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posted by martyb on Thursday January 20, @01:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the of-course-nobody-ever-gets-bored dept.

Study: Basic income would not reduce people's willingness to work:

A basic income would not necessarily mean that people would work less. This is the conclusion of a series of behavioral experiments by cognitive psychologist Fenna Poletiek, social psychologist Erik de Kwaadsteniet and cognitive psychologist Bastiaan Vuyk. They also found indications that people with a basic income are more likely to find a job that suits them better.

The psychologists received a grant from the FNV union to research the behavioral effects of a basic income. They simulated the reward structure of different forms of social security in an experiment. "We got people to do a task on a computer," says De Kwaadsteniet. "In multiple rounds, which represented the months they had to work, they did a boring task in which they had to put points on a bar. The more of these they did, the more money they earned."

The psychologists researched three different conditions: no social security, a conditional benefits system and an unconditional basic income. De Kwaadsteniet: "In the condition without social security, the test participants didn't receive a basic sum. In the benefits condition they received a basic sum, which they lost as soon as they started working. In the basic income condition they received the same basic sum but didn't lose this when they started work."

The basic income did not cause a reduction in the participants' willingness to work and efforts, say the psychologists. Nor did their salary expectations increase. "In the discussion on a basic income, it's sometimes said that people will sit around doing nothing if you give them free money," says Poletiek, who saw no indications of such a behavioral effect.

What would you do if you were to receive a basic income?


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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Kell on Thursday January 20, @02:03AM (29 children)

    by Kell (292) on Thursday January 20, @02:03AM (#1214028)

    UBI wouldn't change my life much, but it would radically change that of my husband. He is a sculptor who is just starting out, and I have been slowly subsidising his work, equipment and time to work on his portfolio. He's very good and he's got huge potential, but his opportunity to break into the industry is really being limited by his ability to sink time and investment into portfolio pieces and build a catalogue. A UBI of even a modest few thousand dollars per year would revolutionise his ability to produce and sell art, especially fine arts bronzes which have the best ROI. A lot of folks forget that capitalism rewards those with capital; if you have no capital you can't readily participate and "living wages" pay for living with precious little left over to invest. Sure; some people will squander that investment on beer, cigarettes or working less, but that will be more than made up for by those individuals who will suddenly be freed to create new businesses, inventions, artworks and services. As a society we're so afraid of rewarding work sloth that we will happily smother nascent enterprise.

    --
    Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by khallow on Thursday January 20, @02:57AM (21 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @02:57AM (#1214042) Journal

    As a society we're so afraid of rewarding work sloth that we will happily smother nascent enterprise.

    Same with risk. There's a great fear of it that smothers many a nascent enterprise. My take is that someone who won't try a nascent enterprise with the light levels of risk we have now, wouldn't with UBI.

    For me, the problem here is that the benefits just aren't that much. Sure, your husband would have a somewhat more extensive sculpting business, but the work sloths wouldn't be so contributing. Call it fear or whatever, I find that the work sloth albatrosses likely to be significantly bigger costs than the wonderful benefits we would allegedly do, if we're held back by the need to work for our own income.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @03:10AM (10 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @03:10AM (#1214044)

      Same with risk. There's a great fear of it that smothers many a nascent enterprise. My take is that someone who won't try a nascent enterprise with the light levels of risk we have now, wouldn't with UBI.

      My god you're delusional.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by khallow on Thursday January 20, @04:51AM (9 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @04:51AM (#1214069) Journal
        I just settle for being right. The whole "too big to fail" thing that went on a dozen years ago was a classic example of this. Because businesses failing was bad, financial regulators made things greatly worse by protecting a variety of poor business decisions.

        Kell pointed out a strategy that worked really well. One spouse does something risky while covered by the work of the other spouse. There are hundreds of millions of households throughout the developed world that can do that without needing UBI.
        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @10:03AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @10:03AM (#1214113)

          Being on the right side of the political spectrum doesn't preclude being delusional, in fact the symptoms commonly present together.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @10:16AM (7 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @10:16AM (#1214115)

          So simple. How has that plan worked for you?

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 20, @01:36PM (6 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @01:36PM (#1214140) Journal
            Pretty well. Perhaps you ought to try something similar rather than complain - I assume you're complaining?
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @07:24PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @07:24PM (#1214294)

              Working pretty well? They're right, you are delusional.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 20, @08:00PM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @08:00PM (#1214314) Journal
                You asked, I answered. And you state no reason for your belief that what is working well for me somehow is not.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @10:13AM (3 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @10:13AM (#1214477)

              Just gotta find a spouse first. Maybe you could give some tips. How did you nail yours down?

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday January 22, @01:38PM (2 children)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 22, @01:38PM (#1214779) Journal

                Just gotta find a spouse first.

                I suggest starting by not being a shitty human being. You can do that, right? You could also try saving money. I get that this is an alien concept to most UBI advocates, but you can self-fund your own basic income.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 23, @02:27AM (1 child)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 23, @02:27AM (#1214910)

                  Then what? You aren't giving a lot to go on here.

    • (Score: 2) by Kell on Thursday January 20, @03:12AM (3 children)

      by Kell (292) on Thursday January 20, @03:12AM (#1214045)

      It's a fair thought: some will aspire and some will retire. The question is how to identify which is which. Perhaps BMI could be indexed according to educational attainment, such that those who complete grade school would be given more resources than those who down, and so on vis tertiary education. By the time someone has completed a PhD, they've shown themselves to be committed and capable and exactly the sort of people society should be providing more resources to in order to create new endeavours. Of course, not everyone has the opportunity to put themselves through school, but that's one of the baseline problems that BMI is supposed to be helping to solve.

      --
      Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @08:31AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @08:31AM (#1214095)

        > exactly the sort of people society should not be providing more resources to

        Academia is NOT a measure of success. Or at least it does not have a monoply on it, unless you've been duped by the edu-industrial complex. Those darn professors, stealing ur money. Hint: that is sarcasm, professors get paid less the higher the fees go, and coincidentally, the more mirror window administration offices go up on campus.

      • (Score: 4, Touché) by mhajicek on Thursday January 20, @09:21AM (1 child)

        by mhajicek (51) on Thursday January 20, @09:21AM (#1214103)

        So go to school your whole life, rake in the dough, and never produce anything.

        --
        The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @06:11PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @06:11PM (#1214253)

          Make dough, produce turds.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @05:14AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @05:14AM (#1214071)

      My take is that someone who won't try a nascent enterprise with the light levels of risk we have now, wouldn't with UBI.

      Do you have any evidence for this, or is this simply unsupported conjecture?

      Call it fear or whatever, I find that the work sloth albatrosses likely to be significantly bigger costs than the wonderful benefits we would allegedly do, if we're held back by the need to work for our own income.

      Again, do you have evidence for this, or is this simply unsupported conjecture?

      Since we're dealing in conjecture, I'll offer my own. We don't really have a free market economy. Instead, the massive wealth disparity means that a few individuals with massive wealth have outsized control over the market. For example, those people might see a need for more corporate lawyers when most people would prefer that we have fewer corporate lawyers. But because those people have a massively disproportionate influence on the market, we end up with large amounts of corporate lawyers. Worse yet is that an estimated 74% of billionaire wealth comes from rent-seeking. The idea that people ought to work and contribute value is diametrically opposed to rent-seeking behavior. In other words, the people who exercise an outsized control over the market largely didn't earn their wealth by actually contributing value. Providing everyone with a basic income would give people more choice about how to work and contribute value to society, reducing the disproportionate influence that a tiny portion of the population has over the market.

      I believe universal basic income would move us significantly toward having an actual free market economy. It would be far closer to Adam Smith's concept of a free market and would be beneficial for capitalism.

      Since we're only offering conjecture, my conjecture is at least as valid as yours.

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @08:33AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @08:33AM (#1214096)

        Evidence is for dorks. Nobody on this website gives a... wait, what website is this?

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by khallow on Thursday January 20, @01:34PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @01:34PM (#1214139) Journal

        Do you have any evidence for this, or is this simply unsupported conjecture?

        It is its own evidence. After all, they didn't try that nascent enterprise now.

        Call it fear or whatever, I find that the work sloth albatrosses likely to be significantly bigger costs than the wonderful benefits we would allegedly do, if we're held back by the need to work for our own income.

        Again, do you have evidence for this, or is this simply unsupported conjecture?

        We already do things very similar to UBI. For example, putting a huge number of people through college subsidized, public pensions, and of course, public welfare. Consider retirement investment (and similar things like medical products) marketing. The basic message is that retirement is some glorious, nirvana-like phase of your life. If people really had this insuppressible urge to work, then where does it go when they retire? Answer: culture mores changed inside of a human lifetime.

        So when I read "A basic income would not necessarily mean that people would work less." I have to roll my eyes. In today's world, where the mores are pressure to work, this may be true. But what will happen after society and a variety of marketing departments have a chance to work that over? My take is that in a generation we'll see people who believe they have a right not to work and a willingness to raise UBI every time they want more and can find a politician to promise that. Never underestimate the sense of entitlement that one can build.

        Since we're dealing in conjecture, I'll offer my own. We don't really have a free market economy. Instead, the massive wealth disparity means that a few individuals with massive wealth have outsized control over the market. For example, those people might see a need for more corporate lawyers when most people would prefer that we have fewer corporate lawyers. But because those people have a massively disproportionate influence on the market, we end up with large amounts of corporate lawyers. Worse yet is that an estimated 74% of billionaire wealth comes from rent-seeking. The idea that people ought to work and contribute value is diametrically opposed to rent-seeking behavior. In other words, the people who exercise an outsized control over the market largely didn't earn their wealth by actually contributing value. Providing everyone with a basic income would give people more choice about how to work and contribute value to society, reducing the disproportionate influence that a tiny portion of the population has over the market.

        In other words, bribe people to go along with the status quo. My take is that the mess has gotten as bad as it has in the US because nobody can address that financial mess without dealing with Social Security and other entitlements. A UBI looks to me to be more of the same.

        Here's the fundamental problems I have with UBI: UBI doesn't deliver anything of value outside of redistribution of wealth, disincentive to work and help make our society better, incentive to go with the status quo including those rent seeking billionaires, and incentive to steal from the future, like voting for politicians that promise more UBI though borrowing.

        I hear about those evil billionaires only as an excuse to get a bigger piece of cheese, not to fix anything. Similarly, the economy is only a tool to extract stuff with UBI being the "more magic" setting. Here's my take on that.

        A lot of the problems you describe have been created or aggravated by existing UBI-like systems. The power to dish out money to everyone amd manipulate so much of the economy evolves into the power to establish rent seeking arrangements with those billionaires. US Social Security is particularly notorious because it allowed the US to spent hundreds of billions extra a year until recently when money paid out finally started to exceed money in. And one can't balance budgets fiscally without touching Social Security (it's gotten that big). It's a great defense for those looting the public coffers in the US.

        Another is that the same government, that has to be pervasive in order to administer present day UBI-like programs, is in a powerful position to create and maintain rent seeking niches. Also, there's a vast amount of feelgood regulation and taxation that suits soulless huge corporations particularly well, both economy of scale and in perversely rewarding ruthlessness.

        As to the economy, since it's paying for your UBI, someone ought to pay attention to it other than those rent seeking billionaires. Too often, it's just seen as a magic black box that just delivers UBI. My take is that it's like a garden. You want more from the economy, you'll have to pay attention to it - like making it more free market, for example.

        Finally, there was that weird bit about corporate lawyers. I'm fine with more corporate lawyers because the people who need them pay for them, and the rest of society for whom it's not their business can just get lost. Just because society might collectively want more or less of something doesn't mean that they should get it - this applies to UBI like it applies to corporate lawyers.

        You've already claimed that you're just making up shit, so I don't take the 74% claim remotely seriously.

        To summarize, we already have plenty of UBI-like programs out there. And the problems I describe do indeed appear in those programs. Further, a lot of the problems you describe are created or made worse by these UBI-like programs. My take is that UBI will turn out to be another self-inflicted injury that makes things worse - creating more big, ruthless business, a weaker economy, and eventually causing the UBI scheme to collapse, one way or another.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @12:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @12:29PM (#1214127)

      You're an idiot. The bums are like you, me, and fusty: we're already bums that don't work, and won't start just because we're being paid not to.

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday January 20, @06:24PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday January 20, @06:24PM (#1214258) Homepage Journal

      Were it not for the UK's very generous welfare, you would likely never have had Harry Potter.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 2) by Nobuddy on Friday January 21, @05:35PM

      by Nobuddy (1626) on Friday January 21, @05:35PM (#1214545)

      "Same with risk. There's a great fear of it that smothers many a nascent enterprise. My take is that someone who won't try a nascent enterprise with the light levels of risk we have now, wouldn't with UBI."

      this is the opposite of reality. With zero risk to family or self from failure, far far far more will try. The biggest impediment to entrepreneurial action is risk of financial ruin. Starving or making your family homeless if it fails. UBI removes that risk.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Thursday January 20, @03:45AM (3 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Thursday January 20, @03:45AM (#1214054)

    It's worth noting about the arts in particular that a significant majority of people creating art good enough to get paid money for it either have day jobs that pay the bills, or a partner or parents or other family members or inheritance paying their bills. It's very much the dirty secret of the arts world.

    For example, I went to one of the top music conservatories in the country. I'm not a full-time professional musician ... and neither are any of the classmates in my major as far as I can tell. And it's not because they sucked: They were on average quite talented and creative people with good technical skills who made stuff I and many audiences of ordinary non-musicians genuinely enjoyed listening to, and none of it was worth a dime after graduation. I've known musicians of many stripes and styles, and maybe one of them makes a living (by teaching on weekdays, leading a jazz combo on Friday and Saturday night, and spending Sundays as a church organist good enough to have performed several times at the Vatican). For example, one of my acquaintances was the lead singer of this band [youtube.com], good enough to rock one of the major metal festivals in the world, but not able to make enough to live on from it, so he's given up on trying to make it as a rocker and instead makes his living as a massage therapist.

    There are exactly 2 writers I know who've made enough to live on. One did it by writing werewolf erotica day and night for not great rates until she quit from the stress of trying to keep up with her publisher's demands. The other was born into relatively wealthy circumstances, inherited a home, and lived on her family money until she got relatively well-known.

    And you can get similar stories from most of the visual artists you'll encounter at arts fairs or colonies. A lot of them are producing stuff that would be at home in big-name art museums and galleries, but sells for maybe $500 a pop if they're lucky.

    And of course filmmakers and actors are far from immune to this as well. None of the people with IMDB profiles that I've ever known have ever earned enough from acting to make ends meet, and we're talking about folks about 3-4 degrees from Kevin Bacon.

    So yes, I'd expect one of the effects of UBI is you'd see more people focusing their time on making art. And I'd bet we'd all get a lot of really cool paintings, sculptures, novels, films, and music out of it.

    --
    Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bradley13 on Thursday January 20, @07:01AM (2 children)

      by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @07:01AM (#1214089) Homepage Journal

      Here's the thing: basically everybody does art. Dancing, singing, drawing - these are very human activities that nearly everyone enjoys. Sure, some people are more talented than others, but being good is not a prerequisite for enjoyment.

      The aspiring wannabe professional artists I have known strike me as arrogant. *Their* art deserves money. What *they* want to express is more important than what some amateur has to say.

      Personally, I prefer the amateur to the professional. Art makes a great hobby for anyone - for example, the world created by a gamemaster is just as much art as the world created by an author.

      tl;dr: arguing that UBI would support wannabe professional artists is, IMHO, not a persuasive argument. Art is better, when it isn't professional.

      --
      Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @08:38AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @08:38AM (#1214097)

        The fascist isn't wrong. My libby libby fluffy bunny budget for art is $0.

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 20, @08:11PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 20, @08:11PM (#1214320)

        The value of art, as far as I have been able to discern, primarily comes from marketing of said art - just as most less than essential things in this world find their "value points."

        Aspiring artists have various approaches, but if they are hoping to make a living from their art, they need heavy marketing to make that happen. This is usually self-promotion, but the lucky few have family / friends who help them, and the extremely lucky few "catch fire" just like sports / music and other mass-media stars.

        --
        Україна не входить до складу Росії.
  • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Thursday January 20, @03:35PM (1 child)

    by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @03:35PM (#1214185) Homepage Journal

    I have similar aspirations if UBI became a thing. Even if health care became free I would seriously consider leaving my engineering job and trying to take my hobbies professional. I don't expect to earn as much as I do today, but being my own boss sounds really appealing, especially if I don't need to worry about healthcare or starving.

    I believe UBI studies suspect an increase in job turnover and independent businesses. Typically this type of behaviour should be beneficial to the quality of life for the workers: you can leave a job you aren't satisfied with and seek out your life's passion instead of taking the first next job you find. However, the labour market on the whole will struggle to compete. Not just entry level jobs that could be priced out by competing UBI, but high-stress high-paying jobs could lose people like me who are there for the paycheck.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by cmdrklarg on Thursday January 20, @10:45PM

      by cmdrklarg (5048) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @10:45PM (#1214379)

      However, the labour market on the whole will struggle to compete. Not just entry level jobs that could be priced out by competing UBI, but high-stress high-paying jobs could lose people like me who are there for the paycheck.

      This is not necessarily a bad thing, as this would force business to "sweeten the deal" to get employees on board. It would cut down on the workplace abuse, and wages would rise. Wages have been stagnant for decades while productivity and executive pay have soared. Time to rebalance.

      --
      Answer now is don't give in; aim for a new tomorrow.
  • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday January 20, @06:21PM

    by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday January 20, @06:21PM (#1214255) Homepage Journal

    Indeed. It's damned hard to make money in the arts; making money isn't what art is for. Sculpting, painting, writing, playing music, are all addictions. Why else is the very wealthy, very old Stephen King still writing? Why are the Rolling Stones still playing?

    But as to the arts, Phillip K Dick (and most rich writers) was a poor man almost all his life. He made most of his money not from writing but being a cook or dishwasher or other low paid guy. He got rich when a movie studio wanted to make one of his stories into a movie.

    For every successful sculptor there are a thousand who have never sold a piece. Van Gogh was less financially successful with his paintings than I was with mine; he only sold one painting in his life, when I was in the Air Force no sooner would I hang a painting than another airman wanted to buy it. But I never made much money with it. Went to Disney looking for artistic work and they put me to work in their gas station.

    --
    Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]