Saturday, July 22, 2017

Nathan Tankus — No, UBI Criticisms Are Not Implicitly Premised On The Idea the Racial Wealth Gap is Good (Sigh)

Nathan Tankus rips up UBI advocate Matt Bruenig and takes a shot or two at Matt Yglesias.

Go JG!

Tankus Notes
Nathan Tankus


Neil Wilson said...

It's sort of interesting that the blinkers on UBI fans can't see that they are relying on the same wealth extraction mechanism.

20% of the population (at most) produce the things we need. They have the majority of the value of that production extracted by capitalists, so they have to work the entire week to earn a wage.

UBI fans then swoop in and tax away most of the value the capitalists have kindly extracted to hand out to everybody else - because trickle down doesn't do that automatically. They call this 'wealth redistribution' and they think they are doing everybody a favour by playing Robin Hood.

Whereas if production was owned by the workers, the workers would stop work on Tuesday because they'd made enough stuff for themselves and those who make the machines their use. They'd then take the rest of the week off and be 'free' - because there is now nothing else being produced in the economy that they can buy, and no extra public goods provided that they can enjoy in exchange for giving up more time.

So the entire UBI concept relies upon continuing to enslave production workers, and agricultural workers, but taking away the cheap service output they can currently get in exchange for doing the extra work to provide for everybody.

The way UBI gets around this is to have a 'five year qualification period' for immigrants. If you can get enough immigrants to work in agriculture and production, who have no choice but to work because they don't get a UBI, then you have a rolling slave class who is forced to operate the machinery and work the fields (on the promise of a life of leisure in five years time). That keeps the whole Ponzi scheme working - until you run out of immigrants, space to put them or land productivity to feed everybody.

We know slave economies can work for quite a while. The Romans ran an empire on one for 500 years.

Everybody forgets the base issue. We need the production workers and the agricultural workers to work a full week (preferably on a 24x7 pattern) - so we get the economies of scale returns that allow us to have an advanced society. But that requires just a fraction of the population. The task the rest of us have is to create an environment so that the production workers we rely on don't feel they are being ripped off. The UBI money illusion isn't enough. We already know people work it out eventually - the tax credit system shows us that.

One alternative is to try and spread the work and land around. But that destroys your productive capacity. And we know how that ends up - Zimbabwe and hyperinflation.

The Job Guarantee on the other hand increases the amount of public service output that is freely available and swaps out the parasite output of certain capitalists for public service output, so that production workers can continue to enjoy a better quality of life in return for giving up their entire week to produce enough stuff for everybody.

Calgacus said...

Good article by Tankus & comments by Neil above. UBIers are like abolitionists planning to abolish slavery by making everyone a master.

Tankus's earlier article Towards a Political Economy of Inalienable Property Rights also good. The Hohfeldian line of thought is important and goes back a long way. But I prefer to say that rather than an inalienable property right to a job, the JG recognizes a right to alienable property in one's labor (power). The bad capitalists in an loony non-JG society are just restrainers of this trade, monopolists who like all monopolists- as we have learnt from Austrians & Milton Friedman- just rely on state power to distort markets. :-)