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Comment Re:Holy flamebait batman! (Score 1) 877

No, I wouldn't implement this today. My point was that it could be a plausible option in the future, based on back-of-the-envelope calculations on today's numbers.

Also, the average social security payment is more like $14k per year, $24k is close to the maximum payout that only gets given to high-income people.

Comment Re:Holy flamebait batman! (Score 1) 877

We could give everyone a UBI of at least $5k today, possibly even $10k, without costing anyone an extra dollar. There may or may not be moral hazards, although recent surveys from Sweden suggest that these are not as bad a people initially think. And this might sound harsh, but the sort of people that would stop working after receiving a $5k or $10k UBI are probably not really contributing that much to society anyway, so it might not be that big of a loss to the rest of us if they drop out of the economy.

But anyway, here's how the math would work:

The population of the US is 319 million.

Of those, 122 million pay federal income tax (source:
Suppose that for those 122 million people, we gave them a tax hike of exactly $5k
Under a UBI, they could get an extra $5k, which exactly offsets this tax hike

So there are 192 million people left
Keep in mind that UBI replaces existing welfare payments, like social security and food stamps
Social security taxes bring in $920 billion (source:
Food stamps cost us $74.1 billion (source:
That's enough to pay just over $5k to each of those remaining 192 million people

I haven't bothered to look into how much we're spending in admin costs to apply means testing to these welfare systems, and I haven't looked into how much money the various state governments are spending on various welfare schemes - all of this would become unnecessary under a UBI.

However the Cato Institute has looked into this, and they think we're spending $1 trillion per year on "welfare" (source: I'm not sure I fully trust their analysis, but I'll take this as an estimate of the upper bound of what we could afford. So this, combined with social security revenue, would add up to $2 trillion per year to share amongst the 192 million non-taxpayers, which would give a UBI of just over $10k.

No need to tap into our Medicare funds, or cut any of our other expenses. We could continue to pay medical expenses, pensions, fund NASA and wage unnecessary and expensive wars around the world.

So that's where we're at today. In the future, there could be technological advances that make us more productive, and mean that we can lower our labor participation rate. The OP asks us whether UBI is the way to go in the future, and I'd say it's a plausible option.

Comment Re:Obligatory SMBC (Score 1) 365

I disagree that a utilitarian car should sacrifice the pedestrian.

Every car on the road creates some amount of risk to the safety of the general public (which is why we're having this discussion in the first place) whereas the risk that pedestrians create for others is negligible.

Programming cars to always sacrifice the pedestrian would send a strong message to society that it's safer to be a passenger in a self-driving car than a pedestrian, and encourage people to create more risk (which is then offloaded onto the rest of society).

Comment Re:I even have a name for it... (Score 1) 365

This game has been around for a long time, when I was in school it was called "chicken". Adults are programmed to stop for children, and it's not considered a bug or a design flaw. The people playing the game are the ones that need to change, and there are ways to do that without having cars run over people on purpose.

Comment Re:What the actual fuck (Score 2) 202

You can patent the design of a paper bag though. This doesn't stop people making paper bags in general, but it does stop others from using the exact same design.

This is called a "design patent". Utility patents, which are probably what you're thinking of, are the ones that require novelty and non-obviousness.

The submitter and/or editor are either ignorant of this or being intentionally misleading.

Comment Re:Those jobs aren't coming back in 10 years (Score 2) 77

+1. Many years ago my brother worked as a pizza delivery driver for a bit of extra income. We sat down and worked out the expenses, and found out he was basically breaking even. Most people have no idea how expensive it is to operate a car. I suspect Uber and Lyft drivers are in the same boat.

Comment Re:What is there to protect? (Score 1) 204

I agree. The article conflates two separate issues: 1) the hacking of voting machines and 2) the leaking of DNC emails. The first is a real problem that needs to be avoided because it is a direct attack on a democracy.

But the hacking of the DNC servers led to more transparency and a more informed public, who were made aware of corruption within the Democratic Party. These are good things. Hopefully future DNC leaders will think twice before acting this way, and if they continue to do these things, hopefully there will be more leaks. The long-term result is that it makes the Democrats, and the US political system in general, better.

Sure, the DNC leak was a "biased" attack on one party, but so is any news article. Why does it matter if the information came from Russian hackers, an internal whistleblower, or the free press?

Comment Re:It's how you define the 'utility function' (Score 1) 609

Counter-aguments to policy proposals would also fall under the same rules. So for example the idea of putting everyone in jail would easily be shot down by someone explaining that this would destroy economic output (and individual liberty, and many other things obviously). Neither the argument for the proposal, nor the counter-argument against it, need to be based on religious texts.

Comment Re:It's how you define the 'utility function' (Score 1) 609

Actually I have read the Old Testament. Sorry to say but I would not want to be part of a society based on its teachings. Have you ever read the Book of Deuteronomy? I honestly think that many ideas in it are morally disgusting.

Religion doesn't need to provide the basis for any policy argument. The Old Testament isn't entirely bad, but any good social policy that it describes can be justified without resorting to "it's good because this book says so". If a policy argument is entirely based on the Talmud, then we've got a problem.

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