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Comment Re:Hyperbole stew (Score 4, Insightful) 510

Funny, I've always thought that "they hate us for our freedoms" was a joke, and understood as such by everyone. Are you telling me people seriously mean it when they say that? And that other people believe it? Because I always thought they hate you for destroying their countries and ruining their lives, and not so much about what you do when you are at home...

Comment Re:How is that supposed to happen? (Score 1) 387

So you draw the line "before _additional_ automation is introduced". Let's say I have a highly automated factory, and my competitor does not. If he introduces automation he gets to pay a massive tax that I don't - simply because I was earlier.

And do we count that "additional" automation from now? Or from 1980? Or from 1600? That's the line you are drawing. Where is the cutoff point?

Comment How is that supposed to happen? (Score 5, Insightful) 387

You (and others) seem to believe that "robots" are clearly defined pieces of equipment, that clearly take over someone's job. Something with at least a sinister metallic arm that you can point to and say "that thing has my job!".

Reality is that work has been steadily mechanized over a course of centuries, and that process will continu. Instead of you doing your job with a machine, it will be a slightly smarter machine doing the work - and it may or may not have an arm. Where do you draw the line, precisely? How is a law going to define what a "robot" is and what isn't? Is an assembly line one robot, or a hundred? How about the robots in your house: are you going to pay taxes on your mixer, your bread maker, your oven, your fridge, etc.? How about your car, are you going to pay taxes on that as well? Each of those devices save a lot of work, and in doing so, replace human labor. Are we going to pay taxes for all of that?

If you wish to apply tax in terms of displaced human labour, will you compare with assembly line labour of a century ago, or fully manual labour of a millennium ago? How about robots in China, how will you tax those?

Comment Re:Neckbeard Bigly (Score 1) 113

As has been speculated in many places, people are quite sick of the phony smiles and phony concern of the phony politicians who give you a phony handshake and express their phony grieve about your circumstances while at the same time making your situation even worse with every policy they have available. A person who says what he thinks is real, and that is what appeals to many people.

Also, some politicians care more about other countries and other people than they care about their own. It's lovely if they have nice manners, but for most voters, the only thing that matters is their policies.


Comment Re:A very good more basic question (Score 1) 722

Children are also people, they cost a shitload of money, and social programs aimed at them will also get replaced by UBI. Why on earth would you exclude them?

Your figure includes local and state level taxes. Not that it matters all that much. You might end up with "just enough to live on", but that would still be without all the other things like defense, healthcare, education, infrastructure, etc. If you want to get a realistic view of cost, try finding the current cost of social programs alone. Some quick searching suggests around $360 billion is what you're currently spending on that. The equivalent value in UBI would be $1125/person/year.

Ok, let's be silly here and exclude children and people we don't like. Now it's $1800/person/year.

Oh hey, we can recover that money by having them pay taxes! Let's put that at 40% (as you did). Now it's $1080/person/year. Can you survive on that? How about if you have children (since they don't get their own UBI)?

Comment Re: A very good more basic question (Score 1) 722

That's just normal wellfare, then. The whole point of UBI, the very thing that sets it apart from wellfare, is that _everyone_ receives it, no matter what. Its proponents frequently claim it will eliminate the 'giant overhead' of checking whether people are illegible.

As for taxes returned, sure, by all means subtract them. But please do keep in mind that this will eat into the $12000 I calculated earlier - and that was already too low to live on.

Comment Re:A very good more basic question (Score 1) 722

My _math_ is fine. And why wouldn't children get UBI? Do you believe there is no cost involved in raising a child? Clothes, food, education, hobbies, ...? Should all this money automatically come from the parents' income? Given that we are replacing _all_ benefit programs (including those for children) with UBI, shouldn't they also be receiving UBI?

Comment Re:A very good more basic question (Score 2) 722

You are apparently not aware of this but money (almost) does grow on trees. Ever wondered where the money that is around came from? It was printed by a central bank. And it still is. Just google Mario Draghi and what he's doing with the Euro lately.

citing from The Article:

No, it doesn't. Money is not by itself a resource. Instead it is a means of measuring value. If you create money without also creating value, all you do is dilute the supply of money. This works out great if you are the one making the money since you end up with a bigger share of the pie, but for everybody else it means their fixed amount has just become less valuable. Inflation is in a very real sense a wealth transfer from the poor (who don't own much, and have much of their capital in cash) to the rich (who have the ability to buy actual resources, rather than just money).

Throughout history, experiments have been run by very smart people with creating money from thin air. In France, rampant inflation led to the French revolution. In Germany, it led to WW2. In Zimbabwe, it has turned a fertile agricultural country into a desert that must import food. And in Venezuela, it has led an oil-rich country to not even be able to provide toilet paper to its citizens.

Having people work less - but voluntarily - is one of the benefits of UBI. Many people suffer involuntary unemployment due to automation. So we end up with a part of the workforce without ANY job and the other part with full jobs. It would be smarter to distribute jobs more evenly. But the present system drives everybody to try and get a fully paid job, as a matter of risk management: it could be anytime you lose that job and without a (substantial) financial buffer you'd be in deep trouble. UBI takes away that fear of existential threat - it gives you peace of mind and makes you less clingy to the job you have. It significantly improves your negotiating position towards (potential) employers.

It's a lovely sentiment. Like Star Trek, with everybody contributing, for free, to the best of their ability. Or like communism, with everybody taking and nobody giving. Hint: one of those is fiction.

One might also wonder if money were created for free, whether cost (of everything) would remain the same, or rise to meet the levels of available money. In other words, the program might be undone by rampant inflation.

Yes, there will be inflation. FYI the European Central Bank is desperately trying to increase inflation (my above comment regarding Mario Draghi)

I know. Do you know why he wants that? It's because he hopes to get rid of rampant government debt by obliterating the value of the currency. It's not because inflation is such a positive force, as you seem to believe. Oh, and there is this whole "wealth transfer to the rich" part as well, of course.

Comment Re:A very good more basic question (Score 2, Interesting) 722

I have yet to see any proponent of UBI come up with a figure for their supposed overhead, but that doesn't matter anyway: the cost of a UBI program is greater than the entire current government budget (including social programs, defense, healthcare, etc.).

The US federal budget is 3.8 trillion. There are 320 million people in the US. That works out to about $12000/person/year, which I suspect most people in the US would consider to be far too low to actually live on. And again, this is with zero spending on anything else: no defense, no healthcare, no education, no infrastructure, etc.

Comment Re:A very good more basic question (Score 1) 722

Too many times people get up on the soapbox of the world and give their opinion about this or that policy, and one can never figure out whether they are experts speaking from experience or just political hacks.

They can also simply be citizens of this world, who might be impacted by such far-reaching changes to society, and who therefore justifiably want to have their say. I don't believe that's an unreasonable position. If someone wants to run an 8-lane road right next to my house I'm entitled to an opinion, even without a study backing me up. Similarly, if someone wants to change the entire system of incentives and capital allocation, to such an extent as presented here, I do believe I should be allowed to comment since it will impact my life as well.

People giving an opinion in public is just noise, and people bolstering their opinion with rationalization and/or analogy is noise masquerading as signal.

Public debate is actually the basis of democracy. If you want people to hold that debate in an informed manner, you should really provide them with sober facts, rather than opinion, handwaving, shouting, and threats. Just because presenting facts has gone out of style so spectacularly, is not at all an excuse to now also disqualify people from voicing their opinion.

I'm especially suspect of the "it will only encourage some people to work less" comment, as if that is a bad thing. It might be perfectly acceptable for some part of society to have to work less, or perhaps not to have to work at all.

This argument has two parts. The first is that nobody might be inclined to do any of the unpleasant jobs anymore. One could argue that society should simply pay more, then, but that assumes (as does UBI itself) that money grows on trees. The second part is the fear that we might find ourselves with too few people willing to work to keep society running _at all_. No police, no firemen, no teachers, no civil servants, no doctors - how would we end up? Some kind of Detroit where society slowly decays and gangs rule the streets? The assumption of UBI is always that people freed from financial concern will automatically proceed to either freely create value for others, or at least not bother anyone. That's a beautiful sentiment, but I'm not convinced it's automatically true.

As far as the facts go, the total cost of a nation-wide UBI program is the number of people times the amount each receives. This cost is invariably either much higher than the total cost (including overhead) of existing social security programs, or the amount received is far below what's needed to make a living.

An additional problem is that currently, social programs are tailored towards those who need it. Quite a few people simply don't need additional support, and any money given to them is unavailable to those who do need it. Are we supposed to think of this as 'fair'?

One might also wonder if money were created for free, whether cost (of everything) would remain the same, or rise to meet the levels of available money. In other words, the program might be undone by rampant inflation.

And I do believe it is a valid concern that politicians might very well attempt to subvert the system with all sorts of special benefits designed for their own constituents. It's what they do, after all - but as soon as you do this, the major benefit ("simplicity") goes down the drain.

Comment Re: They might want to read this book first... (Score 1) 301

When all the mice in an area are dead, the now-dead males will not be hoping on boats and chatting up the sexy lady mice in foreign ports, which limits (with satisfying finality) the gene's future effects. Clear enough?

Why the hell not? This is the problem right here: you seem to think the modified mice will obediently do exactly as the scientists want them to. In reality there is absolutely nothing to stop the very first mouse that's released from hopping straight on a plane and wiping out the entire worldwide population. In fact, there is a pretty damn good chance of some egoistic asshole from the US or Europe with a mouse problem grabbing one intentionally and releasing it at home.

When geographic barriers are taken into consideration, and given the massive distribution of the species, it seems clear enough that many subpopulations will survive through isolation and will be able to repopulate the species (and will do so with remarkable rapidity even without human assistance) once the main bulk has died off from lack of females.

That's a pretty big assumption you have there. Will New Zealand force an absolute travel ban (for people, freight, and everything else) for enough time to ensure that their killer gene won't spread beyond their own shores? Or will those special snowflakes with their 'unique ecosystem' turn out not to give a fuck about everybody else's ecosystem, and happily let this spread to the rest of the planet?

The faster that die-off happens, the smaller the chance is of a stowaway and the harder it is to spread over a large, continent-sized area. The slower the die-off happens, the more time humans have to react and contain it. There's no catastrophic failure mode here that I can see.

For a potential world-wide ecological disaster like killing an entire species, "smaller chance" is really not good enough. And given your total myopia on possible consequences, your ability to see failure modes is not as persuasive an argument as you apparently feel it should be.

Stupid, moronic, blithering pop-sci Jurassic Park raptorshit. I just don't even know how to respond to that sentiment politely any more, sorry.

Apology accepted. But next time, remember there's always the option of keeping your trap shut.

Cane toads were obviously not self-limiting, nor were they ever advertised as such, nor were they or their prey genetically modified, nor was the species to be attacked a nonnative one.

This plan is obviously not self-limiting, and only a complete delusional idiot would think that it is. Your other arguments are irrelevant; what matters is that the cane toad plan had the exact same undesirable qualities as this one. Which are that it was not self-limiting, and the people involved had no clue about unintended consequences when they started. They sought a quick fix and ended up with a giant mess.

The analogy fails in every single way. The benefits clearly outweigh the risks and the criticism is obviously coming from a bad faith anti-GMO scaremongering place (as opposed to a sensible precautionary principle approach that recognizes that there's a lot more than one species at stake here. For example, I've yet to read anyone here suggest a massively intensive 1080 campaign as an alternative.)

Are you a little soft in the head, that when an argument is presented, you have forgotten about it by the time you have reached the end of the sentence? The method chosen (genetic manipulation) is irrelevant (and making this a pro/anti GMO argument is extremely disingenuous). You are very clearly wrong about this being self-limiting (since the scientists expect a few mice to be able to kill all the mice across the length and width of New Zealand), and there is absolutely no way in hell they can have any kind of notion of what "other" consequences their actions might have.

Comment Re: They might want to read this book first... (Score 1) 301

People keep talking about the gene being 'self-limiting'. Don't you realize that it isn't self-limiting at all? If it were, it could never work as advertized.

And we're not "scared because genetics", and kindly don't look down on other people like that. In fact the very example given did not, as you correctly point out, involve genetics in any way. No; we just happen to know that historically, attempts to mess with nature like this have pretty much always resulted in considerable disaster that left the ecosystem a poorer place. There are always unintended consequences, and a country that hands out huge fines for having a few blades of grass under your shoes or an apple in your bag when you cross the border really has no business introducing killer genes into a species.

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