ask his staff how long it takes them to finish a task? Incompetent human resources executives who hire incompetent human resource administrators who hire people based on degrees of questionable value (e.g. MBA) instead of their competencies. Beginning to see how 80 percent of employees in a business can contribute so little to a project yet keep their jobs, including executive ones? An aside: you can’t study business the way you can Math, Physics and Logic. Running a business is more of an art than a science — the context (e.g. regulations, taxes, weather, culture) is constantly changing and no two businesses are alike. It’s not like Math, where 2+2=4 no matter the weather, the tax laws, and who is president of the United States. In Math and Physics, a consensus is possible. In business, it isn’t and when someone insists it is, it leads to disaster, like nosediving demon planes. Now let’s get back to the question about the prevalence of incompetence in the workplace. From the New Republic’s investigative news article Crash Course: How Boeing’s Managerial Revolution led to the 737 Max Disaster, “the
Boeing assembly line that opened in 2011 had for years churned out scores of whistle-blower complaints and wrongful termination lawsuits packed with scenes wherein quality-control documents were regularly forged, employees who enforced standards were sabotaged, and planes were routinely delivered to airlines with loose screws, scratched windows, and random debris everywhere.
Oops, Boeing 737 goes splat!
How about high school counselors, how many of them are good at advising students on coursework, college and career options, and life in general? Or do most regurgitate basic basic info that’s easily found online? Here’s a test you can give to a high school counselor, see how many can answer these questions off the top of their heads:
Identify the following schools, which state each is located and what each is known for:
a) Williams College
b) Bryn Mawr College
c) CalTech University
d) Harvey Mudd College
What percentage of counselors have an informed opinion about any of the schools listed? Now these aren’t some fringe schools that don’t matter, these are some of the most prestigious schools in the US that every competent high school counselor needs to know about to serve their students well
Williams College — located in rural Massachusetts, considered one of the top liberal arts colleges in the US, ranked number one liberal arts college several times by US News World Report’s annual college rankings
Bryn Mawr College — located in suburban Philadelphia, a “Seven Sister School,” one of the top ranked women’s colleges in the US
Cal Tech University — located in Pasadena CA, considered by some as the top engineering research school in the world.
Harvey Mudd College — located in Southern California, the top science and engineering liberal arts college in the US.
What’s the point of having a high school counselor who doesn’t spend two weeks a year to learn about schools most aren’t familiar with so he can properly advise students on college options so that each individual’s personality matches well with the spirit of a particular school? If he’s too lazy to do his work properly — hey fucktards, read at least the annual US News college rankings so you know what is and isn’t a safety school or a good match for each college bound student — should he be advising students on career and lifestyle choices? Are these the same fucktards who tell every student to go to college regardless of personal interest and test scores so a bunch of kids grow up to be broke and confused adults who wasted their most productive years getting bullshit degrees from bullshit colleges? Is bad advice that ruin people’s lives what taxpayers are paying for?
Let’s look at teachers: how many of them have you had who were good, who made a positive difference in your life? How many didn’t make a difference at all? How many wasted your time? How many fucked you up, beat the curiosity out of you with asinine rules and demented pedagogy? Count them up. What percentage made a positive difference, is it closer to 20 percent or 80 percent? Or did they overall teach you to act, talk, and think more like a Trader Joe’s cashier than the CEO you dreamed of becoming? Are you even capable of asking a question — any question — other than perfunctory ones like “how was your day?” when you’re on a date, or do you mostly talk about yourself and repeat cliches because you spent a sizable chunk of your childhood in a:
dull and ugly place, where nobody ever says anything very truthful, where everybody is playing a kind of role, as in a charade where the teachers are no more free to respond honestly to the students than the students are free to respond to the teachers or each other, where the air practically vibrates with suspicion and anxiety, the child learns to live in a daze, saving his energies for those small parts of his life that are too trivial for the adults to bother with, and thus remain his. It is a rare child who can come through his schooling with much left of his curiosity, his independence or his sense of his own dignity, competence and worth. (John Holt, published in Saturday Evening Post, 1969)
Which sounds a lot like the Boeing work environment — sub “teacher” with “manager” and “students” with “staff” — the above cited New Republic article describes. Should we be surprised that our work environments aren’t much different from our school environments? Should we spend more money on to replicate dysfunction and incompetence?
What Sort of Jobs? Let’s play along, what sort of jobs would the Federal government provide? Bernie says:
As part of the Green New Deal, we need millions of workers to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure—roads, bridges, drinking water systems, wastewater plants, rail, schools, affordable housing—and build our 100% sustainable energy system. This infrastructure is critical to a thriving, green economy.
At a time when our early childhood education system is totally inadequate, we need hundreds of thousands of workers to provide quality care to the young children of our country.
As the nation ages, we will need many more workers to provide supportive services for seniors to help them age in their homes and communities, which is where they want to be.
So does Robbie the Rapist teach four-year-olds the pledge of allegiance? Should Fat Freddie be anywhere near a shovel? What happens when Sad Sally takes care of grandma? Mickey the Methhead promises to never jerk off again while at work. The US government already provides jobs to anyone of “working age” who wants one — that’s what the US military does and it’s still not meeting its enlistment goals — unless he or she:
is a psychopath
has an iq below 82
is mentally or physically ill
National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC showed that 39.6% of US adults age 20 and older were obese as of 2015-2016 (37.9% for men and 41.1% for women). According to Mental Health First Aid, “in the United States, almost half of adults (46.4 percent) will experience a mental illness during their lifetime,” with “half of all mental disorders [beginning] by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24.” Ten percent of the population have IQs lower than 82. Let’s not even bother to look up the percentage of people who are psychopaths, which I’m sure is waaaay underestimated. So are these minimum requirements for employment reasonable? Go imagine yourself having a threesome with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren if you think not. If they are, then what percentage of the US population is unemployable? Are we really going to let someone who is obese build a bridge? Or someone with an IQ lower than 82 to engineer a bridge? A chronically depressed caretaker to take care of the elderly?
Freddy wants a job. He especially likes to babysit kids.
The private and public sectors already employ many who don’t meet minimum US military requirements for employment. Meaning, most of the unemployed are probably the worst of the unemployable — they can’t wake up on time, they never brush their teeth, they can’t remember anything that doesn’t have to do with themselves, they’re pathological liars, etc. And some feckless politicians still want to guarantee them jobs? It takes a highly skilled and disciplined workforce to build and repair roads and bridges — work already done by the Army Corp of Engineers by the way — you can’t just let anyone have at it.
But Work Makes People Dignified
How so? According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 85% of workers in the world hate their jobs. A 2013 Forbes magazine reported that “work is more often a source of frustration than fulfillment for nearly 90% of the world’s workers.” The good news is that in the US, only 70% say they hate their jobs, comparable to the percentage of American kids who say they hate mandatory education. Am I missing something, is there something dignified about hating your job? Or are the government jobs going to be so gosh darn awesome that *everyone* is going to love them and turn into the model workers champagne socialists fantasize about?
It’s not a politician’s job to tell people what is or isn’t a dignified life, that’s playing God and will lead to tyranny. And we don’t force Puki the Pomeranian Princess to pull a sled in the snow to be a dignified dog. People can decide for themselves what sort of life they want to live, and for some, it’s going to be a life without work. You can still have a sense of purpose in life without going to work — think of all the retired grandparents who hang out with their grandkids and tend gardens.
Puki says: “Kiya the crazy Husky can pull sleds. Me, I just want to look pretty and pampered.”
Universal Basic Income
There are a lot of people who want to work but are unemployable. Like the journalist who is too lazy to fact check and too unimaginative to sense the implausibility of someone’s account; doctors who don’t wash their hands between patient visits; personal trainers who only talk about themselves during the entire session; Sociology professors who teach books they’ve never read; lawyers who don’t read contracts they’re paid to read.
The good news is that the next phase of automation will result in more of the unemployable employed to become unemployed. That’s a good thing because it’ll lead to a significant increase in productivity and — if we do it right — quality of life. Leaving a lot of people out of work, however, is a bad thing because they’re likely to riot as the Luddites did in the early 19th century when their jobs were replaced by industrialization. To reduce the likelihood of widespread social disturbance and to offset the economic effects of automation, we should aim to pay everyone — yes, EVERYone in the world — a living allowance. Presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend — $1000/month to every American citizen age 18-64 — is a step in that direction.
What Happens Next?
Technologically, we’re so close to providing universal healthcare without reduction of quality and rising costs. The automation of most healthcare work will significantly reduce healthcare costs and make it and many other services accessible to everyone. This will happen sooner than later if we stop using resources to fund policies that create disasters we have to clean up and start preparing people for a future without work as we define it today. A new world is around the corner, we should see what it looks like instead of turning around and running back to 20th century solutions — guaranteed jobs and free college — to 21st century problems.
I. Candidate Yang’s Universal Basic Income platform: unconditionally give $1000/month to everyone (citizens only?) between ages 18-64, no strings attached and untaxed.
II. Rooting for Yang. His Universal Basic Income platform needs to be debated on national stage, but not endorsing him. Disagree with many of his policies.
III. Don’t agree that automation will significantly shrink workforce. Automation has been happening for awhile now — ATMs, self-checkout, etc. — yet there’s a severe labor *shortage* as I write this. I support Universal Basic Income, just not for the same reasons as Yang’s.
IV. Yang cites labor participation rate of 62.7 percent as evidence of automation shrinking workforce. So that’s down from 67 percent in 1996. Is that supposed to be a big deal? Context: labor participation rate has decreased since economic recovery; labor participation rate has decreased as unemployment rate has decreased. Yet Yang envisions doomsday. I see people choosing to be stay-at-home moms and dads because they can finally afford to do so and a bunch of people who are either unemployable or employed in the black and grey markets (eg. sex work, etsy, ebay).
V. Automation doesn’t destroy jobs, it only makes people more productive. Just because Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do the job of a corporate lawyer better and faster doesn’t mean we don’t need most corporate lawyers anymore. There’s a bottomless backlog of shit that needs to get done. Once done, there’ll be unimaginable new frontiers to explore. So AI doesn’t mean fewer radiologists or police officers or lawyers. It just means more of what needs to get done gets done, and at a lower cost to consumers because shit gets done faster and more efficiently.
VI. Next stage automation — Artificial Intelligence Economy — won’t happen as quickly as Yang predicts (10-15 years). Technological change is as much a social and political issue as it is an economic one. People will eventually get used to driver-less cars and trucks, just as people got used to using elevators. But it’ll take longer than Yang thinks and the changes will be gradual rather than radical. Americans don’t like radical change.
VII. Universal Basic Income will help keep unemployable people out of the work-force. That’s a good thing because there are a lot of people who produce negative value. Meaning, their screw ups cost a lot of money to fix. Then there are those — most of the workforce — who produce little value above what they’re paid. Best to not let them work too much.
VIII. Critics say that work is how one builds good character. Let’s assume that’s true. But why does everyone need to have good character? We keep useless, lazy pets around and aren’t concerned about their moral health and lack of grit. So why should we be bothered and concerned if someone doesn’t want to work, especially if we don’t need that person to work? Let them be and give them enough money to stay off the streets.
IX. Yang mentions Alaska as a test case. Alaskans get a dividend each month and that hasn’t resulted in societal breakdown and rise in slothful behavior. Same with other UBI pilot projects around the world. Link here to pilot outcomes
In fact, have shown improvements in physical and mental health, increase of IQ scores, higher graduation rates (ugh, that’s not necessarily a positive outcome) and reduction of crime. A UBI experiment in Canada saw hospitalization rates go down 8.5%.
X. That makes sense because the lack of economic security is a source of poor mental health, which often leads to poor physical health and nutrition.
XI. Nutrition in US will improve if UBI improves mental health. Inability to cope with anxiety and depression, not lack of financial resources and access to nutritionally dense ingredients, is why people have poor diets.
XII. UBI won’t help the poorest of the poor — doesn’t matter how much money you give them, they’ll figure out a way to fuck it up. But it’ll help the working poor and up. It’ll especially help the upper-middle class to become more entrepreneurial instead of playing it safe.
XIII. Use UBI to pay off student loan debt. Then get government out of business of subsidizing student loans.
XIV. Welfare requires a complicated bureaucracy of social workers, administrators, and fraud prevention officers. So much money intended for the poor is wasted.
XV. Welfare is psychologically crippling, UBI is emotionally uplifting. Welfare stigmatizes, UBI exculpates. Welfare racializes poverty, UBI humanizes poverty. Welfare disincentivizes work, UBI encourages work. Welfare is invasive, UBI is unconditional. Welfare invites fraud, UBI is fraud proof. Welfare requires bureaucracy, UBI is automated.