Thursday, August 4, 2016, 9:45pm

Today: Universal Basic Income, Politics, Internet Trolls & More

Here’s a thing to read: These Policies Could Move America Toward a Universal Basic Income.

Universal Basic Income is one of those ideas that strikes me as the sort of thing that looks good on paper, but probably doesn’t actually work in real life. I’m not sure if that’s true – smart people claim the math works. Other smart people claim it doesn’t. I, myself, am not smart enough to be sure either way.

The idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is that the government just gives everyone an allotment of money, regardless of their personal circumstances. Twelve thousand a year is the number mentioned in the article I linked to.

I’ve lived on $1,000 a month before – it’s not awesome. It can be done, but there’s no fun in it. But you get that money no matter what, so, in theory, you’d go get a part-time job to supplement it. Or a roommate or partner. Whatever works.

Also, in theory, UBI would mean an end to welfare programs like SNAP and WIC. Possibly also programs like Social Security, depending on who you’re talking to about it. Some even go as far as saying you’d get UBI instead of any other social programs, up to and including things like Medicare and Medicaid. (That’s a bit extremist, in my view.)

Nobody’s ever actually done UBI before. There have been a few short-term pilot programs, and some even had some pretty promising results, but no one has ever made a complete switch to it. On one hand, that means we have no real frickin’ clue how that would work in real life. On the other hand, it means there aren’t any rules to follow, so we could set it up however we liked.

It’s an interesting idea, though, particularly as we modernize our workforce. One thing a lot of economic experts have talked about is the idea of just… running out of jobs. As we automate more and more things, and folks live longer and longer, and people have more and more babies, there’s an idea floating around that there just won’t be enough work for everyone. Which sounds a little ridiculous at first, but probably isn’t a complete impossibility.

What do we do when there aren’t enough jobs for everyone? People have to get by, so, at that point, we’re going to have to figure something out. UBI might be a solution.

I don’t know. What do you think?

Today’s Reading List

Trumpster Fire
(Sorry for all the Talking Points Memo links – I usually try to diversify a bit more, but the rumors and Trump drama have been flying so fast the last couple days I’m having a tough time keeping up, and TPM is all over it.)

I would caution against assuming this means Trump’s campaign is falling apart and he’s doomed to failure. I mean, it certainly looks that way from here, but it’s suuuuuper early in the general election, yet, folks, and he could rally. Or, more likely, the Republicans could tie him up in a closet with no Twitter access and only trot him out for carefully scripted appearances.

I would also remind folks that while we’re all busy munching popcorn and staring into the blinding light of Trump’s ego, the Koch brothers are busily funding Republicans’ down-ticket races in the hopes of keeping the House and taking back the Senate, which, at best, would mean at least two more years of getting absolutely nothing done.

And to wrap things up, Owen Ellickson, writer of funny TV things, has been having a grand old time making fun of Donald Trump for the last few months, on Twitter. You can read his tweets here. One note – Storify has a bad habit of ignoring line breaks on Twitter, so it’s helpful to know that all these tweets were written as dialogue, script-style, like so:

TRUMP: You ever notice Hillary’s eyes are the same color? Suspicious. There’s something going on there.
CHRISTIE: I qui–
TRUMP: Tweeted it

Okay. Now go watch this tiny fawn and baby bear playing.

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