Now that Andrew Yang has popularized universal basic income into a meme, it’s important to remember how it would actually work in real life.
The most obvious problem with giving everyone $1000 is prices just go up. Prices adjust to what people can pay.
Yang recognizes this is a problem and argues like most free-market types that it would barely make a dent in basic food supplies and mass consumer electronics.
Like pretty much every other Market Worshiper, Yang focuses on bulk goods and commodities while neglecting positional goods.
Positional goods are those with prices mostly determined by one human’s situation relative to everyone else. Positional goods have no intrinsic absolute value. They can be worth nothing or infinity. There is no bottom above zero for the shell of a house in the worst parts of Detroit; there is no top for a degree from Harvard.
If you think the most important cities are unaffordable now, guaranteed income would hit the most desirable places hardest, forcing even more people into the economically dead hinterlands where they have nothing left but opiates and suicide.
We need only look at the disaster that is college loans. If anyone can get a college loan, prices adjust until you need a loan to go to college.
Or health care. When the system assumes everyone has health insurance, you can’t afford healthcare without health insurance.
Maybe a bag of rice only goes up so high in price absent runaway hyperinflation but imagine what happens to local rents as soon as everyone has $1000 extra dollars per month! The bidding war for apartments, credentials, medicine, and used cars are the silverback gorillas in an ever-shrinking room for most people, not buying ramen and plastic junk at wal-mart for a few pennies cheaper. Those who focus on consumer goods while ignoring positional goods are either stupid or actively malicious.
A UBI that goes to everyone is not a solution. If you have a basic income or any other systemic advantage, it can’t go to everyone(smart socialism) if you want it to be an effective policy tool. If you want to have a handout, you have to choose winners and losers in a way that benefits society overall. Who does the society want to subsidize? Who does it want to disadvantage?
Our present elites love having a “level playing field.” If you need a loan to go to college, insurance to get a surgery, and your UBI check to pay the rent, they own you more completely than the owner of an Ancient Roman latifundia mega-farm owned his slaves. They own every breath you breathe and if you say something they think is mean, they pull out your heart-plug like the Harkonnens did in David Lynch’s Dune and laugh a hearty, villainous laugh as you flail about as your arteries drain dry in less than a minute.
It’s a dark time at the bottom of the second act, like The Empire Strikes Back, and lots of people are tempted to say “Fuck it, I can get 1000 dollars while I watch it all burn.”
Don’t think like that. Nothing good ever comes from that kind of negativity.
It seems like Trump has totally caved and even started attacking his most ardent supporters. Andrew Yang wants to lure in the whole population of Guatemala with promises of $1000, no land, no mule.
In a way, Trump has accomplished what we really wanted him to in our darkest hearts. The present system with his final surrender stands totally and utterly discredited, the last shreds of the Mandate of Heaven sent to the winds. It’s now just a race to see what replaces it all.
No US president has had any real power to influence policy for almost 20 years now. It is now clearly a position about as ceremonial as the Japanese emperor. People who were die hard WN 1.0 guys now promote Andrew Yang because they know it’s all a joke. Nobody cares anymore.
Instead of the Search for Spock, it’s the search for who actually has real power and to formally recognize them and endow them with the responsibilities that come with rulership, whether they like it or not.