Ending poverty (through modifications of our current system)

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Ending poverty (through modifications of our current system)
« on: August 30, 2020, 06:40:08 PM »
What is a solid vision, a goal, for every human being to have, to eliminate poverty and promote human health and happiness? Something tangible, something that can be enumerated, and then systematically approached.

I think every single person should be able to have, at a minimum, even if they're unemployed:

1) Basic decent living, accomplished via a Universal Basic Income (UBI), ie. Social Security for All, such that everyone could afford the following:

- 1 bedroom apartment (studio if a big spendy city, small house if rural) that is safe, hygienic, in an area that is walkable, accessible, safe, and environmentally clean

- full utilities including high speed internet, electricity, climate control, clean water

- nutritious, decent food, with reasonable and convenient access; as well as the means to prepare and store reasonable amounts of food safely

- basic healthy transportation (see below in the social programs for details)

- a few hundred per month of additional discretionary income

2) Universal Social Programs:

- high quality healthcare with no premiums or surcharges, including mental health, vision, and dental. workplaces may offer supplemental insurance above this, and the insurance system can be a hybrid public/private system if desired, but it must be simplified and there must be a public-option to buy-in to Medicare. private insurance employs millions of people, but they must learn to be competitive with Medicare and cut down on all the administration costs.

- high quality education up through graduate level and/or tradeschool; it's also perfectly ok, social resources able to bear it aside, for people to learn more than one thing. in fact, it's ideal if they do, as cross-disciplinary people are awesome. this will also include life skills throughout the lifespan, including comprehensive sex ed, health, nutrition and cooking, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, elder care, child development, continued education, fitness, sports, etc. Education never stops, there's always more to learn.

- reasonable transport and transportation infrastructure built to accommodate. for an able-bodied person, this would mean a bicycle and a bikeable/walkable neighborhood with job, service, and community access. it may also include a transit pass, inexpensive car, a high-quality wheelchair and/or motorized wheelchair, and/or para-transport depending on ability. this would also include greatly scaling back roads where appropriate, like in large cities, and replacing them with open space, parks, trails, and dedicated transit lines

- high quality childcare for anyone who needs it, including workers and students, but also for stay-at-home parents to have a few half-days per week for themselves

- financial support grants for people to relocate to different parts of the country / city / state, to break the poverty traps and revitalize otherwise decent places

- social workers to facilitate appropriate access to everything on this list

3) For workers:

- generous paid medical leave, paid vacation leave, and unemployment benefits

- full-time work-week pegged at 35 hours per week, *total*, and all employers must share the burden of overtime. scheduling to be fair and humane, and planned two weeks in advance, otherwise, it is paid at overtime or double-time like an oncall worker.

- the fulltime workweek would be gradually scaled back by 5 hours per week every two to four years, so that it would eventually be set at 20 hours per week, with overtime after that, and double-time after 30 hours, 2.5x after 40 hours, etc. This will serve the purpose of spreading the good jobs around further.

- the creation of public works to fulfill much of the above. the budgets would be semi-protected from arbitrary changes by politicians. the budgets would ebb and flow with the economy: when the economy is roaring, the budgets for public works would reduce to allow surplus labor demand be absorbed by the private sector; when the economy is receding, public works would ramp up to absorb excess labor which is not in demand by the private sector. we don't want excessive competition between the public and private sector for employment, as this can drive inflation and reduce efficiency. this would keep employment healthy, infrastructure healthy, and protect workers from stagnation.

I think this would be be done with a UBI at base, as well as funding all of the above social programs (education, healthcare, childcare, work benefits) via a stronger progressive tax system which has the enforcement resources to collect what is due. This is a set of goals that is very tangible. There should also be the goal that this basic standard of living will improve over time. Paired with ending the War on Drugs, Mass Incarceration, and the War Against Undocumented Workers & Visa reform, we would definitely see major economic improvement.

Homelessness costs money.
Unnecessary incarceration costs money.
Poor public health costs money.
Under-educated / Under-skilled workforce costs money.
Poverty costs money.

All of the above should be seen as an investment in our society, with an expected return. There are plenty of economists who support such plans, and there are plenty of countries that are more or less run this way already. It requires no more Federal control than our existing system, and in some cases greatly reduces control granting more freedom (eg. letting people out of prison and back into society, with guaranteed income, healthcare, and housing gives far more freedom; reducing poverty in a neighborhood gives more freedom to the residents and business owners, etc.)

Invest in our society, and the returns and dividends will be fantastic.

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Question: What about choice and preferences? Who provides the housing and how is it divvied out?

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Answer:

Yep, you get choices. Lots of them. :)

The basic idea is that a UBI (basic income) would be high enough that everyone would be able to afford all of the above as a minimum. For challenging housing markets, there may need to be interventions to expand affordable housing options. In cases where folks have trouble securing such things, social workers would be involved to figure out how best to assure it. I also mentioned the moving grant - folks with low incomes would be assisted and encouraged to move to less expensive, better areas.

So yea, at base, you'd be given a UBI that would be sufficient for all of that. Then you buy what you need. If you couldn't make it work, a social worker would help. You could use your income as you see fit, but the potential is there. If you had additional income, you could obviously get more. If you wanted to have roommates somewhere really cheap, your UBI goes further.

At most basic, every person gets cash and certain benefits (eg. healthcare, education) guaranteed. Then the system adjusts to ensure their cash can accomplish at least the basic essentials I outlined.

Anything additional you earn is also yours, though progressively taxed. Your taxes would probably overtake your UBI benefit by the time an individual is making $50-80k a year, and a family double that (ish). Your taxes would probably overtake the cost of your total social benefit around $80-100k as an individual, and double that as a family. The tax system wouldn't necessarily prevent anyone from becoming wealthy, but there'd never be a point where the very wealthy pay a lower percent than anyone else, and there'd be no income cap for paying into social programs. A wealth tax on extremely high wealth would probably also be in place to reduce massive concentrations of wealth.b
« Last Edit: August 30, 2020, 06:58:33 PM by firefly »

Re: Ending poverty through modifications of our current system
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2020, 06:54:04 PM »
Related reading and ideas:

In Praise of Idleness - Bertrand Russell (how scientific application of labor can liberate people, even in 1950)
Full text: http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html
Audio: http://audioanarchy.org/antiwork/04-In_Praise_Of_Idleness.mp3
Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Praise_of_Idleness_and_Other_Essays

Humans Need Not Apply:  (how automation is already driving large unemployment, what should we do?)
Video: https://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU

Overpopulation and Africa: (how do we really reduce poverty?)
Video: https://youtu.be/NMo3nZHVrZ4

Near and far futurism, general learning, how do we get to where we want to go - Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsXVk37bltHxD1rDPwtNM8Q


Open Source Ecology [OSE] (global village construction set, open source hardware to create industrial villages)
Initial TED talk: https://youtu.be/S63Cy64p2lQ
wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Source_Ecology
OSE website: https://www.opensourceecology.org/
OSE wiki: https://wiki.opensourceecology.org/wiki/Main_Page
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/marcinose

Re: Ending poverty (through modifications of our current system)
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2020, 08:13:18 PM »
Consider the future where automation takes over most major labor industries and massive companies like amazon are rolling in obscene wealth without the need to pay workers. Through taxation this wealth should be redistributed with the ultimate goal of creating a system in which labor is perhaps entirely unnecessary and people can instead spend their time making art and chilling out. Those with ambition can still become doctors and engineers and so forth, and be compensated accordingly for their contributions to society. This is the future I would like to be a part of.
,i remain

Re: Ending poverty (through modifications of our current system)
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2020, 07:04:07 PM »
how would you build such a future

Re: Ending poverty (through modifications of our current system)
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2020, 10:44:40 PM »
i think that is crazy high goals.


clean water.  Nutritious food.  security. protection from the elements.  access to education and skill building.  access to basic healthcare.

actually looks like we more or less agree, but i am thinking of people living in huts with little or no electricity.

Re: Ending poverty (through modifications of our current system)
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2020, 10:25:40 AM »
how would you build such a future

Ideally and most simply? Through modifications of our existing system. The wealth and technology is already there.

1) Increase progressive tax rates on income, capital gains, and payroll taxes on median income on up. Lift the cap on payroll taxes, tax capital gains as income after a certain higher level so as not to penalize normal retirement income.

2) Implement a Universal Basic Income to cover the items that would ordinarily paid for by income. Essentially just expand Social Security Income to everyone, and then expand the funding for it. We're already very good at sending out checks, we'd just have to scale it up. Likely implement a VAT tax to more effectively tax robots and automation. At least for a while, we'd probably also need a wealth tax at the higher echelons to get that money back into circulation.

3) Increase access to education and healthcare. Again, existing systems are already in place. Make Pell Grants universal to pay for higher ed and trades; if rationing is necessary, then the existing grade requirements for financial aid can be used, along with remediation programs that exist. Make Medicare universal, or barring that, make the Medicaid system used in Hawaii universal (pay for private insurance for everyone with no deductibles).

4) Redirect social resources from current, less effective social programs once their numbers go down, and utilize those folks to help catch folks that have fallen in the cracks. End mass incarceration and the drug war. Modernize the work visa program to make it easier for guest workers to come and go.


Now, the other part of the how, like, how would we actually get this stuff passed into law? That's a good question. Right now, it looks like it's going to be mass protests and sometimes riots, since Congress isn't listening. Changing the election system so we get higher voter turnout and better candidates, ranked choice voting to break up the duopoly.

The thing about my suggestions, is they are readily available through our current system, by simply expanding things we already have (expanding SSI, Medicare, Pell Grants, taxation). They don't require anything new, they don't require a bloody revolution or reliance on unproven political tools, they don't need technology that doesn't exist yet, they don't require unfounded social beliefs about the good or selfishness or whatever of people.

Re: Ending poverty (through modifications of our current system)
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2020, 10:38:29 AM »
i think that is crazy high goals.


clean water.  Nutritious food.  security. protection from the elements.  access to education and skill building.  access to basic healthcare.

actually looks like we more or less agree, but i am thinking of people living in huts with little or no electricity.

I think that it is perceived as crazy high goals is more due to our political and economic reality that these things have been captured by wealthy interests, rather than any sort of technological hurdles. Remember that even in the US, many rural Americans were effectively living in huts without electricity or running water less than a century ago. It just took political will to put it into place. The technology is relatively cheaper by a fair margin nowadays.

How would we expand such access elsewhere? I think it would be worth our while to just go out and build the stuff. We invest so much in our military, building bases, bombing shit, fighting cartels, etc., with the idea of making ourselves "safe" or at least for propping up our economic hegemony and controlling strategic resources. We could take a similar policy, hell, even just by expanding the Army Corps of Engineers, and just go develop other places. Employ a bunch of local people to work with ours, just like when we train foreign security forces. Virtually all countries have some modernization in their cities, they just need a helping hand to expand it. Places that are already doing it could just use cash and some oversight to make sure it gets used appropriately.

The challenge of waiting for areas to do it themselves, is the same problem we face here for automation: more and more workers don't have labor that is worth selling in the market. Our production and existing workforce already does all of the necessary work and the discretionary work, without the help of billions of available workers. Expanding infrastructure and these social programs could somewhat up demand, but even still, it will be proportional just like it is now: a certain percentage of global workers already take care of all of the wants and needs of everyone in the wealthy countries, and those who can afford it in less wealthy countries.

A powerful *reason* for doing it, beyond benevolence, is that geniuses and sub-geniuses, people with very high ability in various areas, are a very limited resource. Most of them will live and die without coming close to reaching their potential. By elevating everyone from grinding poverty, and creating a humble basic living for everyone, we have a much greater chance of liberating those gifted people so they can push the species forward, to help us survive and flourish. We face great challenges, and we need all the help we can get.

Re: Ending poverty (through modifications of our current system)
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2020, 10:50:13 AM »
yeah i guess i mostly agree.

Clean water should be a no brainer, 150 billion, thats cheap af how is that not a thing yet.
free nutritious food, not even double the cost for clean water, also a no brainer... though i'm real hazy on the distribution plan here.

When you start getting into homes and electricity and shit is where you start to lose me.  Most of the planet has electricity but what is a reasonable amount of electricity to use?  most people have homes, but how good of a home does it have to be?    shit gets complicated and expensive real quick, and I question if the NA or European standard is really reasonable.

edit: is there any evidence UBI works?
« Last Edit: September 04, 2020, 11:05:52 AM by kayimbo »

Re: Ending poverty (through modifications of our current system)
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2020, 09:45:17 AM »
yeah i guess i mostly agree.

Clean water should be a no brainer, 150 billion, thats cheap af how is that not a thing yet.
free nutritious food, not even double the cost for clean water, also a no brainer... though i'm real hazy on the distribution plan here.

So everything is regional. Places that already have infrastructure for water just need maintenance and updates. Places that don't need infrastructure that is appropriate to their area, it might take a decade or two to get everything up to wealthy country standards, but improved access is where you start.


When you start getting into homes and electricity and shit is where you start to lose me.  Most of the planet has electricity but what is a reasonable amount of electricity to use?  most people have homes, but how good of a home does it have to be?    shit gets complicated and expensive real quick, and I question if the NA or European standard is really reasonable.

Again, this is regionally specific. You look at what people have and you go from there. You set the initial UBI as to what is reasonable for the area to have housing and such, and then it improves over time. In some areas this will definitely require some construction and updates to have a market for safe housing, and I'm totally ok with public housing being put into the mix as well. You phase out unsafe housing as quickly as possible - shanties, huts, unsanitary and unsafe conditions, tenements that could collapse, etc. Housing needs to be locally maintainable as well, so it wouldn't make sense to build a bunch of advanced high rises unless the social investment for maintaining it were coming too. But it also doesn't take that long to go from almost nothing to something pretty nice if the funding is there.

Last time I was looking, if middle class funding were distributed globally, every person could live like a middle-class person does in Mexico; so not as well off as someone in the US or much of the EU, but still much better than much of the world. This doesn't have to be the standard of what happens right off the bat, just showing what is possible with what we already have.

"Enough electricity" somewhere that has been poor along the equator should be, at a minimum: run an energy efficient refrigerator, run a few fans and a few lights, power a computer, charge some phones, power an induction cooktop, power an efficient convection oven & microwave, etc. Somewhere poor and colder should probably have enough electricity to keep themselves warm in a small well-insulated home, and to have hot water as well.


edit: is there any evidence UBI works?

Sure. Look at Social Security Income, look at pension systems. You have a group of people who are increasingly unable to work their way out of poverty, you give them money, they don't have poverty, or not as crushing poverty. It's pretty straightforward.

Does it work if you extend it to the rest of the population? It seems to in the small cases where it has been applied. As long as there are not traps built in, where all of the sudden you lose a bunch of valuable benefits for making a little bit too much money, there is no disincentive for people wanting to work more. Most people *want* to work, if they can find it. But much of the necessary work (childcare, elder care, domestic work, farming, lower-level work anywhere in the business world) doesn't pay very much, if anything at all. Yes, employers would have to work harder at being kind and safe for employees, to entice them to trade their time and effort for more money; that's a good thing though.

The thing is though, we're very much already in the place where Social Security was for the elderly and the disabled a long time ago: there just aren't enough good paying jobs for them to keep everyone out of poverty. Many elderly people *can* work, but most of them can't work as fast, as hard, as long, or lack valuable skills in the shifting workforce; so we decided as a group of people that we would have national pensions and such instead. Disabled people are in a similar spot: if there were enough accommodations, many of them could work, but there is apparently not enough demand for their work to employ most of them. Now we see this with young, able-bodied, and even skilled / educated workers: they work below their ability, for wages that aren't sufficient, if they can even find work. There just isn't enough work for them, especially when you look globally. We need to provide Social Security for everyone, because more and more people are unable, through no fault of their own, to work their way out of poverty.