Power of the Crowd Series: Number Four


We added a new blog post yesterday continuing the Power of the Crowd Series. This is probably going to be the last one for a while. Cheers.


Wow Nick, what a privilege it is to know you and David, and be a part of such a creative and wise community at this moment in human time.

I urge everyone to read this blog post and share it widely! (And I hardly ever say that :slight_smile:)


It’s strange how much I believe in this guys and even after the massive changes and time frame that extended for longer than expected I am still cheering for them. It’s a noble attempt at changing the world… may it succeed…

… Now time to go and read this blog… and stop yapping away :slight_smile:


Maybe not a disagreement with the blog post but I think a basic income will be useful, not in the long run but as a temporary transition phase to smoothly integrate the inevitable progress of automation. And even though not all technologies develop at an exponential rate, information technology does. And there is a trend towards more and more products and services becoming digital, including physical products.

With a universal basic income people with low income jobs will generally want to keep their jobs because they will then have their ordinary salary plus the basic income. And people with high income also want to keep their jobs since the basic income alone will be far too low for their needs.

And there are experts both on the left and the right on the political scale who are for a universal basic income. Then what about unemployed people who receive a basic income, will they just become couch potatoes and watch television and play video games all days? No, I’m pretty sure most unemployed people will work with what they want to do without having to worry about having to make money. This will generate a lot of value for society, not in terms of traditional economics, but in terms of making our civilisation evolve into a new future model less dominated by monetary concerns as the main driver.


Those who own the AI and robots may not be looking for profit in the way the elite have traditionally sought profit. If you can have AI empowered robots do (nearly) everything for you that the working class use to do then what need have they of the working class… none.
Which outcome is more likely, a planned reduction of human populations by way of sterilization and wars or the inclusion of have nots into the fold of elites? I like that this blog post has offered another solution. A new economic model that offers a completely new vision of how the working class might survive a ‘singularity’ gone wrong. Thanks for the post!


The standard neoclassical economic model assumes the economy participant to be self-interested, calculating and always profit-maximizing (homo economicus ). However, behavioral scientists have for a long time been arguing that this construct is false, pointing out that most people are cooperators, often “playing” against their own (immediate) interests. Yet, so far they haven’t come up with a better economic system modeled on a more accurate picture of human motivation. The Merit economy model developed over the past couple of years is an attempt to do just that. It can be seen as an evolutionary step up from capitalism, as it adopts the construct of market as the determinant of value, but distributes the economic benefits labor generates equally, while maintaining motivation of the profit makers to participate. Sounds improbable, but as I argue in a blog post on medium, even black eyes on the face of neoclassical model like the frugal lifestyle of Warren Buffett or the very existence of (over one trillion dollars/year) volunteer economy can be explained within the Merit economy framework.
I have been following the MaidSafe project for a long time due to the significant overlap with ideas of Merit economy and am looking forward to the day when NEO (a Merit economy model actual implementation) will run on the Safe network. At the moment a proof of concept of NEO is being coded that will be delivered as a classic web app. ETA: end of the month for the beta version.


Thanks for the feedback @Anders. My concern is that it is unsustainable and therefore temporary as you suggest and we should therefore be looking to leapfrog this solution to finding the cure, not the sticking plaster. [quote=“Anders, post:4, topic:13693”]
No, I’m pretty sure most unemployed people will work with what they want to do without having to worry about having to make money.

I agree that they will, but I’m less sure that they will work on something that is of value to society. My own feeling is that the work ethic here in Scotland is not as strong as it once was (at 40 yrs old I sound like an old codger) and I would be concerned that UBI will remove the work incentive for many reducing tax receipts and the ability to pay for UBI and any other forms of welfare.


You kids get off my grass grumble grumble


I enjoyed reading your medium post, some interesting thoughts about what truly motivates us and look forward to seeing the NEO app in due course!


I agree we don’t know if a universal basic income would be sustainable, but I think it could be. Obviously if you set it high, and people can do everything they want with no more income, they won’t do work they don’t really want to do.

But if you a set it at a level that ensures people can survive (avoid homelessness, starvation, debt), they still have an incentive to work, but which is stronger because 1) they keep everything they earn, 2) they are not stigmatised as being on benefits.

The effect is that the economic system acquires a brake against poor working conditions, low wages, and pays a premium for work people don’t want to do. The level can be adjusted and the effects measured far more easily than a complex and unfathomable welfare system. Many cost savings can be imagined too - from avoiding knock on effects of stress, physical & mental health issues, poverty in general, crime & policing, prison etc

UBI is worth a try IMO, as are the ideas you suggest in your blog post. A bit of both of perhaps :slight_smile:


Tax robots owned by corporations, implement a UBI while automation rises, pursue your passions over the distributed economy that is the SAFE Network. :ok_hand: (If only it were that easy)…


Tax robots

You can’t tax safenet. lmao. That’s flat out impossible.

And UBI is mathematically impossible to achieve while it incentive people to be more lazy.

There are 235.17M Americans over the age of 20. If UBI is set at $12K / yr, which is a number I often hear bandied about by UBI advocates, it would cost $2.8 TRILLION per year.

The Federal income is about $5T per year.

UBI would be 56% of the Federal budget. Where’s that money going to come from?

[They say UBI is only $200/wk here. I reduce the age from 20 to 18 b/c I found the age-18 statistic.]

$2.45 TRILLION per year, at $200/wk for all persons over 18. $2.45T per year is approx half the entire annual Federal income. Where’s that money coming from?

3.5M households in the USA earn $200/wk, or $10,200 annually, which is 7% of households, or about 3% of the working population of the USA, who now make as much or more by staying home all day.

SNAP is $78B, Welfare is $503B, Section 8 is $27B. Not sure what else we need to sum up, but we’re only 25% of the way to UBI’s cost.

So if we look at $2.45T divided among the 116M people who work (119M people * (100% - 3%)), that comes to $21,145 in taxes per person.

We see here,

•Taxes per person. Individuals paid taxes at an annual rate of $10,549 per person in the first quarter — about the same as individuals have paid since 1990 when adjusted for inflation. Incomes have grown; tax payments haven’t.

So UBI would raise DOUBLE the tax rate, increasing taxation by about $10,596. So at a UBI of $10,200, the average person is worse off by $300 than if they had just not gotten anything.

This isn’t a compelling plan.

[Interlocutor gives the following list of things that UBI replaces.]

Some classic examples of U.S. programs that become obsolete once a simple basic income is implemented:

  • welfare/workfare
  • minimum wage
  • payroll taxes
  • unemployment taxes/insurance
  • progressive taxation, i.e. tax brackets
  • Social Security
  • subsidy portions of Obamacare
  • Medicare/Medicaid3.33T in
  • legal protection of union strikers
  • tax deductions/credits for education
  • disability benefits


$500B / yr

minimum wage

Not a funded program.

payroll taxes

Uhhhh, this is a revenue stream, not an expenditure. So now you’re making $880B less ($2.2T * 40%). Another way to look at this is, UBI now costs $2.45T + 0.88T, or $3.33T.

unemployment taxes/insurance

This is paid for by the employer, not the government.

progressive taxation, i.e. tax brackets

Again, progressive taxation represents revenue, not an expense. UBI is an expense.

Social Security

Okay! $744B, now we’re up to $1.3T in savings. Good point on SS, btw. But considering the $880B loss in income tax revenues, UBI now costs $3.33T, and we’ve only found $1.3T in savings.

subsidy portions of Obamacare

What’s the #?


“Medicare spending grew 3.4% to $585.7 billion in 2013, or 20 percent of total NHE. Medicaid spending grew 6.1% to $449.4 billion in 2013, or 15 percent of total NHE.”

Now we’re up to $2.38T in savings, but we have $3.33T in expenditures.

legal protection of union strikers

How do you quantify this?

tax deductions/credits for education

How do you quantify this?

disability benefits

Isn’t this part of Social Security?

[So the final outcome is $2.38T in savings, but $3.33T in expenses. This is not compelling.]


Woh woh woh! Not what I said and also not interested. I mean tax physical automation that take working class folks jobs. Just an opinion though.


Very nice analysis. I have done a similar one on another site, to a wall of silence from UBI advocates. It’s an analysis that’s worth doing, if somebody is honestly advocating such a plan. Western governments have managed to convince a lot of people that the government is omnipotent and that money can be printed or stolen (redistributed) as required, forever.

In Star Trek TNG, Picard talks about how nobody in the federation has to work, but can choose to work if they desire. It seems idyllic. Someday, perhaps, but our species does not have such bottomless resources yet.

I also have begun to question the wisdom of such a program, even if the resources were available. The old bible proverb, “Idle hands are the devils workshop” used to seem like nonsense to me. It no longer does People need to be busy doing something, and if they’re not busy working to feed themselves, they’re busy with something else. That’s the whole premise of UBI, that we can give people the opportunity to create and invent, unhindered by the shackles of making enough money to survive. But I believe, based on my observations of people for many years, that there will be a very large percentage that will choose to spend their time on less noble pursuits such as rioting for an ever larger UBI, and this will cause much social unrest. I’m not sure the world of UBI will really be a better one.

Finally, this acceptance of the premise that the government always has the right to redistribute resources at the point of a gun is very troubling to me. Why do high-schools no longer teach the book “1984”? Why do high-schools no longer teach about the millions upon millions of deaths that communism/socialism caused throughout very recent history? There was a time, not very long ago, that people remembered the 10 million people that starved to death in Ukraine, or the 1.5 million people that starved to death in Cambodia and they would be talking about the hunger that is now occurring in Venezuela. But now, all of these lessons are ignored and our progressive thought leaders assure us that they now know how to do socialism correctly and those other guys were idiots. Socialism works now, they cry. It does work for awhile, if they have oil wealth like Norway or a printing press like the ECB, BOJ, and FED. But eventually, the oil will run out and the printed fiat will no longer buy anything. Then perhaps they’ll remember Ukraine and Cambodia and Venezuela again.


I like the “idea” of socialism. Actually democratic socialism but I’m not married to anything, ever. If there is a decentralized, fair, voluntary solution to social services or what have you then I’d be all for it. I’ve been in rough places but am not anymore and am willing to help others even knowing there are some scammers because I have been there and it’s not something I was happy with. I don’t like feeling beholden or dependent but welfare helped me not be homeless, helped feed me, and get out of the ruts of life. People do need to be productive to some capacity, I don’t think anyone has all the answers though. I respect the above analysis of UBI and it’s interesting to go over. Definitely don’t have my mind made on it.


You are a good person, willing and even desiring to give charity and assistance to those in need. These charitable desires are part of being human, and are probably instinctive and helped us survive to where we are now, although there is enough selfishness in the world to still allow us to rightfully praise and respect those who are charitable.

There really is a middle ground, between redistribution of resources at the point of a gun, and letting people die in the streets. Advocates for socialism would have us forget that people really will give of themselves and their resources to those in need, without a gun being held to their head. I would much rather live in that world, where I can be proud of helping people, rather than resentful of the jackboot that redistributed my resources against my will, so they could buy votes with them…


Well said and thank you. I wish I could choose how my tax money was spent. Most of it would go to some form of education, welfare, NASA, and maybe a penny to defense. Any ideas or resources out there for the middle ground you speak of?


@nicklambert - great topic!

There’s one part which to my mind doesn’t fit with the way I see the SAFE Network, just because of the wording. I know it’s in a certain context in the article, but I’d like to point it out to see what you think:

Combined with the ability of the SAFE Network to identify the owner of each chunk of data

It’s where you’re talking about a mechanism to reward content producers. I just wonder if it should be phrased slightly differently so it doesn’t sound like individuals are so easy to pin-point?

Perhaps I’m being too anally retentive, or maybe I’ve misunderstood…

Anyway, I don’t want to be all negative so have this too! :kiss:


I saw that too. Wondered how many would notice it.

Maybe worded as “ability of SAFE Network to associate an anonymous wallet address to each chunk so that…”


My thought is that a universal basic income will be useful as a transition phase into a technological singularity. So it’s a useful temporary solution rather than something to hold the old money paradigm in place.

When the exponential progress really starts to change fast, then the price/performance of goods and services will follow that curve. This means, from a long-term historical perspective that money and other forms of “middleman” exchange-means are only a temporary phase for a developing civilization. Gradually money will more and more be replaced by smarter methods of human interactions.

I used to think of ads for example as useful when they are nonintrusive. But now advertisement on the internet is starting to feel really old, obsolete and disturbing. Ordinary business with money will of course still be needed and useful for many years to come, yet even here automation will replace more and more of human labour. And when the technological progress has reached a very high pace, then the need for money will often be removed altogether.

Just as today ads on YouTube suck and having to earn money by posting on Facebook is considered unglamourous, using money, including cryptocurrencies, will increasingly be revealed as a clunky and old-fashioned way of doing things.