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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @06:51AM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @06:51AM (#1214088)

    I would finally join the goldbug camp, because a real UBI would be incredibly inflationary. It would also be "sticky" in the sense that once benefits are established it's extremely difficult to remove them. Best case scenario the government comes to its senses and doesn't do cost-of-living adjustments, and lets the payment drop in real terms; but history has shown us it doesn't tend to go that way. Governments will do their best to maintain the hand-outs while foreign holders of the currency and/or bonds continue selling. The end is hyperinflation, disruption of businesses, and an eventual return to some monetary discipline; but not until a lot of pain has been inflicted. The poor aren't hurt too much--they're still poor. The rich aren't hurt too much--they see it coming and offshore their money. It's the middle class that gets screwed hard in such scenarios.

    Note, I don't believe our current level of spending is enough for hyperinflation; but a real UBI would push us over the edge so then I'd go for gold, silver, maybe BTC although I never really liked it. I'd hold on to index funds--they still tend to do OK but the disruption to commerce causes them to under-perform commodities during such events. In the old days, that disruption was the continuous need for businesses to re-price and scurry about hedging their inputs and outputs so they could still profit when the currency was rapidly devaluing. Today you just add zeros in the computer and update the prices, but you still have the problem of balancing prices on inputs, outputs, and wages. It's an unproductive financial scramble that taxes commerce.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @01:25PM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @01:25PM (#1214137)

    You only get hyperinflation if you don't pay for your UBI. If you can fund it with taxes, it will work (for certain definitions of work). The trouble is that we don't pay for what we spend now. Nobody should be surprised that inflation is at 10% and probably going to 15% or 20%.You can't just give everyone thousands of dollars and raise the minimum wage without it happening. You can't fund it with a tax on robotics (which will block the progress you need to make it possible), nor a tax on small business (which would stop people who are supposed to start businesses with their new freedom from doing it). The best way to do it would probably be a regressive tax on companies with large numbers of low wage employees.

    That said, I don't think UBI is a good idea. It sounds great if you're an intellectual or technocrat who already does what you enjoy, but the majority of people are not like that. They need to be given productive work to do, and they won't come up with it on their own. Does no one remember "idle hands are the Devil's playthings"?

    This doesn't mean that the fundamental idea is unworkable, just that you need to deal with the social part first and the economic part second. Or at least, together. I have no idea what this looks like.

    Neither is the technology where it needs to be. The only way you can free people from menial work is if robots are available that can actually do it. That's still decades away.

    In the end, this should probably just not happen. Free economies adapt to technological change. The correct answer probably isn't UBI, but rather finding a way to employ more people in more meaningful jobs with fewer hours, instead of the situation we have now where half the people are overworked and the other half are underemployed, with some people being both.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @01:55PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @01:55PM (#1214146)

      Your argument boils down to "We need to keep the peasants too busy to revolt so we'll work them to death."

      This doesn't mean that the fundamental idea is unworkable, just that you need to deal with the social part first and the economic part second. Or at least, together. I have no idea what this looks like.

      You start by implementing it at very low levels. Nobody is going to quit their job because you implement a UBI of $10 a week. Then you increase it slowly. To most people $10 isn't worth worrying about, but to the people on the bottom it's a 5% pay rise. By the time it gets up to $50, some people will be able to cut back their hours a little, or buy slightly better food for their kids. It's about improving their lives. As they can cut back from the work-to-death levels, they will develop other interests and activities. Some might start small businesses as argued above, or they might just start a local club. Either way it is more activity on a local level and a lifestyle improvement. This is what society desperately needs. Everyone being happier, not a few billionaires in guarded estates.

      Orwell argued that the ruling class enjoyed grinding the peasants into the mud. I think most of the arguments against UBI spring from the same source of malevolence.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @02:43PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @02:43PM (#1214160)

        If you want to keep your society, you do need to keep people from revolting. In case it's not obvious from the past few years, people will destroy anything they can just because it's fun. If they have no actual problems to revolt over, they will imagine some problems.

        Happiness is having a purpose. Take it away, you have civil war. You might not like it, but it's true. Have you ever heard about how lottery winners are miserable and their lives are usually ruined? You're talking about doing this to everyone. But anyone with the ability to function in your society is certainly extremely successful already, because you need to have Zen monk levels of discipline to function this way. Not just lottery winners either. Even people who receive relatively modest windfalls usually squander them, often at great cost to those around them as well.

        Your solution is a non-solution. It's literally just the boiled frog thing. That's a warning about bad ideas, but leftists never seem to recognize the difference between warnings and instructions (or what's worse is the possibility that they do).

        UBI is literally a recipe for societal self destruction. The only thing it will cause is riots and catastrophe.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @03:21PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @03:21PM (#1214177)

          If you want to keep your society, you do need to keep people from revolting.

          Well, there are two possible options.
          Have a well-adjusted happy society who don't want to revolt.
              Or
          Grind the bastards down so hard they can't revolt.

          I see your preference, I just happen to disagree with you.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @02:28AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @02:28AM (#1214429)

            I prefer the first. But either is better than your preference for "sure, let them revolt. Anarchy is fun!"

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday January 20, @03:27PM (2 children)

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @03:27PM (#1214181) Homepage Journal

      Nobody should be surprised that inflation is at 10% and probably going to 15% or 20%

      Despite frenzied pandemic spending to keep the economy afloat, inflation in Canada is currently about 4% per annum.

      The only way you can free people from menial work is if robots are available that can actually do it. That's still decades away.

      Robots are gradually chipping away at menial work. Its not happening all at once, but the gradually increasing use of machinery is one of the mechanisms of increased productivity.

      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday January 20, @07:06PM (1 child)

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday January 20, @07:06PM (#1214283) Homepage Journal

        The guy you replied to was using Trump numbers. It's about 6.5 down here, most likely the percentage given above was the world's highest inflation. Either that, or he just pulled that number out of his ass. Either way, he's a liar.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 22, @11:53PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 22, @11:53PM (#1214882)

          Depends on which inflation measure you're using. If you're using the government's official numbers with the whole chained-CPI thing, those are more dishonest than a straightforward consumer basket. They were explicitly chosen way back in (as I recall) the Reagan era to keep SS more affordable by changing the terms of adjustment.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @01:36AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @01:36AM (#1214418)

      Conclusions drawn from n=0 sample?