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Universal Basic Income Explained

Oooh, Kurzgesagt takes on one of my favorite subjects today and tries to explain the concepts behind Universal Basic Income (UBI) in a brief 10 minutes. Included is a pretty good run down of the pros and cons of UBI, a system which would be a massive change to how our economy and society functions in the US. But one which may become entirely necessary as automation eats up jobs.

If you want to dig in on the subject of UBI, I recommend checking out Disclosing New Worlds: Entrepreneurship, Democratic Action, and the Cultivation of Solidarity by Charles Spinosa, Fernando Flores & Hubert Dreyfus. Here’s a great passage that discusses  non-monetary value of work, a big criticism  and worry of UBI critics:

Business owners do not normally work for money either. They work for the enjoyment of their competitive skill, in the context of a life where competing skillfully makes sense. The money they earn supports this way of life. The same is true of their businesses. One might think that they view their businesses as nothing more than machines to produce profits, since they do closely monitor their accounts to keep tabs on those profits.

But this way of thinking replaces the point of the machine’s activity with a diagnostic test of how well it is performing. Normally, one senses whether one is performing skillfully. A basketball player does not need to count baskets to know whether the team as a whole is in flow. Saying that the point of business is to produce profit is like saying that the whole point of playing basketball is to make as many baskets as possible. One could make many more baskets by having no opponent.

The game and styles of playing the game are what matter because they produce identities people care about. Likewise, a business develops an identity by providing a product or a service to people. To do that it needs capital, and it needs to make a profit, but no more than it needs to have competent employees or customers or any other thing that enables production to take place. None of this is the goal of the activity.

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