Techdirt Podcast Episode 16: Rethinking Work, Income & Leisure: Albert Wenger On Basic Income

from the BIG-ideas dept

Recently, there's been a growing discussion around the concept of a basic income guarantee and its potential to completely change how we think about work, income and leisure. Would it change the world for the better, or create more economic problems than it solves? Albert Wenger from Union Square Ventures joins us this week to discuss the potential of this revolutionary idea.

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Filed Under: albert wenger, basic income guarantee, economics, podcast


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  1. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 21 Mar 2015 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: I'm Offended, Mike

    The real question from your statement, is why do we NOT tax the wealthy? Or why do we allow businesses to use loopholes to avoid taxation?

    We were promised that they would use the money to create jobs and thereby trickle down the wealth created by the new business enterprises. I believe we can agree this is a pile o' poo. The truth is, if you have a choice between artificially jacking up the price of your shareholding via stock buybacks and starting up a new factory and employing more workers, it's a no-brainer, isn't it?


    We need a simpler system that allows for some limited policies to encourage business in disadvantaged areas?

    I'm in favour of that approach as it would create a self-sustaining system. We've actually had some very successful tax-funded schemes in which industrial areas were cleaned up and used to create leisure facilities. In one case they cleaned up a coal wastewater pool and turned the area into a nature park with a visitor centre and a fishing pond. Result: an economy grew up around supplying the visitor centre with foodstuffs to sell to visitors to take away or eat in the cafe. Craftware, etc., was also sold in the shop there. This thing pretty much sustains its local community.

    Nearby, certain farmers made a deal with a promoter to arrange regular music festivals, which people are happy to go to because the area is lovely now that it's been cleaned up. Needless to say, local entrepreneurs make out like bandits when the concerts are on. I love this kind of thing.

    The East Lancs Railway is another regeneration success story that was mostly down to private effort and a bit of government assistance. I'm very excited by stories like this, mostly because these things tend to be sustainable so it's great in the long term and has potential for growth.


    And the idea while it may not be enough to live on by itself, is not correct. Here in the United States you can live on a basic income of $1500 Per month, I admit that you have to live with someone to offset rent or the mortgage note. And I admit that it would not be the best living conditions. But, then at least you have a choice, and you could develop your own business.

    This is where you go against Mike, who argues that it needs to be a living wage, and against me, who would argue that you then have to find someone to live with whom you can live with, and pray that your life does not become complicated by something like a long-term health issue or having to care for others.

    This is why I always say that any philosophy predicated on a best case scenario is ultimately doomed to failure. Base it on the worst case scenario; you can hope for the best when prepared for the worst. But people don't, Ed. So the only people who would truly benefit or even do well out of your version are job-ready, entrepreneurial healthy adults.

    Mike hasn't developed his idea yet, it's in the embryonic stage and he seems to be thinking more about the implications than the practical applications. Fair dues, but sooner or later I need to get answers to my growing number of questions if I'm going to get behind it. It's the only way to cure my chronic skepticism.

    In essence this would help small businesses all over the place, as many people would do something that "Interests" them and potentially create so many new small businesses that we would have an evolution in goods and services.

    We've got crowdfunding for that, Ed. Ultimately, when an idea is about a thing to be brought to the market, I think it would be best to let the market decide whether or not it actually wants it. Grants, loans, and investors are already available to provide financial support for business ideas. Though the market is not free, market forces exist and I think they should be respected as failure to do so tends to cause problems, the War on Drugs and the mess that goes with it being a handy example of what I mean.

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