Tagged: #universal basic income

Raising the Floor by Andy Stern

book jacketRaising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream by Andy Stern (2016)

This is a good book. I am buying this book. I do not agree with everything he says in the book, but the writing is clear and broad in scope. I was reminded of something I knew, that Alaska changed their state constitution to provide a basic income to all resident citizens from the money oil leases and such brought into the state by putting all that money into a dedicated fund to share the wealth. And a Republican governor did it.

I have some doubts about the purported takeover of technology for jobs, but that is probably a prejudice or failure of imagination on my part due to my lack of education and experience (pre-females being allowed to take shop in public schools). It is like watching magic to see a video of the automation that puts car parts together, or the mind blowing details of how the new Bay Bridge was built. Or when I saw the giant machine used to drill out the tunnel under the English channel. For that matter, every day I took the New York subway, especially though the tunnel under the water from Queens or when I drove through the Holland Tunnel and did not drown, well, it just doesn’t seem possible that mere mortals could figure out how to make tools and how to use them to accomplish such feats.

We have people who cannot make change correctly so cash register machines had to be modified to contain a function that simply told workers what the correct change should be. Icons are used instead of words, although I have to say, from a user interface point of view, this actually is a good thing on many levels: multilingual, faster, and more accurate. Translating the abstract concept of FRIES by having a little graphic of french fries in the container eliminates a lot of cross-brain work translating the letter symbols into a word and then punching a value of numbers in the register.

Trust is the number one criteria for people to accept a lot of the mechanization and technology. As a grocery shopped, you select a product based on a posted sign for a particular price. When the item is scanned at the register, can you remember the price of all the items selected to ascertain if the automated system actually priced it as the sale take listed or maybe it added a penny or a dime. Who actually watches the $$ values that are being rung up and are confident enough in their recollection to contest a price? Peer pressure of people standing in line waiting for you, the inability of the register clerk to know anything beyond what the computer tells her is right, having to call a manager over to assess the situation and go back to the shelves to check the sign, all to save 2 cents on a $2.00 purchase. Not a scenario to encourage questioning the accuracy of the technology. Even self-serve registers have this problem, or worse, because you have to do the scanning yourself while watching accuracy and then do the bagging too, again with people standing there impatiently waiting while you try to figure out why your credit card swipe is demanding a pin number you don’t have and it just seems wrong to push the red cancel button to continue.

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Inequality by Anthony B. Atkinson

inequality what can be done title with math symbol for no equalInequality: What can be done? by Anthony B. Atkinson (2015)

This is a FABULOUS book. Well written, very understandable language given that there is some economics and statistics and such covered. Actually a darn good read, a page turner, so well organized and fluid were the transitions.

I have been reading a lot of material on this subject for some time now, and this book presented about as complex of range as one might imagine with the variables involved. There was only one lack I perceived, and that is the failure to address gender inequality of pay, both in exact same jobs, and in the apparently forgotten comparable worth sense that I vigorously supported back in the 1970s. For example, since private sector refuses to cooperate making up such lame excuses as mommy tracks or leadership skills, or whatever makes it seem like they aren’t discriminating, it is time for the government to do some equalizing. The IRS has the data and they could make some determinations and proceed by either taxing non-compliant companies and refunding pay discrepancies directly to the employed women, or some other scheme to force equity. Such as only tax women at a rate 70% of that of men. Ever so briefly the author touches on universal basic income but principally in relation to child poverty and making a child payment. Again, just briefly discusses, maybe one sentence, the fact that paying women to have children is inherently discriminatory against women who cannot or choose not to bear children, but who would be taxed to pay for OTHER PEOPLE’s children.

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