The Conspiracy sits down with David Spearman, a long time listener and commenter who told us why we were all wrong about UBI and we figured he should tell you too.
Here’s the homework problem David spoke about. The answer is at the bottom.
Suppose a firm has to workers: Bob and Omega. It makes two goods: Ultraspace Drives, worth $1000 each (like I said, cost of living has gone way down) and gizmos worth $10 each. Bob can make an Ultraspace Drive in 1000 years and a gizmo in 1 year. Omega can make an Ultraspace Drive in a year and 10 gizmos in a year. What is the maximally productive allocation of these workers?
David also sent us a couple of links for further research if you’re inclined.
- Jason Brennan’s When All Else Fails: The Ethics of Resistance to State Injustice
- Glen Weyl and Eric Posner’s Common Ownership Self Assessed Tax and book link
- [From David:] The “a UBI will be spent which will stimulate economic growth” argument is basically a rehash of John Maynard Keynes’ argument from the General Theory of Employment, Interets, and Money. You can read the General Theory here
- There are really good summaries of Keynes’ theory as well as really good criticisms of it scattered around the internet, but the most accessible is the Keynes vs. Hayek rap battle videos (part 1 and part 2)
Samuel Hammond article “Universal Basic Income” Is Just a Negative Income Tax With a Leaky Bucket
SMBC Steven mentioned about not emotionally connecting with the end of the world
Richard Dawkins “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones”
If anyone is interested in Crionics but finds the paperwork daunting, contact Rudi Hoffman!
Slate Star Codex review of The Machinery of Freedom
LessWrong posts Discussed in this Episode:
Next Episode’s Sequence Posts:
If Bob makes Ultraspace drives, he makes the company $1/year. If he makes gizmos, he makes the company $10/year. If Omega makes Ultraspace Drives, it makes $1000/year. If it makes widgets, it makes $100/year. Observe that Omega is more productive regardless of what job he takes. However, if he makes Ultraspace Drives, and Bob makes gizmos, the total revenue is $1010/year. Any other allocation of labor will result in lower revenue. If they reverse jobs, revenue is $101/year; if they both split their time evenly, revenue is $555.5/year; if both build Ultraspace Drives, revenue is $1001/year; etc.
As long as Bob and Omega aren’t identically productive, Bob can still be gainfully employed. Even if Omega can be infinitely copied for free, additional copies should be put to work on Ultraspace Drives (this does break down if you relax the “production doesn’t affect the price” assumption, but only if you also make the assumption that the cost of producing an Ultraspace Drive is the same as producing a gizmo). This is why “Chuck Norris has a comparative advantage in everything” jokes are hilarious.