A2 Basic US 17 Folder Collection
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- [Sam] This is an event
of the Center for Labor Employment Law.
- Excuse me.
- [Sam] And our moderator this morning is Ron Checkman.
Who's a long standing friend.
He's a most distinguished graduate of this school.
And, has for many, many years,
carved out a very interesting career,
representing labor unions talent,
public and private sector.
He most recently, negotiated,
it must be a first time only,
profit participation agreement
for the original cast members of Hamilton.
Which is quite interesting.
And Ron and I, in the old days,
I don't know if you remember this,
we were on the Free Speech Committee of the ACLU.
- [Ron] I do remember well.
- [Sam] We were trying to come up with
a constitutional theory
for union political and speech rights,
a long, long time ago.
So we're very proud of Ron on many different scores,
least of which is that he's a member of our
Board of the Center for Labor Employment Law
and I'm gonna turn it over to Ron.
- [Ron] Thanks, Sam.
And it's my pleasure as we go along with introductions
to introduce the star of this morning's production,
who wants proper participation
as well. (laughing)
- I have rights in the video, so.
Everybody understands. (laughing)
- [Man] Multiplying a zero,
doesn't (mumbles). (laughing)
- [Ron] So it's my pleasure to introduce you to Andy Stern,
who is the President Emeritus, of the 2.2 million member
Service Employees International Unit, SEIU.
Representing janitors, childcare, home care,
healthcare workers, which grew by more than
1.2 million while he was President.
I had the pleasure of meeting him then,
when along with the janitors, childcare, home care workers,
he organized the and amalgamated
the largest union of attending physicians, into the SEIU.
He has been called the,
and I quote a courageous visionary leader,
who chartered a bold new course,
for American unionists.
He has been featured on 60 Minutes, CNN,
on the covers of New York Times magazine,
Fortune and Business Week.
He's on the boards of the Open Society Foundation,
the Hillman Foundation and the Broad Center.
He was a presidential appointee,
on the Simpson-Bowles Commission,
the most frequent visitor
to the White House in 2009 and '10.
You'll have to tell us what the hell you were doing there.
And a key organizer for Obamacare.
Is now the Ronald O. Perelman Senior Fellow
of the university.
His first book, "A Country That Works",
was published in 2005
and his new book, we're talking about today,
"Raising the Floor: How a Universal, Basic Income
"Can Renew our Economy and Restore the American Dream."
It calls for America to take it to (mumbles)
and take bold action in the face of massive potential,
the massive potential job disruption.
When he was interviewed this spring,
he talked about the effects of technology
and the structural changes to our economy
and how they have affected employment opportunities,
for the American worker.
He said in that interview,
talking about his book,
I quote him now and this will ring I'm sure,
poignantly to all, "As I like to say,
"this is the United States of Anxiety now,
"and it's only going to get worse."
So clearly, Andy was prescient, talking about this in June.
We wish maybe some of his advice
to a female politician, who I think just has retired.
It would've been more than helpful.
It's advice about concerns
that were clearly central
to the electorate and the presidential election
and that has clearly established
the United States of Anxiety, for yet many other reasons.
Our anxiety won't be relieved until we talk about the issues
and the proposals that Andy has thought so much about.
So, we have the pleasure this morning,
and the opportunity to hear about some of his thinking
and to see if he can help us,
relieve some of our anxiety.
- Thank you very much.
It does seem irresponsible to
speak anywhere at the moment,
and not talk about the election.
Unfortunately, Ron gave my cross over remarks.
(laughing) that this is actually
in some ways, more about the election
than we appreciate now and probably even more important,
as we think about the world going forward,
not just in and around the United States,
but around the world,
because we can all see with Brexit
and many other tensions that are existing around the world,
that some combination of you know,
race, immigration and economics are fueling
a lot of uneasiness and reactions all around the world.
So you may wonder why you got up early in the morning
to listen to someone who is Exhibit A,
of the one job in a lifetime,
20th century economy.
Who comes from an institution the American Labor Movement.
Not very well known for thinking about the future
and is gonna talk to you about an idea
called a universal basic income,
which I didn't know what it was, three years ago.
So thank you for coming,
because you may find that this was an early morning that
may not have solved all your needs,
but I wanna explain how I got here in front of you
to talk about this.
As was said, I spent my entire life
in the most wonderful institution,
that I can possibly imagine.
I was supposed to go to law school.
My father is a lawyer, my brother and sisters are lawyers.
I decided at some point, along the whirl,
there was a better way for me,
in terms of someone who has ADHD
and a little bit of a juvenile delinquent,
to live his life and that was
trying to change other people's lives.
I was very fortunate.
I knew nothing about unions,
when I went, was growing up
across the river in New Jersey.
I got my first job as a welfare worker,
of all things, which will be very relevant
as we talk about the book.
Went to my first union meeting,
'cause they were serving pizza.
(laughing) That was a very principled
and profound reason.
Then spent the rest of my life,
38 years, doing the most wonderful thing
with janitors, and security officers,
and nursing home home care, childcare workers,
which is working together to make people who are
basically powerless, you know, through our union,
become powerful.
I said and I still believe that,
the union movement was the best anti-poverty program,
the best welfare program, the best job creation program,
the best benefit program, retirement program,
America ever created for the 20th century.
It didn't cost the government a dime.
In the absence of unions,
the world has changed and for me,
you know, I was very lucky to eventually become
for 14 years, President of what became
the largest union in the United States,
the fastest growing union in the world.
We ended up having offices and running campaigns
in 12 different countries.
I spent a lot of my life,
trying to hold private equity in Wal-mart
and banks and large multi-national employers,
accountable to the workers that they represent.
I had a lot of wonderful experiences with all the people
I worked with and becoming a large union,
the largest political action committee in the country.
Spending five years trying to win Obamacare,
to not our members, who already health insurance,
but so that every American had an opportunity
to have the kind of security they wanted to do.
I was the most frequent visitor to the White House.
The dirty little secret is,
every time you go on the White House tour, it counts,
so take the tour! (laughing)
A lot of you too can be a very important person,
just never tell that story, out loud.
I was on the Simpson-Bowles Commission.
I did something that people never do in Washington,
is I quit.
I retired.
I didn't retire, 'cause I didn't know,
you know, that it wasn't a good job,
or I was gonna lose my election.
I retired because I joined the labor movement,
'cause I wanted to change people's lives
and I had lost an ability to understand
in the economy, and this was 2010,
where inequality was rising,
unions were shrinking,
jobs were getting worse.
Like how to lead an organization of 2.2 million people,
when you didn't know where to take it?
I felt that was not the right job for me to be in
and there were lots of younger and more diverse
group of people who were ready to lead
and I left it, I began this journey
and I'm gonna just tell you what I found,
'cause I only learned three things.
Took a lot of time, I'm a slow learner,
but I did learn three things.
First thing I learned, is this.
This is the 20th century American economy,
I'll just explain it to you,
'cause you probably can't see it,
but in the 20th century,
everybody just talked about economic growth.
All you had to say if you were a politician is,
"The economy is growing."
What it really meant, was the economy was growing,
productivity growing, jobs were growing
and wages were growing.
It worked pretty well in the 20th century.
The market and unions and the government,
sort of combined for large numbers of people
to create what we bragged about,
which was the largest middle class in the world.
You know, there were lots of problems with capitalism.
There were lots of problems, but.
People were trying to round off the rough edges
and as you can see, these four lines grew together.
That's the 20th century economy.
For the main part.
Now the end of the 20th century,
something began to happen and that is,
this green line, which we now know,
looking backwards, which is income.
We had growth in productivity.
We had growth in GDP.
We had growth in jobs
and we didn't have growth in income.
For 20 and now almost 30 years,
American workers didn't get a raise,
at least the median, the most of them.
Very much is fueling the Trump anxiety,
which we'll talk about.
That we now know.
You know, the union movement then other progressives
and economists would say,
"You know, wages aren't growing.
"Let me say, yeah they're not growing now,
"because that's because of globalization,
"but as soon as it settles down,
"wages will grow again."
Or there's a recession.
Or some other factor and now we know
that this is a structural problem in our economy,
that you can have economic growth, productivity growth,
job growth and no wage growth.
What we don't wanna talk about is this.
The red line.
That's jobs.
So now, the 21st century economy,
is you can have wage, you can have GDP growth
and productivity growth,
and no job growth.
In fact, we have not created one new net kind of
40 hour, middle class job, since 2007.
So all the jobs we've grown now,
have been low wage, part-time, contingent, net.
In the economy.
So this is the economy that Donald Trump ran on.
This is the economy that President Obama,
for very good reasons, didn't wanna talk about.
He wanted to talk about 4.9% unemployment.
You know, 26 quarters in a row,
where we gained over 100,000 jobs.
But there's an America out here,
which Ron talked about
and that was the first conclusion I made in my book,
that this is the United States of Anxiety.
For only 21% of people in America
think the economy is very good or good.
52% don't think the American dream,
which has been the enduring kind of value proposition.
If you work hard, you play by the rules,
your kids will do better than you do.
57% actually don't believe that's true anymore
and those 57% are right, statistically.
Kids are not doing better than their parents.
I say the new American nightmare
is that more kids now live,
go back to live with their parents,
than anytime in American history.
So the American dream for parents
that your kids were gonna leave,
(laughing) and go out of your house,
is now the American nightmare,
'cause the only way they can sort of get by
is when they use your housing to lead their life.
But the most devastating statistic
and it's been said a number of times,
is that, 47% of Americans could not find $400,
$400 in case of an emergency.
That's half of America cannot find $400,
in case of emergency.
You don't see it in New York,
or you don't live it in your art bubbles,
but that is the life that so many people are leading
and that is what is fueling the United States of Anxiety
around the world.
So when you hear a politician say,
"We're gonna get growth, growth, growth."
All good, we need growth.
It's important.
There's no pot to distribute without growth.
You need to understand that has nothing to do anymore
with the wages and jobs.
It's better for them, yes.
But it's not what it once was in the 20th century.
This is what the economy is now producing.
This is what happened before the recession.
These are middle wage jobs,
that got lost in 2009.
These are the jobs that have grown after 2009
and as you can see, it's all in the lower wage occupations.
So we're getting rid of middle class jobs,
for lots of different reasons
and we're gaining more and more lower wage jobs
and anybody who's had friends who've left the job market,
sort of know the problem.
When I graduated college,
you got a college degree, or a union job, you were fine.
You became a middle class person,
as a general principle.
Totally untrue, right now.
Second thing I learned, which we all now know,
it wasn't learning, it was just understanding
how profound it is,
that we are moving from what I used to call
an employer managed work life,
like you do at NYU, the employer,
yeah you're a professor, you're a worker,
the employer manages your pension,
your retirement, your wage, your career
and then you retire.
Now we have a self managed work life.
Which is, you manage your retirement.
You manage your healthcare, you manage your pension.
I had one job in 38 years.
My son is expected to have
and he's totally on track to have nine to 12
by the time he's 35.
So, that's the average.
Nine to 12, by the time you're 35.
We now-- - For what?
- Jobs.
By the time you're 35.
So, what we now know and McKinsey says,
"30% of Americans are free agent,
"who actively choose independent work
"and derive their primary income from it."
That doesn't include all the people
that are contingent, part-time, Uber drivers,
who like the independence, but don't like the other parts
of the job, like you don't get social security,
you don't get unemployment, disability, retirement,
or many other things that go with it.
So we now have a very different economy
than you know, what the white, elite, industrial workers
of the Midwest, we may just have noticed
they had a change of heart about the election.
But the auto workers and the steel workers
and the construction workers
were the elite, working class of the world.
They had full pensions.
Full benefits.
Good salaries.
Homes in Upper Peninsula Michigan.
Hunting camps.
You know, they were great jobs.
They were not anywhere near minimum wage jobs
and because of globalization and trade
and many other factors, those jobs,
of the elite, white working class,
don't really exist anywhere near the extent they once did.
So we now have an economy of the 21st century,
where growth doesn't produce jobs or wages
and we also have people really trying to figure out
how to live in a world where the employer isn't
managing your work life.
Even if you want to have your employer
manage your work life,
only 20% of the companies that exist today,
will be economically relevant in 20 years.
So even if you wanna stick with your employer,
your employer's not gonna be around, necessarily,
to stick with you.
Because that's of all the creative destruction
that's going on, in the economy.
So what's happening?
So this was this guy I met on my little walk through
my self learning experience, called Andy Grove.
Andy Grove happened to do something very important,
that he and Gordon Moore invented, or created Intel,
as a major company that it is today
and everywhere you see powered by Intel,
that little chip.
So Andy Grove said to me,
"Here's what I learned."
He wrote this in a book called, "Only the Paranoid Survive."
"There are moments that are turning points."
It's a confluence of events.
It's not like one thing, climate change.
Or it's not one thing globalization.
It's a confluence of that.
It doesn't even matter how you pull them apart.
But it gets you to the point,
where, there's a moment of dramatic change.
It appears slowly.
They're often not clear until events like wage stagnation
are viewed in retrospect and denial,
is often present in the early stages.
It happens for companies,
but it also happens for countries.
We are at that strategic inflection point.
This country has gotten to a point,
where because of the way the economy works,
the way the economy is organized,
and the final point, which I learned in my book is this.
If all this was the problem,
it'd be a problem, but we could solve it.
It really, there are lots of things you can do,
to sort of compensate for this.
Here's the third problem.
McKinsey.
Now this is reputable research.
This is not my research.
(laughing) If it was my research,
I'd wonder about it myself.
This is reputable research.
McKinsey.
"45% of all the activities individuals
"are paid to perform, can be automated today."
Oxford University.
"47% of the total U.S. employment is at risk."
President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors.
"83% of the jobs that make less than $20 an hour
"will be impacted."
One of the leading tech research firm, Gardner,
"One third of the U.S. jobs, will be affected."
The Boston Consulting Group.
They had the low estimate.
"Next 10 years, less than, there'll be 16% less need
"for labor in the OECD."
If you really wanna freak out,
the World Bank, "Automation may eliminate 77% of the jobs
"in China, 69% in India."
ILO has a report that says 77% of the jobs
in Cambodia and another huge amount in Vietnam.
Like we're on the verge of a catastrophe
and no one is talking about it.
It's like, impolite I guess, to talk about
economically what's happening in our country
and then more importantly,
you know and Gavin Newsom, who's running to be
Mayor of California, fortunately, for the first time,
said, "You know, this is a dirty little secret,
"no one wants to talk about."
Which is technology is about to really disrupt
the labor market at a level that we don't appreciate.
Interestingly, President Obama
who said very little during his term
and as you should know, I was the largest contributor
to President Obama's campaign,
which allows me to say almost anything I want about him,
without him saying, you know, but that's not fair.
Which he would say.
But, he said, "It's about time we have a discussion.
"The social safety net that
"as it's currently organized won't work."
I'll tell you a little bit later what he said
about a universal basic income.
This is Pew.
This is huge.
This is like, 1900 experts, right, that they ask.
Half of them, again, not everybody.
Half of them say, "We are at a point where robots
"and the Digital Age will displace significant numbers
"of both blue and white collar workers.
"And masses of people who are effectively unemployed,
"we will have a break downs in the social order."
I don't know, I read that, I kind of get nervous
and then I watch the election
and I even get more nervous.
I watch Marine Le Pen and I get even more nervous,
because, this is coming our way,
and the history of the world is not good,
when there's economic dystopia, amongst people.
But it's coming our way.
Or at least a lot of people,
think it's coming our way.
By the way, just if you're really interested
in this trade question,
you know this is, everybody wants to kill trade
and you can debate trade.
But 88% of lost factory jobs are the result of automation.
- [Man] Wow.
- Not trade.
So, but no one wants to talk about automation.
Everybody wants to talk. - Who's (mumbles)?
- Allstate just did a study on this.
"President Obama, do you think we may be
"in a slightly different period now,
"simply because of the pervasive applicability
"of AI and other technologies?"
So we now know, that this is massive tsunami coming our way.
I'll just explain it,
because Andy McAfee, from MIT, did this little story.
Anybody know the story of the Indian king
and the chess master?
So the Indian king wants to learn to play chess.
He finds a chess master
and he says, "Teach me how to play chess."
He does, he's so grateful he says to the chess master,
"What can I do?
"I'm the king of India.
"That would reward you for this work."
He's like, "Your Excellency, I'm a simple man.
"All I want is rice."
The king's thinking, "This is a good deal.
"You know, all I gotta give him is rice."
He says, "How much rice?"
He said, "Put one grain of rice on the first square
"of the chessboard.
"And two on the second.
"And four and keep doubling it."
The story goes, that halfway through the chess board,
the king kills
(laughing) the chess master,
'cause he knows he's been had.
Because about half way through,
all he has,
is enough rice that's probably like
some number of a farm's worth.
That seems reasonable.
But by the time it's done,
there's more rice than is higher than Mount Everest.
That's the power of doubling.
And Andy McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson from MIT say this.
"We're about a little past half way through
"the chess board."
People are starting to realize,
"Holy crap, something is about to happen here."
I feel it, I don't quite understand it.
I thought those things called driverless cars
were like 25 years away.
I didn't realize I can call one right now,
in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, get an Uber.
You know, on your app that's driverless.
That a beer truck just drove with Auto,
which is a subsidiary of Uber,
just drove from 100 miles, delivering beer,
without a driver.
The driver went in the sleep part of this.
Technology, the doubling, is why things that once were
science fiction seem like, "Oh my God,
"they're like happening now."
And all these discussions about Steven Hawking
saying he's more worried about AI, artificial intelligence,
than he is about a nuclear attack or climate change.
You know, we can all debate whether that's true or not.
It's just we don't get how fast this change
is about to occur and how big the numbers are.
So, then I'll say this.
What do we do?
So the one thing we don't do,
which I shouldn't say at an academic institution,
is we don't debate whether this is true or not.
It is totally true, this has never happened before.
Every time we've had industrial revolutions,
we've had more jobs than the last.
When I went to school, I think Neptune or Pluto
was a planet, I'm not sure it is anymore
and the world was flat until someone realized it was round.
Things change.
It doesn't matter whether it's true or not,
there is enough substantial and reputable research
that any responsible adult that heard
that a tsunami was coming to the shore,
wouldn't sit around and say,
"You know, they said that last time
"and it didn't hit.
"So I don't think it's gonna hit us."
This time, you would prepare.
That's what our government does,
when it works well and in military.
That's what business does well.
You do risk assessment.
You do risk management.
You do scenario planning.
There is enough here to need to plan for.
Even if you think in the end,
it'll all, after some disruption,
it will come about that there are more jobs
and it may be true.
I don't believe it, but it may be true.
You know, it was a horrible time
during the Industrial Revolution.
The transition was terrible.
You know, read Charles Dickens.
Look at the factories where people were locked in.
Read about the Triangle Waistshirt Fire.
Talk about New York.
It was not a great time,
til we got to the other side.
So even if we're gonna get to the other side,
can we like not have everybody suffer, along the way?
So what do we do?
Last point.
So, I came across this idea
and it's so old, that I'm embarrassed
that I'm like acting as if,
I found this great idea.
'Cause actually, Thomas Paine found this idea.
He founded this idea,
when the U.S. was trying to figure out,
having won the Revolutionary War
and having captured and taken back
expropriated all the British land
that had been in the country, which,
they took from the Brits.
Now that we won the war.
Like what are we gonna do with the war
and Thomas Paine said,
"You know, we're gonna sell the land
"to private land holders.
"But, we should compensate people.
"'Cause we all fought the war.
"We all own the common land and we should give
"everybody 15 pounds sterling."
Everybody probably meant white men who owned land.
"But we should give everybody 15 pounds sterling."
That was a universal basic income.
From the commonwealth, we compensate people.
It then went on, the country that came closest
to having a universal basic income, the United States.
Richard Nixon, of all people.
Proposed giving every American $10,000 a year
in today's dollars.
Milton Friedman, an icon of the conservative movement,
was his architect of the plan.
It was supported by 1,000 American economists,
from John Kenneth Galbraith,
to left and right and everywhere in between.
It passed the House of Representatives
and of course, the thoughtful forward thinking Democrats
in the Senate of the United States decided,
it wasn't enough money, "So we're not gonna pass it
"and we'll get it, more money next time."
It disappeared, really, from the United States discussion.
Europe has had a discussion about it for a period of time.
It disappeared from the United States.
Now it's back.
When I started to write this book,
the Columbia University Business Press
would not publish this book for two reasons.
One is because,
I'm talking non-conventional economic theories
and I'm not an economist.
I plead guilty and therefore,
the rest of the academic divisions
didn't want me to write about a book about something where,
I don't have standing and the second thing was,
the answer to this problem of universal basic income
was so crazy,
and they wouldn't publish it.
Now I got Elon Musk the man, on my side,
who came out the other day saying,
"The only thing we've got a pretty good chance
"we'll end up with the universal basic income."
I have President Obama now saying,
"That's a debate we'll be having over the next
"10 to 20 years."
I have Bob Rice, Joe Stiglitz,
current Nobel Prize winner
and conservative Angus Deaton,
Charles Murry, a conservative icon and Libertarian
and the list will go on and on.
Eric Schmidt from Silicon Valley.
Everybody's beginning to say,
"This has to be an option, to be considered."
So what is it?
Universal basic income is one of those rare things
where the name actually means everything.
It's universal, meaning you give it to rich and poor.
Bill Gates and the poorest person in the country.
It's basic.
It's not gonna substitute for working.
I'm saying it's $1,000 a person, 18-64,
a citizen, 18-64 a year.
That's $12,000 a year.
Ironically, interestingly, disgustingly,
that will take every person in the United States
above the poverty level.
- [Man] Take them what?
- Take every person in the United States
above the poverty level.
The poverty level is $11,997, for a single individual.
So we will end poverty, statistically
and create a floor for people, at the same time.
Interestingly, if we trace the history
of the current welfare program,
which is, we'll talk about how to pay for it,
the current welfare program,
if Martin Luther King had lived, would not exist.
Martin Luther King in his last book,
"From Chaos to Community",
completely condemned the welfare program.
He said, "The civil rights movement asked people
"to end poverty.
"We didn't ask for a food stamp program
"and a EITC program."
In fact, there's 122 cash transfer programs
in the Federal government.
"We asked you to end poverty."
Martin Luther King said,
"If you wanna end poverty, give people money."
That's what a universal basic income
is saying the same thing now,
60 years later, 50 years later.
If you wanna end poverty, give people money.
The idea is you would create a floor.
You would not replace work,
because there will still be some amount of work,
where we're watching lots of us,
piece together work as independent contractors.
Your kid's in different jobs.
You know, it will not be a replacement,
although I guess it could be
for people that think that that's
they wanna be a poet, or a writer, an artist,
and they pool their money with a group of other people
and find a place to live.
That would be lovely too.
But it's based on the recognition
there's not gonna be enough work to do.
It's based on the fact that I know it works,
for one reason.
Because I am and my friends are proponents of
and experienced with parental basic income.
Parental basic income is parents,
who provide stability for their kids,
by helping them, by taking them on vacation,
and paying for it.
By helping them if they have a bad bill.
By helping them go to school.
Those are things that parents who have means
do to stabilize their kid's life.
This is a discussion about
having a country do something to stabilize
everybody's life, so people are not living
with $400 of fear, the moment they see a bill,
that they can't really afford.
So it is a way either to help make a transition,
to stabilize the country
and you pay for it by getting rid of some of
the existing welfare program.
There's a big debate between Libertarians and others,
about which programs you get rid of.
You pay for it by doing something about
what are called corporate tax expenditures,
which are deductions that are given to companies
and high wage individuals, in our tax system.
It's a different way of giving welfare,
it's just a prettier, nicer way that no one knows about
of giving welfare to people who don't need it
and there are other kinds of ways,
which we can talk about,
that you pay for it.
I'll just end by saying this.
It's a terrible idea.
It's like democracy.
It's a terrible idea, until you try everything else.
So my point of my book, is not this is the best idea
I've ever seen in the world.
It's an idea that actually works
and I say to people, "What's your idea?"
Now the obvious counter to this,
is guaranteed jobs, right?
So when you say to people,
"Okay guaranteed jobs."
They say, "What do you mean?"
They say, "Oh the WPA!"
I say, "Oh let's see the WPA.
"That's as far today from the New Deal
"as the New Deal was from the Civil War
"and I'm not sure as much as Franklin Roosevelt
"admired Abraham Lincoln,
"he built economy in 1935 around the facts of 1865."
You know WPA had a lot of incredible attributes to it,
but it also meant we were sending people away,
many times away from their homes,
to build roads, clear forests,
build camping places at national parks,
for a short period of time.
We're talking about a permanent problem,
or at least a really long term problem,
so are all of you ready to send your kids,
you know, away to clear brush is the what they're gonna do,
or any of you with your law school degrees,
think that's a really good idea,
if you can't find work,
that you're gonna be out clearing brush
for the rest of your life.
Or do you wanna make choices about your own life,
which is what universal basic income does.
Universal basic income does three other things
and then I'm done.
One, it compensates mostly women,
who've never been compensated before,
who wanna raise children.
We've never done that before, in our life.
It allows people who are in abusive relationships,
to walk away, because they have resources,
which is very unusual for people in many bad relationships.
It allows workers to strike,
and have their own built in strike fund.
It allows employees to say to employers,
who wanna mess with their hours
and screw around with them.
"I'm outta here.
"I'm outta here.
"You can't starve me to death,
"'cause I have a basic income, coming in."
It's sort of permanent stimulus,
you know an economy that's bereft of demand.
Plenty of supply and not enough demand,
giving everybody $1,000.
Helicopter money, some people would call it,
actually has demand.
So, I just think you have to juxtapose this.
If you believe that we need a scenario,
for the future, then because technology
is gonna roll over very different economy
than we once had and if you believe that we have
a responsibility for economic security
for everyone who works and lives in this country,
than we need a plan.
This is my plan.
I always say to people, "So what's yours?"
Because change, (laughs),
change is inevitable.
It's progress, that's optional.
It's leadership that makes the difference.
It's time we all have this discussion,
or we're gonna have for those of us
who thought election night was a sad night,
we're just warming up, baby.
Thanks very much.
(clapping)
So push back time.
- [Man] Could you identify yourselves and,
- [Woman] Questions (mumbles).
- [Andy] Sure.
- [Woman] I understand there are a couple of pilots
going on right now, with (mumbles) content in Switzerland
and maybe in Scandinavia or Finland.
I'm not sure.
I was wondering if you knew anything about
how they're panning out and I also was wondering
if you could speak to the means testing,
whether giving people who don't need the money,
the money is problematic (mumbles), from your perspective.
- Sure, so the first question is just about
experiments, so the biggest experiments that were ever run
on universal basic income,
were run in the United States.
We ran five different experiments in the 1960s.
All the fears that everybody was gonna get drunk,
go to the bars, do drugs, put their feet up,
they didn't have video games to play back then.
Didn't prove out to be true.
Switzerland actually didn't have an experiment.
They had a referendum.
It got badly beaten.
Like 73 to 27.
Which probably in a country that has a median income
of $74,000 a year, universal healthcare and retirement
and a 3% unemployment rate, wasn't the best place
to try this out.
But, interestingly enough, 40% of millennials voted yes.
65% of people said, "We're gonna need it in 20 years."
So even though you can,
the headlines are clear.
You know, underneath it, there's a sense of insecurity.
So now we have in Utrecht which is in the Netherlands,
experimenting, replacing basic income with welfare.
We have Finland talking about a very large experiment
and Canada just announced an experiment in Ontario.
Which would guarantee every citizen up to,
that it's more of a negative income tax,
so they beef up your income, up to a certain level,
so everybody would be guaranteed $20,000 a year.
It was done by Justin Trudeau.
Justin Trudeau's party ran on
a universal basic income experiment,
which only mirrors what his father did,
who did a universal basic income experiment in Canada
when he was there, that was also very successful.
GiveDirectly, which is a charity,
is doing this in Kenya,
where they're giving 50,000 people grants,
because we need to experiment.
Because there's everybody wonders
what are the consequences
and the unattended consequences?
Will there be inflation?
Will rents go up?
You know, will people get drunk?
What will happen?
Good questions.
We don't have to do it for the whole country tomorrow
and I think that's a question the U.S.
Is gonna have to answer
and so the last thing I'd say is,
I think where you will see action in the U.S.,
is not about universal basic income,
although Donald Trump and block grants
have potential to be played around with
and look different.
But, there's a lot of discussion now.
This is my promotion, I'm promoting by predicting
this will happen.
So this is a self fulfilling prophesy, I hope.
So there's all this brain research now
about children 0-3.
That most of your brain development happens
at a very young age.
We have no academic programs,
no schools, no anything for kids 0-3.
So teachers appropriately say,
"One of the biggest problems I have,
"is kids start off so far behind."
Not just economically, damaged or in trauma now,
is the word people are using.
But there's brain development issues
that you can't recapture, right?
Well you can have a universal basic child
grant to all parents, right,
and there are a lot of people
who are beginning to talk about that.
Canada actually just did this.
So that's one area I think you'll see
and there's a group
that will announce their existence very shortly.
That's very multi-ideological
from Libertarian to progressives,
called the Basic Income Collaborative,
that's gonna begin to sort of center
a lot of work in the United States,
about all this work.
The second question was about,
- [Woman] The means testing.
- The means testing.
So, means testing means are we gonna give
Bill Gates universal basic income
and there was a very famous British sociologist who said,
"Any policy for the poor only, is poor policy."
So we should not let people like Bill Gates,
or Warren Buffet, pay less money than their secretaries
in taxes, but like why do we have to worry about
universal basic income as the,
like there is so much more money they're making
than the $12,000 a year.
We need to take back from them.
You know, carried interest, you can go assets.
So I just say, "Yes, we need a tax system
"that helps fund this."
But like why are we gonna put all the burden
on universal basic income and make that really hard
to do because we're mad that Bill Gates
is gonna get it, but we're not mad
that people are paying lower taxes than their secretary.
So there is a funding issue.
I just don't wanna put this all on the backs of
universal basic income to solve that problem.
- [Man] I have a question just about (mumbles).
- [Man] Would you identify yourselves, please?
- [Alex] My name is Alex (mumbles) and I work with
the technology sector.
I have a question about both sort of how
your plans pay for this and also your work,
with sort of conservative and carrying groups,
because I think if you were to replace a lot of
welfare programs with this,
I think a lot of conservatives would appreciate this program
so how are you working with them?
- So I'm actually doing,
well there's a debate on something called,
I guess Intelligence Squared used to be down here,
for the debates.
So, I'm of all things,
debating on the same side as Charles Murry,
who is a notorious person
in the progressive intellectual community
for a book he wrote called, "The Bell Curve."
But on universal basic income,
he is a believer, except he is an extremist.
He would get rid of social security
and you know, if you gave him his perfect intellectual way,
he would wipe out the 1.2 trillion dollars
that we now spend on every social safety net program
and replace it, right?
I don't do anything with social security,
at least for people that have paid in
and I think healthcare's way too complicated
to turn into a self,
people are managing their own healthcare,
doesn't seem to work anywhere around the world.
I don't think it's gonna work any better here,
in terms of holding down costs, so.
But then we do get into,
"I don't have any problem with cashing out EITC,
"I don't have any problem with cashing out
"unemployment insurance and food stamps,
"'cause we're giving people back more."
My basic premise is, if people are being hurt,
we shouldn't do it.
If it's revenue neutral, it's interesting.
If it's a positive, let's really take a good look at it
and I think there's a chance to make this revenue positive
and I think you look at programs like disability
and other things, you know,
where people have unique circumstances
and we, you know, we make adjustments for it.
But, it's kind of like the debate
that started in healthcare.
The first question is, do you wanna do it?
Then the second question you're asking is,
can you find a way forward that's fair to people,
that meets physical needs of other people.
We did in healthcare find a crazy compromise.
But it was a compromise that everybody
sort of eventually you know, supported,
at least in the advocate community
and the pharmaceutical community
and the medical community,
for at least a period of time.
I think we're sort of there.
Here, do we really think this is the right answer?
I wish someone would do a lot more work on jobs.
It's like almost disgraceful
that in a country like ours,
with all the money in the think tanks,
and other people get, no one's figured out
a jobs program that might be able to do this,
or some hybrid program.
Take two years out for national service.
Do other kinds of things that give,
you know sabbaticals for adults at a certain age,
paid for by the government.
Job sharing.
Other, lower work week.
You know, some combination that says
if this happens, we can do the same,
get the same results by some other combination
that people might find more acceptable,
because the biggest problem we have
with universal basic income,
is people think that everyone should work,
particularly old people like me,
think everyone should work,
'cause we love working
and we worked our whole life in jobs
for a lot of us, we were fulfilling or paid well.
So, that is not what the profile is
of doing the polling on millennials.
How do you pay for it?
You take, I would say, you take 500 billion
of the 1.2 trillion,
of welfare programs, which is sort of
in my book, I add them up like food stamps, EITC,
et cetera.
You take another 500 billion dollars,
which Simpson-Bowles took almost all of it,
for corporate tax expenditures,
which is just, welfare spent differently.
Then the country had a financial transaction tax,
until the 1950s.
For some reason we got rid of it.
You know, some people say that,
and then Europe is now bringing it back,
it's called a tobin tax.
We're the only OECD country that has no VAT tax.
We don't have a carbon tax.
There's all kinds of other,
natural resources, you could tax.
You know, as Thomas Piketty said,
we could actually tax assets,
which is all the where the money is,
'cause like don't waste your time
going after income.
Income's like small,
compared to assets.
Most people don't have their money in their wallets
or their checking account.
They have it in art, and homes and investments.
So we need to go after assets, not income.
There and here.
- [Man] Yeah, if you're,
- If you don't mind,
just-- - you're using the gross
that people get with the quantity of money that people get.
For example, on the basic thing like rent.
So why won't you just be
sky rocketing the price of everything?
- Well I always had an academic institution
ask the question, every time we raise Pell grants
to raise tuition and I think the proof is,
they raise tuition whether we do or don't,
raise Pell grants and they raise
rent, - Rent and quantity.
- So we don't know.
The experiment so far have not shown that,
like Alaska, I should've said,
has a universal basic income.
If you're a citizen of Alaska,
you get a dividend, once a year.
That comes from all the money that was collected in taxes
from North Shore Oil, right?
So you can look at what happens
when people get that money,
both in terms of pricing and so far,
it's not that much money,
it's like 1,500 to $2,500.
It hasn't had an effect.
I think those are questions we don't know
the answer to, which is why you want to experiment
before you do all this.
'Cause then if you have to then put price controls
on top of, you sort of defeat the purpose
of the simplicity of the universal basic income,
as you give everybody cash and they choose
what they do with their life.
- [Mara] My name is Mara Tobias.
How does this scenario compare,
like in Europe and Scandinavia, for instance.
You know, are they facing,
or do you anticipate that they'll be facing
similar situations, and if not, why not?
And like you know, are there,
are they educating their people better?
Or are their people getting all higher level jobs
for some reason?
Or I would just like to hear a little comparison.
- So Finland, which is probably one of the best educated
and best social welfare states in the world.
You know, is conducting the experiment
to substitute, universal basic income,
for some of their unemployment
and job re-training and other,
to see if that will actually get people
back in the work force quicker.
Utrecht is doing the same thing
in the Netherlands about that.
And so,
you know, it's interesting that it's being done
in very wealthy countries first.
India has now gotten extremely interested
in the last three months.
They actually have some kind of
economic study they do every year
and they're looking at this.
'Cause it probably works better in a third world country,
'cause the amount of money people have and need,
is lower than what you have in a first world country,
like Finland, although they have a lot of infrastructure.
So yes, they're facing the same problems
and more production of low wage jobs.
I mean we always should appreciate
there will always be 20 to 30% of the people
that have good jobs, right?
But you take lawyers, I mean, last year,
law school applications went down 30%.
I don't wanna say this dirty little secret out loud,
the last year, was the lowest year ever
that lawyers with degrees
got placed in law jobs, in history.
Anybody ever has done any been kind of legal work.
I've only been on the receiving end
of being sued and deposed.
But, (laughing)
there's all these things called key word searches
and that used to be done by people.
You know the FBI can go through all those emails
you know, in 10 days.
That would've taken 10 years, at one point in history,
because technology is taking out,
a lot of the lower skill functions
and software and robots don't necessarily
replace everybody, they make people much more effective.
So in my book I talk about Dave Cote,
who's the CEO of Honeywell,
who had a 1,000 people when he started his job in HR.
Now he's down to 300 and he thinks he'll go down to 100.
Not that they,
you know because people do FAQs and he's going to AI
to ask your questions and computers
compute your retirement programs online instantaneously.
You don't need the HR person to go and say,
"Let me get your numbers."
It's like, "I can get my numbers,
"I don't have to talk to you."
So just lots of things are becoming way more efficient.
- [Rose] Hi my name's Rose (mumbles).
I'm a reporter at (mumbles) New York Business.
- [Andy] Uh-oh, now I'm in trouble.
(laughing)
- [Rose] I wondered why his number you picked is so low.
I mean this isn't really an income,
it's a stipend more, right?
- Well, you know, this is a good question.
So I picked it because,
I wanted to do two things at the same time.
End poverty.
And provide stability.
A stipend, a floor, you know shock absorbers,
in a very unstable economy
and you know, when I looked at
and I say to people who are defending
the current welfare system and I totally admire
all of them that have.
You know, there's 50 million people in poverty.
So if you have an anti-poverty program
with 50 million people in poverty,
you should probably look to see if it's really working.
Sadly, what the Federal poverty level is,
you know, as a general rule,
in New York in places, because of housing,
have a different number,
is $11,997 or $94 a person.
So, I just decided, the important issue for me,
is two things.
One is, we realize we need a scenario to deal with this,
if it happens to be true and not debate
for the rest of our lives, "Well it's not gonna happen,
"it never happened before."
I hope it doesn't.
I'd like to be proven the biggest fool that ever lived,
but, I'm getting some really good company now with Elon Musk
and the President and other,
the Council of Economic Advisors, the ILO,
the World Bank and you know, Bob Rice and Angus Deaton
the Nobel Prize winners, like Joe Stiglitz.
So, I just picked a number to both,
end poverty and start the debate
and to me, it's kind of like healthcare.
It's we're gonna end up somewhere,
but the first question is,
is this scenario worth doing
and is this the right solution?
Hey, if it was up to me,
$12,000 would not be the number I would choose.
I also do 18-64.
Some people do kids.
I don't do undocumented workers.
Some people do.
You know, there are just a million fights
that will break out.
I just don't want them to break out
that people decide is it even worth fighting about,
because there may be better solutions than this?
- [Man] Hi, my name is (mumbles).
I'm an attorney.
So it was great to see that President Obama
and others have thought about this issue.
But do you have any optimism about our next President
having similar thoughts about these issues?
- I don't have much,
I don't have much belief that
almost any of our political people
who've thought about the issue,
because they've all thought about it,
have the guts to say anything about it.
They just wanna blame someone for it, you know?
So, it's jut like the number about trade.
You know, 88% is by automation.
12% is by trade.
I mean factory jobs.
You know, who's, can someone say that?
Right?
It's like I'm not against re-doing it.
I was on the Council of Foreign Relations Trade Taskforce,
it's a really interesting thing for someone to read,
because they wrote 10 years ago,
no, it was 2011.
They wrote, five years ago,
that we needed a pro-American trade policy.
These were the most distinguished free traders in the world,
saying that, "Unless we did something about factory worker
"and other people's jobs."
Which is why they call it a pro-American trade policy,
"We are gonna have a big problem, right,
"about people supporting trade."
So, you know, I just think we haven't,
that's why when I said I saw Lieutenant Governor
Gavin Newsom, talk about this out loud
at a code interview he did, it was like,
"Oh my God.
"It's like amazing that he's the first person
"I've ever heard say in public,
"We have to really think about the future of technology."
So I don't think this is a you know,
listen, you can tell I'm not a Donald Trump fan,
but I don't think this a Donald Trump problem.
I didn't hear Hilary Clinton talk about it
and I didn't President Obama talk about it,
when he was talking about 4.9% unemployment
and 32 consecutive months of job growth.
Because it's not a very easy thing to talk about,
'cause there is no good answer that people like.
Like my answer, everybody says,
"Oh, this is welfare without work,
"writ large."
Most people, you know, like to think,
I like to think they have work, right?
So it's hard to imagine a world
and the one job I keep saying to people,
the one job that everybody,
the country needs more of, is philosophers.
Because this is gonna happen,
whether we do universal basic income or not.
People don't have enough to do.
Right now, opioids and anger,
and racism and other things,
fill the time for people who aren't finding
work that matters or work at all.
I mean 22% of men.
I think it's 20 prime age men,
haven't worked in the last 12 months.
Larry Summer says a quarter of all men
in the next generation, will not be working
at any one time.
I mean, so there's like real choices
of what we're gonna do here,
'cause we know that that kind of problem
fuels instability and work has become central to America
and no one has a jobs program,
so why talk about something,
if you can't either blame somebody or solve it.
So Donald Trump blamed somebody
and the Democrats didn't wanna talk about it,
'cause they couldn't solve it.
- [Daniel] Daniel (mumbles), I'm a JD student.
I'm wondering, in addition to exploring AI,
whether we should also be trying to head off
the problem underlying it,
which is in the name of efficiency,
we are arguably making things worse for people.
Efficiency's supposed to (mumbles).
With respect to like jobs that are sensitive to
added pressures from foreign countries, foreign labor.
We have control over (mumbles),
whether automatic cars are gonna be competing
and displace drivers.
That's something we can regulate
in order to conserve those jobs.
Shouldn't we also be thinking about
rather than just surrender to efficiency,
why don't we have a pro union, labor policy?
- So, I think that is totally possible
and my life experience has been, it doesn't happen.
That no one's yet stopped technology.
Everybody creates friction and slows it down.
No one's yet, stopped it and then technologists will say,
"We're gonna lower the price of goods.
"So they'll save an amount of money
"and we'll buy more things."
Which is true, you know,
what phones and televisions and things once cost,
they're lower.
I think there's another argument,
which goes to the Hamilton question,
of should you have shared ownership?
And should everyone benefit somehow,
more cooperatively from the success of technology,
if we can't stop it, can we share in it,
as opposed to just you know,
sometimes people call universal basic income a payoff,
to allow people to make a lot of money.
You know, they have to payoff some other group of people
to keep them quiet, or keep them happy.
So I just think,
this is the right discussion,
like what,
and I'm not a believer.
I'm not against it.
I just don't believe you can stop technology.
I think it's just, you know, you can raise wages
in service workers, without worrying that,
you know, it's not like a hospital's gonna move overseas,
you know, or your local restaurants gonna move over seas?
There are economic questions involved.
So I think now we're just having the right discussion about,
is it Hamilton, is it friction?
You know, some Jason Jaron Lanier,
who invented the Internet.
(mumbles) Al Gore, apparently.
Said that, "We could charge people."
Like every time Facebook sells your data,
or uses your data,
why aren't you paid a royalty, like a singer is paid
for a song and then he calculates how much money
everybody would get, by the fact that people
are profiting off your data, you know,
that you never gave them permission to sell
and if we had a law that said that you could do that,
we would actually find a new revenue source for people
and take it from the people that are making,
well, - Andy, could we
talk a little bit about jobs.
I mean, there's a political science problem,
whatever they call it, about political,
economy problem, getting people to back a program,
and getting money for not working.
My understanding that Charles Murry,
is that and that people on the conservative side,
is they wanna exchange all welfare programs,
and maybe that works, but you still have a problem
of maybe people need support,
'cause they're dysfunctional families
and all sorts of things that gave rise to these
in kind grants.
It's a political problem.
Why not jobs?
I mean there's a kind of bi-partisan belief right now,
I'm hearing it anyway, there is a need to
improve the infrastructure of the country.
Some of these jobs may be highly skilled,
but others may not be.
- Well, it's just-- - It doesn't have to be
the same thing as cutting brush.
It can be doing useful stuff.
And helping people out
(mumbles). - So the question is
why not jobs?
- Yes. - So, good question?
So, infrastructure, best number,
best number - In terms of government
- Of infrastructure. - Government paid.
- Yeah, best number for infrastructure
is two and a half million jobs.
The largest job in 29 states, is truck driving.
Truck drivers are three and a half million truck drivers,
five million people support truck drivers,
insurance, rest stops, repairs.
So let's assume we lose half of those in 10 years,
which is a fair estimate,
because, driverless cars may be more of a personal choice.
Driverless trucks are a capitalist business choice
and they're gonna deploy as soon as they
get the regulatory relief and I think this administration
would be happy to give them the regulatory relief,
as opposed to create the regulatory barriers, to do this.
So, let's assume we get two and a half million
infrastructure jobs and lose
two and a half million trucking jobs.
So then people say, "Well what else could people do,
"if the government wanted to pay?"
So, people always go appropriately to childcare,
elder care, kind of human services.
I say, "That's perfectly fine too."
As long as college graduates who can't find jobs,
are gonna change my feeding tube,
you know, I'm fine.
But I think everybody thinks that white guys
are gonna do infrastructure
and women of color are gonna do caregiver jobs, right?
We're like gonna sort people differently,
in our own traditional ways.
But someone should do the work on this, right?
I don't think it's, there's lots of this
that works in the next five years.
You know?
I'm the 10 year guy, right?
I'm like, "You could do national service."
Two years national service.
Takes two years out of the labor market, right?
If every kid who was a freshman now,
a freshman and sophomore in college,
was expected to do national service,
to get a universal basic income, or a Pell grant,
or social security or anything else,
you'd take two years out of the job market.
So I think there's lots of important
and should be done, you know, you can raise the EITC,
you can do job sharing, you can lower hours.
But we should understand,
there's a cliff coming, right,
and we should not do one
without being prepared for the other
and I think a country should be able to
do both, personally.
- [Cindy] Cindy Aslan, a teacher.
So Andy, you mentioned the issue of immigration
and I know you,
I fear your answer, but my question is gonna be,
that's one of those things we have to work out.
But I know you've also thought about it more.
There's a big issue obviously,
whether this money,
at what point would this become available
to new immigrants to the country.
If you don't solve that problem right up front,
people aren't gonna be willing to talk about this.
It's like you know, the Obamacare had to assure people,
"Undocumented workers won't be able to get this.
"Let's stop that.
"Now let's talk about why we should do it."
So I suspect you've given more thought than
this is a detail to be worked out later,
I just would like to hear more about that.
- So I'd say there's one really controversial thing
I'll say and one easy thing.
If people have documents they're not undocumented.
So everybody who's here.
If we're having this debate and by the time we're doing this
we still have 11 million undocumented workers,
we will have a different set of problems in this country.
Having said that, I don't want this debate to be
about undocumented workers, as hard as that seems.
That's not my controversy.
- [Cindy] Or new immigrants.
Whatever-- - But here's my
controversial statement.
If this is even remotely true
and if a humanitarian questions,
why would we have new immigrants if the reason
we've brought people into this country
is to do the jobs that no one else wants to do,
I wonder, I think we are very,
running a big danger if we don't think about
what's the purpose of immigration differently,
going forward, not walls, not anything else,
but, how much is humanitarian.
How much is ideological.
How much is refugees.
How much, but the job question.
Is gonna really get turned on its head
and Donald Trump turned it on its head already,
before, those truck drivers lost their jobs,
or before the lawyers lose their jobs,
or the adjunct professors can't find jobs.
So I just think we have a temporary question,
which we can calculate how much is giving 10 million people
and then we have a longer term question,
which has nothing to do with universal basic income is,
where does immigration fit in a world,
which Europe is doing with this, as well.
Where people don't have the kind of work
that they wanna do and there aren't as like farm workers.
Like that's gonna be automated.
Like people don't get it.
Machines are gonna pick.
Momentum, go look at underlying momentum
is a hamburger maker.
It can make hamburgers, really good hamburgers,
not McDonalds hamburgers.
Really good hamburgers, without people.
Eatsa, is opening up in New York City.
It's a quinoa bar.
No people.
One person, one to two people in the kitchen,
just supervising it.
No cooks, no anybody else.
I mean we don't get sometimes,
you know, where the world is going
and I think we need to re-discuss the immigration question
in light of this and we should obviously cover
the 12 million people that are here.
- [Man] Yeah, I think you already got part of it.
- Well I called on you twice, didn't I?
- [Man] Yes he did.
- These white men are jut taking over.
(laughing)
- [Man] (mumbles) question.
(laughing)
- [Man] Very good.
- [Man] Okay, you've only got part of the equation.
If you don't fix costs or prices,
you'll be playing with yourselves.
- Well the market is supposed to fix prices,
'cause the people don't buy things.
But technology has fixed things so far,
not housing, but it's fixed goods, consumer goods,
food, other things.
Prices are not, our inflation rate is not that high
in the United States, other than housing.
So, I'm not an economist.
My sense is, I do agree that universal basic income
needs to be tested against,
does everybody just raise all their prices
to compensate for the additional money?
But I don't really get the macro economic,
I don't know enough to get the macro economic (mumbles).
Right?
- [Michael] Michael, Micheal Sofsky (mumbles).
My question is basically, kind of speaking to sort of
political autonomy in the marketing of this,
your main framing of this at least in this room
has been about kind of prices and how we need to prepare
because that in your words fall (mumbles).
I'm not exactly sure that that's the best way to frame this,
because we've been going towards another (mumbles)
with global climate change and nobody's done anything
despite the science being in on this
for about two decades.
Why not try and phrase it more positively,
as you put it, with people in that message situations,
people with situations where right now they're trapped
in terms of emergencies and can't even afford to move,
to get out of bad like economically disadvantaged area.
Wouldn't it be a positive selling point of,
hey, everybody who's stuck in a job
that a robot could do,
and you're basically dying slowly everyday
and not making enough money to do anything.
This will free you.
Like I think that is like,
how this gets a political traction.
I don't see like we have to do this or else
the riots come 'cause of the political class
is entirely content to sit on its hand,
as long as the status quo is remotely sustainable.
- So there's a lot of,
I could give a lot of different answers.
So one is, I'd say,
and I write this in my book.
Difference between climate change.
Difference between now
and what happened with blue collar workers,
is that white collar workers are affected.
And, this is the Vietnam War versus the Iraq War.
Vietnam War, people like me,
number nine in the draft.
My mom was crazy.
You know?
Anti-war, 'cause her son was gonna go.
And we had an all volunteer army
and the Iraq War came.
My son was at draft age.
I was against the war,
but I wasn't personally against the war,
to the same extent, 'cause my son was not at risk.
Accountants, lawyers, doctors.
White collar workers are taking the stock brokers,
the biggest job that MBAs did in Columbia
when they left school.
Stock traders, stock analysts.
Like that was your entry level job
just like you got a job in a firm or something else.
There are no stock traders.
Algorithms are stock traders.
Stock analysts, basic analysts.
You know, Google is the basic analyst.
I mean you had the high end,
the mathematicians, do lots of things.
So A, I think we have a totally different situation
where the people,
I'm not saying, you know Bill Gates' kids.
But lots of kids of very successful
middle and upper middle class
are watching their kids do everything that they did
and not succeed and I think that's
a different organizing environment.
Two is, I suck at marketing, okay?
(laughing) Like do not
let me, like give me something to say,
but don't ask me to think about how best to say it.
But there are people starting to work on this,
who are very good at marketing.
One of the people that's very much involved
in the basic income collaborative,
if it gets going, is Chris (mumbles),
used to work for Facebook.
This is an issue for younger people, also.
Because the other dichotomy here,
is between people who have had a life that's been
work centric and satisfying,
or at least paid off.
And people who are millennials and younger,
who are entering a very different job market
and I think there's a second marketing question
of who are we marketing to,
trying to convince me and Donald Trump,
that work isn't as important.
Or trying to have millennials think about
what kind of world do we wanna live in,
given climate and jobs and whatever,
which is a big philosophical and political discussion.
Back there and then here.
- [Woman] I was gonna ask about the social component.
Like how this plays out.
I mean so work isn't just income.
Work provides-- - Could you identify
yourself please?
- [Woman] Oh sorry.
I'm a (mumbles) JD.
So I was asking about the social aspect.
Work isn't just income.
It's a place to go, it's a purpose.
It's dignity, it's engagement.
How will universal basic income respond to that aspect?
I mean I just don't,
it doesn't seem that a lot of communities
where people are taking welfare and not working.
It doesn't seem like that produces a lot of happiness.
- Well I think that's why I said that
philosophers are our most necessary missing component
in the world today,
'cause, that is like the right question.
The other thing we now know,
is that people working in shitty jobs,
is not really providing happiness or satisfaction.
And you know, I'm not Maslow.
But I don't believe when he built the hierarchy
and said self satisfaction or self actualization
is the highest thing.
He meant you were gonna get a great job.
I don't think that is the purpose of life either.
I think we're getting to the point,
where survival, people having to work,
collectively, a society,
having to work to survive
is becoming more of an opportunity,
and this is where hope could come in
to allow people to make all kinds of different choices
and it is completely a-cultural, right now
and you know, if self satisfaction, self actualization
is the highest thing that man or women
should strive for, then we better think about this,
because so far the two models we have,
shitty jobs and no work,
you know, don't seem to meet either need
and we are in need of a country with
we are for the first time in the country,
we have a country that has no dominant culture,
'cause the white Christian culture was the dominant culture
now it's only 48%,
at least the voting population is white Christian.
So we have a country that's trying to find
a new culture.
And we have a country
that's finding the white Protestant work ethic,
is being challenged at the same time
and people, that's why there's a lot of
unsteadiness and insecurity,
'cause it's a very different world.
We all don't know what our roles should be,
or where the world is going.
- [Man] (mumbles) work for (mumbles).
- I know that place.
(laughing)
- [Man] (mumbles) so this point about arguing
his point about Trump.
It's the red state voter that I think
needs to hear this message through a positive marketing
(mumbles), blue state voters,
aren't going to be the (mumbles) politicians
who we'll point to as a reason why
we can't do this real point (mumbles),
where I think the red state voters
are actually the ones who would be most enthusiastic
in a lot of ways.
If you marketed in the right way.
So people are unhappy with work
and work just doesn't do what they feel the tribute,
and the idea that might not ever do for them
what they hoped should do.
If you can market that kind of loss of hope
as kind of flip it in a positive direction somehow you know?
You can take care of that problem,
of using the red state voter as a reason to not do this.
- I'd only say,
yes, last elections, red state voter was a blue state voter.
So we just have to be thoughtful of not
taking situational moments.
'Cause candidates matter to,
besides other things and,
you know, Barack Obama won those same states, so.
I just think we need to appreciate
there is a reason why
the largest number of college graduates in history
are moving back with their parents.
It's not family values, I guarantee you.
(laughing) Right?
It's because people cannot live the life
that their parents once lived
and pay for housing and everything else.
More or less all the people
who not like me,
who didn't have a defined (mumbles) pension plan,
you know are getting to the end of their work life
like screwed, right?
They can't figure out how to manage the money they have,
if they happen to have any
and most people don't have any.
So, like there's all these things coming to
a new moment, and I'm not sure basic income
is actually the,
I'm more in view of the next five or seven years,
there's lots of-- - I'm thinking of
my age, 10 years is
a long time. - But uh,
(laughing) I do think we
need to plan for both.
One's easier than the other,
'cause the other deals with philosophical
and other kinds of cultural questions
that old people are really bad
at imagining a world where they don't work.
That's why they work so long.
- [Man] We have time for one or two more questions.
Could you identify yourself, in the rear?
- [Ben] Ben (mumbles) in media.
It's a great book, first of all.
It's a great-- - Oh there,
I put you, thank you very,
I was wondering when you were gonna give my applaud
that I asked you to do. (laughing)
- [Ben] No really, it's a great narrative style.
- Thanks.
It's a story, it's not a policy.
- [Ben] But two questions.
One, taxes.
People who would only be decided only between the
amount that each one.
Is that, the tax rich,
is that the thinking around taxes?
The second question,
- [Man] Will it be taxable,
is that what you're asking?
- [Ben] Yeah, would it be,
what's your thinking around that?
Then the second is, you know,
in our Federalist system path forward,
our Federal system states often experiment (mumbles).
But this seems especially challenging because,
we're talking about Federal welfare programs on one side,
and Federal tax loopholes on the other side.
Do you see a path forward for some state
to experiment with this?
- So I mean, two things.
One is, the presumption,
I probably didn't write this clearly
is the first $12,000 of income is exempt from taxation.
You know, just so we don't,
and then you can decide how much more
of the current exemptions are built on top of that,
but the idea is, not to throw this
12,000 into the tax system, necessarily.
You know experimentation is hard,
because we have a,
but if you think about and I wrote this,
there's an article out there about labor law reform,
through Medicaid waivers.
Process 'cause in this country now,
states can get waivers for Medicaid.
New York has a huge waiver, right,
to get rid of hospital beds and it changes
the basic law by getting
an approval to do something different.
So you know, I look for instance,
again, promoting my own idea,
at 0-3 or 0-5, and I say,
"How much money now goes into programs, 0-3 or 0-5?"
Right?
Could we find a place where work is not a debate,
like kids 0-5 aren't working, I hope yet.
You never know in the future, with this administration.
But, so far, the child labor laws are holding up,
at least from five down.
So, you know, could we take the money, or other money,
right, that could be raised and do something for kids,
just to sort of begin a process of saying
there are certain places where just giving people money.
We'll get into a big debate,
are people gonna have more kids,
if we give people money, but I think there's that.
Then there are people looking at,
there's another group of people who believe,
"Let's start by giving everybody $200, or $400."
Which we talked about in the stimulus program anyway,
of like giving everybody sort of a tax cut,
or you raise the EITC.
So there is discussion about,
could we get a waiver, and Paul Ryan's new block grants,
right, to carve out some amount of money,
for programs like re-training and things
that people have not found as successful
and just give people money,
as a starting place to see what happens,
like some people talk like, $250 a month
and let people have in theory,
some money to re-train themselves,
or get further education.
You would re-name it, but it would just be basic income.
So I think people.
Not me, I'm moving on to things like
this is something that people who have 10 years to work on
and have a passion you know, to do it.
And the good news is,
there are lots of them,
who are getting very interested in doing this, should do
and I think those are debates they're having right now.
- [Man] I think we're approaching the end of our time.
Please join me in thanking our moderator.
(clapping)
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The End of Work and the Case for Universal Basic Income

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王惟惟 published on March 2, 2020
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