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What are your thoughts after this first Democratic debate? Who is the best Democratic candidate? Would you prefer any of them over Trump?

In case you missed it, the debate was split over two nights, with ten candidates per night. Most of the leading candidates (minus Elizabeth Warren) appeared on stage last night. In this video the main action begins after 1 hour and 3 minutes of pre-debate coverage.

https://youtu.be/cX7hni-zGD8

Kamala Harris has received a lot of press for going after Biden. Pete Buttigieg got recognized for handling tough questions. Author Marianne Williamson is trending, because she's going to defeat Trump with love over hate. Bernie Sanders took hits for being an unapologetic socialist. From the first night, Cory Booker and Julian Castro appeared to overshadow Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke. Almost all of these personalities rubbed me the wrong way, except for Buttigieg, who seemed to be the best and most articulate thinker on the stage.

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I would prefer Yang. Mostly because I think universal basic income is overall an improvement - better than welfare programs, requires less information about private citizens, and a smaller bureaucratic apparatus. Plus politically there's nothing else about him that's very concerning to me. The "debate" was more like a Q&A, so I didn't find it helpful for presenting any extra information or anything new.

 

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18 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I would prefer Yang. Mostly because I think universal basic income is overall an improvement - better than welfare programs,

Is he pitching it as a replacement for welfare programs? I guess I missed that part. Isn't he arguing that we need UBI because robots are replacing humans in the workforce?

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He did at least a few months ago. 

He didn't say his goal is to replace all welfare programs, but he clearly supports eliminating some of them. He says a lot about tech jobs, which I don't really agree is as relevant as he says, but at the very least he doesn't focus on policies that are interventionist (i.e., doesn't require the government to be involved at all except to know who is a citizen) and doesn't go on and on about income gaps. It's something like free-market rhetoric, emphasizing that people will do whatever they want with the money, and that this is okay, because we don't need to assume that people are irrational about their money. I'm not sure if he is just afraid to talk about replacing welfare programs (it's politically very dangerous to talk about, people could easily say he hates the poor or he is a socialist, something like that), or if he just doesn't care about that very much. Or maybe that's because he speaks differently to audiences filled with Democrats.

 

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9 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Is he pitching it as a replacement for welfare programs?

Like he'd get away with that. It's like the folk who want to introduce a Federal Sales tax saying that it will replace the income tax.Not being rationalists, we know it's saddle us with both. Yang wants both... a sales tax (VAT) and universal basic income. It'll be a disaster.

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I don't think it's fair to call it a sales tax if consumers aren't the ones taxed on what they buy. And I don't even know what you mean by both, because there's nothing to do with income... 

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16 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

Like he'd get away with that. It's like the folk who want to introduce a Federal Sales tax saying that it will replace the income tax.Not being rationalists, we know it's saddle us with both. Yang wants both... a sales tax (VAT) and universal basic income. It'll be a disaster.

UBI strikes me as a bold attempt to sever wealth redistribution from reason itself. It's not based on justice (tax breaks) or even need (welfare). It's based on mere desire. The people wish for some money every month, and so the Feds should make money appear in their hands. We don't have to deserve it or require it to survive. We just have to want it. It's institutionalizing a collective whim or will, letting our representatives do whatever they want with money, including give it away for no reason other than the recipient is a citizen. It smells like "from each according to his ability, to each according to his fancy." 

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9 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

UBI strikes me as a bold attempt to sever wealth redistribution from reason itself. It's not based on justice (tax breaks) or even need (welfare). It's based on mere desire. The people wish for some money every month, and so the Feds should make money appear in their hands. We don't have to deserve it or require it to survive. We just have to want it. It's institutionalizing a collective whim or will, letting our representatives do whatever they want with money, including give it away for no reason other than the recipient is a citizen. It smells like "from each according to his ability, to each according to his fancy." 

Actually, this isn't really accurate. Without going deep into detail, his argument is essentially that advances in AI technology will wipe out industries such as trucker, retail, accounting, etc. and it will happen so fast that there won't be enough time to retrain people. Therefore, ubi will be needed to help people pay for their basics (rent, food, etc.). He thinks that people are gonna end up on welfare anyways from this so he wants to give an option to people: stay on welfare programs or get $1k a month no questions asked. He thinks this will allow people to focus more on creative work, as well as eliminate some of the bureaucracy that comes with retraining and welfare programs. He also argued that the people own the tech and other major corporations so this is really just a dividend, not a tax. We deserve our share, according to him. 

I watched this a bit ago, but if I remember correctly, that was his argument.

 

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As for the OP - I haven't really been paying attention too much just yet, but I liked some of what Tulsi Gabbard said on foreign policy. I agree with your assessment on Pete Buttigieg also.

Marianne Williamson was a bit funny to listen to haha. 

Not a fan of Yang, or the other candidates really, but I have to listen more when it gets closer.

Edited by thenelli01

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9 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

It's based on mere desire.

You didn't address what I said though, which is that it's better than the alternative. In other words, it's based on minimal government intervention with a welfare program. It couldn't be institutionalizing collective will or whim, because the only way it can do any good for a person is if they use it wisely. What it would do is encourage government representatives to consider the economic structure of the government itself. Although, here I'm getting into the point of UBI; my justification is probably different than Yang's. 

Still, I find his overall platform way too thin to gain any traction anywhere. I think his main aspiration right now is just to get people to talk about UBI, and probably get people to consider what welfare programs actually are. 
 

Edited by Eiuol

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14 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You didn't address what I said though, which is that it's better than the alternative. In other words, it's based on minimal government intervention with a welfare program. It couldn't be institutionalizing collective will or whim, because the only way it can do any good for a person is if they use it wisely.

I don't think that's what it's based on. I'm not seeing the evidence for that. I watched this video of Yang talking about it.

UBI would be a new scheme for wealth redistribution, paid for by a new federal sales tax on luxury items. How is this better than the alternative? And what alternative are you referring to?

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15 hours ago, thenelli01 said:

As for the OP - I haven't really been paying attention too much just yet, but I liked some of what Tulsi Gabbard said on foreign policy.

She does make a couple interesting points in this exchange with Tim Ryan.

At the very end she says that Saudi Arabia is protecting Al-Qaeda.

Here's more on her foreign policy positions.

 

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52 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

I don't think that's what it's based on. I'm not seeing the evidence for that. I watched this video of Yang talking about it.

Did you watch either link you were given? In my link he said "a lot of that would get replaced", referring to welfare programs. I agree that's not what his idea is based on, and it's unfortunate he didn't emphasize replacing anything (even though he said it would). As far as voting for candidates, unless I see a candidate that is fully and consistently a complete platform I support, I vote on a consequentialist basis. So even though Yang isn't really where I want philosophically, UBI in general  is far less paternalistic than many existing welfare programs. The alternative (because abolition of welfare programs without destroying the economy from such a sudden change won't be happening anytime soon) is the status quo to welfare programs - changing nothing at all. You might say tax cuts are an alternative, but those don't actually do anything about welfare programs. Maybe you don't know how terrible really welfare programs are in how they function. They are a nightmare bureaucracy, dictate how you need to spend the money (as if the government knows better), prone to error, don't support what they intend to support, just to name a few.

VAT isn't a federal sales tax. It's not quite the same. 

It's not really wealth redistribution, because literally everyone gets the same amount. Redistribution would mean that you take money from one person, to give to another, without giving anything back in return. Remember, it was mainly Milton Friedman's idea, or least, that's where his reasoning seems to come from. 

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22 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Did you watch either link you were given? In my link he said "a lot of that would get replaced", referring to welfare programs. I agree that's not what his idea is based on, and it's unfortunate he didn't emphasize replacing anything (even though he said it would).

I did watch them--a couple times. Frankly, I don't believe he's serious about UBI replacing any existing welfare program, because he doesn't tie the "dividend" to anything but one's "share" in the tech, as if we're all entitled to part of Amazon's profits. He seems to have a very collectivistic view of the economy. I think he's a little deceptive and has no intention to end welfare programs. He might be imagining that UBI will lift people out of various welfare programs, but that's different from it replacing the programs. And I don't think UBI would have that effect anyway. If you have a video of him explicitly talking about ending welfare programs, I'd like to see it.  

Edited by MisterSwig

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There are many more details about Yang's proposed UBI here:

https://www.yang2020.com/what-is-ubi/

Click on 'How would we pay for Universal Basic Income?' for his answer. It's the usual hodgepodge, junk math, and hand-waving that politicians do.

The following are some firmer numbers. 250 million people > age 18 times X $12,000 = $3 trillion. That's 2/3rds estimated federal government spending in FY 2019 of $4.5 trillion (link).

Edited by merjet

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Another thing about UBI, Yang compares it to the success of Alaska's Permanent Fund dividend. But that dividend is a real dividend that comes from an actual fund (worth $55 billion) set up for a clear purpose: to protect the future economy against the depletion of Alaska's primary resource, oil. Also, the dividend last year was $1600. That's about $133 per month for every non-criminal resident of Alaska. Yang wants to give 7.5X this amount to everyone in America. To give a real dividend of $1000/month to just Alaskans would require a fund worth around $413 billion. And the population of Alaska is only 1/400th that of the entire United States. The fund needed for Yang's UBI "dividend" would be ridiculous. And there's also the problem that no other state has the sort of oil riches per resident that Alaska has. UBI would not be a real dividend. Referring to it as a "dividend" or "social security" type payout is dishonest.

Edited by MisterSwig

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2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I think he's a little deceptive and has no intention to end welfare programs.

I wouldn't say deceptive, but I agree, it's probably not his intention (his main objective). As I said, I'm not trying to support him philosophically, I only much care about candidates in a consequentialist way for the most part. I like the concept of UBI, so if Yang is talking about it without trying to -expand- the welfare state, that's fine to me.

Take this from his website:

"Current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally – most would prefer cash with no restriction."

So, you couldn't take it on top of existing federal welfare programs. On the individual level, it would replace other welfare programs if you choose it. This at least minimizes outright paternalism, and it necessarily eliminates bureaucratic costs. Most people would choose UBI, even if they would get less money. Then we have to consider the positive effects of spending money in any manner you wish. But did he work it out further than this? I don't know. He doesn't strike me as trying very hard. It's more like a hot take on how he would do it. That's part of why he is not a viable candidate at all. I prefer him but... That's not saying much.

29 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

But that dividend is a real dividend that comes from an actual fund (worth $55 billion) set up for a clear purpose

What do you mean? The fund is business revenue, to make up for the fact that robots don't pay taxes, to name one reason. I mean, if someone considers the economy in a collectivist way - which Yang does - it makes sense to consider this a dividend.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Take this from his website:

"Current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally – most would prefer cash with no restriction."

There are 10 million people receiving SSDI at an average of $1230 per month. UBI wouldn't even come close to replacing it.

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2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

There are 10 million people receiving SSDI at an average of $1230 per month. UBI wouldn't even come close to replacing it.

Good point. It also made me think of all people receiving ordinary Social Security benefits. Yang's answer to how do we pay for UBI said nothing about  them. There are almost 50 million of them. If they were not eligible for UBI, that reduces the number eligible to about 200 million. 200 million X $12,000 = $2.4 trillion (rather than the $3 trillion I said earlier).

Edited by merjet

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And then revenue from a VAT, and any reduction in spending. Then the amount of economic benefit from the people on welfare programs being able to spend money as they wish. But further economic calculation is really difficult. 

It would probably work well enough if UBI or reduced to $500 per month. It's just too bad that Yang isn't demonstrating much economic intellect.

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I think UBI is worse than the welfare programs. It introduces a new moral principle/norm into government policy and expands the welfare state in a fundamental way. Welfare programs were introduced and still are accepted as temporary safety net programs to provide assistance when you are in need. Although that is not how it works in practice (with the bureaucracy and misuse), that is a fundamentally different principle than saying it is every American's right by virtue of living in a wealthy country. That you deserve a share of the profits of tech companies and deserve the money by right. It is a more expansive, inclusive addition to the temporary, constrained principle that the welfare state is based. I think it is very dangerous to concede that principle to any party and introduce it into government policy in hopes that it will lead to a better poison than the current welfare system. It might prove more efficient in the short term (though I'm not too sure that is the case), but long term it is detrimental to the cause of liberty.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Do you mind if I split the thread so we can talk about UBI specifically?

That's fine. Can you also add a link in the OP to redirect anyone interested in discussing UBI?

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In the latest debate, Elizabeth Warren got tag-teamed over her dishonest, evasive rhetoric regarding Medicare For All.

https://youtu.be/tSgP7NIEhLU

She won't admit that she'd raise taxes on the middle class to pay for MFA. She will only say that their "costs will go down." In other words, she's equating the costs of private health care with a Medicare tax--because people only care about how much something costs. Apparently nobody she's met cares about freedom or choice--except, of course, for a couple of her rival candidates currently telling her that they care. On the other hand Bernie Sanders is being praised for owning the tax hike. So if Biden gets pushed out, it'll become a race between an "honest" and a "dishonest" socialist. 

Edited by MisterSwig

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