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Basic income

do away with benefits
  (+15, -14)
(+15, -14)
  [vote for,

Why don't they stop all social security benefits, old age pensions, council tax benefits etc. and just give everyone a basic income instead?
potty, Mar 24 2001

(?) The Quest for a Guaranteed Income http://www.lalabor.org/GAI.html
A left-leaning account of the history of MAGI proposals. Still, it cedes Nixon his role. [Uncle Nutsy, Mar 24 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Where We are Going http://www.progress...ividend/cdking.html
Martin Luther King's support for the MAGI. [Uncle Nutsy, Mar 24 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Quebec looks at guaranteed annual income http://www.scar.uto...d/20/14/quebec.html
Don't hold your breath, Quebec. [Uncle Nutsy, Mar 24 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Nixon's Guaranteed Income Proposal http://www.nybooks....iew?article_id=9918
It is amazing that Nixon would be called a liberal in the US today... [dbsousa, Oct 04 2004]

MINCOME in Quebec, also a history of similar attempts http://economix.fr/...ires/H2S/forget.pdf
In 2008, Evelyn L. Forget from the University of Manitoba went through the health records from the time of the experiment, looking for results. [jutta, Apr 30 2014]

Matt Zwolinski: The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income http://www.libertar...n-case-basic-income
[jutta, Apr 30 2014]

Swiss to Pay Basic Income http://themindunlea...th-every-adult.html
2,500 Swiss francs a month - not a bad idea, but only possible (I'd imagine) in countries with tight border controls. [Zeuxis, Apr 30 2014]

A more skeptical take on the Swiss Initiative http://www.business...ative-works-2013-11
Vote date isn't set yet; expected to take place in 3-4 years; would probably fail if held right now. [jutta, Apr 30 2014]

The Swiss are voting on this tomorrow. http://www.bbc.co.u...rld-europe-36443512
[zen_tom, Jun 04 2016]


       The Duke of Edinburgh?! Since when did he have to count the pennies? I don't see him queuing up outside his local post office clutching his pension book.
nomad, Mar 24 2001

       The idea has also been suggested on this side of the pond, usually called "Minimum Annual Guaranteed Income" or MAGI, though the links I've found on Google call it GAI (U.S.A.) or minicome (Canada). It was a not-unseriously-considered idea in the 60s and 70s, but went nowhere. U.S. proponents included Richard Nixon, Daniel Moynihan and Martin Luther King.
Uncle Nutsy, Mar 24 2001

       Problem is unemployed people would still blow it all on booze and fags, whatever you call it. How about a Minimum Annual Guaranteed 9-to-5 Job, and people who don't like it can join the army - it's up to the individual to choose of their own free will.
lubbit, Mar 25 2001

       What's to say the employed people, the ones with the Minimum Garuanteed Jobs, wouldn't blow it all on booze and cigarettes anyway? I'm thinking a Minimum Garuanteed Job would prolly drive me to drink pretty fast.
moonmoose, Mar 25 2001

       RodsTiger: Many legal traditions include the concept that stealing small amounts of food, enough to avoid starvation or (e.g.) little enough that one man can carry it, is a lesser sort of crime than stealing other things (which was sometimes a capital offiense).   

       lubbit: This would just stimulate the booze & fags portion of the economy, benefiting everyone! (somehow.)
wiml, Mar 25 2001

       That's a good idea anyway...
StarChaser, Mar 26 2001

       I don't see how anyone can actually take this idea seriously, much less vote for it.
VeXaR, Apr 02 2001

       Unabubba: On the other hand do we really need more people who think that money and the ability to accumulate it are the only valid measure of human worth in government?

VeXaR: To understand other people's thoughts on the subject all you have to do is read their notes.
sirrobin, Apr 02 2001

       "On the other hand do we really need more people who think that money and the ability to accumulate it are the only valid measure of human worth in government?"   

       Actually, it would be a refreshing change to have someone in office who is actually a net wealth creator. (eg, a successful businessman) Many if not most politicians do not know the meaning of the word "productive."   

       "VeXaR: To understand other people's thoughts on the subject all you have to do is read their notes."   

       I do. I still can't get past the fact that to have a guaranteed income, you must forcibly extract wealth from some (the productive) to subsidize others (the non-productive.) Where is the morality in that? Also, what makes one think that such a system wouldn't ultimately collapse, as the productive move to a more favorable climate (witness Great Britain's brain drain of the 20th century) and the unproductive spend the money that the producers would have used to create more wealth? Remember, nobody "owes" anyone else anything! Rights apply to actions, not things. There is a distinction between the right to work and the right to a job, for instance.
VeXaR, Apr 29 2001

       VeXaR: On the other hand, society benefits from the invention of new ideas and technologies, and the post-WWII explosion of technological progress can be credited in part to the fact that entrepreneurs knew they could take risks without facing starving to death if they failed, or, if risk-averse, being forced to sell their ideas to a few rich investors for a pittance.   

       The more pragmatic supporters of MAGI programs argue that, while thousands of people will essentially waste what they're given, it only takes one person freed from wage slavery to become the next Picasso or Beethoven or Linus Torvalds to balance them all out.   

       I'm not advocating this, you understand- like you, I'd imagine that capital would flee any society that tried it, since it would be hard to demonstrate that *my* payment of the MAGI tax is what freed some entrepreneur to risk bankruptcy to later manufacture my new Film Noir Home (whose net utility far exceeds the net tax payments I put into the program). But I think it's an interesting proposition and, in the abstract, economically defensible.
Uncle Nutsy, Apr 30 2001

       VeXaR: Which is better: a system where people get paid specifically not to work or otherwise produce income, and any income they produce results in a comparable deduction in their government 'allowance', or one in which people get paid for being human beings and any earnings only reduce government benefits to the extent necessary to pay a flat-rate tax on said earnings?
supercat, Apr 30 2001

       I support neither, but if I actually had to choose the lesser of two evils I would pick the latter. However, it would be prohibitively expensive. And taxes are pretty much through the roof as it is, even if you factor in Bush's modest tax cut.
VeXaR, May 07 2001

       Where does the Federal and/or State/Province and/or County cap end/begin? Each of the 50 States has a different median income and actual cost of living.
Example: What is a basic income in Mississippi is different than that of California for example. And within California there is a discrepancy between Tulare County and Los Angeles County. (I've lived in both for extended periods)
thumbwax, May 07 2001

       People from Bertrand Russel to Milton Freedman take this idea very seriously. A conference about it will take place in March, organized by the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (http://www.usbig.net).
yeahwell, Jan 17 2002

       ENOUGH with the lets-try-communism-one-more-time ideas!
seal, Jan 17 2002

       The nice thing about more complex concepts like social security and pensions is that they require people to at least think a little bit, whereas the basic income idea would tend to squelch thought among the unintelligent altogether. 'Course then again, that might be a handy thing...
RayfordSteele, Feb 01 2002

       Vexar: >There is a distinction >between the right to work >and the right to a job, >for instance.   

       There is also a distinction between the right to work and the right not to join a union.   


       >ENOUGH >with the >lets-try-communism-one-more-time >ideas!   

       So eliminate the market for them. The market for communism is created by "weed out the weakling" policies, which requires few if any policies, since WOTW is a very strong attractor in the absence of policies. Replace it with "kill all the weaklings", and communism (and maybe leftism in general) might find itself permanently affixed to the trash heap!   

       Until then, like uncertainty and tanstaafl and the fact that life ain't fair is something we have to deal with, the only thing I can say re. leftism and you is DEAL WITH IT.
LoriZ, Feb 03 2002

       VeXaR: I wonder what studies have been done to ascertain the real costs vs benefits of a shifting away from punitive welfare systems to something that supplimented the income of low-income workers.   

       If someone who would have stayed at home receiving $X/month from the government (i.e. taxpayers) is motivated to take a $Y/month job by the fact that they still receive, e.g., $X/2 of supplimental payments, the government--while still spending $X/2, will be nonetheless spending $X/2 less than without such a program in place. Additionally, I suspect very strongly that many people who would otherwise never be motivated to get a job might find that they can actually climb the "ladder of success" enough to wean themselves entirely off the government (i.e. taxpayers') teat.
supercat, Feb 03 2002

       Baked, burned to a crisp as far as I'm concerned. This is the very definition of Communism, which has destroyed every economy that ever tried it.   

       Yeah, there a some problems with Capitalism, but it has the best track record of success. It must be continually rebalanced to prevent people from becomming to powerful, but have adequate incentives for people to want to put forth the tremendous amounts of effort required to become wealthy.   

       Most governments are trying to find the balance that the votes ask for(which isn't the one which they actually want, much less the one that is best of the country as a whole, but at least they are trying...)   

       Supercat: I see no difference in your two proposals. Paying the unproductive(whether you are paying them to be human, or paying them not to work is a meaninless distenction, the latter is more honest but the first hast the exact same effect), with money that can only come from the productive. The same amount of money must be extracted from the productive, in effect penalizing those who actually go to work.   

       The only tests of this idea were done with low income families. No data has be collected about what it will do to individuals or middle income families, much less the economy as a whole.   

       Another way to phrase this is that we are extending the "Minimum Wage" to apply to non-workers. People are finally beginning to realize that the Minimum Wage laws reduce the number of low end jobs that companies can afford to hire. To extend it to everyone would completely saw off the botom few rungs of the ladder of success, effectively preventing people from finding a job should they feel altruistic enough to work and and put themselves at great inconvience to support those that feel less altrusic.
Aspera, Mar 27 2002

       What is really needed is to make the job market a friendly place.
LoriZ, Mar 28 2002

       Would take some ingenious economics to work. But the idea is excellent.
Almafeta, Dec 12 2002

       This is a very good idea. Better than my bum system. I think it is fair since as a luck middle class girl I can-- at any moment go home and live with my folks for free. But I'm working. Why? Living at home SUCKS. So would some piddling government base income. I don't think it'd mean anyone would stop working, in fact more homeless people could get their lives togather and maybe get jobs and stuff.
futurebird, Dec 17 2002

       God god god. You people. Hate the evil unemployed. You've all been reading far too much Ayn Rand.   

       This is not communism. Communism, at least as practised in most of the communist states, is a top-to-bottom planned economy, with ancillary social planning (ie secret police). What "killed" it in the USSR was not a guaranteed living wage, but the massive inertia of a planned system, as opposed to a responsive, mostly unplanned, market system. That and the cost of building weapons to keep the Evyil Amerikanski at bay.   

       This not a proposal to resurrect state communism. It injects one small factor into a market economy, which would have this-or-that effects. This is the point where reasoned debate about costs and benefits begins. Not with this chimp-poo-throwing communism-is-evil god-bless-the-USA rubbish.   

       It has been discussed intelligently by many economists and social theorists over the ages, and some national governments. The Republic of Eire government was investigating it recently IIRC.   

       And lubbit, who are you to tell the poor how they spend thier income? It's OK for the rich to "blow" theirs on, well, blow? And yachts and SUVs and personal trainers and catered balls and summer houses and booze and fags?   

       I'm not saying that it isn't OK, I'm parodying your position.   

       Now can we have some informed comment please?
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 18 2003

       //who are you to tell the poor how they spend thier income?//
Well, when it's my taxes that they're spending, I think I have a pretty good right, particularly when they come back for more to do what the initial hand-out should have done.
angel, Feb 04 2003

       There is/was/will be a recent referendum being proposed in Switzerland covering this very idea - let me see if I can find a link...   

       I think the idea has merit - it'd be cheap to administer - and provide a sensible, inclusive, democratically fair way to ensure the weakest in society are looked after. However, there would be problems with controlling immigration, rising prices, and some existing businesses that rely on very cheap manual labour becoming non-economic concerns - if you operate in a country with a minimum wage, that's already a bridge that's been crossed though, right?
Zeuxis, Apr 30 2014

       I just noticed how old this idea is, and that it's [potty]'s only contribution here.
hippo, Apr 30 2014

       Yes, why not make sure everyone's got their basic needs looked after in a dignified way? [+]
the porpoise, Apr 30 2014

       This will be a boon to the expansion of the livestock- human, that is, useless lumps of flesh that do nothing more than eat, crap, breed and unthinkingly do exactly what they're told. A person whose most ambitious life plan might be to actually appear on the Jerry Springer Show one day as toothless, socially retarded hillbilly #657 rather than just watching it.   

       Exactly the kind of population that sycophantic megalomaniac politicians want to lord over. Ignorant, lazy, pathetic and un-able to fend or think for themselves.   

       Other than that, it's a terrific idea.   

       The way to stop civilization destroying ideas like this is to make sure safety net programs for the elderly and infirmed don't get hijacked by clever social engineers who always seem to design societies where, surprisingly, social engineers have all the power over everybody else.   

       It's also important to have any assistance programs for those who might just be having trouble finding work to be geared towards giving those temporarily down on their luck a chance for self respect by steering them towards work, self reliance and the associated self esteem that comes with it rather than soul sucking government dependence.   

       Since Communist China and the Soviet Union's casting off of communism seems to have been overlooked by proponents of this kind of idea, we've got a home grown monument to this called Detroit. Best to look it up on line rather than visiting. As the underfunded, outgunned police force there says "Enter at your own risk." From the safety of your computer at home, follow its decent from a city with the highest per capita income on Earth to the third world shit-hole it is now.   

       It's my humble opinion that the government's message to its people should be: "If you're old, we'll take care of you. If you're sick, we'll take care of you without judgement or prejudice. But if you're just lazy, go fuck yourself."   

       Granted, the wording might need to be flowered up a bit, although a country with "go fuck yourself" in its constitution would be totally awesome.
doctorremulac3, May 03 2014

       I will trade you these three magic beans for your fatted cow.   

       Big, we're in 100% agreement.   

       It's not enough to say "Hey you factory worker, get off your lazy butt!" when the competition from overseas dries up all the jobs. Industries come and go. When the buggy whip factory closes, it's in the public's interest to direct the resultant un-employed to do something that needs being done while they're receiving assistance. This isn't a new idea, it's presumably the way we deal with un-employment now. While you're on benefits, you receive assistance finding a job. It's when making a living for oneself gets tagged as something that's bad, as in this idea, that I lose interest in the concept.   

       Incidentally, I have no party that backs the way I see things. Libertarians, the closest party to my way of thinking for instance is against the minimum wage. That's great, unless I have to fund a billion dollar corporation's profits by providing health care for it's workers. Personally, I'm against unlimited welfare for individuals and corporate welfare disguised as welfare for individuals.   

       So tell companies if they're going to use a horse to plow the field, they need to pay for that horse's food and care. If they're going to use a human, same rules apply. Then if people are out of work, let them earn their temporary welfare doing jobs that other people might not want to do, like cleaning up things. Streets, parks etc. When they naturally get sick of doing that, they'll want to better themselves through education and putting in the extra effort to get a better job.   

       But they'd be fed, cared for and they'd have nothing to be ashamed of because they'd be working for a living and providing benefit to society. And yes, living on welfare (if you're not actively trying to get off it) is most definately something to be ashamed of.
doctorremulac3, May 03 2014

       //Communism// This is not communism: It leaves production capacity in the hands of the people and leaves market prices to adjust as needed. It has nothing to do with unionization, price controls, or nationalization of corporate assets.   

       //tight border//   

       I disagree. Tracking of citizens (making payment only to citizens) is trivial these days. Welfare fraud happens but only in trivial monetary quantities. Immigrants not entitled to the income can only support the system by helping to pay into it without receiving the benefits.   

       Calling it communism only exposes your own ignorance.   

       As for the idea it's a let's-all so I can't bun it.   

       edit: words
Voice, May 03 2014

       //Calling it communism only exposes your own ignorance.//   

       Well thanks for dropping in and clearing that up.   

       While we're sweeping up the ignorance around here let's point out that Communism has many variants, as does free market capitalism, Christianity or any other ism out there. That being said, a hallmark of Communism, in all it's many variants is a guy with an AK-47 coming to somebody's door, taking their money and giving it somebody else. With that being the most salient hallmark of Communism in my eyes, I'm gonna say this passes the Communism touchstone test with flying colors. Would Marx himself give this the "Good Commie Seal Of Approval"? Maybe not, but it's close enough for me.   

       Unless this is based solely on donated money. In which case I'm all for it.
doctorremulac3, May 03 2014

       Shame my Landlord doesn't agree with you [Dr], I suggested that my monthly rental payments should be voluntary but their attitude looked like it might get a bit agressive.
pocmloc, May 04 2014

       How did this idea escape my erudite commentary to this point? Ah, the wisdom that hides in the dark corners of the internets.   

       [Voice], the essence of the Doctor's comments there is about forced redistribution, as he aptly points out in a follow up comments. Arguing about whether it's Communism as defined by it's godfathers or not is of not much help to the buffaloes that are pulling the plow.   

       The notion of basic income has certain appeal from a marketing perspective (sounds better than aid) and in certain cases (like commodity based economies) can even make sense as a type of dividend, as Alaskans or Qataris get.   

       Viewing it as such a dividend, I'd take the next step -- this would make perfect -- perfect -- sense --if the national economy was run as a business partnership. We all make a dividend if there's a surplus, we all pay the same amount in taxes to cover the deficit.   

       Wouldn't that be something.
theircompetitor, May 04 2014

       Just to prove I'm not totally kneejerk anti-commie, I've always really liked the idea that Alaskans get a cut of the oil wealth from their oil fields. It's their damn land, why not? I've suggested we do the same thing in Califorina adopting underwater drilling means that won't put up all those offshore oil derrics that people don't like to look at. Of course political discussions always turn tribal and I get accused of being a Republican, probably having a pinup of George Bush in a revealing swimsuit in my locker. The conversation ends with me getting called a right winger, collapsing in a heap and crying my little eyes out. Well, at least I think that's the hoped for outcome in most debates.
doctorremulac3, May 04 2014

       It would be a good idea but I'm prepared to bet my entire income for the rest of my life and all my assets that it will never happen.
nineteenthly, May 04 2014

       I just like the simplicity of it - perhaps if delivered along with a reversion from progressive to a flat income tax (I'm not sure about the US, but in many countries, the higher someone's income, the greater proportion of that income becomes eligible for redistribution) there'd be some political agreement across the board.   

       It would be an end to means-testing, silly enforcement expenses, and fraud - as the markets reacted to the change, I'd imagine you'd end up with pretty much the status quo, only with a lot fewer complaints, much lower running costs, and a clear path out of government subsidy for those unfortunate enough to be stuck suckling at the state's teet.   

       In terms of communism etc - how about viewing it as an "insurance" against violent uprisings and popular demagoguery such as followed extreme periods of inequality as seen in the past? A payment, such as this may be a lot cheaper than the possible costs of a revolution or civil uprising - that's the economic argument of course - which is cheaper, equipping and paying for government police, beaurocrats, enforcement officers and associated equipment, or a simple, automated set of electronic payments?
Zeuxis, May 06 2014

       // how about viewing it as an "insurance" against violent uprisings and popular demagoguery//   

       Yes, it is just a protection racket, isn't it. Just wait till the rich can get robots with lasers shooting outof their eyes, though
theircompetitor, May 06 2014

       Something else that hasn't been discussed is what drug addicts and alcoholics would do with this money. It's the reason we have food stamps instead of giving out cash. Although they can probably be traded for narcotics and booze, food stamps are a much better solution.   

       There's a very interesting documentary where they gave a homeless person $100,000 and a financial manager to help him invest it wisely and filmed what happened. He immediately fired the financial manager, married a gold digging swine, spent $10,000 a week at local bars and lost it all in a matter of months. Although he was vague on exactly whose fault it was that he lost all the money, it definitely wasn't his.   

       Ignorant people with money are a lot worse off than dirt poor people who are educated. I'm a fan of the "teach a man to fish so he can eat for life" rather than the "give a man a fish so he can eat for a day" dictum. And I'm especially not a fan of the "take the hard working guy's fish and give it to the lazy bum" concept. Bad for the hard working guy, and worse for the lazy bum.   

       Incidentally, the homeless guy who lost all the money he was given went back to his livelihood of dumpster diving for cans to recycle. I was moved by the one point of pride he had before his windfall. He'd wash his bike, the one he used to tote his cans to the recycling plant, on a regular basis. I think he got more self respect from caring for that bike than he got from being utterly humiliated by being featured in a documentary about being at the receiving end of the largesse of his betters.
doctorremulac3, May 06 2014

       // Just wait till the rich can get robots with lasers shooting outof their eyes, though//
That is what it comes down to in the end though, right? The means to power self-perpetuate - whether we like how that happens or not.

       From [jutta]'s link above, it proves interesting that Milton Friedman was an advocate of a Basic Income... can't get any less communist than that. In fact, turning the idea (somewhat) on its head, Freidman suggested a Negative Income Tax. I'm less keen on that, as it happens, as it requires lots of means- testing and other bureaucratic invasions of privacy.   

       //"take the hard working guy's fish and give it to the lazy bum"// Thing is, if the Bum fails to take good care of himself after being provided for like this, the state can quite sensibly, quite fairly say "This far, and no further." There's no recourse to unhappy upbringings, or social exclusion, no more can anyone say "Well, they just didn't have the same chance as everyone else." You pay out fairly, to everyone, just the same - and if they mess up, that's entirely their own fault. It's a lot more complicated to make that case these days - hence all the left-wing nonsense you hear all the time. Doing this solves that problem once and for all, and having set this simple equitable safety net - a person's success will be entirely of their own design.
Zeuxis, May 06 2014

       I'd argue, citing the case above, that giving an alcoholic or drug addict thousands of dollars in cash every month to do as they wish is an act of extreme cruelty. Saying "Oh well, if you spend it on heroin it's your fault." doesn't mitigate the fact that you're causing great harm.
doctorremulac3, May 06 2014

       //The means to power self-perpetuate//   

       Yes, I believe it is called deoxyribonucleic acid, and you don't have to work on it, it is built in, since the days of the first cell membrane.   

       I do believe a certain share of natural bounty can be appropriate as a dividend in some cases.   

       But generally, I do not believe that assistance is consistent with freedom. This doesn't mean you can never have assistance -- but it means that giving people assistance to live in, say, New York, one of the more expensive places on the planet, while there is, for instance, no unemployment, or meaningful number of people per square mile in South Dakota, is not economically sustainable, but moving said people to South Dakota (or even projects) is kind of gulagy, so again, assistance and freedom don't mix
theircompetitor, May 06 2014

       [doctorremulac3] maybe it is - but life sometimes isn't fair - it's just freer to pay everyone (working or otherwise, alcoholic or otherwise) the same. It's also less expensive to maintain a "flat rate" system than one that employs government appointed folks to come around your house and assess whether or not you're an alcoholic.   

       [theircompetitor] I'm not sure I understand your point - everyone should get the assistance, whether they need it or not - that's how you avoid gulagism, and also continue to ensure economic migration continues to even out and reflect the facts on the ground.
Zeuxis, May 06 2014

       Well, I'm not sure fair enters into this if you're taking money from people to give it to other people. I guess we're designing utopia, so if that's the goal, giving money to drug addicts is like giving a loaded gun to a baby which doesn't sound very utopian. I'm just not sure what we're trying to accomplish here.   

       Bun for the words "gulagy" and "gulagism" though.
doctorremulac3, May 06 2014

       I’ve recently been a supporter of such a negative taxation or basic income level. Especially since all the work stopped several years ago and there’s no money left. In the future (couple of weeks) I predict a lot of what people did can be done cheaper and better (but not faster) by robots. Things like creativity and design; copywriting; television news presentation; being a vicar; and teaching, are all perfect for transposition to robot labour. Soon the only work a human can do will be to piss people off by hovering around them in what might still be called a “shop” and asking if they are a rat.   

       However, I now realise that a basic income is not the best way to do it. It’s too much bother. Why give people money, then have them go and spend it on things? Can you trust them to spend it on things that are correct, like the lottery? How can you influentially restrict a populations thinking to a narrow window of ‘choice’ without being accused of being totalitarian or dictatorial?   

       I think the correct mechanism would be to make the correct items free in the first place. There are a lot of things we all need, and when the money is gone, as is the case now, the choices of things are narrow but not zero. Lots of sacrifices have to be made, such as rent and bills, but still, teabags and milk have to be bought somehow. Giving up milk is fine in coffee, but frankly I’m not enjoying it in my remaining stash of tea. Teabags are an essential human right, I posit. Replace the basic income ideas with free teabags. It is the correct thing to do.
Ian Tindale, May 06 2016

       If you pay people in teabags, you're just turning teabags into a unit of currency and people will just do all those 'incorrect' things with teabags. Within days of your new regime starting, a teabag lottery will start up to satisfy teabag-gambling demand.
hippo, May 06 2016

       Bone to Ian for dragging this back to the surface during a year when we've all had enough of politics.
RayfordSteele, May 06 2016

       Well, I was going to suggest services and utilities as requiring a free level of basic essential provision. I wouldn’t want to allow this thread to devolve into pointless accusations of capitalism, but it would certainly be representative of a humane country to lay on a certain essential quantity of water supply and usage, rather than have us pay for the mere existence of pipes supplying it. Similarly, there would be a case able to be made arguing that there’s a base level of electricity consumption that should be free. Similarly, communication — online and phone (although this is difficult, as the phone companies are all just arrogant sharks out to steal as much from the people as possible through organised lack of choice). I think it would be too far to allow land line phone calls to ever be free. That’d be ridiculous, people would just use it all the time. Although, I suppose they may have had this in communist countries.
Ian Tindale, May 06 2016

       They had no phones.   

       Should a certain amount of garbage generation be free?
theircompetitor, May 06 2016

       It’s about time that Google searches were made free.
Ian Tindale, May 06 2016

       People are not satisfied with simply succeeding financially. It's also important that others fail and do so which involves a lot of suffering so that the successful can feel superior to them and take comfort in the knowledge that others are in misery and grinding poverty. This is the main reason why this won't happen. There may also be practical reasons why it won't, but they're less important than this one.
nineteenthly, May 06 2016

       I agree that the elites desire to see everybody down at the bottom as you say, but I also see that they're content to destroy the middle class so that there are two groups, those at the top and those at the bottom. Happy joy joy government programs can be a stealth tool to achieve this when coupled with heavy taxation of those trying to raise their station in life.   

       Pernicious tax rates for the middle class and incentives for the lower classes to stay down on the socio economic ladder are designed to widen that gulf between the haves and the have-nots. Though the rich pay the majority of the taxes, it doesn't effect them. High tax rates for the middle class have a great deal of impact on their station in life. You can also "stealth tax" them by taxing the food they eat, the gas they use to drive to work and everything else. You just tax the "evil corporations" that provide goods and services so they'll pass the tax bill onto the middle class consumer. Ideally, they can't own their own home thus having to become de-facto serfs to their rich landlords. They can afford fewer children so if they want a big family it actually behoves them to become lower class wards of the state. That "stay down" incentive.   

       In fact, under this system, if you want to have a family it's best to adopt to an r vs K strategy of breeding. That is, have as many children as possible without caring too much about being able to raise them properly. Just crap them out and let them fend for themselves with the state providing their basic care.   

       Briefly, r strategy is how animals like rabbits and fish reproduce, lots of offspring with minimal or no parenting vs K strategy where there are few offspring that are raised by the parents for a longer time such as bears, tigers or elephants. Humans also can adopt one strategy or the other.   

       Adopting the r strategy would increase your income more effectively than learning a trade, going to school or working hard. That's how I'd take advantage of it. I'm currently a K strategy parent and it's time consuming and expensive. Yes, you get better quality offspring but if they're being outbred by the r strategy types what does it matter? Your bloodline will be well educated, strong, secure, happy and extinct in a few generations.   

       Not putting a value judgement on this, just saying you'd be a fool to waste your bloodline on K strategy reproduction when you'd be outbred by those using this system in sync with an r strategy reproduction approach, the system being one where basic income is provided for everybody, which is, basically we have now in the west.   

       Of course if you don't care about such things it's a moot point I guess. The future belongs to people who actually care about it.   

       Anyway, I agree with your point about the elites wanting to squash those below them, but I believe the leftists are just as guilty of this as the right. Putting people on permanent welfare is not a way to raise them up, it's a way to destroy them while looking benevolent. When coupled with high taxation for the middle class to pay for this, it's insidious, but admittedly pretty clever.
doctorremulac3, May 06 2016

       Regarding that Swiss vote [last link in 2014], isn't it happening nowish/maybe didn't it just happen?
notexactly, May 15 2016

       //government programs can be a stealth tool to achieve this//   

       I think you overestimate the far-sightedness of the people who drive such programs. You may be right about the outcome, but, you know, "never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence".
pertinax, May 15 2016

       Insightful, but I'd say it's probably a mixture of both.   

       Good point though. Whenever I'm confronted by conspiracy theorists I tell them the best way to refute most conspiracies is to realize groups of people just aren't that smart, motivated and effective.   

       A chemtrail program to control people's minds? We can't make government run passenger train program turn a profit despite being booked solid. (Amtrak)
doctorremulac3, May 15 2016

       So now that we know the date of the Swiss vote (the day after June 4th), and now that that date is in the past, do we know the outcome?
notexactly, Jul 03 2016

       Yea, they voted it down.
doctorremulac3, Jul 03 2016


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