Monday, August 11, 2014

PageWerk

Link

Google [CEO] Larry Page thinks we should all work fewer hours, and -- like most people -- I love the prospect.

"The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people's needs is just not true," Page said at a recent event organized by the venture-capital firm Khosla Ventures LLC. He was joining his voice to that of another business icon, Richard Branson, who has long championed part-time employment. What they propose, however, would require a complete overhaul of the way governments redistribute wealth: Having people work less would mean instituting some form of universal basic income [..].

Page believes in "giving people things to do" because they tend to be unhappy otherwise, but he is convinced that satisfying humanity's basic needs doesn't require everyone to work all the time [..].

A state-guaranteed universal basic income has been tried before, in experiments during the 1970s. They worked surprisingly well, although back then, neither robots nor China were much of a threat to jobs. Derek Hum and Wayne Simpson revisited the data from these experiments in 1993. They found that receiving a minimum income from the state only made American men reduce their working hours by 6 percent a year, compared with 19 percent for their wives and 15 percent for unmarried women. In Canada, reductions were even smaller: 1 percent, 3 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

At the same time, quality-of-life measures improved significantly. Evelyn Forget showed in 2008 that while a universal basic income experiment, called Mincome, ran in the Canadian town of Dauphin in 1975-1978, high school enrollment rates increased [doesnt really mean getting "an education" today, but it is a sign ppl had more bandwidth for the betterment of their children - at that point in time], accident and hospitalization rates dropped, and women started giving birth later in life because they could afford more schooling [..].

The idea is worth exploring, however, if only because it may prove more beneficial and possibly no costlier than current, cumbersome, fragmented, badly administered and nontransparent social security systems.

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Granted I'd be doing what I am doing now, w/ or wout basic income, but for all the society, with the prospect of machines displacing workers, and for increasing the quality of life (which will pay for itself in increased number of innovations IMO) a more iron-clad security net is needed. That can only be through cold hard cash.