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Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individual?

  1. Oct 2, 2009 #1
    The question is, inspired by Marshall Brain's "Robotic Nation", which states that more than half of the jobs that exist today will become automated in the next few decades.

    With 50% unemployment, there would be a drastic shift in the way that wealth is generated and distributed.

    What do you think is the way to go about this, when over half the labor is being done through automatic means?
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2009
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  3. Oct 2, 2009 #2

    Pengwuino

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    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    I think this question has been answered by history. New jobs are created.
     
  4. Oct 2, 2009 #3
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    Where did the number 50% unemployment come from?

    You postulate your question as if its a bad that things are automated.
     
  5. Oct 2, 2009 #4
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    there will be new jobs created for lines of work that do not yet exist. That being said, thise who are in the jobs that are likely to become automated or obsolete, should acquire skills in other areas.
     
  6. Oct 2, 2009 #5

    Redbelly98

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    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    No, because without any incentive the majority of people would just perform shoddy work.
     
  7. Oct 2, 2009 #6
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    It's harder than it looks though.
     
  8. Oct 2, 2009 #7
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    Do you believe what Marshall Brain is saying and understand what 50% unemployment rate means?
     
  9. Oct 2, 2009 #8
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    Not if you shot everyone who does shoddy work in the head and put their body on a stake outside the castle walls!
     
  10. Oct 2, 2009 #9
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    Where would we be without machines to plant, till, harvest, transport, process, store, and prepare food?

    The article also spoke about a gasoline pump. The process of drilling for oil, pumping it from the ground, transporting it to the refinery, refining, transporting to terminals, transporting to delivery stations, and ultimately pumping into cars is 100% dependent upon machines.

    Every modern convenience (such as electricity) is 100% dependent upon technology.

    McDonald's is testing self serve kiosks to reduce labor requirements for a number of reasons. In spite of the recession, they have trouble retaining employees and the minimum wage increases have eroded profits. The self serve kiosks have tested very well in gas station/c-stores that serve food.

    Machines increase efficiency and do jobs that people don't want to do.
     
  11. Oct 2, 2009 #10

    russ_watters

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    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    People have been speculating along these lines about robots for decades and immigrants for centuries and it hasn't happened yet. Ironic, a sci fi writer lacking imagination!
     
  12. Oct 2, 2009 #11
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    yeah, but who cares if the machines are doing all the "real" work? just let everyone rise to their highest level of incompetence and don't worry about it. besides, supposing there really is one of those technological singularities in our future, there may be very few people left capable of doing "real" work.
     
  13. Oct 2, 2009 #12
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    ^ Then why should the programmers and engineers be doing "real work" when other people basically get to live carefree, with a general basic income? Maybe some programmers/engineers will realize that they, too, should be doing nothing.
     
  14. Oct 2, 2009 #13
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    ^what makes you think most of their functions won't also become automated?
     
  15. Oct 2, 2009 #14
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    A couple of things immediately come to mind:

    From a coporate standpoint, if you automate things you increase profitability- but competition will ultimately drive prices DOWNWARD. As he points out in the article, the fast food industry is striving for the bottom in terms of worker salaries. Part of the reason for that is the saturated and competitive industry, where there a dozens of competitors in your segment, so every penny probably counts. So what happens is suddenly you have this huge profit margin from the elimination of worker salaries (save a 1 time feee per robot/cost of maintenance, etc) and so now you can sell a burger for 25 cents and still make huge profits. And as soon as BK does that, Mickeys is force to follow suit, and then the rest of the business, or they go out of business.


    Secondly, if there are no jobs, then there is no income keeping the economy revolving. I'd imagine the government would be forced to step in and raise minimum wage drastically, and take steps like a "human" affirmative action plan, to prevent a collapse. Think of it this way- if half the country's unemployed, who can afford to buy any products? Companies would indirectly be putting themselves out of business. If anything it will drive down wealth. After all, the goal of automation is eliminating all work. If we have robots to make our clothes, grow our food, build our shelter, and maintain our systems for us, why do we need money?

    Simple: training and education will move employees to other sectors- progress in science and technology means evolution of jobs to a more "knowledge-based" society. Maybe the entry point for the job market becomes a bachelors degree, instead of a HS diploma. And with automation, people are freed from many societal restraints to focus on education, arts, and self development.

    Imagine you didn't have to get up and go to work because your robot did all of your chores, robots made your house for free, robots made your clothes, grew/made and delivered your food, robots make the cars, maintain infrastructure- so there's no longer a monetary cost associated with any of these things. Even robot maintenance is done by robots. A few "overseers" manage any issues, but otherwise it's fully automated.

    So what would humans do then? if no one had a job to go to, had responsibilities beyond the very trivial? Can you say the next rennaissance ? Art, literature,science, technology could all grow exponentially because people would be free to pursue thier true interests instead of laboring to provide basic lifestyles.. in essence it would be the top of Maslow's pyramid- a utopic society.

    Of course that's assuming we don't all nuke ourselves, get eaten by gray goo, or get eliminated b the robotic singularity :wink:
     
  16. Oct 3, 2009 #15
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    Being unemployed, having no income is probably harder. Adapt or be jobless. Better yet, have a source of income not dependent on some else deciding on employing you or not.
     
  17. Oct 3, 2009 #16
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    Do you mean something like this? Perhaps set an earnings range based upon education and experience? This could also be coupled with a flat tax rate - perhaps 15%.

    High school drop out ..............$ minimum wage
    High school graduate/GED .......$10 to $15 per hour
    Associates Degree .................$12 to $18 per hour

    Bachelors Degree .............................$35,000 to $40,000 per year

    Masters Degree ...............................$50,000 to $60,000 per year

    PHD or Law/Medicine .........................$60,000 to $75,000 per year

    Sales people would be paid at the High School graduate/GED rate and "allowed" to earn up to the maximum PHD.

    Government workers would follow the chart.

    Unions would follow the chart.

    Business owners (who risk their own private capital) could earn up to the PHD salary maximum level, and be allowed to either roll all excess profits into a pre-tax 401 K or re-invest into the business tax free to create jobs and eliminate unemployment.
     
  18. Oct 3, 2009 #17
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    Funny, a half-baked hippy crackpot author (loved the guy personally) had a response to this issue in one of his books.

    Basically every person capable of inventing themselves out of a job receives a stipend and every worker invented out of a job by such a person receives a smaller yet substantial stipend as well. With this money they then have the ability to re educate themselves and find a new better job if they will or simply be a consumer adding their money to the economy with all of the free time and money on their hands.

    I forget where the money came from to pay these stipends though I think it was to come from the government who supposedly should have more money with more people spending more money and corporations having higher profits for lack of overhead in the form of wages for employees. Come to think of it I think it was supposed to come from the corporation like a... damn I've been drinking and I can't think of the right term, like a retirement package that they will never have to pay again for people in this job after this generation of workers.

    As I've mentioned before I haven't a very good grasp of macro economics so I have no idea how well this idea would work. It seems too silly to work but an interesting idea.


    edit: by the way it was Robert Anton Wilson and I believe he highlighted the idea in The Schroedinger's Cat Trilogy.
     
  19. Oct 3, 2009 #18

    D H

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    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    What makes you think that they would? True artificial intelligence has been and remains in the realm of science fiction. Many of the claims made by Marshall Brain similarly fail if computer scientists fail to develop true AI.


    Government workers and unions do "follow the chart" -- just not yours. At least the government charts do make some allowance for the fact different people are worth different amounts of money. If you think the jokes about government workers and union members are bad now, just wait until they follow your chart.

    Now why in the world would someone want to isk every penny of their savings and work 90 hour weeks all for the chance of earning a paltry $15,000 per year more? More importantly, what is going to motivate those with PhDs to start up a business?
     
  20. Oct 3, 2009 #19
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    Actually, many Government and union workers are paid in excess of this chart. As for the motivation for a PHD to start a business - there wouldn't be any incentive other than building a better retirement and creating jobs.

    By the way, I am against this "plan" - I'm merely trying to determine if this is the type of structure envisioned on the original post.
     
  21. Oct 3, 2009 #20
    Re: Should there be a General Basic Income, regardless of the work done by an individ

    Where did you get these made up numbers from? My friend with a BS makes 70k a year, my friend with a masters 90k.
     
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