This is a valid point, and one which I think is often overlooked in discussions about the real potential value of a basic income program. One of the biggest potential benefits of a basic income program is the way in which it stand to empower workers on an individual scale. Right now, our societies frequently take advantage of the circumstances in which individuals find themselves, applying de facto economic pressure to push them into working not just dangerous or unfulfilling jobs, but to demean them while they do it. For example, how many people mock or look down upon Wal-Mart workers, McDonald's employees, or so forth even as they patronize those businesses, meaning they are deriving direct benefit from their labor? How many managers or business owners treat their employees poorly and get away with it on account of those employees essentially having nowhere else to go due to living paycheck to paycheck? An adequate basic income breaks the chains in this regard; workers -- and most people do want to do some sort of work ultimately, especially since they'll probably want more affluent lives than a basic income can afford -- will still do many types of work, so long as the terms of the labor in question are reasonable, not just in terms of hourly income, but in terms of decent treatment. Knowing, with certitude, that, "If I were to quit my job tomorrow, even were I never, ever able to find other adequate employment, I would not fall into homeless destitution," is valuable. Even with matters like health care, we hear stories about individuals who wanted to take a risk and start freelancing or try opening their own business, but felt the could not, because their employer-provided healthcare wasn't something they could risk losing. UBI tackles the same problem, but even more fundamentally by targeting income directly.Personally, I hate this particular social contract that we're born into that we have had no say in. The majority of people spend a good part of their lives working drudgerous jobs. Why should we expect anyone to want to work doing a job they don't like, I disagree with that line of thinking.
For the sake of the argument, let's say the UBI is a feasible idea, that works in reality, what argument is there against it? "Nobody should eat for free,"......... is that it? I'm sorry, but seems obtuse to me and a bit cruel.
The fact that many of our fellows are suffering in abusive situations from which they are unable to escape on account of being economically chained to the working situations in which they are suffering the abuse in question is an excellent reason to consider changing our policies, at least if one actually cares about the individuals in question, which you purport to do. Of course, a universal basic income is not the only potential solution in this regard, which is why I phrased it as a positive element of the UBI scheme rather than presenting the UBI as the only viable solution.Fox, I am having real trouble following your line of argument. Just because some oafs might demean Walmart or McDonalds workers, that is no reason to change our policies wholesale, that is an argument to get people to not be oafish and to give the respect due to people. (I respect those workers, also garbage collectors, cleaners etc.., they are people working to make honest money).
Have you bothered to look into the matter? For example, you brought up garbage collectors, and garbage collection is a much more dangerous job than many people are given to understand:I have no information that their jobs are paricularly "dangerous".
Likewise, there are a large number of anecdotal accounts of what it is like to work at Amazon available on the Internet on a variety of sites, describing both the dangers of the job (physical and psychological) and the demeaning elements, ranging from asthmatic workers who were taken off certain duties because the company acknowledged their asthma meant it was unsafe to do them being forced to go back to those duties, to workers suffering heat reactions due to being forced to work in a physically-intensive fashion in a hot space with no air conditioning, to workers being kept to such tight and demanding schedules that they felt they needed to urinate in bottles or waste cans in order to avoid falling behind, to confessionals about how workers regularly cry at work and see their co-workers crying due to the massive stress heaped upon them. If you care about the matter, those anecdotes will be fairly easy to find; perhaps "There are a lot of laws in place which broadly ensure that people are not treated badly," but they obviously aren't enough to stop Amazon in this regard, so they're not much comfort to the workers. A lot of what a person might reasonably consider abusive -- and let's be frank, none of us would want to work in a workplace plagued by the above issues -- is legal anyway; there is no law against your managers simply being uncaring jerks in a general sense, and there really cannot be.Police officers and fire fighters face job-related dangers every day, but it's not as widely known that garbage collectors do, too.
In fact, solid waste haulers rank third on the list of the riskiest jobs in the United States, according to a study by the Florida Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, Miami, and the University of Miami,.
Averaging 90 deaths annually per 100,000 workers, collection falls behind fishing, with 178 deaths, and timber cutting, with 156. The high number of deaths can be attributed partly to impatient drivers, who try to pass stopped garbage collection vehicles and end up hitting collectors. This makes waste handling a riskier occupation than airplane pilot, which averages 88 per 100,000 workers, and taxicab driver, which averages 32 deaths.
The mortality rate is 100 times higher than what is considered acceptable risk by any standard, says James Englehardt, University of Miami professor of civil, architectural, and environmental engineering, and a lead researcher for the study.
The injury rate also is staggering, according to the study. Collectors, on average, are injured five to seven times more than the average worker, with 52.7 injuries per 100 workers. Most of those are back injuries and lacerations.
If their compensation is reasonable, then even in the presence of a UBI scheme, they will continue to do the work, as it's a reasonable amount of compensation for their time and effort, and they will still be able to acquire things they value with their earnings. Anyone who seriously believes that current wages are a reasonable trade off for all sorts of work has nothing to fear with regards to people not working under a UBI scheme. It's only if the compensation provided for certain types of labor, or for working under certain types of conditions, is actually at its core not reasonable that one must fear people dropping out of the labor force; it is only the employer who takes advantage of the economically precarious circumstances of his employees to underpay them or mistreat them, knowing that they cannot leave due to facing destitution if they do, that has anything to fear in this regard. So which is it? Is it true that, "The compensation they get is not unreasonable," in which case you have no need to worry about them abandoning their jobs? Or are you worried that they might decide to stop "earn[ing] [their] bread by the sweat of [their] brow," in which case, you're implicitly suggesting that they might not be compensated reasonably when compared to the circumstances of their employment? Because I for one actively enjoy my job, feel my compensation is reasonable, and would remain in it even if I had a UBI stipend. In fact, I'd even take a pay-cut to offset the stipend; I don't really need more money, because in my case, the compensation I get really is reasonable, and I am well-treated in my work place.The compensation they get is not unreasonable, if you compare with, let's say, a small farmer trying to make a living on his own land. The real problem is that life is difficult and we must "earn our bread by the sweat of our brow" - that's just the way life is.
I "steer clear" of discussing the figures because the figures aren't actually the matter of fundamental importance. The actual value of money fluctuates; genuine productivity is what matters, not dollar figures. That said, okay, let's simplify the matter and pretend that the dollar figure is what is important. First of all, $30,000 a year is not a reasonable figure for the UBI in the United States as things stand; whether the Swiss consider that a reasonable minimum for their country is another matter, but in the United States, the cost of a basic life is nowhere near that. Moreover, the UBI should not be calibrated to the high costs of living in certain large American cities; even if we decide that maintaining a basic standard of living for all Americans is worthwhile, that's a very different thing than saying, "And we're going to do it at the cost level of a place like New York City or San Francisco." There are cities in America (to say nothing of non-city areas) where one can rent adequate accommodations for an individual for less than $700 a month, so let's use that figure for rent. 700 * 12 = 8400. Let's say for an absolute minimum standard of living we're willing to tolerate someone spending 40% of their income on rent (30% is more often suggested today, but that's to allow for some savings, and savings would be somewhat less important under an UBI). If $8400 a year (your rent) represents 40% of your income, then your income must be 8400*(10/4) = $21,000 a year. Still a non-trivial figure, but we've already saved $9,000 per year per citizen in comparison to the figure you suggested, so that's a victory of sorts. Moreover, let's say only adult citizens are granted the UBI; children already receive a "UBI" of sorts in the form of public education, so no need to double them up, and given the UBI empowers parents to stay at home with their children if they wish while continuing to receive pay, child care costs should decrease anyway.You seem to say that UBI provides a safety net which would allow people to take the time to seek better work. To argue that, you have to suggest some amount that would perform that function, an amount that would enable people to eat and pay their rent for the month or two it would take them to find a better job, but you steer clear of facing up to figures.
"Generally agreed" is just a declaration of the status quo. A hundred years ago, what was "generally agreed" was very different than what is "generally agreed" now. Were you born into a society with a functioning, successful UBI regime, you and others would "generally agree" that it was worthwhile. I'm not saying there are no valid potential concerns with the implementation of a UBI scheme, but your own argument does not really articulate any of them in an especially effective way, and it's not clear to me you have any solid objection beyond a vague feeling of dread in the face of potential major societal change.Considering health and education, it is generally agreed that these are things worth paying for, because just about everyone wants to be healthy, moreover healthy people are more productive, and just about everyone wants to have their children educated, and a generally well-educated population is, again, more productive. I can't see that anyone has shown real benefits, across society, of UBI, as against having targetted social security, especially considering the likely costs (and cost is extremely important, if there just isn't the money to finance a policy, that means that the policy cannot happen).
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