An Alt-Centrist Look At UBI

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.

By Giovanni Dannato

In 1547 I was burnt at the stake in Rome for my pernicious pamphlet proclaiming that the heavens were not filled with a profusion of aether, but rather an extensive vacuum.
Now, the phlogiston that composed my being has re-manifested centuries in the future so that I may continue the task that was inconveniently disrupted so long ago.
Now, I live in Rome on the very street where I (and others) were publicly burnt. To this day, the street is known as what I would translate as 'Heretic's Way'. My charming residence is number 6 on this old road. Please, do come inside and pay me a visit; I should be delighted to spew out endless pedagoguery to one and all...

15 replies on “An Alt-Centrist Look At UBI”

You know, I turned my twitter account into a DHS fan account. Because everyone knows that the bureaucracies have all the real, permanent power. If you’re going to interfere in politics, interfere with the people who have real power.

No one seems to get the joke.

And last but not least. UBI does nothing to address intergenerational dependency. A dependency that will only increase as more descendants are born to the original dependents. Ever increasing as a burden.

Please give an example of an intergenerational dependancy. Are you talking about knowledge and know-how?

Trailer park people who have children who in no way have left that situation and found productive outlets outside the trailer park. Or ghetto blacks who bring forth for the most part dependents.

And the incentives of evolution. Which if a person is paid for existing. The incentive exists for reproduction to exploit that resource and nothing much else.

This is very good point. There is a solution though its one techies like Yang won’t like. After mass repatriation we control technology to force inefficiency into the system .

The reason we have these level of dependency and we have such a low fertility rate is lack of steady remunerative work. Certainly easy divorce is an issue but if any of the policy wonks actually knew working class and middle class people of fertile age who want families and asked them why they don’t have them, the answer they’d get is money.

Steady remunerative work is mandatory in modernity or the TFR declines below replacement. No amount of religion will work, Poland named Jesus Christ its king, TFR 1.3, Russia has been pushing Orthodox Christianity and its TFR is 1.6 . It simply won’t work on urban population and short term handouts only move already planned babies up a bit. The 1.6 or so that is the generic developed and mostly developed world rate stays the same, you just get them timed closer to the bonus

Fundamentally automation and computers sterilize urban populations. This has been a serious problem for 50 years with inklings of this as far back as the 1930’s

There are no cheap solutions, immigration destroys all social capital and erodes society and a UBI even with closed borders is unaffordable in any culture and will quickly create huge level of inflation and misery or worse huge state agencies to manage the later with price controls, council housing and food subsidy

I suspect that if we can’t control our tech the best bet is to get what controls we can , end immigration and allow long term population decline. 1.8 is manageable for a long while

Of course any growth or child related business will be in big trouble and the pension system will croak when Gen Y hits old age , which is only 30 years off when it starts but oh well.

Long, long term this basically hands society over to Orthodox Jews ,very devout Christians a few Muslims and the mainly the Amish which solves the issue.

2219 becomes Amish Paradise instead of Star Trek

Even though my political inclinations are still pretty libertarian, I can think of ways to make ubi work. But then I think about Congress- all of D.C. really. They break everything, even the stuff they throw money at. It is literally insane, but at the heart of our government, there is this total refusal to actually govern. They rather just screw shit up.

“From Hell’s Heart, I stab at thee. For Hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee”
That was all he had left, to use the tool crafted by his enemy’s blood against him. He (thought) he had the means to make paradise, but he wanted more, he wanted to stand astride the Cosmos as a Colossus, what the economists might call an ultimate positional good.

In the last few weeks, I have been reminded of the Journal of the Whillis, where newly ascended Emperor, previously seen as an almost promethean figure, was now seen as a distant figure, captured by his bureaucracy and his Court.

From the point of view of those who grew up without those positional goods in the shadows of what seemed like an all-powerful monolithic Empire possessed of it’s Mandate of Heaven, Trump appears to have embraced what appears to have become his life’s dark purpose, to “Crash this plane, with no survivors” (I doubt he personally would share this view).

Those who have a deeper view of our society, and who do not want to risk being sucked into that dark chasm, to risk becoming the very monster they oppose, should heed your advice, and perhaps seek a Secher Nbiw of their own. As always, history belongs to those who show up, perhaps not with the largest numbers or the most powerful forces, but the capacity to stand back, to take a larger view, to realize there is a time to make allies, to gather strength in the shadows, and also a time to make one’s presence known.

I’m going to make a technical point to a really emotion laden post.

A basic income guarantee, as opposed to a guaranteed basic income, would not be inflationary. The government would guarantee an after-tax income of a certain microscopic percentage of the GDP that year (it can also be based off of the poverty rate, or median income) to each of its adult citizens. The check sent is only for the guaranteed amount, minus reported income after tax, and no check is sent if reported income after tax is higher (but then obviously you would have more money that year than the guarantee would provide). Fixed at a percentage of GDP divided by adult citizen population caps the amount of GDP that would go to this. The effect is that of a minimum wage combined with a back-stop against the worst forms of poverty. Also known as a negative income tax, Milton Friedman advocated for it.

Now I think there are dark, deep reasons in human nature that will prevent this from being tried, but a BIG administratively is pretty doable.

Guaranteed basic incomes, the thousand dollar checks to everyone, have been tried in some places (eg Alaska Permanent Fund) and their practical effect is pretty harmless.

$500 a year in Alaska is nothing. $12000 a year anywhere is a lot

As far as a reverse income tax, we have the EITC and it hasn’t helped. Stable employment is not optional as children take a minimum of 18 years to become self sufficient . This means 18 years per child so assuming 2 children space 3 years apart, 21 years with escalating income all the way/

If this doesn’t happen not only are men thought less well off, its actually far more in a woman’s interest to get on welfare. That is steady income at least.

In a city no money means no babies

The extra 1k even if somehow prices could be contained and they can’t will end up crippling male value and work ethic and making taxes crazy high.

The worst part is this is not a new problem. Marx has it pegged back in the early 19th century calling it the clunky term “alienation from the means of production.” We’ve not been able to deal with the issue

Now a profoundly non democratic regime could repatriate upwards of fifty million people thus freeing up quite a bit of labor but it is a stop gap measure, Sooner or later enough jobs will be automated to nullify this.

The political options that haven’t been tried are F.D.R guaranteed jobs program which I suspect would be more expensive than UBI and Distributism which shifts incentives to middle and working class jobs

The later will be resisted at any cost as people resent being made to share and while they can opt the huge taxes would enrage the Ayn Rand Jihad crowd The techies won’t like it either as people will be a lot less interested in machines when they cost far more than people

I’d personally try the later after repatriation but no one is making me dictator

Oh yeah and I guess there is one more option, anti natal accelerationism . Simply accept that our society can’t support a large population, block almost all new immigration and pay people to have less kids. You can even throw in repatriation

Its auto-genocide in a way and heaven help you if you need manpower for a war but its not a terrible approach and a US with a population under 200 million hell under a hundred would be much nicer in many respects

This will not happen of course, big business, big religion, big government all require more people and I don’t know any society that applauds population decline for very long

Hell back in the Middle Ages after the Black Death fallow land and empty villages caused a ,massive freakout among the establishment even though society was setter off with less people in it

”Oh yeah and I guess there is one more option, anti natal accelerationism . Simply accept that our society can’t support a large population, block almost all new immigration and pay people to have less kids. You can even throw in repatriation ”

Medicaid and other welfare benefits as well as government subsidies for childcare encourage people to have more kids. One doesn’t need to pay extra if such subsidies can be reduced over time to zero.

If something can be accomplished in a more effective less resource intensive way then that should be taken over the same thing being accomplished with more cost.

”Simply accept that our society can’t support a large population, block almost all new immigration and pay people to have less kids. You can even throw in repatriation”

By simply cutting subsides for childcare and medicaid over time to zero as well as other welfare benefits that attracts migrants alongside repatriation one can achieve the same.

If a more cost effective approach exists to solve the same problem with the same effectiveness. Then the cost effective approach should be considered over the more expensive approach.

Cutting something like Medicare would end up increasing the savings rate past any value in investing it. Japan had this happen to them and between onerous work hours and a lack of job stability they stopped having babies same as we did. They have a dreadful TFR, 1.4 near world low and ours isn’t that far behind at 1.6 White, 1.8 other

All that surplus capital than encourages things like property speculation and buyouts as well as lowering yield on lending which increases housing and decreases fertility

This is a disaster socially and housing costs are in part responsible for the recent fertility decline.

There is no way to lower taxes enough to increase wages. I’d argue that short of massive government intervention that wages will never rise except for a very brief time during shortages

Obviously repatriation will create some degree of labor shortage in some sectors but doing so will require dictatorial power as the current Republican leadership much less the Democrats will interfere with any real efforts to do this or to reform anything.

It might be possible to vote enough of the uniparty out to make reform but finding people driven almost entirely be ideology and uncorruptible and than working a rigged system to get them in is a daunting task .

Optionally you could get a Caesar or a Pinochet, declare martial law backing the obedient military with a militia. President Trump probably isn’t the man for this but I may well be wrong

From an interview today

You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress … with all this invest[igations]—that’s all they want to do is –you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.”

If President Trump made most of the right decisions and that’s questionable , we could wrap up the worst of the mess in a few years .

Otherwise since its unlikely anyone else is out there to solve the issue for us it will come to a slow collapse or a civil war if the Right has the stones for it.

What about $400/week for each married couple with at least 2 girls? Repeal all other entitlements.

@Ed, If you don’t have emotion about something it isn’t with writing about…and will be really boring for someone to read.

@AB Prosper, excellent comments. I’ve been pretty pleased with the discussion on this post. Thank you, everyone.

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