Frequently Asked Questions #19

Public Policy and Health

What can we do to improve nutrition and health?  
Replace welfare with Universal Basic Income (UBI).

What’s Universal Basic Income? 
In 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s version of UBI — his main platform issue — every US citizen between ages 18-64 would receive $1000/month, no strings attached. To learn more about how Yang wants to pay for his program, click here.

What’s the difference between Universal Basic Income and welfare programs?   
UBI isn’t the same as welfare. UBI (my version) would replace welfare. Recipients of UBI can do whatever they want with the money and they don’t lose that income if they pursue another source of income. Welfare, on the other hand, disincentivises its recipients from working because they lose welfare income when they do. And a welfare program like food stamps *tells* its recipients how much they should spend on groceries (even though nutritional needs vary person to person), thereby humiliating *and* infantalizing them.  Welfare tells recipients that they’re poor because they’re stupid.  UBI tells everyone that it’s up to you to figure out how to best spend your money.  Welfare is psychologically crippling. UBI gives people an opportunity to act as responsible adults and encourages recipients to be innovative, to figure out how to get the most out of their money.

So why would UBI improve nutrition and health?
In a developed society, poor health and nutrition happens to those who are psychologically and philosophically “out of tune.”  It has nothing to do with lack of financial resources. Providing basic financial security AND removing the stigma of being on welfare will begin the emotional healing necessary to improve health.

Will UBI give the poor the opportunity to choose healthier options, as Yang thinks will happen?
No, people will continue to eat what they want to eat.  A healthy diet costs less than an unhealthy one.  Unless you’re in Flint Michigan, tap water is cheaper than soda and an apple costs less than a candybar. Again, it’s the emotional renewal that will spur changes in diet and activity.

I’ll give examples in another blog post on Universal Basic Income and its affect on health and diet. I’ll also discuss why Yang thinks that UBI will improve people’s diet.

What other benefits do you foresee?
Social, especially racial relations will improve.  The “Welfare Queen,” for instance, is racialized as a Black woman with lots of kids.  Can’t call anyone a “freeloader” when everyone is getting the same allowance. Resentment from perceived unfairness, not ignorance, is what triggers racial hostility.

Random

Do I get charged the Idiot Tax if I didn’t read the How to Order sign? 
Does the state trooper care that you didn’t see the speed limit sign?

Is it true that the owner has been in jail in 6 countries?
That’s an exaggeration.

Will juice bars survive the Artificial Intelligence Economy?
A few will, just as a few bookstores continue to do well.

What do you think of meal prep delivery services like Blue Apron?  
Not one will survive.  Too expensive and they don’t add value — you still have to cook and clean.

But don’t they teach you how to cook?
They don’t.  Following instructions isn’t learning how to cook, it’s learning how to follow instructions.  You learn to cook by honing and following your instincts so that all your senses are alert.  And you can get better cooking lessons on youtube.

Why don’t you sell acai bowls?
Because they’re stupid.  It’s the same thing as a smoothie except some ingredients aren’t blended, it takes more time to make, and there are no veggies.  It’s a less convenient and more expensive version of a smoothie.

Does the owner think that racism doesn’t exist?
Of course racism exists.  So what?  It only has power over you when you when it becomes an excuse for failure.

 

Pretty but stupid and overpriced and you have to finish it before it becomes a runny mess.

 

Notes on 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Part I

 

I. Candidate Yang’s Universal Basic Income platform: unconditionally give $1000/month to everyone (citizens only?) between ages 18-64, no strings attached and untaxed.

II. Rooting for Yang. His Universal Basic Income platform needs to be debated on national stage, but not endorsing him.  Disagree with many of his policies.

III. Don’t agree that automation will significantly shrink workforce.  Automation has been happening for awhile now — ATMs, self-checkout, etc. — yet there’s a severe labor *shortage* as I write this.  I support Universal Basic Income, just not for the same reasons as Yang’s.

IV. Yang cites labor participation rate of 62.7 percent as evidence of automation shrinking workforce.  So that’s down from 67 percent in 1996.  Is that supposed to be a big deal?  Context: labor participation rate has decreased since economic recovery;  labor participation rate has decreased as unemployment rate has decreased.  Yet Yang envisions doomsday.  I see people choosing to be stay-at-home moms and dads because they can finally afford to do so and a bunch of people who are either unemployable or employed in the black and grey markets (eg. sex work, etsy, ebay).

V.  Automation doesn’t destroy jobs, it only makes people more productive.  Just because Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do the job of a corporate lawyer better and faster doesn’t mean we don’t need most corporate lawyers anymore.  There’s a bottomless backlog of shit that needs to get done.  Once done, there’ll be unimaginable new frontiers to explore. So AI doesn’t mean fewer radiologists or police officers or lawyers.  It just means more of what needs to get done gets done, and at a lower cost to consumers because shit gets done faster and more efficiently.

VI. Next stage automation — Artificial Intelligence Economy — won’t happen as quickly as Yang predicts (10-15 years).  Technological change is as much a social and political issue as it is an economic one.  People will eventually get used to driver-less cars and trucks, just as people got used to using elevators. But it’ll take longer than Yang thinks and the changes will be gradual rather than radical.  Americans don’t like radical change.

VII. Universal Basic Income will help keep unemployable people out of the work-force.  That’s a good thing because there are a lot of people who produce negative value.  Meaning, their screw ups cost a lot of money to fix.  Then there are those — most of the workforce — who produce little value above what they’re paid. Best to not let them work too much.

VIII. Critics say that work is how one builds good character.  Let’s assume that’s true. But why does everyone need to have good character?  We keep useless, lazy pets around and aren’t concerned about their moral health and lack of grit.  So why should we be bothered and concerned if someone doesn’t want to work, especially if we don’t need that person to work?  Let them be and give them enough money to stay off the streets.

IX. Yang mentions Alaska as a test case.  Alaskans get a dividend each month and that hasn’t resulted in societal breakdown and rise in slothful behavior.  Same with other UBI pilot projects around the world.  Link here to pilot outcomes

In fact, have shown improvements in physical and mental health, increase of IQ scores, higher graduation rates (ugh, that’s not necessarily a positive outcome) and reduction of crime. A UBI experiment in Canada saw hospitalization rates go down 8.5%.

X. That makes sense because the lack of economic security is a source of poor mental health, which often leads to poor physical health and nutrition.

XI. Nutrition in US will improve if UBI improves mental health.  Inability to cope with anxiety and depression, not lack of financial resources and access to nutritionally dense ingredients, is why people have poor diets.

XII.  UBI won’t help the poorest of the poor — doesn’t matter how much money you give them, they’ll figure out a way to fuck it up.  But it’ll help the working poor and up.  It’ll especially help the upper-middle class to become more entrepreneurial instead of playing it safe.

XIII. Use UBI to pay off student loan debt.  Then get government out of business of subsidizing student loans.

XIV. Welfare requires a complicated bureaucracy of social workers, administrators, and fraud prevention officers.  So much money intended for the poor is wasted.

XV. Welfare is psychologically crippling, UBI is emotionally uplifting.  Welfare stigmatizes, UBI exculpates.  Welfare racializes poverty, UBI humanizes poverty.  Welfare disincentivizes work, UBI encourages work.  Welfare is invasive, UBI is unconditional.  Welfare invites fraud, UBI is fraud proof.  Welfare requires bureaucracy, UBI is automated.