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Unconditional basic income

there are four criterias of unconditional basic income that are important to make it work: it has to be not means-tested , be payed individually to everyone, without coercion to give something in return and it has to be large enough, to make sure that people not only could exist but to participate in the cultural life of their society.
only
this concept of unconditional basic income has the potential to start a
better future. it will end modern slavery, free people to make
conscious decisions for their lives, end the blackmail to work for
unethical employers and therefore empower every emlpoyee to participate
in society as a politically active member.

there are many perspectives…ethical, religious, economical, jusnaturalistic…
some brainstorming:

  • the earth with all natural ressources belongs to everyone.
  • our ancestors invented machines to do work for us
  • means-tested welfare and social security conceps are against human rights

http://de.wikisource.org/wiki/Allgemeine_Erklärung_der_Menschenrechte

(Note: This thread (including the start post and this reply) have been copied over from the old Social Future Forum.)

Thanks for that introduction! :slight_smile: You might want to explain what that

it has to be not means-tested

means. That’s a technical term that might be unclear to the majority of readers.

And where exactly do you see that means-tested welfare and social security concepts are in violation of human rights? Do you refer in particular to the articles 3 and 25?

Article 3
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 25
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in
or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

nearly every welfare system wants to know, whether you are rich or poor before you get financial help. therefore you have to prove that you are in need and show them everything you own. they could force you to first “eat up” your home or your savings until they help you…and you become transparent, “naked”… this is all degrading. basic income has to be unconditional. that means, it should not matter if you are rich or poor to get it.

[quote]Article 22
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality. [/quote]

if you depend on welfare, you would never have enough money to participate in social and cultural life. … to go to the movies or theatre, join your friends in a restaurant or go for a city trip on a weekend to visit a special museum or a conference or a concert you are interested in. if you want to support NGOs or a political party it would not be possible to do that with money ( and with time would be difficult, too if you have to clean up the park for 2 euro) . it would be difficult to learn something new, because if you want to take a cooking or a dancing class or learn a new language you will run short of money very soon.

[quote]Article 23

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. [/quote]

“the free choice of employment” …and so on…not realized: you have to take every job they offer you and "just " and “favourable” is out of the question. 23. 2. has never been realized but this is another problem.
the “free and full development of the human personality” is a central expession in the UDHR. you can check article 4, 12, 13, 17, 24, 25, 26, and 28 whether our welfare system correspond with them.

(Note: This is the last post from the original thread on the old Social Future Forum)

Ok, let’s check the definition of “means tested”. Wikipedia

states (emphasis by me):

A means test is a determination of whether an individual or family is eligible for government assistance, based upon whether the individual or family possesses the means to do without that help.

Merriam Webster has the following definition for a means test:

a process done to find out the amount of money a person has in order to see if that person qualifies for government assistance

The way that agencies do means test is usually by handing out a large amount of forms that the applicant for social payments has to fill out truthfully. Of course, that means that the applicant could cheat by claiming he has less than he actually has. That’s why financial records, such as bank account records, are checked to some degree by social agencies. Still, personal wealth can be hidden outside of bank, so in theory, a proper means test would have to include hired detectives who spy on the property of the applicant. As a general measure this would be quite expensive, so this is only done in rare cases (if at all). But this consideration exemplifies the core logic of means testing: Its proper implementation would mean broad espionage action against a sizeable proportion of the populace of a country. These things happen in so-called “totalitarian regimes”, but also become frequently trendy in so-called “democracies” (as if they were necessarily two different things). They seem to be in violation of the following article:

Article 12
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

(of course a devil’s advocate could be eager to point out that this kind of “systematic interference” would not be “arbitrary” :imp: )

Anyway, I think the world “universal” in the universal basic income is a combination of the absence of means tests and the absence of coercion to do something in return for receiving the income.

Quote from: zanthia

if you depend on welfare, you would never have enough money to participate in social and cultural life. … to go to the movies or theatre, join your friends in a restaurant or go for a city trip on a weekend to visit a special museum or a conference or a concert you are interested in. if you want to support NGOs or a political party it would not be possible to do that with money ( and with time would be difficult, too if you have to clean up the park for 2 euro) . it would be difficult to learn something new, because if you want to take a cooking or a dancing class or learn a new language you will run short of money very soon.

This opens up difficult questions. How do you define participation in social and cultural life? How many social events per month are enough? How many conferences do you need to be able to visit to qualify as someone for participate in social and cultural life? If we are strict enough, almost nobody actually participates in social and cultural life. If we relax the conditions sufficiently, it would be possible to participate with almost zero investment of time and money.And it actually breaks down to time and money. Visiting other locations costs money. It also costs time. Those who work may have money, but their time has become scarce. Those who are poor and don’t work may have time, but not the financial resources to participate fully. So, if social and cultural participation was the ideal, nobody should work, and everybody should be rich. At the current moment in history this demand cannot be met. So, there is some form of systemic “soft” structural violation of article
27.1:

Article 27

  1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

Which brings me to an important question: Who has the legal authority to interpret the human rights?

Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say on the matter:

International human rights law is the body of international law designed to promote and protect human rights at the international, regional and domestic levels. As a form of international law, international human rights law is primarily made up of treaties, agreements between states intended to have binding legal effect between the parties that have agreed to them; and customary international law, rules of law derived from the consistent conduct of states acting out of the belief that the law required them to act that way. Other international human rights instruments while not legally binding contribute to the implementation, understanding and development of international human rights law and have been recognised as a source of political obligation.1

Enforcement of international human rights law can occur on either a domestic, a regional or an international level. States that ratify human rights treaties commit themselves to respecting those rights and ensuring that their domestic law is compatible with international legislation. When domestic law fails to provide a remedy for human rights abuses, parties may be able to resort to regional or international mechanisms for enforcing human rights.

International human rights law is closely related to, but distinct from international humanitarian law. They are closely related because the substantive norms they contain are often similar or related: Both provide, for example, a protection against torture. They are distinct because they are regulated by legally discrete frameworks, and usually operate in different contexts and regulate different relationships. Generally, human rights are understood to regulate the relationship between states and individuals in the context of ordinary life, while humanitarian law regulates the actions of a belligerent state and those parties with which it comes into contact, both hostile and neutral, within the context of an armed conflict.[2]

Especially the end of the Wikipedia page is interesting (again, emphasis by me):

Monitoring, implementation and enforcement[icon] This section requires expansion. (July 2008)

There is currently no international court to administer international human rights law, but quasi-judicial bodies exist under some UN treaties (like the Human Rights Committee under the ICCPR). The International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over the crime of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights enforce regional human rights law.

Although these same international bodies also hold jurisdiction over cases regarding international humanitarian law, it is crucial to recognise, as discussed above, that the two frameworks constitute different legal regimes.[36]

The United Nations human rights bodies do have some quasi-legal enforcement mechanisms. These include the treaty bodies attached to the seven currently active treaties, and the United Nations Human Rights Council complaints procedures, with Universal Periodic Review and United Nations Special Rapporteur (known as the 1235 and 1503 mechanisms respectively).[37]

The enforcement of international human rights law is the responsibility of the nation state; it is the primary responsibility of the State to make the human rights of its citizens a reality.

In practice, many human rights are difficult to enforce legally, due to the absence of consensus on the application of certain rights, the lack of relevant national legislation or of bodies empowered to take legal action to enforce them.[38]

In over 110 countries, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) have been set up to protect, promote or monitor human rights with jurisdiction in a given country.[39] Although not all NHRIs are compliant with the Paris Principles,[40] the number and effect of these institutions is increasing.[41]

The Paris Principles were defined at the first International Workshop on National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Paris from October 7 to 9, 1991, and adopted by UN Human Rights Commission Resolution 1992/54 of 1992 and General Assembly Resolution 48/134 of 1993. The Paris Principles list a number of responsibilities for national institutions.[42]Universal jurisdiction
Main article: universal jurisdiction

Universal jurisdiction is a controversial principle in international law, whereby states claim criminal jurisdiction over persons whose alleged crimes were committed outside the boundaries of the prosecuting state, regardless of nationality, country of residence or any other relationship to the prosecuting country. The state backs its claim on
the grounds that the crime committed is considered a crime against all, which any state is authorised to punish. The concept of universal jurisdiction is therefore closely linked to the idea that certain international norms are erga omnes, or owed to the entire world community, as well as the concept of jus cogens.

In 1993, Belgium passed a “law of universal jurisdiction” to give its courts jurisdiction over crimes against humanity in other countries. In 1998, Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London following an indictment by Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón under the universal-jurisdiction principle.[43]

The principle is supported by Amnesty International and other human rights organisations, which believe that certain crimes pose a threat to the international community as a whole, and that the community has a moral duty to act.

Others, like Henry Kissinger,[44] argue that “widespread agreement that human rights violations and crimes against humanity must be prosecuted has hindered active consideration of the proper role of international courts. Universal jurisdiction risks creating universal tyranny—that of judges”.[45]

So, the practical situation seems to be messy. It’s still national judges who interpret human rights – whether within their own countries, or others. Is there a better alternative?

After all, one could argue that human nights necessarily imply the right to a universal basic income (I am not sure that this is actually the case). But without the approval of judges who are authorized to enforce this statement somehow, it only remains a moral declaration.

It occurs to me that transhumanism and unconditional basic income could give the nations leading with it a substantial incentive for foreign companies to want to go to the nations with UBI. On the grounds that labor costs would be lower to companies. Apply robotics to humans via enhancements and the performance will increase as well. Why should a company invest in robots when it can invest in its people, who they pay less anyways. Overhead might go down for investors.

Jobs won’t be outsourced because the labor can be improved at a lower cost. Citizens gain life extension. There would also be no training needed for new employees when your old employees never need to retire. We may even get to a point where labor knowledge and skills can be downloaded.

Those are interesting considerations, Daniel. It is a quite unexpected thought that companies want to move to the countries that implement a UBI, rather than leave it. But it does depend a lot on how the UBI is financed. If we just slashed the current social security systems in favour of a UBI, we might get a modest UBI that would indeed make it attractive for companies to join in and profit from the situation.

If the UBI is financed with, say taxes on automation, then it would attract companies who are willing to use cheap labour, rather than robots. At the same time, it would make companies who focus on automation want to flee the country and establish automated factories in some automation-ready country, say India or China.

I’m writing on a chapter about UBI for the Transpolitica book project and I’ve also considered the benefits of enhancing humans in order to enable them to compete with automation to some degree. It’s a complex subject, because even enhanced humans cannot really compete with highly specialized robots or AIs. Unless they are really cheap, which a UBI could actually achieve.

If people actually get life extension, then they could continue working indefinitely, but the other question is whether that makes sense. The work landscape will change quite rapidly in the coming decades, so the question is less how long people will live, but how quickly they can learn and adapt to new work requirements. If skills can be downloaded, then there would be no need for lengthy retraining and, in theory, everyone could work in any field. But I guess that before we get to the level of downloadable skills, we will have powerful AGI anyway which could take over any work. Things will be really complex in such a world.