Friday, December 7, 2012

Another Reason to Favor the Citizen's Dividend

Frankly, it'd be a lot cheaper over time.  To administrate a citizen's dividend, all you need is a dozen or so geeks, a small server farm, and lots and loads of EFTs.  It could actually be reasonably efficient since large amounts of efforts at means testing (i.e., are you good enough at gaming the system) would not be necessary.  Administrative overhead would be negligible, and there'd be no such thing as a welfare cliff.

A citizen's dividend would also give society the ability to transition into two radically different possible futures without apocalyptic disruption.

Future 1:  Technological singularity, most people are rendered zero or negative marginal product workers by advancing robotics and AI.
Future 2:  The end of cheap energy forces a massive economic contraction forcing the end of lots of make work and demanding a radical simplification of rules and structures.

Honestly I think the probability of Future 1 or Future 2 is pretty high, probably well over 50%.


Jacob Ian Stalk said...

Future 2 seems more plausible in the short term, although Future 1 seems more likely over the long term.

Future 2 is on it's way already - the battle between energy providers and governments is heating up as the renewable energy incentives and short-term targets reach the limits of their design life. Short-term energy strategies have lots of loopholes (predictions of future effects are inherently flawed), so with the closing of loopholes that is already happening the gamers who always seem to dominate the markets early on will soon find their gold mines exhausted.

A citizens dividend may facilitate an economic contraction but only if the hysterical climate change politics behind all those energy subsidies and incentives also stops. I can't see that happening with climate change hysteria nearing fever pitch.

Any ideological stoppage would more than likely need some great new economic force such as GFC 2.0, or another such globally significant event, to shake some sense back into the hystericals.

Ironically, Future 2, which I'm interpreting as a natural consequence of a swing towards Libertarianism, could be seeded by a citizens dividend if it originates ideologically from the Left.

I suspect that Future 1 would be driven by the opening up of a significant new human frontier, say the colonisation of Mars, rather than widespread low capital injection.

Jehu said...

As you indicate, there are lots of ways to get to either future. Each future has a full team of horses, and you only need one to win, so to speak. Future 1 could be hellishly scary if society doesn't figure out a way to handle the newly 'useless', or zero marginal product.

Felipe Monteiro de Carvalho said...

I would think that the mass will be dealt with the usual means by the elites: with "panis et circensis", and one can add to that a lot of governmental jobs possibly too.

Paul Nollen said...

India’s ruling coalition government suddenly and unexpectedly announce a major move in the direction of a basic income guarantee by replacing many transfer and expanding them into a cash transfer program. The government will begin phasing-in the program on January 1, 2013.


Jehu said...

Very interesting---it will be instructive to see how their experiment works out.