Universal basic income

Here’s a nice article describing how providing a universal basic income might work as a social policy. I think the results described in the article pose a significant challenge to most psychological and economic theories of human behavior (as well as conservative political thought) but make sense from a PCT perspective. Whaddaya think?



I agree that UBI makes sense from a PCT viewpoint, but I don’t think any of these experimental programs do it optimally. I have argued that the “U” is more important than the “B” and the “I”, though they are important too.

My approach would be to find an income level that would allow a person or a family to acquire livable housing and to procure enough food for survival. I suppose those define the socalled “poverty line”. That defines the “Basic Income” part. That money would go to the unemployed and to the billionaire equally, and would be included in their taxable income. The zero tax cutoff would be well above the UB Income, and there would be no clawbacks for someone obtaining a paying job.

The main objection I see raised against UBI is that it would cost the Government too much. The cost actually could be any number, positive or negative, quite apart from the boost it would give to employment and commercial profits, both generators of tax revenue. For one thing, the cost of government administration would be greatly reduced by the elimination of any need for unemployment insurance or the salaries of people who check that welfare recipients don’t earn too much to qualify. How much it would actually add to the annual deficit would depend entirely on the income tax schedule, and could be positive or negative overall.

That’s a brief sketch of how I think it should be done, but however it actually is done, it’s better for the people and for the economy than no UBI at all.

RM: I was kind of hoping for an explanation of why it makes sense from a PCT viewpoint. Would anyone like to give that a try?

Because it ensures that people will not be entirely deprived of means to control fundamental CVs such as food and shelter. They will then be freer to identify and control other variables that matter to them.

It is opposed by people who want hoi polloi to control variables that matter to them, and who use deprivation as means of coercion.

RM: Now we’re talking. Yes, I think that’s more like it. But the question was why does UBI seem to reduce unemployment. So I agree that a UBI can make it possible for people to control fundamental variables such as food and shelter. But what that does with respect to unemployment is that it makes people “freer” in the sense that it reduces or eliminates internal conflicts that would inhibit their ability to do what they need to do to get employed.

BN: It is opposed by people who want hoi polloi to control variables that matter to them, and who use deprivation as means of coercion.

RM: I think it’s opposed mainly by people who view human behavior as caused (or selected) by external events; economists think people work only if there are external incentives offered to do so; psychologists think people will only work to get rewards (money). I think very few who oppose a UBI want to coerce people into working; most just believe that people won’t work if they are given a UBI. And, indeed, many won’t work (at least, they won’t do what economists consider to be “work”) if the UBI is too high. These things must be done delicately:wink:



I think it makes sense in terms of PCT. The way I see it, the payments reduce the number and severity of “disturbances” the recipients would otherwise have to deal with. That frees them up to pursue whatever goals the disturbances were preventing them from achieving.

There are lots of possible controlled perceptions in this situation, including the ones mentioned. All of them might be true for this or that recipient of UBI. What they all have in common is that access to money allows people an ill-defined but large set of possible means of controlling whatever perceptions they might want to control.

For example, suppose a man controls for perceiving himself as “a proper man”, and earning regular money from his own actions is required if his self-perception is to include that component. Suppose a husband or wife wants an excuse to leave the house regularly so as to meet a lover. Seeking a job would be a means of getting the spouse to accept the regular absence, as would finding that job.

The possibilities for perceptual control enhanced by UBI are endless, quite apart from the perceptions controlled by policy-makers about the provision of UBI improving the economy, etc. etc.