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Welcome to Stuff You Should Know a production of BI heart radios, how stuff works hey and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh Clark and there's Charles W Chuck Brian over there and there's Jerry.
This is stuff. You should know the podcast about universal basic incom on the podcast.
That's right, you B, I baby yeah.
It's like the most bland set of words. I've ever seen, strung together in my life, but they have a big big punch. If you really dig into Hem yeah, I found myself kind of it was it was cool reading all this stuff and researching it, because I I don't think I had much of an opinion on it right before and I'm going to try to not get too opinionated this time. But now you're, like wellall poor people, can just die off for all Lik.
A lot of this.
A lot of this made sense to me yeah, especially when you're talking about replacing a bloated kind of broken system anyway, because my first thought was like universal basic income. In addition to you know, Welfare and Food Sams and all the other social safety nets yeah, but like replacing it with something. That's a little more straightforward kind of spoke to me a little bit yeah, and I think that speaks to a lot of people too, and will kind of explain a little more. Obviously what we're talking about, but one thing that stuck out to me about that choke was what about people who are physically incapable of working of making a living and that this would be their only means of support or who have aged out of working and and don't have a way to support themselves anymore.
Wouldn't you still need some sort of social safety in addition to that, for those people, I don't know if this would replace disability or would it I guess it depends on whose plan know some people there's a conservative economist, whowill talk about later on named Charles Murray who's, like get rid of everything.
This is it okay and he goes on to say like well. He wrote like a whole book about it, but I read kind of his synopsis of the book, But h he kind of explains like here's, how this could actually work.
He doesn't just say that, but there is a sense of there's, definitely a real disdain for the bloato bureaucracy, that that is the entitlement or welfare system in the United States for sure, and I get the sense that it's on both sides, so that is kind of an appealing part of this, that this could conceivably replace it under the right circumstances.
Yeah - and this also made me think, a little bit about the push for a flat tax that happens every so often where it's like. We've got such a convoluted tax system.
Can we just settle on a very fair percentage that everyone pays across the board?
The problem with that one?
It's a great idea on his face shurt a lot of problems problem. The basic problem that I have with it is that that it automatically makes it aggressive if you're a millionaire, and you pay ten percent - that ten percent is going to mean a lot less to you than if you're a person living near the poverty line and that ten percent means rent or food or something like that. You know what I mean so therefor, it's a regressive tax and I've never heard a good way to kind of set up that flat text to make it nonraggressive so that that that doesn't just automatically introduce this other new convoluted tax code. To you know what I mean yeah and it's.
If you look back at the history of Flat Tex proposals, it's usually some super rich old white guy. That proposes it sure. So that makes you kind of want to go like wait, a minute right. Can you loophole your way out of that too yeah? Well, no, I mean it's not a loophole. It's more just! It's just super aggressive right, but that's a different episode. We've never done a flight tax episode right. No, I think we should do it yeah. We totally should I'm actually kind of surprised we haven't, but yeah. So that's a totally different episode, but what we're talking about instead is called universal basic income.
That universal is really important because there's different proposals, but in a universal basic income scheme the government takes x, number of dollars, say a thousand dollars a month and males that checkout to every adult, say eighteen and over in the United States. Everybody. No questions asked no strings attached. You KDOn't to be poor, it doesn't matter if you're rich, it doesn't matter what you do with that money. You can go, spend it all on crack. If you want to it's your money, like the cops may bust you for buying crack or smoking crack or whatever, but you can use it for crack or, ideally you would use it in in myriad other beneficial ways.
But I guess I'm just trying to point out: There's no there's no guidance on how you're to use that money. That's your money and because it's coming from the federal government and it's guaranteed basic income.
You can rely on that every month, and so you can start to build your life around, knowing that at the very least you're going to have a thousand dollars tax free from what I understand from the government.
That would be so United States to give you a thousand dollars a month and then take back like three hundred ofit right exactly so. This was, if you were a fan of Andrew Yang during his, I don't Wantto, say brief presidential bid, not long enough I'll. Tell you that you, like Yang, I like Yang, Yumus, crazy for Yang, but I just thought his hhat am good idea. His ideas were very level. Headed were very a political. I just thought it was.
I thought it was great yeah. He spoke to me too, but he called it the freedom dividend and that's what we're talking about a thousand bucks a month.
No questions ask if you were billgate to get a thousand dollars.
If you don't have two pennies to rub together, you get a thousand dollars and we'll talk. This is one of the few episodes I think we're the history addressing that later kind of works.
I thought so too, but there is some history beyond him and he's not the only person there, a lot of the bill gatesis and the zuckerbergs and the musks of the world gets huge and Silicom valley right now it is, and Silicon Valley, as we will learn, is one of the areas that they would that's in the cross hair for providing this money to a large degree through taxes, because one of the fears is - and it's a legit fear - and I know in your existential risk, podcast series - you talk about automation and robot robots and things yeah, but the fact is.
We are automating more and more.
Some say that in the next twelve ten twelve years that about thirty, three percent of all working Americans will lose their jobs to robots.
Do you realize what an increase in unemployment? That is huge?
Thirty three percent. I think right now we're at somewhere around three percent onemployment, which is really low. It's close, very close to full employment, if not like, statistically full employment.
Thirty three percent, all of a sudden and how many years did you say it said twelve, I mean that's an estimation, so that's probably like a sky is falling kind of scenario May. But there are a lot of smart people out there who say: okay, maybe twelve years is a little soon. Maybe that percentage is a little high. Definitely some people will be put out of work in that time. But let's say let's expand that window to thirty years or fifty years.
Then we might start getting into some really high percentages of people who are being put out of work and not like you know.
You could go over to company B M Your jobs just gone because we develop machines that are way better and way more efficient and way cheaper at doing that than you are.
And so what do you do with those people? And it's not just a question for governments of what do you do with that physical person who's now, poverty stricken, because their job doesn't exist any longer for people, but all of the social safety nets and a lot of other stuff that that we have in this country that those people would need to participate in those are funded by payroll taxes, an unemployment tax and stuff? That is a tax on labor and employment? And so, if you have a person whose job doesn't exist anymore, you can't tax that Labor. You can't tax that employment.
So now you have the problem of somebody who says I need this assistance and then there, the way of providing that assistance has just been removed, because we automated that job away right and there are some people like Bill Gates that are saying: Hey companies that are automating all this stuff you're, avoiding all these payroll taxes. Now you should pay it on the robot as well, which what I didn't see necessarily was whether or not that's - and I assume it is one of the big benefits of automation - is that you don't have to pay those payroll taxes any longer.
If you're, a an a business sure yeah thatd be a huge yeah. If you can get rid of people, people are generally expensive and if you are just strictly a utilitarian business owner, it was it's very much in your in your favor of automating. Whatever jobs, you can yeah you're, not paying peril tax you're not having to pay for that person the portion of their health care. You don't have to worry about union striking people getting sick right. So, as we become more automated, there are people speaking up and saying sure, there's also a lot of job creation that happens with automating things, but the person that is taking care of your sanitation every week, if that was replaced by a robot self driving truck and clamper that dumps the garbage in there the clampor trademark winco.
That person is not necessarily going to be the person that can be like hey I'll, just get a job, building these robots to right, right, right, yeah yeah, which is ultimately kind of it's a supplementary part to this whole discussion of you know we're still going to need people to do things like build robots, so how much of this should really be?
How much of this attention and effort should be directed toward training people for this New Economy Yeah? And it's the same idea when you talk about alternative energy, teach the coal minor to build wind turbines and an ideal world, all that happens very seamlessly and thou're just like. Well, let's just take all these people that are out those jobs and give them the new jobs.
Just doesn't work that way all the time right, right and yeah, and I mean I dealize that no, you can't - and you shouldn't like this - is these need to be like frank, stark, sober discussions that we have about this because we're a little drunk we're talking about it doesn't hurt. Maybe I listen up. You know some Nice, maybe some nice homemade thumbprint cookies with the hershes Kissin there. Oh Man Yo get a little pickish yeah, but the but yeah you do. We do need to talk about this stuff because we're talking about human beings and wh, who are gamefully employed now, who may be again poverty stricken because their job doesn't exist in the next decade or so an yes. We need to be thinking about this now and then other people chuck say: Okay, that's a real possibility is robot.
This robot taxis, automated economy that we're clearly moving toward.
We don't know when it's going to really kick in. Is it going to be twelve years? Is it going to be thirty? Is it going to be fifty? We don't know, but basically everybody agrees that that is the direction that we're heading. Yes, you have to be basically Cuckoo to argue against that right right, it's just Wen ar the effects really going to be felt. Other people say yeah, that's a big problem and I'm glad we're thinking about it, but we have had poor people in the United States and a huge inequality gap. Basically, since World War, two, it's a national blemish of shame on our character, our country's character, that there are people that are just gobsmackingly, rich and other people who are Gob smacklingly poor and they deserve to not live in poverty, because because they are citizens of the world's wealthiest economy, just the fact that they are Americans says that they shouldn't have a life of poverty because we can provide for them at least enough, so that they don't have to be poverty stricken and that's another argument for universal basic income as well, one that was champion by Martin Luther King. Look, we can take care of people and we should we have a moral obligation to and o've just realized. I suddenly started just talking like Bernie Sandy.
Did you catch that that, like stammering kind of delivery, that was weird yeah, my hair turm white? Just now, didn't it shaggy yeah?
I hope it grows back to normal.
So maybe we should take a break here in a minute. Wait, let it my hair. Do you think it's Goingna go back to nort, let's like a break now: okay, Bernie, and because that was a good setup and we'll talk a little bit about what exactly is and some of the pros and cons right after this all right. So we talked about the freedom dividend from Andrew Yang and his his team and where you get a thousand dollars a month, whether you're working or not with your richor poor and the idea is - is that it would replace the safety net programs that all have strings attached right. So if you are part of the snap program and you get food stamps, you need to prove that you are below a certain income level.
If you're getting unemployment, you have to show your looking for work. If you're getting social security, then you have paid into that for a number of years.
If you have disability, then that you have a doctor vouching for you, this is no questions asked which is a you know, sounds radical to some people, but other people say just make perfect sense, yeap and Yank's, not the only one to to address this. Like you said, you know it's kind of a hot topic. UNSILLICOM valleyand has been for the last five six seven years to the point now where it's probably like old news and everybody's moved on to something else, like debtors prisons ar the new thing in sillicom valley, but one of the CO founders of facebook named Chris Hughes.
He wrote a book.
I can't remember what it's called. It's like.
I read that it was half memoir or half.
Basically, policy lay out I like PA, what I would like to do yeah and it was basically arguing in favor of a universal basic income, and this guy put his money where his mouth is. He actually funded a pilot program in Stockton. I think tha said here. Take four families right, exactly I'm going to get them a hundred dollar fivedolars each oh mot know his was five hundreddollars a month, but he hit on something that I saw other people av fit on to that.
In addition to Universal Bas, basic income, that's pretty good, but you have to go a little further and people would need to have at least catastrophic health insurance to where, if they need surgery or long term care, something like that, they had insurance that covered it, that those two things would probably help people get by and then there's plenty of other people running experiments on the stuff that will talk about later. But the general idea is that that, yes, you just no questions, Aske, no strings attached! You you get some amount per month, just for being an adult. Some other plans say maybe perhousehold sure be a good way to cut it down or maybe, if you make less than a certain amount of money sure. But one of the things that about universal basic income typically, is that there's no cutoff for wealth, everybody gets it just for being an American and that it isn't por household it's per individual, which really is beneficial for a whole segment of society, which are unpaid, caregivers, yeah everybody from stay at home, moms to people who are caring for their thirtheir parent with alsheimers yeah. Those people get a thousand dollars themselve. So now, all of a sudden, a household with two adults in it who pool their resources.
Has You know twenty four thousand dollars a year rather than just twelve yeah? So that's one of the pros another is you know if you are poverty stricken? If you live, if you're one of the one and eight Americans, which is striking that lives below the poverty line, you are probably not doing a lot of things to meet. Your health needs, you're, probably not getting up every day and saying I need to need to work out and eat really healthy. We've talked about the problem, the food problem in this country and how the poorest people eat the biggest garbage diets, because it's cheap right, you're, not thinking you're, not eating, well, you're, not exercising you're, not you know paying as much attention to your kids doing homework. Sure if you want to idealize everything, you should be doing all those things, but if you're struggling day to day just to live and survive a lot of these things go by the wayside. So the idea is that a universal bak basic income would provide you with enough of a buffer to where you can tackle some of these other things or you can maybe go back to school and get that degree or start your own business right. You know and another another thing for the very like the poverty stricken working class.
They would be given this buffer or this. This check that everybody gets for them would be like a floor that would allow them to say you know what I don't have to take this job, because I'm not desperate any longer to put food on the table, so I can hold out for a better job that affords me more dignity or that isn't actually dangerous to do, because the working conditions are so poor. So there's there's a whole employer exploitation that would largely dissolve when, because the the working class tha, the really right around the poverty level working class would have this kind of buffer that they could use to negotiate better working conditions in higher higher wages yeah, and we should point out everything we're saying here: We should have this tournamint front of it is this. Is the idea that these things will happen right? This is all the in theory right. Exactly the one thing I didn't see listed as a pro, which I think is an obvious one is: If you make a certain amount of money, then I imagine a lot of people would treat this twelve grand a year as something that they could just spend.
Thus, propping up the economy or donate right yeah, I would hope that if you were very wealthy that it would become kind of trendy to disdonate this part yeah. I haven't seen people talking about that in anything that I've read and that just seems like a real obvious one to me, yeah that you know, because a lot of people that are doing pretty well and they might get a tax return and that's like TV time or whatever right. Let me go buy that flat screen well. Actually, if we can throw out one of the cons, it actually dove tails with what you're talking about that, there's a concern among economists that if all of a sudden, every adult over eighteen in America was getting a thousand dollars a month Huh, they would be like heck yeah, I'm going to get a TV this month next month, I'm going to go, get some clothes or I'm going to save up a few months and get a car. That's a on nuner than I normally would have. Yes, because, if all of a sudden, a couple hundred million Americans are all doing this spending more money way more than we hade been before, and I see where this is going, that we would outstrips demand, withoutstrip supply, and so the prices of goods would go up inflation, and so it would cancel out any benefit. There was from the universal basic income because we would have all caused inflation to make prices rise in the cost of good's increase. That's valid, oh totally, it's very valid, but what's great about it is people are thinking about it. You know what I'm saying yeah.
The other thing I like about this too, is it's not just liberals who are crazy about this libertarians too, and some conservatives as well are totally cool with it too, for a number of reasons, Libertarians, like the idea that it would conceivably replace that bloated welfare, statebecause libertarians are not ones for big giant government bureaucracies correct and also in the same vein that thing about the universal based income. Just being like here's, your money go, do what you want with it, not here's some money, you have to spend it on food and why O I wait. You have to spind it on specifically these types of food, but Libertarians love it so because you'Ryou're just saying like I'm, not I'm the government and I'm telling you how to spend this money on this particular kind of food.
It's here's! Your money, you know, do what you want with it, which is just libertarian dream kind of stuff yeah, and that economist Charles Murray said he was a conservative economist, he's the one that's like man, this is, would cost less than social security, Medicare Medicaid the snap program right and the entire welfare state. We could get rid of it and this would actually be better for us in the long run, yeah and cut down on just the the bureaucracy in the paperwork. And it's just it's a much cleaner system, yeah, just the fact that the bureaucracy itself would be slim down, yeah, which, ironically, would put a bunch of people out of work.
That in and of itself would be a cost efficiency savings right, yeah and I guess there's a I was looking. I was like well how much do we spend on entitlement programs in the United States at no one knows apparently there's like some. I saw heritage report at which I believe is a conservative, think tank.
They were saying it actually there's like a shadow welfare program, abudget, that's like a trillion dollars, in addition to the other trillion and a half dollars, that's on the books or whatever.
So, if that's all correct, then this is about the same, because the the rough estimates are that it cost about two point: three trillion dollars a year to mail, a thousand dollar check every month to every adult over eighteen, the United States, roughly two hundred million adults, two point: three trillion dollars a year, but again you're, sending the same check out to every single person over age, eighteenand that in an o itself, could be very easily automated. So it would be cheaper to actually do even if the actual amount of money you're shelling out is roughly the same yeah and another one of the pros and we'll talk about some of the limited studies they've done on this, but an interesting one in Kenya is they had a lot of Mal, nourishment dude, O drought, and so the government said you know what, instead of giving food aid to vulnerable households, let's do a direct cash test basically, and they found that about ninety percent of these people. They bought some food, but ninety percent of them also used it to launch small businesses or to to restock their herd of goats or whatever kind of reinvest in themselves right and that's one of the again the idealized version is people use this money in in an entrepreneurial way.
Yeah - and that's I mean that's - these little pilot programs are just coming back with really mixed results, yeah, but one of the ones I saw.
I think it was like a Nathan Heller piece in New Yorker from a couple years ago, D, hewas talking about that Kenya experiment, and he pointed out one like one. Heavy drinking resident use that money not to go on a bender, but instead to buy like a taxicab and start his own taxicab business bought a couple of like milk cows and and did a couple of other things that that were fairly surprising. Considering most people would expect that he would he would just squandered it all on booze or gambling or whatever, whatever you might expect. Somebody like that to do right. That's one of the big fears, an one of the big arguments against it is I mean: Is it really a good idea to just give a thousand dollars a month, no strings attached to absolutely everybody right, including people who are addicted to whatever, including people who are terrible with money, including people who are coon artists? You know like just because they're Americans and that's the I don't know if, like that's a one of the flaws, but also simultaneously one of the the benefits of it is yes, they answers. Yes, everybody gets it and then it's up to that person to spend it in yeah the best possible way.
All right should we take another break sure man, all right, we'll take another break and talk about the criticisms and more like how they going to pay for this right after this all right. So if you are against this, you probably fall into one of two camps or both one is that it's expensive and how you going to pay for this, and the other is sort of combine with a lot of ways that certain Americans think which is like you shouldn't get anything for free. There are no free lunches, and if you do that, then people aren't going to work. They'll just find a way to live on that twelve granda year, and it won't change anything for them.
Yeah, which is you know, apparently some of the data that's coming back from these trials are, like I said, they're mixed, so some people spend it on a taxi cab and start their own business and other people are like I'm. I don't have to work at all. This is great and that's that's a big problem. You, don't you don't in a in a productive economy that relies on Human Labor, a government program that basically pays people not to work is disastrous right and that's one of the the big. The big criticisms of the current welfare system is that it traps people inta cycle of poverty by an disincentivizing them from from working where, if you reach a certain point with your wages, you lose all of your safety net. You know you lose your food stamps. You lose your healthcare, you lose unemployment checks, you lose all that stuff because you now are employed and on the one hand it makes sense because you don't need support supposedly, but the problem is when it really washes out into practicality. You still do need that support, but you've just been booted off of this stuff for working.
So it's actually better for you to not work hat, that's people say they're worried about the same thing with universal basic income. Yeah I mean, I guess what's important, is the overall picture because there's the idealized version, where you give people twelve osand dollars a year and they're like man I was laid off now, can afford to go back to school and make my rent every month and get a better job. Or now I can concentrate on health and wellness and then Vestin, my children or I can care for my my my mother or my you know, family member, who's old or I can be a stay at home, parent or just just live less dressed yeah I mean those are the I idealized versions. There are also, of course, going to be people that gamble a little away or drink it away or drug it away.
So the idea s you look at the overall picture. Does the good outweigh the bad, or vice versa? Vice of Hersa, Cam, Wev ast said that I like I, it's got a little Lonyap to it. You know what I'm saying so it's that overall picture, but I think we need to talk a little bit about how it would be paid for we talked a little bit about it.
Redirecting those safety net programs right now would be part of it, and this is like one of Yang's proposals are bunch of different ones.
A value added tax of ten percent, which I read up on that a little bit. It's a little bit confusing to me.
Yeah me too D: What should we talk about it? What it is yeah, I think just a little bit essentially so from what I gathered and just correct me. If I'm wrong, you have a different understanding, but at each stage of production the the thing is text so as like a raw material is sold to a manufacture to make candy. I think I saw that cocoa and all that stuff is taxed at ten percent right. Well, then, well, then, t e, the manufacturer, turns that Cocoa Into Candy and they sell it to a retailer tax at ten percent. Then the retailer Sellit to consist the consumers taxs at ten percent and the government doesn't get ten percent ten percent ten percent, like thirty percent of the total value they get overall, ten percent of the total value that's right and that that's this value ad tax and it's like they use it in Europe and have for decades now, basically everyone, but the US has a value added tax.
T E, the great part about it is there's no way around it. You can't hire from what I saw. You can't hire a really great accountant to find loopholes in the text code like you're, going to pay this ten percent text, it's a sales taxt for every stage of a products life, so companies can't get away with not paying any corporate taxes right because they're paying this consumption text.
The problem with it is you, the consumer, are still paying that ultimate ten percent tax on the end, that's coming out of your pocket, even if some of it's going to the business and some of it's going to the government in Additin yourself, sex you're still paying that right.
I don't know if I think it replaces it does it.
Okay, it might. It might be in addition to, but the thing that yangs plan he.
This was his big thing to use a value added tax to pay for this.
The basic income was that this would be mostly on luury goods and that basic staples and necessities would be exempted from this valuated text, which would prevent it from being a reggressive tax. All right that makes sense. Yeah so Yang also said, let's tax investment income, which would obviously target a certain, very small percentage of the country.
How about we, tax carbon polluters, put a carbon tax right.
Some people like Bill Gates - I think I mentioned earlier - he's like hey all these companies that are replacing people with robots and skirting pay role, taxes and medical insurance and stuff like that. Why don't you tax them with a robot tax right that every every robot that they replace a human being with or several human beings, whit' Ayou have to pay a tax for every single one or software, or something like that. The problem that I saw with that is that no one has any idea how to actually quantify it. Like you can say, this robot replaced five factory workers on the factory floor right, that's easy enough, but what is like software that helps?
You know, transfer phone calls or something like that, yeah.
How many people does that this place? It's really hard to say, which is from what I can tell at least on the Redi Yang gang thread.
They explained it that, like that's, why Yang went with a value added text, because right corporations can't get around it, there's no way to looppall your way out of it and it's much more quantifiable than you know, taxing software right so, but that is so th, but the robot text still captures that same sentiment, right yeah, that the people who are the ones who are automating away jobs are the ones who need to pay for the people who are being put out of jobs, that's kind of the spirit of the robot tax right as far as studies, you know it's sort of been all over the place there haven't been.
I mean there have been some studies in Canada and the US and in Europe that seem to indicate that the hey these people, just won't want to work, isn't really going to be a problem like I said some people will, of course, but overall these studies are coming back saying now. People are going to use this in the spirit as it is intended generally yeah, so ruses Helpe US put this together.
He pointed to the Alaska Permanent Fund, I'm not sure where he saw that, but this that's so small, though it's kind of a tough it'snoexactly apples, t apples.
Sixteen hundreddollars a resident a year in two thousand and nineteen. They each resident of Alaska Receives Sixteen hundred dollars, and it is just such a small amount that you couldn't. Possibly you know really work less because of that, so that hit rob would find a way to get by on Sixi hundred bucks a year. Soe Some people would for sure right. You know you can go fish with your bare hands yeah in Alaska, so maybe that could supplement things. But but the big question is yeah. What really happens when you give?
You know a bunch of people, a large group of people, twelve thousand dollars a year.
You know, would that mean that they would stop working and not even necessarily stop working but work less and from what I saw it seems to be on both sides of the isle or both political stripes. For economist Yeah.
That yeah theyre probably will be a reduction in worked hours, but that it would be nothing that would stall the economy out throu or not going to just quit jobs and droves. They just might work a little less, but is that necessarily a bad thing like? What are they doing with that time? That's kind of what yeah is the key factor sure are they volunteering? Are they sitting around playing playstation games?
THAT'S SOM! Some other economist has said that there I can't remember which one I saw there was a technology review article. I think I saw that really kind of they didn't Poopoo the concept they just poopooed some points of it, but one of the things they pointed to is that there are plenty of studies out there that show that the whin people reduce workours. They just sit around and watch TV.
You know you a say you know, but the TAT's not really what you want to do. But again, if you're, a libertarian economist, you would say. Well you know. That's, that's! That's that's your right, but that is your right, but then you should probably turn in your economist shield, because if you're an economist you kind of want people working sure unless you're John Maynar Kings, he wrote we talked about him before Canesi and Economo sure the usually the super like government spent can spend its way out of recession, kind of stuff that all came from cane yeah and in Ninetine onethousand, nine hundred and thirty three canes wrote is SSA man. I can't remember the name of it but someut, something about you know: Work in our grandchildren, something about Teamyang.
He said he basically predicted in a hundred years back on thousnd nine undred andthirty three that we would not be working any longer, because we would have automated all our jobs away, but everybody would be living a life of leisure and we missed that mark big time for all all manner of reasons.
But you could you could kind of look at Kanes's prediction and say: well, maybe he was off by fifty years.
Maybe it's not a hundred years, but the same thing's going to happen. Fifty years or a hundred and fifty years from when he predicted it back, one thousand nine hundred and thirty three, and so some people say okay, this robot tax idea in principle works really well or it could work really well, but we are way premature with the right that this is something we need to start doing thirty years from now, not now yeah that it would actually harm our economy. If we do it now, because there are people who will stop working, we would be paying some people to not work anymore and we still are adding hundreds of thousands of jobs a quarter in the United States alone. We still need human labor, so we don't want to prevent people from doing it. But when, when we do automate jobs like gangbusters, then yeah, we should take a significant amount of that wealth. That's going to be generated by these robots and not only make sure that people have their basic necessities provided for.
Why not just make it so. Every single person in America is wealthy yeah compared to our standards here today, just because we have robots doing all this work and generating all this wealth forus. Why not just share it for everybody? Why should just a handful of people who own the robots have all the wealth while everybody else has been put out of work? Why not just make it so everybody's wealthy, because the robots are doing all the workforce right Whoa, I agree well and that has caused some people to say well, wait a minute! It makes you wonder why Sillicom valley is into this whole thing as much as they are right now.
Have they seen like that? This may be a road that we follow yeah in the next twenty thirty years and they're trying to stem the tide now and say: Hey how about we give you guys tensand dollars a year right?
Actually, how about the federal government gives you guys, ten hsard money or just to basically get to be bought off now cheaper now than we would be in the future when the real problem starts to come along, and so there are some people who say it's a good idea in principle, but it it's too soon and we need to be wary of people who come bearing gifts of ten HSAND dollars a year today, yeah interesting, I thought so too.
We talked to we promised a little history. This I think you mentioned canes, but in the LA E th s was free market economist named milt, Milton Friedman, sorry Milton Milt Friedman, who had an idea sort of like this to ensure that people had a minimum standard of living, but this was through. It was called a negative income tax, so it essentially works kind of the same way. Once you do your taxes, if you were below a certain threshold, then you would actually get money from the IRS m.
We mentioned Martin Luther King. What might surprise you is that a little guy name tricky Dick Nixon in this surprising, very surprising. We were surprised by SOMEON thenoyg recently. What was that?
He was the first president that had the first African American guest in the Lincoln Bedroom, who was Sammy Davis, junior, that's right, yeah, so n, one thousand nine hundred and sixty nine Nixon said hey how about this?
Why don't we start a program where it's the equivalent of about eleven eleven grand a year today, where we pay people sixteen hundred ollars a year plus food stamps?
If you are a family of four that doesn't have an income yeah, basically I mean here's. A quote: Thit says what I'm proposing is that the federal government build a foundation under the income of every American family that cannot care for itself and wherever in America that family may live.
This was Richard Nickon saying that yeah and then that's universal basic income to a to a certain degree. It's not everybody, but he's saying hey. If you don't have any money and you're an American, then we'll give some to you, because you have right to have a very basic level of income yeah. It was called Tha Family Assistance Plan that that act was or that bill was, and it went made its way through Congress and Congress Sai No sen, it crazy, but they there was a.
There was a one part of it that the Senate, I guess said: Oh we like this, though it was a work requirement, and so from that point on, if you wanted federal assistance, you had to prove that you were working and that still survives today and it's been upheld by you know not just GOP presidents, but Bill Clinton made sure that that was part of his welfare roforms as well yeah sure - and it came from that, so they said now - we're goingto do away with this guaranteed minimum incomb, but we like the work requirement part, and that was the legacy of it.
Yeah I mean one thing is for sure: If this has any traction in the United States, there's going to have to be a lot more data behind these drial programs, and even if that data comes back in the positive that this would be a good thing, there would need to be a sea change. of of thought change right with a lot of Americans about giving people money yeah, we would basically have to say, like the point of life, is not work, which is not the way Americans think these days I mean we might say that we don't but know we actually act differently like working is largely the purpose of life yeah, and there is a lot of like pleasure to be gained from like feeling productive, and I think, even if everybody did have, it was able to just stop working and be wealthy.
People would still find stuff to do.
Ou'd still go like garden or learn to paint like you, wouldn't just lay around and smoke opium all day or anything like that. Most of US wouldn't right.
So I think there is like a lot of value to work, but the I forgot what started this off? What did you say when I was saying there would need to be a sea change of the fol right right government is giving handouts to people right right and that that the value of work was divorced from the right to live life wealthy or cared bfor that it would. It would require an enormous change, although there are programs in place right now that kind of kind of resemble this, and some some people say: Hey, there's tha thing called the earned income tax credit right that that, where it's basically Milton Friedman's, negative income tax thing - and you know Freeman, he was basically whone of the architects of neoliberalism yeah.
So this negative income, taxt Planhe, came up with kind of became the earned income tax, which is teearn income text credit, which is, if you're below a certain level of income.
Not only do you not have to pay tax, this tax credit actually pays. You back like you, get a check from the IRS, rather than vice versa, yeah, and then it fades out as you go.
You know you get further along the scale of wealth.
Until it's, you don't get anything and you're paying lots of taxes or that's when you got all this great loopholes right exactly. No! That's after that part, you know that's beyond like middle class, an upper class. That's that point one percent stuff right, so some people are saying forgete, this universal basic income. We've already got this earned income tax credit. Let's expand that, let's make it so more people are, are able to get it.
One of the big criticisms is that it incentivizes people to have children that they might not otherwise have do you think that true?
Well, yes, I think it is from what I from what I've seen the it is at the very least if you're talking in hypotheticals, like we were talking about the idealized version, yeah, it's at least as real. Is that so like there are people theyre like man?
Let's go have a few more kids to get those sweet, write offs.
Well, here's the thing! Let Me Putyo like this: If you're a family with three or more kids, your maximum earned income tax credits sixty three hundred and eighteen dollars, if you have zero kids, your maximum is five hundred and ten dollars.
Yeah, but right, kids are nothing but a money drain totally true, and so you remember that conservative, the conservative economist what was his name Charles, what Murray Yeah Charles Murray, he, but he pointed out that, under the current entitlement welfare system, there are programs where you get additional benefits, if you have kids sure which theoretically it can incentivize somebody to have a kid that they might not otherwise have right.
One of the things that he said. This is a great thing about universal basic income. Is it does away with those entitlement program EA and replaces IT WITH THAT MONEY? And now, all of a sudden, your disancentovized to have a kid you wouldn't otherwise have? Because all you have is that ten grant? And you can keep it all yourself or you can have a kid and have to support your kid with that ten gran, because nobody else is going to help. You support the kid right: There's no benefits, you don't get ten grand pus to grand for having a kid right. You get ten grand, no matter you if you have zero kids or ten kids right yeah, so on the in that sense, it kind of disincentivizes people from having kids where they otherwise wouldn't. But - and this is why some GOP people love it like that whole focus on the family thing, although the GOP doesn't have the market cornered on families, that's not what I mean to say, but there is a bit of a focus on like traditional families and family values. Sure - and this is, I think who he was kind of speaking to was.
If you are a a couple and you pull your tenhsan dollar together a year, you've got twenty thusnd dollar, but you're also just having to pay rent once pay. For you know, maybe a car, maybe two groceries for the whole house, like like there's an economy of scale, to building a family, and so now it makes sense to have kids more than it does just by yourself in that ten grand. You know what I'm saying yeah, but I tell you what, if you want to save all your money, don't have kids or pets right right, that's just basic economy. Oneo one yeah keep all that sweet Dogh for yourself, yeah, exactly I'm curious to know. If, like you were asking, if that's like, if that actually does happen in real life and o what degree I don't know man, I just have a hard time, believing that there's that much like planning af like well. Let me think here if I have three kids, I could get back all this taxt money and they would cost me this much and here's what the difference would be.
So I'm coming out ahead by like a thousand dollars a year right and even if there are people doing that, like what proportion of the general population o the represent, and is it really enough to prevent you know taking risks that could have huge payoffs like something like a universal basic income just because a few people are going to do it wrong.
You know I would for me the answers. No, but I'm not fully sold on e universal basic income now right, I'm not either, and I'm also for someone who just said keep all that sweet money for yourself. This is coming from someone who has four pets and an adopted child right. It's true, so I'm the biggest chump in the history of chumps and it will and also, if we're getting all like. You know self perspective and all that stuff. We should probably say it's a lot easier for us to be like.
We don't need that universal base ganecome now, because you and I don't necessarily need it, but there are plenty of people who really do need it. Oh sure put it to give you. So maybe we should just keep our fat mouth shut. Well. I would like to think that if this kind of thing came along, I can pay my bills and I would donate that money.
You go just starting out chuck already to shock what a great guy yea. You know you got anything else. What I feel guilty about is not doting it enough time.
Oh Yeah, you know because, like donatin money is great but feed on the ground volunteer work is, is very value. Valuable and valued, and the best thing you can possibly do is walk around volunteering and throwing money.
Yes, hossing it just like Hey, I'm here to clean up the dog kennels and here's a wat of cash exactly, but you have to do it like te Nero like you know, you shake somebody's hand and all of a sudden yea got like that happen right and where, as suit whil you'e cleaning up the dog kennl man, I wish I was cool enough to palm a fifty dollar bill without noticing.
All it takes is practice it's right.
Okay! Well, if you ant know more about universal basic income, just move to Silicon Valley and start talking to people.
Although I am curious, if it's not hot any longer, what's the new thing, let me know Sillicon Valley, okay, let us know - and since I said, let us know Sillicom Valley, it's time for listener mail.
I'm GONTA call this from a listener. I met in person. Recently, I've been doing. As you know, a little bit of alumnus work with the University of Georgia doing some t little speaking thing, the other night nice. How did it go? They went great. You know. Thet went really really great. I had a lot of fun and I was able to speak to about seventy five semi recent graduates about podcasting, that's awesome and everyone was super cool. There were a lot of a lot of stuff. You should know people in the audience that were just delighted to get in a small room atd a whiskey distillery.
Oh that's a great place for it. Big Shout out to the ASW distillery, another alumnus nice make they make some good stuff.
You know what' something you'll get a kick out of what is during the QNA. One of the first questions they said was: what was your reaction when you were first asked to come back and talk to the university students and stuff like that right - and I said my first reaction honestly - was what took you so long.
IIS been waiting for years for Uga to you know, show me a little love.
Stick it to him chuck they laughe, they thought it was funny.
You put him on the spot.
I did I like it, but this was from Greg Bell and I met Greg afterward and he told me a great story and I was like you know at send that n email, aand I'll read it so he said: Hey druck had the great pleasure of meeting you at the young alumni vent about ten years ago. I was about six months away from graduating high school and had big plans to become a long hall truck driver stumbled across your podcast. While looking for things to listen to on the road and was hooked, your show was incredible to me because I didn't think I liked learning, but every Tuesday and Thursday morning I found myself refreshing my podcast speed just to see what you guys would be talking about over the next few months back then, I came to realize that I loved learning and I love telling other people about the things I was learning from me. Both talked about you so much that I got my dad and my wife to both start listening and now we have conversations every time we're together about what episodes we've been listening to.
We love this stuff when hea families ill eat this up all day, yeah man, family that listens to stuff. You should know together what Thi sarprarely argue sure I think that's the same, you were both a major factor in me, ultimately making a decision to stay in school and get my Undergrad degree in history.
Today. I am an educator at an art museum in North Georgia, and I seriously can't imagine how much different my life would be if I hadn't found stuff he should know when I did.
Thank you both so much for the work that you do in the impact you have on. So many people around the world, if you ever find yourselves in Cartersville, would like a tour AF, the booth, Western Art Museum. Oh that's a good one.
I would be more than happy to make that happen, and that is from Greg Bell and I met Greg and his wife and they were just great super. Super Cool Greg Bell is one of the most Uga names I've ever heard in my life, you think, aside from maybe Tucker Carlson, and I don't think he went to Uga, but that's a that's. A different side of Uja Greg Bell is like straight ahead: Ouga name, I like Greg Bell Freshman.
I think I might take them up on that that museum, tour yever. That's you love your museums. I do. I do just got to make it of the car as bell. That's the downside.
How thet be great well if you want to get in touch with thus like Greg, did apparently show up at Chuck speaking gigs at Whisky distilleries yeah, there's some more those coming up. If you're ujalumnus pay attention, that's awesome chuck seriously pay attention, everybody and if you are not a Uga elumnus or you can't make it out to one of these things, you can also get in touch with this via email wrap your email up, spank it on the bottom and sen it off to stuff podcast. But I heart radiocom Stuff You Should Know - is production of iheart radios. howsstuff works for more podcast to my heart, radio ecause it thei hat radio, AP Apple, podcast Ow, wherever you listen to your favorite, shows