Sunday, June 04, 2017


Michael Tanner, the Prophet of Hell

(See his article below)

There is not one argument in that crafty patchwork that is absolutely convincing. The present expenses for welfare, social security, etc., if they are one trillion are nothing but 14% of the global (federal, state, local) US public expenses (US$6.97 trillion). We are far from the catastrophic situation alluded to. I say alluded because the author did not give us the figures I was obliged to look for here, figures without which we cannot judge, assess, deem, evaluate, hence think.

It does not take into account the two psychological dimension of such a reform. On one side the total demobilization of some into farniente and the simple task of “staying alive” as Schwarzenegger would say in the Terminator Quadrilogy. And on the other hand the trauma that would be for many humans who are somewhere Homo Sapiens and this species of ours is unable to survive if it does not work, meaning if it does not create some added value by its own daily activity.

The apocalypse of a no-job society is a myth and is not supported by serious figures. We do not know how many jobs are going to be lost, and not only the manual and least paid ones by the way, but we are speaking a lot of all the middle class jobs, administrative and bureaucratic in any economic activity. But the author does not consider humans as Homo Sapiens, see what I have just said, and he does not wonder what kind of jobs are going to be created in the meantime: all jobs based on human contact and exchange. We DO NOT KNOW WHAT JOBS WILL BE CREATED. That’s the real question.

Before paying millions who would not work to compensate their not working, why don’t we start thinking of what jobs will exist in twenty years, and jobs requiring contact, hence preparation, disponibility, flexibility, adaptability, etc. These jobs will not be based on 40 hours of actual presence in a workplace every week, but rather 20 hours in the job itself and a variable amount of hours to prepare, travel, commute, self-educate, confront and discuss, etc. Do you know in France a high school teacher never teaches more than 18 hours a week (compulsory hours + eventually voluntary overtime) and can teach a minimum of 12 hours a week, which for any decent teacher represent an easy 40 hours of real work.

The Silicon Valley is too close to Los Angeles and they seem there to believe fictional movies like Terminator, The Matrix, and so many others along that line are the new version of the revealed divine truth of some Bible or Quran.

What’s more Michael Tanner demonstrates a level of arrogance when he speaks of the poor and the middle class just as if the poor will always be poor, so let’s get rid of the problem by giving them some money. What about getting these poor people out of their poverty and first of all by training them into jobs that will make them non-poor, but train them for what jobs? Good question, Dr. Watson, what jobs will be available in twenty years? Ask the question first and then look for answers.

The singularity is one of these phantasmagoric ideas that will never be true because machines will never be more intelligent than men because men will always be those who will make the machines and hence will be more intelligent than the machines they create. Man will always be one step ahead of the machines they create. What about enabling all men to improve their intellectual level rather than throwing the baby with the water of the bath, not to mention the bathtub, the same way as they throw all jobs with the prediction that machines are going to be more intelligent, which is true, than men, which is false.

Such ideas are the simple totally superficial and unworked ideas necessary to be heard by the most idiotic people among those who govern us. It is true the US, on the DC East Coast does not demonstrate today a very high level of intellectual achievement, proving that the IQ of a person has little to do with the intellectual performance of such a person in front of a complex task like the Paris Accord or North Korea, not to mention the Muslim travel ban.



Is an Allowance for All Americans as Crazy as It Sounds?

This article appeared in The Hill (Online) on June 2, 2017.

Looking for the next big political idea? How about this: Let’s scrap our entire social welfare system, including all of our anti-poverty programs, unemployment insurance, Medicare and even Social Security. In its place, just send every American a no-strings-attached check for enough money to ensure that no one falls below the poverty line.
Controversial? Absolutely. Politically explosive? Almost certainly. Crazy? Maybe not. In fact, a growing and diverse group of people from across the political spectrum have been debating just such an approach to revamping the safety net. The latest is Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who told graduating Harvard students last week that we should blow up the existing New Deal-based social contract and replace it with a universal basic income (UBI).
In calling for a universal basic income, Zuckerberg joins a growing number of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who back a UBI.

The current welfare state is a clear failure. A universal basic income may or may not provide a better alternative, but it’s almost certain we will hear a great deal about in the next few years.

To be sure, there is a fair degree of self-interest in the tech community’s call for a universal basic income. There has been growing concern in some arenas that advances in automation and artificial intelligence could lead to widespread job loss, especially for low-skilled workers. The fear is that politicians may respond by limiting technology or imposing other burdens on the industry.
Already, San Francisco is debating a ban on robotic delivery vehicles. A UBI is seen as a way to ameliorate the pain of a changing work environment without retreating into luddism.
But there may be other reasons to consider replacing the existing welfare state with a universal basic income. The most obvious one is that current welfare programs have so clearly failed to help people escape poverty. The federal government currently funds more than 100 separate anti-poverty programs, at an annual cost of nearly $700 billion per year.
State and local governments spend another $300 billion per year on anti-poverty programs. Yet, despite this roughly $1 trillion investment, poverty rates (even using more accurate alternative measures) have not significantly improved since the 1970s, and economic mobility among the poor remains stagnant.
A universal basic income would have several advantages over the current welfare system. It would obviously be simpler and far more transparent than the hodgepodge of existing anti-poverty programs. With different, often contradictory, eligibility levels, work requirements and other restrictions, our current welfare system is a nightmare of unaccountability that fails to effectively help people transition out of these programs and escape poverty.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a UBI would provide far better incentives when it comes to work, marriage and savings. Because current welfare benefits are phased out as income increases, they, in effect, create high marginal tax rates that can discourage work or marriage. In contrast, a universal basic income would not penalize someone who left welfare for work.
For those who believe in getting government out of people’s lives, a UBI would also be far less paternalistic, expecting the poor to budget and manage their money like everyone else. It all adds up to a strong case, yet there are also serious trade-offs.
For example, a recent study from scholars at the American Enterprise Institute suggests that the only way to afford a universal basic income would be to replace not just anti-poverty programs and unemployment insurance, but also middle-class entitlements, such as Social Security and Medicare. The poor would be big winners under such a shift, but politically powerful seniors would lose out. That seems like a political nonstarter.
A negative income tax, which limited the basic income to lower-income people, would be more affordable, but would also import all the complexity, fraud and abuse of the current U.S. tax code. For example, how would a negative income tax handle someone who had little income but substantial assets? It would also recreate many of the same incentive problems we see in the current welfare systems, imposing high effective marginal tax rates, which discourage work.
Moreover, as with other government programs, there would be constant pressure to expand benefits. Once we’ve established the idea that people are “entitled” to an income, it becomes much harder to say “no” in the future. How long would it be before we heard that no one can live on whatever benefit the UBI provides at the moment?
Finally, we should be careful of the illusion of bipartisan agreement on the issue, even among its advocates. Free-market advocates see the UBI as a replacement for the existing welfare state. Many on the left call for a UBI as an additional benefit on top of existing programs, funded through new taxes on carbon, natural resources, businesses, or “the rich.” Bridging those differences will likely be much harder than advocates on both sides may believe.
Still, advocates of free markets and welfare reform should not dismiss the idea out of hand. The current welfare state is a clear failure. A universal basic income may or may not provide a better alternative, but it’s almost certain we will hear a great deal about in the next few years.

 Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a free-market oriented think tank.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?