Citizen's Wage

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby reval » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:25 pm UTC

Competitive motivation is the engine of capitalism, true. Though it's not quite true that state socialism lacked an engine. The competitive motives went into behavior other than productive economic activity, but the command economy did stagger on for a while. Competition is not the only game in town.

In fact, it is a fatal mistake to reduce human motivation to the competitive motive only. If that's all we are, then it reduces all solutions to social darwinism. That's fine for plants and animals, but it's not fine for people.

It is argued elsewhere (https://peermorgan.wordpress.com/a-person-in-trouble/) that big brains bring along their own set of motives, and that competing with people actually interferes with the more important talking to people; and that it is the talking and open discussion that leads to new tools and useful economic progress.

I'm sorry, I have not read all twenty pages of replies, but has anyone mentioned Karl Polanyi's book "The Great Transformation" yet? It documents in great detail how the developing capitalist markets forced changes on everyone's way of life in the early decades of the 1800's. People worked for themselves or for their feudal lord, and then suddenly they were working for a wage, or else starving. The system was extended to the rest of the world through free trade and colonialism. It was economically productive, but also socially and environmentally destructive. From the 1860's through World War I the European countries developed regulations and social protections to limit the damage, although they were never able to fully control the markets. Polanyi argued that governments created markets, and could control them for the good of society.

The point is that a person's motive "I'm going to work today in order to maximize my personal utility" economic logic is a fairly recent construct (okay, 200 years old), and can be changed again.

Maybe we can get to: "I'm going to work today to maximize my personal autonomy, despite the fact that I already have a citizen's wage and single-payer national health care."

That would be a fundamental change in a person's motivation. To get there, you really have to challenge the "competition is good" idea. But we've seen changes like this before. It can be done.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby jseah » Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:40 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Actually, no, the for profit company simply does not exist in a socialist society. What you seem to be thinking is that competition is inherently binary - you either succeed or you fail. But established brand has the advantage. If your market isn't buying, focus on a different market. As for R&D, that is completely irrelevant - cooperatives can spend on R&D too.

Sorry, did you mean that for-profit companies are outlawed? And what prevents someone outside the country simply importing cheaper competing goods?

Also established brands change all the time. Especially if one is being undercut. In the end, cost-effectiveness to the consumer is one of the major determining points of a product. (see next point)
As for R&D, for-profit companies pay workers less and can spend more on R&D. Assuming similar sale price of product and cost of raw materials (meaning equal tech).

EDIT: also worker cooperatives are just another way to run a company, which ends up looking very similar to the current economy anyway.

Thesh wrote:Exactly! They spend their money on new stuff, and create new jobs for the people that lost theirs due to productivity gains and reduced market shares. The result is that wages go up, people can spend more. Capitalism is inherently self-destructive, on the other hand. Wages get cut, consumer spending goes down, demand goes down, factories lay off, move overseas, and you have a recession that doesn't end until the economy bottoms out. This happens on a regular basis because business sees the worker as nothing more than an expense. There's no reason corporations want it to change either, because it results in a lower demand for labor which gives corporations more power and lowers wages (the greater the economy fails in the short run, the greater the wealthy succeed in the long run).

I don't think the wealthy succeed in a recession... Companies lose value, they go bankrupt, property prices crash. That sounds like a whole lot of rich people losing their investments. Maybe they aren't as bad as the less rich who lose savings, but I wouldn't say the majority actually benefit.

Also, the point here is that just because people's incomes rise, they won't spend that increase on getting better (and more expensive) versions of whatever they were previously buying. If their needs are fulfilled by what they had previously, they'll go spend money on something else that they might have wanted before but not anymore. Expensive stuff means you don't get to spend your money elsewhere, this is true regardless of how much you actually earn unless you completely run out of stuff you want to get and have nothing else to spend money on.

So you can't rely on higher incomes allowing you to sell higher quality more expensive stuff. It's called a race to the bottom because market pressure is always to provide the best quality that can be gotten for the lowest cost, not the other way around.

Even a market of all worker cooperatives still have to compete against each other.

Thesh wrote:No one is saying not to produce the goods, but there is diminishing returns on spending - that is, each dollar spent provides less satisfaction than the less, and lowering inequality means your ratio of outcomes to input is significantly higher. As long as people have money, they will spend it on the things that matter to them and this means that the more equal the distribution of income, the more efficient the economy is in delivering improved outcomes. In fact, we have the capability to give most people more while working less.

There are tons and tons of problems with capitalism. Besides self-destructive incentives, the profit model makes the goal accumulation of capital - look at the cell phone industry; it's not monopolistic, yet the phones being produced take all the control away from the users. This is because the people running things are looking for how to make the most profitable product, not how to make the best product. So the end result is we get a product that's worse in every way, but at least it's more expensive for us to use.

There's also positives to capitalism. Concentration of investment power allows large projects that smaller actors have to cooperate on (there's a cost to coordination); eg. oil rigs, steel foundries, datacenters? This also applies to large research projects like drug trials.

The stock market, loans and other financial instruments allow good ideas / tech to rapidly spread, rather than relying only on capital gained via profits of a sale. (eg. someone makes a new widget everyone wants but doesn't have the capital to meet demand; a financial system allows them to expand very rapidly; the other side is also an advantage, companies that are no longer in demand or less efficient are rapidly taken out of the market)

Provided the market mechanism is working (ie. properly regulated), the profitable product is the one that is a balance between the features and the cost. This means that certain tradeoffs are made, the best product that can be made is almost certainly not the most cost efficient.

You mention the cellphone industry. What I know of America's situation (given I'm not in the US), the problem is a corruption/abuse of government to increase barrier to entry. Like I mentioned previously, it's a regulatory capture issue. A political issue, not an economic one.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:50 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Yep. It can't be structural. Rich people are just smarter and better to everyone else, and that's why we are doomed to being subservient for life - just accept your position as a slave because you are too lazy, stupid, and poor to do anything for yourself.


It's not that. It's that you tend to get outta life what you pursue. Thus, people in power are very often those who pursue power, and people with money are very often those who pursue money.

Yes, motives vary, but regardless of the system, you'll have some people who want power and money. And they'll likely get it. The question is mostly of how restricted those people are, either via regulation, or via incentives for power/money seeking behavior to be mostly productive.

Redirecting greed into mostly productive channels is good, when we can pull it off. Better to have the power hungry trying to figure out how to build something everyone wants than to be stockpiling arms and conquering. And cooperation *is* difficult. Humanity generally has to work to cooperate. It's a valuable thing, sure, but it's not something that just happens, regardless of circumstance. If it did, we'd not be discussing this in the first place, because cooperatives would have outcompeted corporations.

Honestly, if a CW is really just communism with a different name slapped on it, it has to contend with the historical facts that the assumptions communism was based on do not always work out well in practice. Literally nothing stops you from making a cooperative in the western world, legally speaking. It's just that traditional corporate models seem to win the competition over cooperative models in practice.

So, to win, you must legally ban them. This indicates that you are deliberately selecting against superior models. If you honestly believed that the capitalist lifestyle was self destructive, then you'd expect it to have, yknow, self destructed. And it hasn't.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:24 pm UTC

jseah wrote:Sorry, did you mean that for-profit companies are outlawed? And what prevents someone outside the country simply importing cheaper competing goods?


Account balances. Our money is only good if they can use it to buy our stuff, especially if they can't invest in our economy for more than just compensation for inflation


jseah wrote:EDIT: also worker cooperatives are just another way to run a company, which ends up looking very similar to the current economy anyway.


That's exactly my point. It's very similar, except for the incentives are inherently about what's best for the workers (I'll continue this point below)

jseah wrote:I don't think the wealthy succeed in a recession...


Yes, they do by definition. If their goal was consumption, you would be right, but their goal is wealth, and wealth is real assets not just money. That is, land might lose value during a recession, but it's the same utility the same control. When a middle class person loses their house, all of their wealth is wiped out. Those are foreclosed on, and sold for cheap to those who still have money. The problem is that "value" when it comes to capital doesn't represent the economy itself, just how much value you can extract from the economy and how valuable it is depends on whether or not there are other places to put your money. Value is dependent on net profits, not gross profits - the latter is a real representation of something in our economy (economic output) and the former is just a representation of how much you are extracting from the workers. Focusing on gross profits is inherently better for the workers, and it makes the incentives for business mirror our incentives for society (focus on increasing output, not increasing wealth extraction).

Thesh wrote:Exactly! They spend their money on new stuff, and create new jobs for the people that lost theirs due to productivity gains and reduced market shares. The result is that wages go up, people can spend more. Capitalism is inherently self-destructive, on the other hand. Wages get cut, consumer spending goes down, demand goes down, factories lay off, move overseas, and you have a recession that doesn't end until the economy bottoms out. This happens on a regular basis because business sees the worker as nothing more than an expense. There's no reason corporations want it to change either, because it results in a lower demand for labor which gives corporations more power and lowers wages (the greater the economy fails in the short run, the greater the wealthy succeed in the long run).

I don't think the wealthy succeed in a recession... Companies lose value, they go bankrupt, property prices crash. That sounds like a whole lot of rich people losing their investments. Maybe they aren't as bad as the less rich who lose savings, but I wouldn't say the majority actually benefit.


Thesh wrote:The stock market, loans and other financial instruments allow good ideas / tech to rapidly spread, rather than relying only on capital gained via profits of a sale. (eg. someone makes a new widget everyone wants but doesn't have the capital to meet demand; a financial system allows them to expand very rapidly; the other side is also an advantage, companies that are no longer in demand or less efficient are rapidly taken out of the market)


Wait a second, I would never allow the profits from a sale to be stolen from the workers. All investment in a market socialist economy would be done in the form of debt or direct contributions from members, and the availability of capital/financing does not change in that case. Now, I do grant you that capitalism can move money more rapidly, but that's a double edged sword and it's the reason the 2008 recessions was so bad - because investments stopped completely, layoffs were rapid. The scramble to return to positive net profits, led to significantly more layoffs and off-shored jobs, and the economic cost was huge. The more concentrated wealth, the more ability they have to exploit the economy for their own purposes.

As for phones, yes, part of the problem is the mess of patents - which is, of course, the capitalization of ideas.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby sardia » Tue Jan 24, 2017 8:56 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
So, to win, you must legally ban them. This indicates that you are deliberately selecting against superior models. If you honestly believed that the capitalist lifestyle was self destructive, then you'd expect it to have, yknow, self destructed. And it hasn't.

What do call the great depression, the great recession, etc etc. There's a lot of times where it rivals communism in misery.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby ucim » Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:32 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:As for phones, yes, part of the problem is the mess of patents - which is, of course, the capitalization of ideas.
What's wrong with "the capitalizatio of ideas"? Ideas are the output of (brain) workers, and belong to the (brain) workers. "Belong" means they can do what they want with them, including enter into contracts.

Why are you ok with robbing from labor when it's brainpower, but not when it's musclepower?

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:50 pm UTC

It's far less productive than the socialization of ideas.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby ucim » Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:43 am UTC

Thesh wrote:It's far less productive than the socialization of ideas.
Maybe in the short term, but I don't think this is true in the long term. Why shouldn't musclepower be robbed from workers too? If you build something for your children, why shouldn't the state take it from you so that other children can enjoy it instead? And yes, I get that if you take an idea, the originator still has that idea; it's not "destroyed", but its potential to help feed the thinker and their children is destroyed.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:54 am UTC

ucim wrote:
Thesh wrote:It's far less productive than the socialization of ideas.
Maybe in the short term, but I don't think this is true in the long term.


Well, you view every single possible thing in life through the lens of capitalism, so of course you don't think it can possibly be true.

ucim wrote:Why shouldn't musclepower be robbed from workers too?


That's a completely idiotic argument. Workers already get paid for the stuff they make with their hands. People who make software already get paid for the stuff they code. People who design cars get paid for the stuff they build. All of those have new inventions and ideas in them, much of it unique, but we don't patent it because the thought doesn't even naturally occur to most people. Not having a monopoly doesn't stop anyone from innovating except capitalists.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby ucim » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:11 am UTC

Thesh wrote:Well, you view every single possible thing in life through the lens of capitalism, so of course you don't think it can possibly be true.
No, actually that's not what I do. I could equally well say that you view everything through the lens of socialism, so you can't possibly see the value or the concept of private property. But that again is ad hominum, and unworthy of either of us or of the forum. So lets stick to discussing the ideas, and not how idiotic each of us is.

I am well aware of the amount of stuff people do for free. Linux comes to mind, as does amateur theater, food banks, and neighborhood watch. There are many others; no need to list them. But that's not the point. The point is that these people choose to do so, and society does ot collapse if they choose not to. But in a socialist system, these choices are no longer freely made, except in theory. Society does break down when the jobs that need to be done don't match up with the jobs that people freely give of themselves to do. Incentives are needed. In a community, the relationships provide much of the incentive, but in an anonymous society those relationships don't exist. People trade, money is useful to facilitate trade, and it can therefore be accumulated. Preventing this robs the worker of the incentive that helped them decide to provide the good or service in the first place.

I don't see why thought is any different from muscle here.

Thesh wrote:Workers already get paid for the stuff they make with their hands. People who make software already get paid for the stuff they code....
This is only true for employees. An employee who invents something for the company gets paid by the company and the invention belongs to the company. But a private citizen who invents something doesn't get paid by anybody. She just created something out of pure thought and it belongs to her. Why should those ideas be robbed from her? They are the product of all of her experience, all her subconscious thought, and perhaps quite a bit of conscious thought.

Sure, they are also the product of her innate abilities, but this is true of all workers, skilled or unskilled. And yes, an argument could be made that it's not fair that some people are born stronger, smarter, taller, faster, prettier, or whateverer, or are born into a better life situation. But this is not the argument you seem to be making, especially in response to my question.

If I invent a better way to pick apples, and thus save apple pickers from lots of hard work, how should I be rewarded? Not at all, by "socializing" my idea? Through some government committee that probably knows nothing about apples and is probably worried that apple pickers will be put out of work? Through the marketplace (where apple pickers can buy or license my invention)?

I don't have "the answer", but railing against the idea of patents is probably not it. Sure, the patent system has been (and continues to be) abused, but that's an implementation problem, not a fundamental problem with the idea of patents. I'd venture that the problems with the patent system boil down to:

1: Mismatches between the term of a patent and its usefulness

2: Mismatches between the things that were thought of as "inventions" when the system was started, and the things that are now being invented (genes, algorithms, numbers)

3: Overlap between inventions, ideas, and expression-of-an-ideas (patents and copyrights)

4: Unclarity as to what constitutes a "new" invention, allowing minor modifications to a patent to qualify for an entirely new patent.

5: The population explosion, which makes mass marketing immensely more lucrative than it was at the start.

6: Commercial interests. Well, whenever there is reward involved, people will want more. This is what drives capitalism to begin with. We already agree that it leads to bad things when unrestrained.

However, these are not an indictment on the very idea of patents as a way to encourage and reward innovation (and, incidentally, to help prevent commercial interests from profiting unfairly from somebody else's invention just because they don't have the resources to fight it.

So yeah, I'd say that the (unwilling) socialization of ideas is overall a bad thing.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:27 am UTC

ucim wrote:No, actually that's not what I do. I could equally well say that you view everything through the lens of socialism, so you can't possibly see the value or the concept of private property. But that again is ad hominum, and unworthy of either of us or of the forum. So lets stick to discussing the ideas, and not how idiotic each of us is


Bullshit. As proof:

ucim wrote:I am well aware of the amount of stuff people do for free. Linux comes to mind, as does amateur theater, food banks, and neighborhood watch. There are many others; no need to list them. But that's not the point. The point is that these people choose to do so, and society does ot collapse if they choose not to. But in a socialist system, these choices are no longer freely made, except in theory. Society does break down when the jobs that need to be done don't match up with the jobs that people freely give of themselves to do. Incentives are needed. In a community, the relationships provide much of the incentive, but in an anonymous society those relationships don't exist. People trade, money is useful to facilitate trade, and it can therefore be accumulated. Preventing this robs the worker of the incentive that helped them decide to provide the good or service in the first place.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby ucim » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:12 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Bullshit. As proof:
How is this proof?

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:25 pm UTC

It's complete nonsense from someone who hasn't bothered to learn what "socialism" means.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby ucim » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:10 pm UTC

As I understand it, socialism is the system in which private ownership of the means of production is discouraged or prohibited, in favor of it being owned by some central controlling authority, be it (broadly) governmental or (narrowly) cooperative. It is often (but not necessarily) coupled with high taxes on private income, which pay for broad governmental services covering the basic needs of the citizens. The philosophy is that labor should reap the rewards as opposed to management doing so. This is in contrast to communism and capitalism, but for different reasons.

Do I have it wrong?

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:24 pm UTC

ucim wrote: in favor of it being owned by some central controlling authority
....
Do I have it wrong?


Yes.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby ucim » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:39 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
ucim wrote: in favor of it being owned by some central controlling authority
....
Do I have it wrong?

Yes.
So then, what's right?

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:42 pm UTC

Social ownership of the means of production. Everything else is irrelevant or an invention to fit your narrative.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby ucim » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:35 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Social ownership of the means of production. Everything else is irrelevant or an invention to fit your narrative.
Social ownership comes in many forms, one of them governmental (a broad scale of "social") and another is cooperative (a smaller scale version of "social"). I mentioned both. Your workers' cooperative car factory is an example of the latter.

The rest is far from irrelevant or invention; it is a consequnce of social ownership of the means of production. It denies workers the fruits of their own labor - at least those fruits that result in new means of production. If I build or invent something that can be used as a means of production or a significant improvement thereof, and did it on my own, claiming it as "owned by society" denies me the fruits of my labor, and the ability to choose what I want to do with it.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:48 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Thesh wrote:Social ownership of the means of production. Everything else is irrelevant or an invention to fit your narrative.
Social ownership comes in many forms, one of them governmental (a broad scale of "social") and another is cooperative (a smaller scale version of "social"). I mentioned both. Your workers' cooperative car factory is an example of the latter.


So you are being intentionally obtuse about your understanding of socialism?

ucim wrote:The rest is far from irrelevant or invention; it is a consequnce of social ownership of the means of production. It denies workers the fruits of their own labor - at least those fruits that result in new means of production. If I build or invent something that can be used as a means of production or a significant improvement thereof, and did it on my own, claiming it as "owned by society" denies me the fruits of my labor, and the ability to choose what I want to do with it.

Jose


No, this is all complete and utter bullshit, fabricated purely to justify capitalism.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Chen » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:56 pm UTC

Do you have any arguments or citations that refute these points which are you calling bullshit? All I'm seeing as you call them "fabrications of capitalism" and leaving it at that. That's not terribly helpful in understanding the point you're trying to make.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:24 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Do you have any arguments or citations that refute these points which are you calling bullshit? All I'm seeing as you call them "fabrications of capitalism" and leaving it at that. That's not terribly helpful in understanding the point you're trying to make.


I could, but ucim isn't arguing in good faith. He just doesn't care about understanding the socialist point of view. However, if you want to know:

If I build or invent something that can be used as a means of production or a significant improvement thereof, and did it on my own, claiming it as "owned by society" denies me the fruits of my labor, and the ability to choose what I want to do with it.


Ideas can be reached independently - in this system, the person who is first has a monopoly on it. Why should the second person be denied the income? Where did they get their ideas, their education? From society. So why should they have a monopoly over it? It's nonsensical. Besides, if this was really an objective, moral absolutist condemnation of the lack of patents, and not an after-the-fact justification then they wouldn't be arguing for fixed-length patents for long enough to ensure it's worth it to make a profit, but not so long that it blocks innovation; instead they would be advocating for no patents or permanent patents - the latter being an absurd concept that would crush innovation.

And the reason I called them intentionally obtuse was because I described a system in which there is no real difference between a cooperative and a corporation that is owned equally by all employees, and he understand that's a thing, and calls it "owned by a central authority" - it's disingenuous, and it doesn't deserve a long reply.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby ucim » Fri Jan 27, 2017 6:19 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:I could, but ucim isn't arguing in good faith. He just doesn't care about understanding the socialist point of view.
The equivalent could be said of Thesh, but this is not the forum for name calling.

Thesh wrote:So you are being intentionally obtuse about your understanding of socialism?
No, but I am not writing a wikipedia article about it either. The point of socialism isn't that social ownership of the means of production is permitted. It is that private ownership of the means of production is prohibited, or at least significantly inhibited. It is a big restriction on a person's ability to enjoy the fruits of their own labor.

Thesh wrote:
ucim wrote:If I build or invent something that can be used as a means of production...
Ideas can be reached independently - in this system, the person who is first has a monopoly on it. Why should the second person be denied the income? Where did they get their ideas, their education? From society. So why should they have a monopoly over it? It's nonsensical.
I don't know about you, but I did not get my education or my ideas "from society". I paid for them with my own (and before, my parents') money, and my own hard work. Yes, I live in society and it helps shape my thinking as I help shape society itself. And society already exacts its part of the fruits of my labor in the form of taxes. I'm not opposed to taxation (with representation). But to say that society is owed complete ownership of my ideas and inventions is nonsensical*.

Thesh wrote:I described a system in which there is no real difference between a cooperative and a corporation that is owned equally by all employees, and he understand that's a thing, and calls it "owned by a central authority" - it's disingenuous, and it doesn't deserve a long reply.
If a lathe is one of the means of production in this cooperative car manufacturer, and (being a cooperative) this lathe is "owned" by "everyone in it", that does not mean that anybody in the cooperative can walk up to it and use it to machine a part to fix their bathroom sink. There will be some central authority that decides who uses the lathe, when, and for what, or this company will surely sink. It doesn't matter whether this is "the big boss" that had been duly elected at a meeting of all the cooperative owners, or whether there is a meeting of all involved to make this decision, the lathe is not "up for grabs". This is what I mean by "owned by a central authority" and I thought this was clear. Perhaps "controlled" would have been a better word, but the end result is the same.

Now, if I invent a better lathe (or even just build an ordinary lathe myself), build it in my own garage, and use that to fashion a part to fix my bathroom sink, who owns this lathe and gets to decide who uses it?

If it is me, then this is not a socialist system, as I am permitted to own the means of production, irrespective of the existence of a cooperative car maker.

If it is "society", then that is where we part company.

But we are straying from the CW - an idea that is not technically socialist (not concerned with means of production) and not technically communist (it is "to each irrespective of their needs"), and it is not technically captialist (in fact, it has nothing to do with capital and is payment not for goods or services). I don't know what -ist you want to call it, but it certainly has the feel of the fundamental driving force of socialism (society above individuals). Not that the name we use matters much except for clarity in communication.

*Nyah nyah nyah. More seriously, neither your nor my point is "nonsensical", it is just antithetical to one's POV. Using the word "nonsensical" to express this does not rise to the level of Serious Business.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:07 pm UTC

ucim wrote:I don't know about you, but I did not get my education or my ideas "from society". I paid for them with my own (and before, my parents') money, and my own hard work.


Please show that every single person down the supply chain received their education and paid for it with their own hard work, and that everyone was properly compensated for that hard work to the beginning of time, and that the costs are completely balanced and I will believe you when you say you paid for it with your money.

ucim wrote:
Thesh wrote:I described a system in which there is no real difference between a cooperative and a corporation that is owned equally by all employees, and he understand that's a thing, and calls it "owned by a central authority" - it's disingenuous, and it doesn't deserve a long reply.
If a lathe is one of the means of production in this cooperative car manufacturer, and (being a cooperative) this lathe is "owned" by "everyone in it", that does not mean that anybody in the cooperative can walk up to it and use it to machine a part to fix their bathroom sink. There will be some central authority that decides who uses the lathe, when, and for what, or this company will surely sink. It doesn't matter whether this is "the big boss" that had been duly elected at a meeting of all the cooperative owners, or whether there is a meeting of all involved to make this decision, the lathe is not "up for grabs". This is what I mean by "owned by a central authority" and I thought this was clear. Perhaps "controlled" would have been a better word, but the end result is the same.


Thank you for making my point.

EDIT: To clarify, literally, in your definition "central authority" is a completely meaningless term. I could say "capitalism is a system in which the means of production is owned and controlled by a plutocratic central authority" is the definition of capitalism using your language.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:46 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Social ownership of the means of production. Everything else is irrelevant or an invention to fit your narrative.


Lots of people don't want to own the means of production. They would rather put dollars earned into improving their personal lifestyle than into, say, factory equipment. This isn't inherently a right or wrong desire, it just is.

Under capitalism, you can totally own the means of production, if that's what you want to buy. In fact, people who choose this are often well rewarded. You're simply not forced to do so.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:00 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Thesh wrote:Social ownership of the means of production. Everything else is irrelevant or an invention to fit your narrative.


Lots of people don't want to own the means of production. They would rather put dollars earned into improving their personal lifestyle than into, say, factory equipment. This isn't inherently a right or wrong desire, it just is.


And I have no clue what your point even is here? How does anything change? You get paid, you put your money in a bank, it gets loaned out and invested. You work for a company, you get a voting share which you can choose to ignore. Thus, there is no conflict. The only difference is that the average person has more savings; but those savings are insured and available to withdraw if they want to just like any bank in any capitalist system. The workers do not have any obligation to invest their money; they get paid their wages, and they can do whatever they want with it.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Trebla » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:23 pm UTC

I know this is going back a page or so and doesn't deal with the socialism vs capitalism discussion recently dominating this thread...

But I saw this article today that highlights some of the same things we did in the previous couple pages also drawing a direct correlation between the potential shift in the truck driving industry over the next decade and the need (as one part of a solution) for a guaranteed minimum income. It's basically just an opinion article, but does provide some concrete examples of the transition (e.g., Otto's truck driving capability).

Wasn't sure if this would have been better in the "First Tesla Autopilot Death" thread, but I think relating automation to the CW discussion is an important part of the topic even though that's not the only focus

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby elasto » Sun Feb 19, 2017 1:05 pm UTC


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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby SDK » Wed Feb 22, 2017 5:06 pm UTC

One of the concerns mentioned in that article (from the perspective of the left) is that implementation of a universal basic income could undercut the need for a minimum wage or good working conditions. Why is that a concern? If someone is working for pennies an hour in terrible conditions, the citizen's wage should give them enough stability to seek new employment. Right? Am I missing something here that makes us still require a minimum wage?
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Diemo » Wed Feb 22, 2017 5:22 pm UTC

Seems like you shouldn't need a minimum wage, but for that to be true the citizens wage would need to be enough to actually live on.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby elasto » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:48 pm UTC

Diemo wrote:Seems like you shouldn't need a minimum wage, but for that to be true the citizens wage would need to be enough to actually live on.

I think it will need to be anyhow: AI will eventually become better than us at the majority of jobs - probably within the lifetime of my children; It's a matter of when rather than if.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Thesh » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:10 pm UTC

Diemo wrote:Seems like you shouldn't need a minimum wage, but for that to be true the citizens wage would need to be enough to actually live on.


Depends on your goal; there are a lot more considerations than just "are people able to survive". If it's just enough for people to get by, yes, they would be doing better than they are now, but even then it might not be enough to fix the structural inequality in society.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Sizik » Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:08 pm UTC

Was just reading an article*, and came across this proposal for funding a basic income that I don't think I've seen before:
[Yanis Varoufakis] suggested one effective policy would be for 10 per cent of all future issue of shares to be put into a "common welfare fund" owned by the people. Out of this a "universal basic dividend" could be paid to every citizen.


Having a UBI funded by stock dividends would be an interesting alternative to funding it through taxes (assuming it would make enough money, I don't have enough knowledge of how the stock market works to feel comfortable trying to calculate what the approximate annual income per citizen would be). Rather than "punishing" individuals who make a lot of money by taking and redistributing it, instead the government gets its own share of the profits of the corporations, which in turn profits the citizens.

Even if it ends up generating equal (or less) revenue than taxes would, changing the point at which the government siphons money from the economy could drastically alter how "fair" the system is perceived.

Example: A bunch of people are being served cake at a party. The host is also hungry, and wants some cake. Which scenario seems fairer?
A. The host takes a bit of cake from everyone's plates.
B. The host gets their own slice of cake in the first place, reducing how much cake is available to everyone else.

This would also have the effect of the government having partial ownership over every public corporation, which could have both positive and negative ramifications, depending on your outlook. Some effects/outcomes/questions I can think of:
  • Corporations would have more accountability to the government to not harm citizens in the name of profit, if doing so would cause more harm to the citizens than value gained from the increase in UBI resulting from that profit.
  • Corporations whose political views don't align with the government's probably wouldn't want the government to have partial control over the company.
  • Who/what would decide what the government would vote for as a shareholder in the company? Elected representatives? Nationwide vote? Always abstain?
  • It could reduce the publicity of legal investigations in corporations, as public outcry would reduce stock price and therefore profits (assuming that's how it works).
  • Possibility of even more corruption with regards to corporate lobbying and appointing former corporate execs to government positions.

*Capitalism is ending because it has made itself obsolete, former Greek finance minister Yannis Varoufakis says
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:10 pm UTC

And if the company is headquartered offshore, how does the governmjent collect the 10%? If it's instead based on revenue, what's the difference between that and a VAT?

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby SDK » Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:20 pm UTC

“Firstly the technologies were funded by some government grant; secondly every time you search for something on Google, you contribute to Google’s capital,” he said. “And who gets the returns from capital? Google, not you.

“So now there is no doubt capital is being socially produced, and the returns are being privatised. This with artificial intelligence is going to be the end of capitalism.”

How is me searching for something on Google generating capital? Because their programs have one more data point to work with when figuring out what humans like to see?

That can't possibly count as "capital being socially produced" when Google went through a hell of a lot of more work to create that program in the first place. I'm getting a lot more utility than I'm giving back when I use a service like that. Facebook might have been a better example, but social media as an industry is a lot different than most. Car manufacturing will never be "socially produced" no matter how automated it gets.

Don't get me wrong; I'm for redistribution of wealth. This is just a terrible argument for why that needs to happen.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby cphite » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:59 pm UTC

SDK wrote:
“Firstly the technologies were funded by some government grant; secondly every time you search for something on Google, you contribute to Google’s capital,” he said. “And who gets the returns from capital? Google, not you.

“So now there is no doubt capital is being socially produced, and the returns are being privatised. This with artificial intelligence is going to be the end of capitalism.”

How is me searching for something on Google generating capital? Because their programs have one more data point to work with when figuring out what humans like to see?


Whenever you see results in a Google search with "Ad" to the left of the link, that is a paid advertisement - for example if you search for "Ford" the first four or five links will usually be Ford Corporation followed by local Ford dealerships. Google gets paid by those organizations to get those links created and displayed at the top of the result set. Furthermore, if you actually click one of those links, Google gets a tiny fee from that click-through. Google also gets paid by marketing companies for aggregate data - what people in your geographical region are searching for, as an example.

That can't possibly count as "capital being socially produced" when Google went through a hell of a lot of more work to create that program in the first place. I'm getting a lot more utility than I'm giving back when I use a service like that. Facebook might have been a better example, but social media as an industry is a lot different than most. Car manufacturing will never be "socially produced" no matter how automated it gets.


You aren't providing a service when you post on Facebook - you *are* the service. Facebook interprets what you post and what your friends post and presents advertisement that is geared towards what it determines that will be most effective based on your content; and companies pay them to do so. Facebook also compiles aggregate data and sells that to marketers. In both cases, part of the inherent value of the data is that it is not something you are paid to provide, and therefore - at least in theory - a more accurate reflection of what you care about, what you're interested in, and so forth.

Facebook offers you a platform on which to post social content; and you agree that said social content will be monetized by Facebook. Anyone who doesn't agree with those terms is free to not use Facebook. And as far as the whole "funded by government" argument goes, Facebook already pays the government (also known as society) back for the infrastructure they use, in the form of taxes.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:20 pm UTC

I've been suggesting a government-owned investment fund as not only a way to fund a basic income, but as a way to eventually supplant all taxes in general, for a long time now.

But you don't have to do anything as specific as requiring some specific percent of ownership of all public companies be given to the government or anything like that. You just use the existing source of government income that you're trying to supplant -- taxes -- to buy into stable, diversified investments, like index funds. Use the income from those investments to offset costs and so reduce taxes, gradually over time until the investment income covers all expenses (including a basic income) and you don't have to charge taxes at all anymore.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby SDK » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:32 pm UTC

cphite wrote:...

Yeah, I know how Google and Facebook make money. Does that mean their capital is "socially produced", as in, I should get a share of those earnings because I worked hard to post on Facebook/search on Google? I get the impression you agree that that argument is garbage, but you never actually stated that.

cphite wrote:And as far as the whole "funded by government" argument goes, Facebook already pays the government (also known as society) back for the infrastructure they use, in the form of taxes.

Yeah. "Government funded" usually means the government believes they will get a return on investment somewhere down the line (in the form of increased tax revenue).
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby cphite » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:48 pm UTC

SDK wrote:
cphite wrote:...

Yeah, I know how Google and Facebook make money. Does that mean their capital is "socially produced", as in, I should get a share of those earnings because I worked hard to post on Facebook/search on Google? I get the impression you agree that that argument is garbage, but you never actually stated that.


I agree the argument is garbage.

Facebook allows you to post on their website because they can monetize the data. But the key is this: Your data, in and of itself, is useless. The value stems from the aggregation of data. That you like widgets means nothing; that 57% of people in your area like widgets has value to a marketer.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby slinches » Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:22 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I've been suggesting a government-owned investment fund as not only a way to fund a basic income, but as a way to eventually supplant all taxes in general, for a long time now.

But you don't have to do anything as specific as requiring some specific percent of ownership of all public companies be given to the government or anything like that. You just use the existing source of government income that you're trying to supplant -- taxes -- to buy into stable, diversified investments, like index funds. Use the income from those investments to offset costs and so reduce taxes, gradually over time until the investment income covers all expenses (including a basic income) and you don't have to charge taxes at all anymore.

For that to work we'd need the US government to spend less than they receive in revenues long enough to pay down the national debt. That would take decades of balanced budgets with ~10% of revenues withheld to go toward debt.


More on topic, the CW isn't viable just from the standpoint of cost without a huge increase in tax revenue. To give everyone (adults in the US, ~230M) the annual equivalent of a $10/hr wage for a full time job ($20,800), it would cost $4.8Trillion. If we assume that replaces all other spending besides defense and interest payments, we'd need to have $5.6Trillion in tax revenue to balance the budget which is 70% more than what we pay now.

Looking at it another way, assuming we could maintain revenue (which isn't a given), the most we could afford with our current tax burden is $10,800 per adult per year (3.3Trillion revenue less defense and interest spending). I'd be okay with that, but I doubt the people who rely on medicare/medicaid whose medical bills would be far greater than that would be. So then we have to add those programs back in, making it $6600 per adult. Probably not enough to live on, but enough to make a part time job workable day to day. Except that's not enough to cover living expenses and save for retirement, so we need to add social security back in. That brings it down to $2700 per adult, which isn't enough to pay for basic needs like food and housing making it ineffective as a citizen's wage. On top of that, the $2700 individual benefit would be replacing all of the spending on education, non-military R&D, foreign aid, infrastructure projects, etc. I don't see that as being a net benefit to society.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:06 am UTC

slinches wrote:For that to work we'd need the US government to spend less than they receive in revenues long enough to pay down the national debt. That would take decades of balanced budgets with ~10% of revenues withheld to go toward debt.

You don't have to pay off the debt in order for income from investments to begin offsetting taxes. Income from investments will begin to offset payments in service of the debt, payments that could continue exactly as they do right now with tax revenue. What to do about the debt is an entirely different topic than where to raise revenue from.

More on topic, the CW isn't viable just from the standpoint of cost without a huge increase in tax revenue. [...]


If we're just talking about a tax-funded CW/UBI, it's absolutely trivial to fund it in an entirely revenue-neutral way. Your analysis, like many of its kind, overlooks half of the picture: most of the people receiving the UBI are also paying for it through their taxes, such that only people making zero income keep the full amount, at a certain point the tax and UBI cancel out and it has a net zero effect on people at that threshold, and only people above that threshold end up actually paying anything in net to fund it, most of them only paying an insignificant amount, with only those with incomes significantly above that threshold paying any significant amount.

Say you want to give everyone a CW/UBI of 40% the mean personal income, which would be around $1.6k/mo right now, close to your $10/hr full time wage. (Exact figures here don't matter so long as the CW/UBI is less than 100% the mean personal income, so if these numbers aren't exactly accurate substitute whatever ones you want that make it accurate). If you levy a 40% per person flat tax to fund it, that is automatically revenue-neutral because that's how averages work (40% of all individual incomes exactly equals 40% the mean income times the number of individuals, by definition of 'mean'). Everyone making below the mean personal income (presently about 75% of people) sees some net benefit from it, most of the remaining (about 25%) people only see a small loss to it because most of them are not making very far above the mean, and only the tiny fraction making obscenely huge amounts above the mean pay anything significant, as they should.

Pay the UBI out as a tax credit and you don't even need to shuffle the most of money around. People with zero income keep the full credit, everyone else keeps the credit minus their tax burden, and for a minority of people that's a negative number, most of them a relatively small negative number.

It has the effect of just adjusting the income distribution curve, scaling it down on the y axis centered on the mean income value. In other words it does nothing but create a centerward pressure on incomes, pushing them toward the mean with a force proportional to their distance from the mean. People making near the mean see almost no effect. People making far from the mean see a significant effect. There are far fewer people making above the mean than below it, but a few of those people make so much farther above the mean that they can almost singlehandedly solve poverty for the vast majority of people below it, and still end up with obscenely greater incomes than everyone else even after the adjustment this imposes.
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