5 Reasons Universal Basic Income Will Never Work

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an economic impossibility being sold to ignorant masses as snake oil designed to pacify resistance against the onslaught of automation displacing workers. The sooner people see through this, the better.  ⁃ TN Editor

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang is a dark horse contender for the Democratic nomination in 2020 and one of his proposals is getting a lot of attention. His idea is to pay everyone in the United States $1000 per month. It sounds great, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want an extra $1000 per month? I would also add that, perhaps surprisingly, there have been people on the Right like Thomas Paine, Charles Murray, and Milton Friedman who have favored the idea.

Of course, there do tend to be differences between the liberal and conservative versions of universal basic income. The conservative version tends to pay for the whole thing by liquidating most of the other welfare programs. In other words, let’s cut the government agency middlemen out and just give people a certain amount of money. Given the incredible amount of money that the government wastes, it’s certainly theoretically possible that it could SAVE US MONEY if we were willing to cut deep enough,

The UBI is to be financed by getting rid of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, housing subsidies, welfare for single women, and every other kind of welfare and social-services program, as well as agricultural subsidies and corporate welfare. As of 2014, the annual cost of a UBI would have been about $200 billion cheaper than the current system. By 2020, it would be nearly a trillion dollars cheaper.

That being said, it would be politically impossible to cut many of those programs and layering it on top of the existing welfare state would defeat the potential purpose of it from the conservative perspective. On the other hand, there’s practically no price tag imaginable that gives liberals pause. That brings us to the first issue with Andrew Yang’s proposal.

1. We can’t afford it

The federal government took in $3.4 trillion in taxes last year and ran a $985 billion deficit on top of that, which is in addition to the nearly $22 trillion debt. Now consider that Andrew Yang’s proposal would probably cost more than $2.8 trillion. Yes, a value-added tax (VAT) along with cutting social programs would pay for some of that, but all? Highly unlikely. In fact, by some estimates, Yang’s proposal is coming up $1.2 trillion PER YEAR short of paying for the whole thing. It’s sort of like someone who can’t pay for a mansion on his current income who decides that the solution to that problem is adding a second mansion.

2. It creates a massive new VAT

Andrew Yang is proposing to pay for UBI with a gargantuan new 10 percent VAT to go along with some mostly undefined cuts in welfare programs. In case you are unfamiliar with a VAT, it’s a very popular tax around the world because it taxes products at every stage of development while passing the costs on to consumers. It’s a LITTLE like the gas tax in that respect. You curse the gas companies because gas is so high, but you don’t realize that you are paying much more in taxes than the corporation is receiving in profit. If we end up with a 10 percent VAT that we pay ON TOP OF all the other taxes we have, the safest bet you could ever make would be that the VAT is going to skyrocket in coming years because there is no better way on earth for the government to soak the middle class without people realizing who’s really taking the money out of their wallets.

Additionally, depending on how the VAT is structured, it has the potential to wipe out a lot of the benefits of a UBI. If you get $1000 more per month, but the prices of everything you buy go up significantly because of the VAT, you’re just taking money out of one pocket and putting it in the other.

3. There are few meaningful tests of this proposal

Because this idea has such an enormous price tag, it hasn’t been tested very much in the real world. Probably the most applicable experiment was the one the Canadian government did in Manitoba back in the mid-seventies and it had mixed results. Does giving money to people in African nations like Kenya or Namibia translate to America? Does giving 100 people in Stockton, California, $500 per month tell us anything of use at all? We’re talking about an extraordinarily expensive, radical transformation of how our society works and given the extremely limited amount of data we have to work with, we’d be flying blind through a canyon while trying to do it.

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Italy Ramps Up Latest Universal Basic Income Experiment

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a global scheme of Technocracy to subsidize the new ‘unemployables” class displaced by automation and AI. Thus far, every trial has failed, but that hasn’t stoped more attempts to make it work. ⁃ TN Editor

Italy’s Five Star Movement has risen to global prominence more for the colorful oddness of its founder, the comedian Beppe Grillo, than for the seriousness of its populist policies.

But one of its proposals has attracted genuine interest from across the world: The idea of a “citizens’ income.” This concept (a less radical version of the “universal basic income” scheme tried out by Finland) could in theory appeal to both the left and the right; the former because it might reduce inequality, and the latter because it could simplify social security.

After a long gestation, Five Star is rolling out its plan in Italy. Unfortunately, the plan has little of the revolutionary spirit of Milton Friedman’s idea for a simple guaranteed basic income for all citizens, jobless or not, and is more like a classic welfare-to-work program. After a deep recession and weak recovery, there’s a strong case for helping Italy’s left-behind. The worrying thing is that this experiment becomes an administrative nightmare, making it harder to target those most in need.

Italy’s new citizens’ income is for households earning less than 9,360 euros ($10,612) a year. It’s made up of an income support scheme and a housing allowance, which can add up to 780 euros a month for a single person with no income. It is aimed at pensioners and people of working age. The latter must be willing to accept a suitable job, or else lose the benefit – hence its difference to more radical basic income schemes. Companies will get a discount on their social security contributions when they hire a citizens’ income recipient.

The country clearly needs to help its poor. About one-fifth of its citizens are at risk of poverty, according to the country’s statistics agency, and one in ten lives with serious deprivation. This is worse than in 2008, when the figures stood at 18.9 percent and 7.5 percent respectively. Previous center-left governments passed a different support scheme, but it was far smaller than Five Star’s program.

Yet the new plan risks targeting the wrong people. The two most vulnerable groups in Italy are foreigners and families with lots of children. A household with at least one foreign-born member is almost twice as likely to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion than one where everyone was born in Italy. Similarly, families with five or more members are at far greater risk than smaller households.

Only people resident in Italy for at least 10 years can receive the citizens’ income, though. And while the support for a household of one is very generous, the additional money paid out for each child is proportionately less than before. A family with five children will get essentially the same amount as one with three. This keeps down the cost of the Five Star plan, but it risks penalizing the most needy.

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Now India Tries Universal Basic Income For 600K Citizens

Failed and abandoned experiments aside, Universal Basic Income continues to be promoted by Technocrats around the world. India’s smallest state, Sikkim, is launching the largest trial ever with 610,577 citizens getting “free” money. ⁃ TN Editor

High in the Himalayas, Sikkim is one of the tiniest states in India. But it is about to embark on an experiment of global interest.

Sikkim’s ruling party has announced an ambitious plan to implement a universal basic income for every one of its 610,577 citizens.

If successful, the scheme would represent the largest trial run anywhere in the world of a concept that supporters like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg say could provide a safety net, help alleviate poverty and address the challenge of job automation. Detractors, meanwhile, say it would reduce the incentive to work and would come at a huge expense.

A universal basic income is a regular, guaranteed income paid by the government, universally and unconditionally, to all citizens. It is a cash payment that aims to replace the often-confusing array of assistance states offer to citizens and places spending decisions in the hands of the recipients.

“If there is one chance of it happening anywhere, it is Sikkim,” said P.D. Rai, the sole member of India’s parliament from the state. Sikkim already has a progressive track record: it was one of the first Indian states to ban plastic bags way back in 1998 – a ban that it has managed to implement successfully unlike many other states. It has also provided housing for all its citizens. Most recently, it became the country’s first organic state, eliminating the use of pesticides and fertilizers.

Its social indexes also stand out from the rest of the country, with a literacy rate of 98 percent, and it has managed to significantly bring the percentage of people living below the poverty line to just about 8 percent – compared to nearly 30 percent nationally. Sikkim’s small geographic area and low population density have been responsible, in part, for its success.

Rai acknowledges that there will be challenges. “It’s a matter of political will ultimately,” he said. “With the rise of global inequality, we want to ensure that we bridge the gap.” Rai declined to reveal how much the program, which was announced ahead of upcoming elections this spring, would potentially cost the state. The tourism and power sectors will be tapped to raise the resources. With over 2.5 million tourists coming annually, tourism is a major source of revenue. Being a surplus power generating state, Sikkim sells 90 percent of its hydropower. For now, he said, the government is holding meetings with experts and stakeholders and expects to roll out the scheme by 2022.

India has a large existing social security apparatus: the central government alone spends 5 percent of GDP spent on 950 schemes. These range from free rice, an allowance to build houses and even guaranteed employment for some living in rural areas. But inefficient implementation and diversion of funds due to corruption have long plagued the system, leading many to propose a universal basic income as a possible solution. India’s Economic Survey for 2017 highlighted the concept as a “powerful idea” that should be debated.

Elsewhere in the world, there have been several small-scale experiments with implementing a universal basic income, but they have met with limited success. In April 2017, the government of Ontario in Canada announced a pilot project involving 4,000 people that would have cost 150 million Canadian dollars. The project ended abruptly for being “expensive and unsustainable” after a year when the local government changed.

In Finland, an experiment with universal basic income similarly ended last year before its completion. The trial included a $630 monthly payment to 2,000 unemployed citizens.

In the United States, meanwhile, the concept has been floated in Stockton, California by its young mayor. Last year, it announced that 100 residents would receive $500 a month for 18 months.

The notion of a universal basic income has found backers in Silicon Valley, with tech moguls like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk endorsing it. In his Harvard commencement address in 2017, Zuckerberg spoke of the need for a “new social contract,” with ideas like a basic income to provide a “cushion” for everyone. Musk has described it as a “necessary” step as automation takes over human jobs.

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Universal Basic Income Had A Rough 2018; 2019 May Kill It

TN predicts that Universal Basic Income will be completely nullified in 2019, thanks to a meltdown in big-tech stocks and deterioration in the global economy. Many cities are already on the verge of bankruptcy and the world is awash with debt. ⁃ TN Editor

Silicon Valley loves the idea of universal basic income. Many in the tech elites tout it as the answer to job losses caused by automation, if only people would give it a chance.

The idea is that all citizens receive a set amount of money from the government to cover food, housing, and clothing, without regard to income or employment status. This minimum stipend can be supplemented with wages from work. Advocates say it will help fight poverty by giving people the flexibility to find work and strengthen their safety net, or that it offers a way to support people who might be negatively affected by automation.

Getting people on board with basic income requires data, which is what numerous tests have been trying to obtain. But this year, a number of experiments were cut short, delayed, or ended after a short time. That also means the possible data supply got cut off.

Back in June we declared, “Basic income could work—if you do it Canada style.” We talked to the people on the ground getting the checks in Ontario’s 4,000-person test and saw how it was changing the community. Then, just two months later, it was announced that the program is endingin the new year rather than running for three years. The last checks will be delivered to participants in March 2019.

We’ve been waiting for basic-income data for a while. In 2016, MIT Technology Review predicted that “in 2017, we will find out if basic income makes sense.” There were two main tests we were waiting on. First there was Finland’s promising basic-income program, which received a lot of hype when it was launched in 2017. Then, in 2018, it was revealed that the program would not yet be extended beyond its original trial period. Another experiment, from tech incubator Y Combinator, has also faced more delays, pushing the experiment into 2019.

That isn’t to say all tests of universal basic income have collapsed. In North America alone there are two programs that have been functioning for more than 20 years. Spain and Kenya also have their own high-profile tests under way. But the problems that plagued the Ontario, Finland, and Y Combinator programs illustrate the issues that basic-income programs constantly face.

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Swiss Village To Use Crowdfunding To Implement Universal Basic Income

UBI is a favorite meme of Technocrats around the world, and has already been tried and abandoned many times in recent years. Now a Swiss village that has no cash is going to try it by using crowdfunding. This is truly an Alice in Wonderland type of story. ⁃ TN Editor

A village in Switzerland has decided to go ahead with an experiment on basic income, with a payout of 2,500 francs ($2,570) per month. The next step is to raise money to finance the plan via crowdfunding.

More than 50 percent of the inhabitants of Rheinau, close to the German border, signed up for the project, according to the organizers website. At least half the 1,300 inhabitants needed to say ‘yes,’ and the count stood at 692 on Monday. The submitted ballots also still have to be checked against government data to ensure eligibility.

The decision comes two years after a proposal for a nationwide unconditional state stipend failed to pass in a national vote.

Rheinau, on the banks of the river Rhine an hour by train from the banking hub of Zurich, was selected by filmmaker Rebecca Panian for the basic income trial. She says she became fascinated by the notion during the national debate before up the 2016 vote, decided to select a village as a guinea pig, and make a documentary.

Earnings and social benefits would count against the payment, which will have to be raised from private sources rather than the government.

Given the cost of living in Switzerland, the sum of 2,500 francs isn’t very large. An entry-level grocery store cashier in the city of Basel working 42 hours per week is entitled to about 3,500 francs a month.

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Ontario, Canada Abruptly Cancels Universal Basic Income Experiment

Technocrats continue to champion Universal Basic Income even though many ‘experiments’ have been abruptly terminated as abject failures. If UBI cannot succeed in socialist Canada, it cannot succeed anywhere else, either. Mark Zuckerberg stated at the 2017 Harvard commencement address, “”We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.” ⁃ TN Editor

Anger and outrage, shock and betrayal: Those were some of the raw emotions after one of the world’s largest basic-income experiments was suddenly canceled.

Earlier this week, Doug Ford, the conservative new premier of Ontario, Canada, pulled the rug out from under the experiment, which provided 4,000 people living at or near the poverty line with a stipend.

Ford’s government hasn’t publicly said much about its reasoning for canceling the program, other than claiming it disincentives recipients from finding work.

Business Insider contacted several people who were receiving income under what was supposed to be a three-year pilot project put in place by Ontario’s previous government.

It lasted only one year, despite Ford’s campaign promise to keep the pilot project funded.

“I feel I have been stabbed in the back by my own government,” Alana Baltzer, 29, told Business Insider in an interview. “I honestly have no idea what’s happening next because there has been no communication whatsoever.”

The pilot project was supposed to run for 3 years. It lasted for one.

Basic income is a system in which, ideally, everyone, regardless of income, regularly receives money from the government.

Ontario’s program was a modified basic-income experiment, in which people who received the stipend had to meet a certain income threshold.

Under the program, a person who made less than 34,000 Canadian dollars a year ($26,000 at current exchange rates) was eligible to receive up to CA$17,000 annually, and couples who made under CA$48,000 could receive up to CA$24,000 a year, minus 50% of any earned income.

Kenya, Finland, and a handful of other countries and cities have rolled out experimental basic-income pilots, intending to hand the results over to social scientists and economists to evaluate whether it helps lift people out of poverty.

When Ontario’s previous Liberal government began one of the biggest basic-income experiments in the world in July 2017, extending the pilot project to 4,000 residents,activists around the world were hopeful.

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Chicago Eyes Universal Basic Income As Solution To Robot Invasion Of Workplace

Technocracy uses science to perfect social engineering  on a global scale, but Technocrats have no answers on how to handle displaced workers… except to just give them money. This will result in creating a new societal class of people who are unemployable and hence locked into permanent poverty. ⁃ TN Editor

Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar is worried about the future.

He is concerned that a coming wave of automation could put millions of people out of work and result in more extreme politics.

Pointing to investments in autonomous vehicles by companies like Tesla, Amazon, and Uber, Pawar observed that long-haul trucking jobs, historically a source of middle-class employment, may become obsolete. More people out of work means more political polarization, says Pawar.”We have to start talking about race and class and geography, but also start talking about the future of work as it relates to automation. All of this stuff is intertwined.”

Before leaving the race after being outspent by two billionaire candidates, Pawar campaigned for the Illinois Democratic Party’s nomination for governor. One of the themes of his candidacy was that politicians were scapegoating various racial or ethnic groups for their constituents’ material problems.

“You know, the British pit Hindus and Muslims against one another,” Pawar told The Intercept at the time, drawing on his Indian-American heritage. “Pit people against one another based on class and geography, caste … this is no different. Chicago versus downstate. Downstate versus Chicago. Black, white, brown against one another. All poor people fighting over scraps.”

Pawar now believes that a wave of mass automation will only compound this problem.

“From a race and class perspective, just know that 66 percent of long-haul truck drivers are middle-aged white men,” he observed. “So if you put them out of work without any investment in new jobs or in a social support system so that they transition from their job to another job, these race and class and geographical divides are going to grow.”

Pawar thinks that one way to battle racial resentment is to address the economic precarity that politicians have used to stoke it. He has decided to endorse the universal basic income — an idea that has been picking up steam across the world.

The UBI is based on a simple premise: People don’t have enough money to provide for their essential needs, so why not just give them more?

UBI schemes entail giving a standard cash grant to everyone — regardless of need. Traditionally, the United States has addressed poverty by delivering in-kind goods. For instance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program, issues electronic cards that can be used to purchase certain types of food.

But some economists have countered that simply giving people money is more beneficial.

Research shows that cash transfer programs are more efficient overall, as they sidestep the administrative costs of distributing in-kind goods. The theory is that people know their own needs and can allocate money more effectively than the government. Moreover, the hope is that because UBI is a universal initiative, it will avoid some of the stigma associated with need-based programs, which have historically been criticized as handouts to the “undeserving” poor.

Pawar recently introduced a pilot for a UBI program in Chicago. Under his program, $500 a month would be delivered to 1,000 Chicago families — no strings attached. Additionally, the proposal would modify the Earned Income Tax Credit program for the same 1,000 families, so they’d receive payments on a monthly basis instead at the end of the year — a process known as “smoothing” that enables families to integrate the tax credit into their monthly budgets.

The proposal also leaves room for the creation of a Chicago-specific EITC program.

Pawar has convinced the majority of Chicago lawmakers to co-sponsor the plan, and he is hoping that the Chicago City Council will soon work with the mayor to implement it.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans don’t have $1,000 in the bank for an emergency,” Pawar told The Intercept. “UBI could be an incredible benefit for people who are working and are having a tough time making ends meet or putting food on the table at the end of the month. … It’s time to start thinking about direct cash transfers to people so that they can start making plans about how they’re going to get by.”

Simply giving people money so they can cover their expenses seems like a radical idea — especially in America, where individualism and personal responsibility are considered chief virtues, and the notion of getting something for nothing is scorned. But there’s an easy rejoinder — at least to those skeptics who doubt UBI because they think the money will be squandered on nonessential goods. UBI-style direct cash transfers have been implemented elsewhere. And they work.

One of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the 21st century is Brazil’s Programa Bolsa Familia. Deborah Wetzel, a senior staffer at the World Bank, called the program a “quiet revolution,” noting that PBF “has been key to help Brazil more than halve its extreme poverty — from 9.7 to 4.3 percent of the population.” Moreover, the program also helped to shrink income inequality by about 15 percent, says Wetzel. One study by the Inter-American Development Bank noted that the program cost about 0.5 percent of the gross domestic product of Brazil, but was credited with reducing the infant mortality rate caused by undernourishment and diarrhea by more than 50 percent.

PBF is not a universal program, as payments go only to Brazilians living below a certain wage threshold. (In 2013, about one quarter of Brazilians received this benefit). Another key difference is that unlike PBF, which requires that children of recipient families attend school and regularly visit the doctor, UBI is unconditional. But PBF is a useful model for UBI, as both are direct cash transfer programs.

The best domestic example of UBI can be found in Alaska. Since 1976, Alaska’s state government has maintained the Alaska Permanent Fund, which invests in financial assets like public and private equities, real estate, and infrastructure to generate revenues for the state government. The fund, which is also fed by residuals on oil from public lands, then issues a check every year to every resident of Alaska. In 2017, that payment amounted to $1,100.

Back in the continental United States, the 27-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, Michael Tubbs, started rolling out a local UBI pilot program earlier this year. The Stockton program, which is being implemented in partnership with Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes’s Economic Security Project, will provide $500 monthly to 100 families. The 18-month study will start in 2019.

In an interview with Politico, Tubbs rejected the argument that paying people for doing nothing is inherently undignified.

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Branson On UBI: America Can Solve Income Inequality By Giving Out Free Cash

As the world is further transformed into Technocracy, calls for Universal Basic Income increase. Technocrat billionaire Richard Branson does not volunteer to give his own money away as ‘free cash’ but encourages governments to do so.  ⁃ TN Editor

One solution to income inequality is giving out free cash, according to the British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson.

“A basic income should be introduced in Europe and in America,” Branson told David Gelles of The New York Times.

Branson was responding to the question, “What do you think those in positions of power should do to address social problems like income inequality?”

In a report published in January, the global charity Oxfam found that 82 percent of the growth in global wealth in the previous year went to the top 1 percent of individuals ranked by riches. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent had no increase in their wealth, the report says.

“It’s a disgrace to see people sleeping on the streets with this material wealth all around them,” Branson said.

A universal basic income, as it’s known, is a cash payment distributed to residents irrespective of their employment status.

Further, there are other reasons for cash handouts, according to Branson.

“I think with artificial intelligence coming along, there needs to be a basic income,” said Branson.

Gelles asked whether that’s because robots will replace human jobs. “Because of job displacement?” Gelles asked.

“I think AI will result in there being less hours in the day that people are going to need to work,” Branson said. “You know, three-day workweeks and four-day weekends. Then we’re going to need companies trying to entertain people during those four days, and help people make sure that they’re paid a decent amount of money for much shorter work time.”

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has also said that AI will eventually mean less time spent working.

“[C]ertainly we can look forward to the idea that vacations will be longer at some point,” Gates told FOX Business Network at the World Economic Forum in January.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence will make humans more productive, says Gates, which is generally a good thing.

“The purpose of humanity is not just to sit behind a counter and sell things. More free time is not a terrible thing,” he said.

The interview with The New York Times published Friday is not the first time Branson has talked about automation necessitating a universal basic income.

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Secretive Bilderberg Elite Meeting To Discuss Technocratic Future

In 1972, it was the Bilderberg gathering that gave the nod to David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski to create the Trilateral Commission in 1973. The TC’s self-proclaimed New International Economic Order envisioned Technocracy. Since then over half of the world has been transformed, including Europe, and the United States is currently in the crucible. ⁃ TN Editor

Some of the planet’s most powerful people will take part in the infamously secretive Bilderberg meeting that begins Thursday to discuss their most pressing concerns, including Russia, free trade and the “post-truth” world.

Political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media will take part in the annual conference, taking place this year in Turin from Thursday to Sunday.

So far, 131 participants from 23 countries have confirmed their attendance, Bilderberg’s organizers said. Some of the names on this year’s guestlist include the president of the World Economic Forum, Borge Brende, the CEOs of Airbus, DeepMind and Total, as well as Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary. The meeting is chaired by French businessman Henri de Castries and he leads the organization’s “steering committee.” (http://bilderbergmeetings.org/participants.html)

The key topics for discussion at this year’s meeting were published by its organizers Wednesday, giving an insight into what are deemed the most pressing issues in global affairs:

  1. Populism in Europe
  2. The inequality challenge
  3. The future of work
  4. Artificial intelligence
  5. The U.S. before midterms
  6. Free trade
  7. U.S. world leadership
  8. Russia
  9. Quantum computing
  10. Saudi Arabia and Iran
  11. The “post-truth” world
  12. Current events

Some issues like the rise of anti-establishment politics and populism in Europe, persistent inequality, the West’s trick relationship with a resurgent Russia and Saudi Arabia and Iran’s emnity have been around for a while. Others, like the rise of artificial intelligence and quantum computing, reflect uncertainty over mankind’s relationship with technology.

Politics and geopolitics dominate the list, however, with the themes of Russia, the Middle East, U.S. world leadership and the domestic political environment ahead of midterm elections in November. The arrival of President Donald Trump in the White House has thrown out the old way of doing politics and heralded a renegade style of politics.

Meanwhile, scandals involving allegations of the mass use of social media to influence elections also relates to a blurring of objective fact and fiction — hence the “post-truth” world the Bildergroup group will discuss. Post-truth, which was Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016, is an adjective defined by the dictionary compiler as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opnion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Discretion is the word

Founded in 1954, the Bilderberg meeting is an annual event designed “to foster dialogue between Europe and North America,” organizers say. The meeting is renowned for its secretive content.

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Stockton, CA Fights Poverty With Guaranteed Basic Income

Stockton, California has been in and out of bankruptcy but now sees the light on solving its large homeless problem: simply give taxpayer money away to all of them ala Technocracy’s “Universal Basic Income”. This is a localized version of wealth re-distribution and is all but guaranteed to throw the city back into bankruptcy. ⁃ TN Editor

Michael Tubbs, the 27-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, has a radical plan to combat poverty in his cash-strapped city: a “no strings” guaranteed basic income of $500 a month for its residents.

Starting in early 2019, Tubbs plans to provide the monthly stipend to a select group of residents as part of a privately funded 18-month experiment to assess how people use the money.

“And then, maybe, in two or three years, we can have a much more informed discussion about the social safety net, the income floor people deserve and the best way to do it because we’ll have more data and research,” Tubbs told Reuters.

The city has not yet decided how many people will receive income from the trial project, which is funded by The Economic Security Project, a philanthropic network co-chaired by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

The idea of governments providing a universal basic income to their citizens has been gaining traction globally. The Finnish government is running a two-year trial to provide 2,000 unemployed people with monthly payments of approximately $660.

In Alaska, each resident has long received an annual dividend check from oil revenues from the Alaska Permanent Fund, which Tubbs said is a model for his approach. Last year, the payout in Alaska was $1,100.

The Economic Security Project is providing $1 million to fund the Stockton trial after approaching Tubbs to ask if his city would be interested in piloting a basic income program.

“I jumped at the opportunity,” said Tubbs, who was familiar with the concept from the writings of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Hughes, 34, has proposed the U.S. government give a guaranteed income of $500 a month to every working American earning less than $50,000 a year, at a total cost of $290 billion a year. He says a 50-percent tax rate on income and capital gains for Americans earning more than $250,000 would pay for it.

The issue of economic empowerment is a personal one for Tubbs. Growing up in Stockton, where one in four residents live in poverty, his family relied on government assistance to meet their basic needs.

“My mom was on welfare for the first five, six years of my life,” he said. “You’d get food stamps, but that’s not cash, and maybe food’s not the biggest need … So this gives people more agency to kind of make the best decision.”

The scheme is not without its detractors. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development argues that providing an unconditional basic income to everyone of working age would do little to combat poverty if not funded by extra taxes. Critics also say it would encourage people not to look for work.

Finland’s government has opted not to extend that country’s two-year trial when it ends next December. Some lawmakers and economists had argued the scheme was too expensive and narrow to yield credible conclusions.

For 31-year-old Shay Holliman, though, an extra $500 a month would just allow her to make ends meet. She was recently released from prison after an 11-year sentence and works a 9-5 job at a local nonprofit then drives for Uber and Lyft in the evenings and at weekends.

“I still can’t pay all my bills,” she said.

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