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Scott Santens | Universal Basic Income

Topics Covered: Finance, Solutions, Universal Basic Income

Show Notes

Join Greg Carlwood of The Higherside Chats podcast a he talks Universal Basic Income with his guest, Scott Santens. An important piece to the conspiracy puzzle is finding solutions to problems long identified. Instead of grandiose ideas of a technocratic utopia and pipe dream paradigms of exotic technologies firmly locked behind the gates of possibility for decades, moderator of the Basic Income community of Reddit, Scott Santens walks us through real, practical solutions we can fight for now. Greg and Scott walk through viable options for providing maximum optionality, circumventing the debt based system of rule and breaking the chains of economic slavery using something within our grasp.

2:24 Greg and Scott begin by helping to define the concept of a Universal Basic Income. Given on an individual level, the basic income is an unconditional, separate and permanent income stream meant to help pay for basic needs of citizens. As Scott explains, to be considered a basic income, the amount must cover the essentials, and usually hovers near the poverty line.
6:45 Addressing one of the most prominent criticisms, Greg and Scott help set the record straight about the “welfare for all” myth. Scott elaborates on the concept that under our current system, welfare pays people to do nothing, but basic income would pay people do anything. With poverty cliffs disincentivizing people to work and fear they may have to forfeit their benefits, Scott explains how Finland is using basic income to grow the job markets.
14:20 While some may still have a hard time conceptualizing the finer details associated with the basic income, the great white state Alaska, serves as a case study after having implemented a similar system for residents. Since 1982, residents have been receiving dividend payments from a state controlled investment fund. As Scott points out, Alaska has been able to turn a non-renewable resource into a permanent, renewable source of income, securing it’s post as a leader among states with residents with the highest well being, the lowest overall poverty levels and lowest wealth inequality.
24:50 Greg and Scott discuss how a basic income is consistent with any philosophy from conservatives to liberals, and libertarians to socialists. Listen as Scott explains how the basic income theory is universal and details the appeal from various philosophical perspectives. Greg and Scott also examine the growing need for a universal basic income due to the rise in technology and the best ways to incorporate this into a new, simplified tax code.
31:45 Continuing with the discussion of taxation, Greg and Scott detail the best possible options to restructure the current tax code to include things such as a Pigovian tax, and debt-free publicly created money. Although money should be considered as a public good, under our current system, money is not accessible to all citizens and even then, for most comes with the added price of interest. Scott contends money should be born in the hands of the people rather than bankers. Under this new paradigm, the need for an ever growing economy to cover the cost of accrued interest would disappear, leaving a more sustainable system for citizens.
36:30 Can we really afford this? Listen as Greg and Scott detail the best ways to look at the overall cost. As Scott explains, the introduction of a universal basic income, while deceptively seeming more expensive than we can afford, when all costs are considered, is less than many originally think. Additionally, with the introduction of the universal basic income, the need for various social programs already in place drastically declines, as many people would no longer qualify for such benefits.
42:10 Addressing another aspect of the universal basic income, Greg and Scott examine how this may affect crime rates by offering citizens not only incentives to avoid crime, but a sense of community and overall well being.
45:40 Revisiting the Manitoba pilot experiment out of Canada, Greg and Scott consider the various aspects of life and society that improved while citizens received a basic income. From a drop in crime rates, to a reduction in hospital visits attributed to domestic violence and work place accidents, the decrease in overall stress financially is directly accredited to these improvements. Scott also discusses the results of the Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth, which was a long term study of kids living in poverty that showed when an increase in income was present, children’s health, wellness, agreeability, and overall well-being improved.
49:50 A common concern regarding the basic income is the dependency on government. Greg and Scott discuss the effects of programs already in place such as Social Security, and the dividends in Alaska and how voting blocks receiving these benefits tend to have more civic power, vote in higher numbers and take more active roles in the governing process.
55:17 Being dependent on your employer, in a time where the work force in being exploited more and more can be a dis-empowering situation. Greg and Scott discuss howa basic income allows workers to have more civic power by eliminating the fear of repercussions from their employer for their political views, and the impact this can have on real change.
57: 40 Greg and Scott explore the effects a basic income has on small businesses. With additional capital, and more freedom and time to devote to passion projects, the economic landscape would drastically change and eliminate the corporate chokehold. Scott details examples from Namibia and India to unconditional cash transfers of Give Directly, and Sam Altman’s upcoming social experiment in Oakland.
1:01:00 Nothing speaks volumes like real world examples and the data that comes with them. Greg and Scott discuss the best examples to reference including, Alaska, Namibia, India, Finland, Liberia, and North Carolina and how one common factor has been the sky rocketing self employment.
1:09:00 Greg and Scott dispel the stereotype of Native American’s receiving benefits having higher dependency rates on things such as drugs and alcohol. Scott helps to clarify by discussing the Rat Park study and explains, living conditions and feelings of isolation have huge impacts on drug and alcohol use.
1:18:20 Concern from other economists include the hoarding of this additional income stream, and the inevitable unbalance it will create in our economy. Greg and Scott discuss how unfounded these concerns are, especially considering the massive inequality in today’s system. As Scott points out, there are basic multiplier effects where people spend on their basic needs, and those at the bottom, keep the economy healthy.  They also tackle the topic of inflation and how in a more competitive market, inflation is healthy, but price gouging becomes more difficult.
1:25:00 Greg and Scott address another looming concern regarding universal basic income: immigration. With a basic income requiring official government documentation, Scott explains how it encourages immigrants to adhere to immigration laws in place instead of illegally circumventing these laws and risking the ability to receive any benefits.
Want more Scott Santens? Check out the subReddit r/BasicIncome and the website for more information.
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