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Post by Joseph »


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Post by Joseph »

A Tweet thread I found today, that goes to show that all information about UBI can be misconstrued and turned viral.
Thread by DCPetterson @dcpetterson
Every now and then, I see people pushing the idea of a Universal Basic Income, or UBI. Let's put that idea in its grave, shall we?
The usual form of the idea, which sounds pretty good on its surface, is to pay every America (for example) $2,000 per months. Wow! Great!
In the most simple version, you get this money from the day you're born until the day you die. Presumably, it's adjusted for inflation, and increases over time, but we'll ignore that detail for simplicity.
The idea is to cover your basic living expenses, help raise children, see you through tough times when you can't find a job, help pay for education and healthcare, and so on. Everyone gets it, because we're all humans, and basic living is a human right.
Where does the money come from? The government. The feds pay you, because you're an American.

Okay, there are about 350,000,000 Americans. $2,000 per month is $24,000 per year. Everyone gets it.

350 million times 24 thousand is $8.4 trillion per year.
I used a calculator. You can, too. That number's accurate.

How much money does the US government have? Well, we're in weird times, so it's difficult to take a "typical" year. Republicans run huge deficits.
Democrats always lower the deficits.
A "deficit" means total tax revenues are less than total expenses. Republicans LOVE deficits, because "revenues" mean taxes, and Republicans HATE taxes.

Since Reagan, Republicans ALWAYS cut taxes and increase spending. To cover the shortfall, they borrow money.
Democrats tend to increase spending, but more slowly, and they find ways to also increase tax revenue (usually by growing the economy faster, so more tax money comes in even if tax rates don't go up).

But that's complication we don't need now. Let's use "generic" numbers.
COVID is screwing up the current federal budget (we just had a Republican president who fucked the economy), so I'll make up some numbers that are about midway between where we were before COVID and where we are now. I'll also pretend revenues match expenses.

The total US government expenses are around $6 trillion per year. That includes education, Social Security, Medicaid, military spending, infrastructure, foreign aid, NASA, air traffic control, SNAP, DOJ, Dept of Energy, federal salaries--everything the government does.

(That $6 trillion does NOT include the Post Office, which pays for itself entirely through postage stamps.)

So if we eliminate the entire federal budget of $6 trillion, we'd still be $2.4 trillion short of the $8.4 trillion we'd need to pay for UBI.

AND we'd be eliminating Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, the Pentagon, infrastructure, foreign aid, NASA, air traffic control, SNAP, DOJ, federal salaries, CDC, national parks--and everything else the government does.

Some of you might want to eliminate some of that. Most people would want to keep most of it. Put this aside for now.

At least we'd still have the Post Office.

We can have UBI, or we can have a federal government. Few proponents of UBI will acknowledge this little glitch.

Of course, we could DOUBLE all federal taxes--import duties, gas tax, income tax, estate tax, FICA, capital gains, etc.--and keep all existing federal programs, AND have UBI--and still be $2.4 trillion short every year. Assuming doubling all taxes doesn't kill the economy.

Most proponents of UBI accept there'd be a bit of a problem paying for the scheme. They usually propose eliminating all social programs--Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, the VA, infrastructure, education, unemployment, etc--and leave basically just the Pentagon.

They excuse this destruction of the social safety net by saying that with an extra $2000 / month, you could afford to pay for your own retirement and healthcare, and would never need luxuries like unemployment compensation.

Two problems with that.

1) Eliminating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid means you're also eliminating the FICA tax, which currently provides almost $3 trillion in federal revenue per year. That INCREASES the UBI deficit from $2.4 trillion to $5.4 trillion per year. Oops.

2) The only way the UBI payment of $2000 per month will help with retirement or medical costs is if YOU DON'T SPEND IT, but instead put it in a savings account so it'll be there later. How many people will do that? The whole idea of UBI is to give you money you can spend.
Proponents of UBI generally try to get around these problems by saying the government can create money out of, well, unicorn farts. They don't have to tax people to make money. They can just declare it exists and cut you a check. (No, it doesn't work that way.)
UBI sounds good, but is an absurd fantasy. We could, I suppose, keep the FICA tax and its $3 trillion / year in revenue and use that for UBI, and cut the UBI payment to maybe $750/month instead of $2000--but then you completely lose Social Security and Medicare.

(Oh and by the way, as more baby boomers retire and stop working, FICA revenues are going to plummet, so even that scheme won't work--unless you forbid anyone from retiring, ever. That's really the goal.)

UBI is not intended as a way to help Americans. It's a way to push the Republican/libertarian wet dream of eliminating Social Security and Medicare by lying to you and hoping you're a moron.

UBI is a dumb idea. I don't know how anyone can support it with a straight face.


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