July 25, 2016
I opened the OC Register at work this morning and almost skipped over the front page article "Zoltan, a presidential candidate for the future." http://www.ocregister.com/articles/need-723287-says-income.html%20
I've been talking up the "basic income" concept a good deal as of late, especially with the recent Swiss referendum on the subject, the "Scientific American" joint editorial virtually espousing it, and a general rise in the memesphere. This was almost too much. May 100 flowers bloom...
Maybe this is how a real new meme is jump-started. In fairness, I should point out that Henry George incorporated the "basic income" as a suggestion as to what to do with the proceeds of his "Single Tax," after the basic infrastructure was paid for. Georgism almost took the U.S. by storm in 1879 with his national best-seller "Progress and Poverty" and there are still active Georgist groups, even here in the OC, where there is a substantial crossover between Georgists and libertarians.
Check it out: http://www.zoltanistvan.com/ \
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2UWkGfd7fg (Russia gets transhuman!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2UWkGfd7fg (Latest from Michio Kaku)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67EQscMJQII (Now something completely different...)
Anyway, so, after reading the Register article a couple of times, I called the author, Martin Wisckol, left a msg and then talked with his boss, Andre, for a few minutes about other sources and news regarding the "basic income." email@example.com
(Start of original blog from July 23rd)
On the way to the library, I was thinking about my father, who was an Aspy long before Asperger ever identified the syndrome.
My dad couldn't attend regular school, so it was fortunate that his father was a professional teacher, so that they could home-school in the early 1900's legally. His mother was from Boston high society as well. Thus, my dad got a really intense, personalized schooling that admitted to a lot outside any regular standardized curriculum. He competed in swim meets and came up 1 merit badge short of Eagle, in spite of his "disability." And, at 10 years old, he would load up a basket with hot pastries fresh from his mother's kitchen, climb aboard the metro train to Boston and sell out every day. Later in life, he became an auto mechanic and a private pilot and then a professional draftsman for GE.
At the library, there are a multitude of retired and/or homeless people who have all sorts of valuable skills in all kinds of fields, whether baking cookies for a meetup or fixing simple plumbing problems or going to a store with a shopping list - or editing a graphic novel. For the most part these skills go to waste.
Of course, my dad could never have done his pastry runs in today's America. Think of all the rules and regulations he would be breaking! I'm sure that in most of the 2nd and 3rd world, his sort of young enterprise is still perfectly common, but we privileged Americanos would never admit to allowing a 10 year old to pursue his own economic dreams. And, due to the minimum wage, Workman's Comp, the IRS, etc., any affordable hiring of the homeless or senior citizens would have to be done under the table, meaning no advertising, no AR pointers ("Poinkers?").
BTW, the Swiss don't have an appreciable homeless problem...
Neither do the Swiss have a minimum wage, which has been soundly defeated every time someone runs a referendum on the subject.
And, as to kids, most countries still allow child labor on farms, which are usually fairly high-tech enterprises, with plenty of real hazards to life and limb, and lots of often grueling work. Meanwhile, on a yet to be fixed kinderprize front, I well recall the 10-yr-old walking into DES (Data Equipment Supply) circu 1979 with the first ever graphic adventure game for a PC - the VIC-20. At 15, he was offered full scholarships at most of the major universities - which he turned down because he would lose too much money from being away from his software business. There are thousands of similar stories, while "educators" bemoaned and tried to criminalize such enterprises. Jobs, the Woz, Bill Gates - imagine them all outlawed, unlicensed to produce software professionally because they lacked the college degree.
(There was also a real attempt by the Luddite Progressive Left around 1977 to require that you get a license to own a computer and demonstrate real need - probably NOT to play silly games - right?. In addition, they argued that computers in the classroom would further exacerbate the ethnic/economic class divide. They were convinced that kids coming from a low-income ethnic area would not have the basic skills and parental support to be successful in school with the new technology. In 1978, I set out to simply prove them wrong, and instigated the "Computer Gang Project," financed by Richard Pryor, and implemented by Sheenway School and Cultural Center http://www.sheenwayschools.org/about-us- We demonstrated that the kids from the Ghetto and even the gangs were, if anything, MORE motivated and focused than what we were seeing in high-income Caucasian schools, such as in the OC, where a lot of the kids resisted computing. The worldwide coverage of this issue that our project drew made it certain that similar proposals would be referred back to our results. No philosophical argument required, Maam - just the facts please.
I think that Dee (Delores Quinlock Sheen) is psychic; soon after I posted the above, I got an email from her with the following attachment:
The Swiss are smart. That basic income idea will ultimately succeed because they will do it right, answer all the challenges with facts and logic. And they, with a higher standard of living than the U.S., have proven how useless a minimum wage really is.
Meanwhile, we are sabotaging our economy here with our silly commitment to an ever higher minimum wage. This is NOT a hotly contested issue among economists. It's just supply and demand. Set the minimum at $9 and suddenly all those people who are on a meager Social Security income and making do as net proofers for $8 per hour or less are pushed into deep poverty, having to chose between medication and food. Because the proofing jobs still have to get done, more or less, perhaps most of the $8 proofers will keep their gig, and maybe most of the $7 as well. But it still pushes the $3~$6 proofers under the wire, replaced by software proofing systems. (I have a friend who has been a medical proofer for decades and is now in her '60's, trying to compete with the new software.)
Often these sorts of economic shifts are concealed by the normal order of things. There can be a lag, as people try to cope - automating, firing, moving facilities and labor to outside the affected area, etc. Potential employees may decide to upgrade their skills in the face of increased competition from people who are also impacted by normal work force turnover.
Does anyone really benefit from the minimum wage? Probably not in the big picture. Of course, some people who are close to the minimum wage will see an actual increase in real wages. Pumping more dollars into the economy is inherently inflationary, so some of that apparent gain will disappear as general prices rise. Other people, such as the low end retirees, supplementing meager incomes with part-time proofing online, or gaming for hit points, etc. will find that they cannot work any more. In many cases, the jobs will simply migrate across national boundaries and we will find them moving from the U.S. to Bangladesh, etc. So, the 3rd world proofers, tech support, gamers for hire, etc. will definitely benefit from an increase in a minimum wage here in the U.S.. Any net benefit to "us" (whoever is reading this, I suppose) is debatable.
As I was cruising through the OC heat wave, I imagined seniors wearing t-shirts with QR Codes - "Know-Where-Man" (History), hanging out at the library or a coffee shop and researching at their leisure for knowledge clients across the globe. WE have that asset here - that vast store of personal knowledge - and it is largely going to waste. Why shouldn't seniors or kids put their talents on the market, advising startup businesses in Nigeria or translating Japanese websites? How about some free markets, people!
Starting a real new business? What better educational experience?
See also: http://philosborn.joeuser.com/article/477494/New_AI_breakthru