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Proposal by C.H. Antony on a U.S. Transhumanist Party Working Group on Universal Basic Income (UBI) Implementation

Proposal by C.H. Antony on a U.S. Transhumanist Party Working Group on Universal Basic Income (UBI) Implementation

logo_bgC. H. Antony

The United States Transhumanist Party seeks any willing individuals to participate in the discussion of a proposal by Mr. C.H. Antony to craft detailed ideas for achieving the implementation of an unconditional Universal Basic Income (UBI) system. To indicate your interest and provide ideas in relation to Mr. Antony’s proposal, please post in the comments below.

Background: The United States Transhumanist Party supports a major streamlining of fiscal policy, combined with a streamlining of the manner in which financial support is provided by government to individuals. Sections XVI, XXXV, and XXXVI of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform address, respectively, UBI, reduction of the U.S. national debt, and dramatic tax simplification. Our goal, therefore, is a government that has as little debt as possible, and whose revenues and transfer payments are as straightforward as possible.

Section XVI [Adopted by a vote of the members during March 26 – April 1, 2017]: Given the inevitability of technology eventually replacing the need for the labor of sentient entities, the United States Transhumanist Party holds that all sentient entities should be the beneficiaries of an unconditional universal basic income, whereby the same minimum amount of money or other resources is provided irrespective of a sentient entity’s life circumstances, occupations, or other income sources, so as to provide a means for the basic requirements of existence and liberty to be met.

Section XXXV [Adopted by a vote of the members during May 7-13, 2017]:  The United States Transhumanist Party considers it imperative to achieve reductions of the United States national debt in order to avoid calamitous scenarios of extreme inflation, default, and burdensome future tax increases on individuals. The United States Transhumanist Party supports the following measures to reduce the national debt:

  1. Elimination of wasteful federal spending on programs, goods, and services where equivalent positive results could be obtained through lower expenditures.
  2. Cessation of foreign military occupations and the return of American troops to be stationed exclusively on American territory. However, if a mutually appropriate defense treaty with another country requires the United States to station troops in that country, those troops would be allowed to remain there until the treaty obligations are fulfilled or reduced by mutual agreement with the affected country. If the United States continues to station troops in any country due to mutually appropriate defense treaties, the United States Transhumanist Party supports greater reciprocity in allowing military personnel from that country to be stationed in the United States for purposes of training and information exchange.
  3. Removal of barriers to technological innovation and technologically driven economic growth, in order that a surge in such growth could increase federal revenues so as to generate increasing surpluses, as long as federal spending does not materially rise from current levels.
  4. Elimination of the current cumbersome system of federal contracting, which favors politically connected incumbent firms whose advantage consists of navigating the system, rather than performing the best possible work. Instead, all federal agencies should be empowered to purchase supplies and equipment and to requisition projects from any entity capable of satisfying an immediate need at a reasonable cost. Exclusive and preferential contracts for particular entities should be prohibited, and all payments by federal agencies for work by non-employees should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  5. Digitization of as many federal services and functions as possible – to eliminate the waste and expense of paperwork, physical queues, and legacy information technology systems.

Section XXXVI [Adopted by a vote of the members during May 7-13, 2017]: The United States Transhumanist Party supports the elimination of graduated taxation and income taxation more generally. Instead, the United States Transhumanist Party advocates a flat percentage-of-sales tax applicable only to purchases from businesses whose combined nationwide revenues from all affiliates exceed a specified threshold. This tax should be built into the price of goods from such large businesses and should not impede transaction efficiency in any manner. Transactions pertaining to wages, salaries, gifts, donations, barter, employee benefits, and inheritances should remain completely untaxed, as should transactions involving solely individuals and/or small businesses, for whom the establishment of a tax-reporting infrastructure would be onerous. Furthermore, all taxes on land and property should be abolished.

The following proposal is not a final outline of solutions, nor is it, in its present form, a reflection of the positions of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. Rather, it is a set of ideas put forth by Mr. Antony in a desire to elicit the expertise of those who are willing to contribute to a policy paper that the U.S. Transhumanist Party may develop in order to put forward a viable plan for making a Universal Basic Income a reality, beginning from today’s conditions. The specific content of that paper is to be determined based on the contributions and deliberations of any future working group. 

Discussion by C.H. Antony: I have a stepped plan based on my own limited knowledge that I think is the ticket, but I need to combine the work of individuals with expertise in the following fields:

  • Economics with an understanding of federal spending.
  • Corporate law with an understanding of the Constitution’s position on corporations.
  • A tax professional who can weigh the benefits/detriments within the previously described fields.
  • Someone who can discuss sociological matters pertaining to a UBI and who can show statistical models of the argument.

The following is the essence of my model.

I. Calculate the minimum necessary expense of the GDP necessary to fund a functioning government with regard to the following conditions:

  1. Fully automated IRS that only employs a handful of programmers and analysts to maintain and upgrade the automated systems and address potential or reported errors. Apply this model elsewhere in government where possible.
  2. Cancel all social programs with the intent of replacement with UBI (i.e., SSDI, SSI, Food stamps, VA Income, Tax Credits, etc.).
  3. Consolidate redundant government agencies and eliminate certain specialized enforcement branches. Examples: we don’t need five intelligence agencies when a single well-organized agency could perform all the same functions, BATF can be disbanded, etc.
  4. A fully funded modern military where no soldier’s family barely makes it above the poverty line.
  5. No foreign payments without a tangible financial return to the US in the form of goods or services.
  6. No federal pensions of any kind for any level of service. [Constitutionally, this would only be possible for new hires going forward.]
  7. Save and invest 18% for our own economic growth and to outpace global inflation.
  8. Apply AI and automation as liberally as possible where it can replace functionaries at all levels.

II. Eliminate all federal income tax on private individuals and small businesses and also eliminate income taxes at local and state levels. Determine a fair and sustainable Flat Sales Tax paid on all non-essential purchases that is paid directly into the UBI fund. Sales-tax-exempt items would be the following:

  1. Food stuffs.
  2. Water
  3. Sewer and waste services.
  4. Electricity and other domestic use fuels.
  5. Medical and health-related items.
  6. Educational items and services.
  7. Home and land purchases that are the primary residence; no annual property taxes.

III. Further reduce the federal budget by saving on prosecuting victimless crimes (consensual prostitution, recreational narcotic use, etc.) and remove the state as an entity that may be called as a victim in a crime.

IV. Allow free air-time, equally disseminated, for any candidate running for political office. Social media and digital streaming are more than adequate in this era to give every candidate an equal voice for the people to hear and vote on. States should be directed to follow the same model.

V. Create a payment schedule whereby the national debt is paid in full as quickly as possible from the GDP alone.

VI. Restructure corporate taxes to be both competitive with the rest of the world and be useful to the UBI fund. Determine qualifications where a small business may incorporate that does not punish a successful small business, has clear advantages, and encourages growth within a new corporate structure.

VII. Create a fund whereby two years of field-specific education is available to every adult American citizen. Apply a nation-wide school voucher program to grades K-12, allowing schools to compete for students through quality and safety.

VIII. Create a fund that provides unlimited and free healthcare at a fair market value to all US citizens.

IX. Encourage a near-zero human labor manufacturing trend in the US with an eye on converting other nations into customers and partners for products of US companies.

X. Aim for an average of $52,000 per year for each adult American citizen (approximately 250,000,000 adult citizens).

I believe the above, when fleshed out and mathematically modeled, will serve as a succinct and presentable plan that we could, essentially, sell to voters causing representatives to take notice and have to discuss it publically.

This model in no way, I feel, reflects any form of socialism or communism, as it does not take a dime out of the pockets of any one higher-wage earner for the purpose of giving it to a lower-wage earner. It is self-scalable for inflation and deflation without affecting an individual’s quality of life. It in no way precludes anyone from seeking and obtaining opportunity and earning potentials beyond the UBI, thusly not endangering free market capitalism.

Also, I believe the easiest sell will be to corporations that are already having to maneuver the cost of human labor vs. automation. They can help push the reforms by leveraging lobbying power for us.

C. H. Antony is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party. He may be contacted here

Contra Robert Shiller on Cryptocurrencies – Article by Adam Alonzi

Contra Robert Shiller on Cryptocurrencies – Article by Adam Alonzi


Adam Alonzi

While warnings of caution can be condoned without much guilt, my concern is critiques like Dr. Shiller’s (which he has since considerably softened) will cause some value-oriented investors to completely exclude cryptocurrencies and related assets from their portfolios. I will not wax poetically about the myriad of forms money has assumed across the ages, because it is already well-covered by more than one rarely read treatise. It should be said, though it may not need to be, that a community’s preferred medium of exchange is not arbitrary. The immovable wheels of Micronesia met the needs of their makers just as digital stores of value like Bitcoin will serve the sprawling financial archipelagos of tomorrow. This role will be facilitated by the ability of blockchains not just to store transactions, but to enforce the governing charter agreed upon by their participants.

Tokens are abstractions, a convenient means of allotting ownership. Bradley Rivetz, a venture capitalist, puts it like this: “everything that can be tokenized will be tokenized the Empire State Building will someday be tokenized, I’ll buy 1% of the Empire State Building, I’ll get every day credited to my wallet 1% of the rents minus expenses, I can borrow against my Empire State Building holding and if I want to sell the Empire State Building I hit a button and I instantly have the money.” Bitcoin and its unmodified copycats do not derive their value from anything tangible. However, this is not the case for all crypto projects. Supporters tout its deflationary design (which isn’t much of an advantage when there is no value to deflate), its modest transaction fees, the fact it is not treated as a currency by most tax codes (this is changing and liable to continue changing), and the relative anonymity it offers.  

The fact that Bitcoin is still considered an asset in most jurisdictions is a strength. This means that since Bitcoin is de facto intermediary on most exchanges (most pairs are expressed in terms of BTC or a major fiat, many solely in BTC), one can buy and sell other tokens freely without worrying about capital gains taxes, which turn what should be wholly pleasurable into something akin to an ice cream sundae followed by a root canal. This applies to sales and corporate income taxes as well. A company like Walmart, despite its gross income, relies on a slender profit margin to appease its shareholders. While I’m not asking you to weep for the Waltons, I am asking you to think about the incentives for a company to begin experimenting with its own tax-free tokens as a means of improving customer spending power and building brand loyalty.

How many coins will be needed and, for that matter, how many niches they will be summoned to fill, remains unknown.  In his lecture on real estate Dr. Shiller mentions the Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto’s observation about the lack of accounting for most of the land in the world.  Needless to say, for these areas to advance economically, or any way for that matter, it is important to establish who owns what. Drafting deeds, transferring ownership of properties or other goods, and managing the laws of districts where local authorities are unreliable or otherwise impotent are services that are best provided by an inviolable ledger. In the absence of a central body, this responsibility will be assumed by blockchain. Projects like BitNation are bringing the idea of decentralized governance to the masses; efforts like Octaneum are beginning to integrate blockchain technology with multi-trillion dollar commodities markets.

As more than one author has contended, information is arguably the most precious resource of the twenty first century. It it is hardly scarce, but analysis is as vital to making sound decisions. Augur and Gnosis provide decentralized prediction markets. The latter, Kristin Houser describes it, is a platform used “to create a prediction market for any event, such as the Super Bowl or an art auction.” Philip Tetlock’s book on superforecasting covers the key advantages of crowdsourcing economic and geopolitical forecasting, namely accuracy and cost-effectiveness. Blockchains will not only generate data, but also assist in making sense of it.  While it is just a historical aside, it is good to remember that money, as Tymoigne and Wray (2006) note, was originally devised as a means of recording debt. Hazel sticks with notches preceded the first coins by hundreds of years. Money began as a unit of accounting, not a store of value.

MelonPort and Iconomi both allow anyone to start their own investment funds. Given that it is “just” software is the beauty of it: these programs can continue to be improved upon  indefinitely. If the old team loses its vim, the project can easily be forked. Where is crypto right now and why does it matter? There is a tendency for academics (and ordinary people) to think of things in the real world as static objects existing in some kind of Platonic heaven. This is a monumental mistake when dealing with an adaptive system, or in this case, a series of immature, interlocking, and rapidly evolving ecosystems. We have seen the first bloom – some pruning too – and as clever people find new uses for the underlying technology, particularly in the area of IoT and other emerging fields, we will see another bloom. The crypto bubble has come and gone, but the tsunami, replete with mature products with explicit functions, is just starting to take shape.

In the long run Warren Buffett, Shiller, and the rest will likely be right about Bitcoin itself, which has far fewer features than more recent arrivals. Its persisting relevance comes from brand recognition and the fact that most of the crypto infrastructure was built with it in mind. As the first comer it will remain the reserve currency of the crypto world.  It is nowhere near reaching any sort of hard cap. The total amount invested in crypto is still minuscule compared to older markets. Newcomers, unaware or wary of even well-established projects like Ethereum and Litecoin, will at first invest in what they recognize. Given that the barriers to entry (access to an Internet connection and a halfway-decent computer or phone) are set to continue diminishing, including in countries in which the fiat currency is unstable, demand should only be expected to climb.

Adam Alonzi is a writer, biotechnologist, documentary maker, futurist, inventor, programmer, and author of the novels A Plank in Reason and Praying for Death: A Zombie Apocalypse. He is an analyst for the Millennium Project, the Head Media Director for BioViva Sciences, and Editor-in-Chief of Radical Science News. Listen to his podcasts here. Read his blog here.