Left and Right Unite! – For the UBI Fight!

December 2023 Forums General discussion Left and Right Unite! – For the UBI Fight!

  • This topic has 224 replies, 20 voices, and was last updated 6 months ago by ALB.
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    Video interview with the proponent of Stockton’s UBI project


    Another UBI-friendly article based on the Stockton project

    The Stockton Experiment: How a Guaranteed Income Can Actually Solve Inequality


    So now UBI is going to “solve inequality” ! Poverty is going to be abolished by giving the poor a mere $500 a month !

    But capitalism is based on the inequality that is the ownership of the means of wealth production by a minority. And, since under capitalism you have to have money to live and for most the only way is get some is to sell your mental and physical energies, those who can’t do this for whatever reason are going to be destitute.

    UBI can solve neither inequality nor poverty. The most it might do (as we have noted here) is relieve a little the stress of those forced to be dependent on state hand-outs from having to prove all the time to the authorities that they really have no other income.


    I keep saying, ALB, we need to have a detailed and dedicated response to this illusion that the UBI is a panacea for all our woes and social ills.


    Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Pramila Jayapal on Tuesday introduced legislation that would provide everyone in the U.S. with a one-time payment of $2,000 and monthly recurring payments of $1,000 thereafter in an effort to provide sustained relief to the millions struggling to afford food, rent, and other basic expenses.



    That’s what I’d call a real UBI scheme, not just tweaking the welfare system by paying that sort of money instead of existing paments. The trouble is that it is only intended to last for a year or so (but if it was permanent, an annual state hand-out of $12,000 would begin to exert a downward pressure on wages) and the capitalist state is not going to pay for it (and if recourse was had to the printing press this would depreciate its value through roaring inflation).

    If these leftwing Democrats want to propose something realistic why don’t they propose socialism, the common ownership and democratic control of productive resources and production and distribution on the principle of “from each their ability, to each their needs” ?


    Do the [Scottish]parties support a universal basic income?

    Willie Rennie says yes, and the Scottish Liberal Democrats argued for it during the pandemic.

    Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross is not convinced of the argument for it.

    Lorna Slater says the Scottish Greens are committed to working towards it and will support trials of it in the next parliament.

    Anas Sarwar says yes, Scottish Labour supports it and the pandemic was a missed opportunity to trial it.

    Nicola Sturgeon says the pandemic has made her more supportive of it, but the reality of not having full control over tax and social security is that it cannot be done fully in Scotland.


    Brasil’s experiment with UBI

    42,000 That’s the number of people in the Brazilian town of Marica receiving mumbucas – a virtual currency created by the oil-wealthy seaside town prior to the pandemic as a form of universal basic income (UBI).


    Yet another UBI trial (how many is that now?)


    No details as yet on the actual operation of the scheme.


    Germany the latest to begin UBI trial


    The study, the first of three parts of the Pilotproject Grundeinkommen (Basic Income Pilot Project), will provide 122 participants with €1,200 ($1,420) a month for a period of three years. Participants did not have to prove a financial need and can work as much or little as they like throughout the experiment.

    “They don’t have to do anything for it except fill in seven online questionnaires during those three years,” says a description of the experiment on the project’s website.

    1.5 million people had volunteered within a week. Organizers then narrowed it down to 1,500 participants. Of those, a randomly selected 122 people will receive the monthly allowance. The remaining participants will serve as a control group. Instead of the stipend, they will merely be compensated for completing the questionnaires. At the end of the study, researchers will compare the two groups.

    Officials from the Mein Grundeinkommen(My Basic Income) charity are convinced that an unconditional income for all citizens would solve many current problems. The assumption is that people get more creative and become freer and happier if they don’t constantly face the pressure to earn enough money to get by.

    Among the questions are: Will subjects spend all the money or will they save a certain amount? Will they stop working altogether or work less? Will they donate money to others? Even changes in people’s stress levels can be identified with the help of hair samples;

    Add to this the many questions that the project cannot answer anyway: How will consumer prices develop? Would ill or needy people have less money at their disposal than now? And to what extent would taxes have to go up to finance such an income?

    “Our study will certainly not be able to answer all the questions surrounding basic income,” Schupp said. But he’s looking forward to getting an answer to what he believes is the core issue: How does money influence people’s behavior?


    I think the pandemic pay-outs will strengthen the UBI case.


    The direct payments totaling $2,000 per eligible individual—helped significantly reduce food shortages in households with children, lessen financial instability, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

    “Rather than provide targeted and in-kind aid, the government provided cash directly to American households, allowing them to use it to meet their immediate needs as they saw fit.”


    Another trial, another city, another eligibility criteria


    $1,250 a month to 40 participants aged 18-25 for up to two years, with the aim of helping recipients find stable housing


    I see this scheme isn’t actually being billed as a UBI experiment like many others are. The U in UBI is supposed to stand for Universal, so the proposal is that everyone is to be paid a Basic Income unconditionally (I suppose the U could mean that too).

    Schemes like this are experiments to see if it would be better (and cheaper) to pay certain categories of the poor a regular income, unconditional in the sense that if you meet the condition to be in the category you will be paid the money without any other conditions like family allowances are. If adopted it would just be a tweak to the Poor Law. And will never be more than this.

    Left wingers and others who plug UBI as a solution are deluding themselves and misleading others. It won’t happen and would never work. By comparison socialism is a much more realistic proposition. But these left wingers shy away from proposing that as they don’t want to be labelled utopian for envisaging the disappearance of money.


    California have approved the first state-funded guaranteed income plan in the US, which will see $35m used for monthly cash payments to qualifying pregnant people and young adults who recently left foster care. California left it up to local officials to determine the size of the monthly payments.


    For decades, most government assistance programs have had strict rules about how the money could be spent, usually limiting benefits to things like food or housing. But a guaranteed income program gives money to people with no rules on how to spend it. The idea is to reduce the stresses of poverty that cause health problems and make it harder for people to find and keep work.

    Guaranteed income programs date back to the 18th century. The US government even experimented with them in the 1960s and 1970s during the Nixon administration before they fell out of favor.

    But recently, the programs have been making a comeback. Programs have been announced in New Orleans; Oakland, California; Tacoma, Washington; Gainesville, Florida; and Los Angeles – the country’s second-largest city, which has a plan to give $1,000 a month to 2,000 needy families.


    I think we should stop calling this sort of scheme UBI and start calling them VBI — very basic income.

    For a start they are not universal (ie not for everyone) and, second, they are just tweaks to the system of how to deal with people who would otherwise be destitute. In other words, a reform of the Poor Law system.

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