Dignity: A UBI Prequal

I love Marvel Movies. Superhero movies in general but Marvel has always been really close to my heart. Any fan of Marvel movies knows the thrill of exercising patience as the credits roll. With such a treat as a reward the waiting is worth it, but it is a wait. 1000’s of people contribute to blockbuster movies being produced. Behind the scene players crucial for the final product. This got me thinking.

I go more in depth on my thoughts on Universal Basic Income (UBI) in my someday to be be released book that I am unable to stop tinkering with and just release for the love of all that is sacred!!

Two things I want to write out just to prime the conversation I hope it will inspire are my most precise definition of UBI, and a hypothetical example of how it may ultimately be a bipartisan accomplishment.

When I use the term UBI I am referring to any plan across the spectrum of possibility in which there is a safety net preventing people from falling below a reasonable level.

Andrew Yang (https://www.yang2020.com/policies/the-freedom-dividend/) lays out a plan called the freedom dividend in which a value added tax (https://www.investopedia.com/terms/v/valueaddedtax.asp) funds a social distribution to each adult citizen of $12,000 per year distributed monthly. This is a solid example of UBI.

I would also consider rounding all sales on american products up to the dollar during sales and distributing the change towards a social safety net.

As long as the plan was attempting to raise the floor value on being an America or in America I support it.

My example of how the goal of UBI may manifest in America is based off three assumptions:

1. It is inevitable eventually.

As long as the world doesn’t meet a Mad Max style end we will eventually reach a point where extreme poverty has diminished. Steven Pinker and others have put together great books detailing how extreme poverty is in decline and that quality of life is by and large on the rise. That means we are doing something to move the dial. Simply maintaining that would eventually get us there. It is simply a matter of when, because any discussion of “if” it will happen is a discussion of wealthy people no longer being wealthy. Both sides of the political isle are pretty intolerant of becoming poorer.

2. The robots are not going to take all the jobs, but they absolutely will accelerate the pace that jobs change.

Employment has never been static. Jobs have always changed, become more technical, or just disappeared altogether. I have witnessed the rapid changes through a corporate environment. Things change faster and faster. Supporting tools get better and better. Systems change and require constant learning, unlearning, and relearning. I’m sure plenty of people reading this (bold of me to assume plenty of people WILL read this but I digress) may have experienced this firsthand. The good news is, that much like the massive supporting cast that it takes to bring my beloved Marvel movies to life, new technology will always need plenty of behind the scene contributors. Play this scenario out long enough and again you land at a place where the automated jobs create enough value to fund a UBI program.

*speaking of building your skill set for rapid learning and increased productivity, preales for my book The Metacognition Method will begin soon. A high performance work out plan for your mind. Flex that brain muscle and sharpen the skills that are going to have the most value in today’s rapidly changing environment. 

-END SHAMELESS PLUG

3. Data supports it. 

The next ten years is going to see a massive transition in how we make our decisions. Artificial Intelligence is an ambiguous term that unfortunately launches a lot of people out of the rational realm. The first massive impact AI is going to have will be a result of an ability AI currently has, not the one where they become like us or possibly something profoundly superior and at best we become some type of house pet they train for their amusement or even worse that they develop an indifferent interest in who the single most superior human is and force the entire planet fight to the death to see who truly is the worthy one among us be welcomed into digital paradise. Just to be clear.

Currently AI is improving at pattern recognition, and harvesting data for better and better insight. Humanity may no longer have to suffer from the trial and error process of making uninformed decisions. Recently systems have shown an ability to win at games. AI won Jeopardy against former champions 9 years ago! There has been examples of AI being a game changer for medical diagnoses. How long until we have a system that can calculate the best way to give everyone enough to survive with a reasonable level of dignity.

BONUS 4. 

Everyone deserves to be able to live with dignity.

The most painful thing about failure are the indignities that come with it. Be grateful if you have never experienced it but simply not having enough money carries with it an endless assault of indignities. On top of an empty menu of choices, options, and opportunities, every attempt to move up runs the risk of being shot down simply because of what you don’t have. The applications for help are basically being forced to paint a self portrait of how poor you are and how desperately you need it. An efficient redistribution of wasted money being allocated to a program that reduces desperation and increases opportunity for everyone is a reasonable goal, especially for the wealthiest nation in the world.

Once there is clean quality data driving the decisions we are making I believe that both sides will have no choice but to come together.

There is no question that minimizing desperation decreases desperate acts. Compare crime rates between areas where people are comfortable vs. where they are desperate. This comparison applies to crime and overdoses as well. Health and wellness are better. Education has higher positive outcomes.

These outcomes will allow for more fiscally conservative policies and improved productivity.

Data could be the secret sauce that finally beings everyone together. Informed decisions made by informed decision makers could be the first gift AI gives us. Hopefully it wont take that long before we start considering EVERY human valuable.

 

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