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  • Why is [UBI] being discussed now?

  • Well, the truth of it is, and this is very important, because there are now fears that

  • we are about to enter into another period of time when capitalism as an economic system

  • brings us technical improvements, things that make it easier for human beings to produce

  • goods and services, but the by-product is unemployment.

  • Today the most fanciful ideas are raised that artificial intelligence and the computer and

  • robots, you put all that together, and there have been estimates that something like 47%

  • of jobs that exist today will not be there 10 or 20 years from now because they will

  • have been automated out of existence, the way computers have automated lots of jobs,

  • the way machines automated lots of jobs, and so on.

  • And the great fear is that capitalism as a system that seems to accompany technological

  • advance with plunging masses of people into unemployment, which by the way is a profound

  • criticism of capitalism, and the idea is "Oh my god, masses of people without work?

  • Masses of people that therefore have no income?

  • They will become a threat to the system itself out of their misery and their deprivation

  • and something has to be done."

  • And whoops, here we go, we get welfare ideas but we also get UBI, Universal Basic Income,

  • as a way at least to pacify these people, to give them enough that they don't have the

  • rage of extreme poverty that might threaten the system.

  • Well, let's talk about this a little bit.

  • Is it really necessary to have this conversation?

  • Whatever you think about the goods or bads of doing something like this, here is a fundamental

  • question: do we have to have a system, an economic system, in which the good thing,

  • technological advance, being able with less effort by human beings to do produce as much

  • or more that used to take much more effort.

  • When we have technical change and we can make human beings more productive, meaning that

  • we don't have to put as much time and trouble and toil and effort and sweat into producing

  • the goods that we need to consume, is there a way to take advantage of that that doesn't

  • throw large numbers of people out of work and, in a way, make them expendable, throw

  • them out of the economic system so that we're worried about them, hopefully on the humanitarian

  • basis.

  • My goodness technological advance, through no fault of theirs, plunges them into unemployment.

  • Seems, on the face of it, immoral, unethical, and unfair.

  • And if on top of it, we say that it's inevitable that somehow if we're going to have progress

  • this is the price we pay, it leads us to ask a question, which I hope is in all of your

  • minds, could we not have an economic system that was able to capture the benefits of technological

  • change, that was devoted and interested in finding productivity increases but that didn't

  • have to accompany that good thing with a really bad one, namely the kinds of unemployment,

  • the kinds of deprivation, the kinds of poverty that leave human beings, well-intentioned

  • human beings, to think about welfare and to think about a Universal Basic Income.

Why is [UBI] being discussed now?

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B1 US economic system system unemployment technological income automated

Richard Wolff on why Universal Basic Income is a big topic now

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    王惟惟 posted on 2019/04/04
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