Basic Minimum Income

I admit, I find the idea of Basic Minimum Income fascinating, and I think that one day we’ll have to start shifting to some form of this for the simple reason that we will simply not have enough jobs for the majority of people to work. We’re already getting into a situation where almost all manufacturing jobs are gone, and the remaining ones will be done by robots, and the majority of jobs will be service industry ones that can’t support a family, so what do we do?

Basic Income is one definite solution, although I’m more in favor of a Negative Income Tax scheme, where you’re guaranteed a certain amount of money per year (say CAN$20,000) and any other money do you make is taken off that basic amount. If you make more, you get to keep it all (well, except taxes), and if you make less the government closes the gap between you and the minimum standard.

I guess the only issue is one of what society will look like if people work because they want to, not have to. Humans are lazy creatures by nature, and there’s no doubt many would simply take the money and spend their lives online playing MMOs and having cybersex. (Of course, these people probably won’t breed much…) I think we’d need a social movement to go with this shift, one which idealizes people who work hard and try to achieve something more in their lives. If we strongly encourage hard work and success as a social value, that might help to balance out at least some of the natural tendency of people to slack-off. Also, this system was tried in Manitoba, Canada as a test project back in the 1970’s called “Mincome” at the time, and there was only a very slight drop off in the number of people working during the 5 year period it was implemented.

The results showed a modest impact on labor markets, with working hours dropping one percent for men, three percent for wives, and five percent for unmarried women. (Mincome entry from Wikipedia.)

So, maybe I should have more faith in humanity?

Of course, this “minimum” should be barely above the poverty level anyways, which encourages people to get out there and work for something more to have a better life than just the very basics.

I’m not sure if this is just Communism 2.0 (which is how many will portray it), or a perfect balance between Communism and Capitalism (both of which are ultimately failures, only Communism died faster) but it might be worth a try. Luckily, it’s not an idea which is going away anytime soon, and sooner or later we’ll see someone try it in earnest and we’ll be able to judge the results.


Movie Review- Singham

Friday night is movie night in my household, I collapse onto the couch, pick a movie from Netflix and go to it.

This week, I decided to go for something a little out of the ordinary and this poster caught my eye…


Now, the fact that it’s a clear ripoff of Iron Man’s aesthetic aside, it is a pretty impressive poster and so I read a few glowing reviews and decided it was time to finally face my destiny. You see, to my eternal shame, I’ve never actually watched a whole Bollywood movie, just seen pieces of them here and there. So, I decided to settle in and see if this movie earned it’s cool poster.

Short answer- it did.

The basis of the film is super simple- Singham (the guy you see in the poster) is a modern Hercules (or rather Rama) who works as a much beloved policeman in a small rural village where nobody ever actually goes to jail because of his wise guidance and judgment. Unfortunately, he runs afoul of an urban gangster from the nearby big city of Goa and the gangster uses his corrupt influences to get Singham transferred to the big city where the gangster is the one who has all the power and is determined to destroy our hero. Of course, things don’t quite go as the gangster planned.

For my first Bollywood film, I think this was a good choice. The plot was dead simple, the music was catchy (this is Bollywood, of course there are song and dance numbers!) and it was just plain fun to watch. My only issues were that it’s actually a bit long (it drags in a few spots) and the ending is really odd and brutal by North American standards, it’s not a Hollywood ending, and was a little unsettling in some ways. (Ethically and morally, but it’s good to see non-Hollywood endings from time to time and different perspectives.)

If you’re still on the fence, just watch this clip, and you can decide whether this is your kind of film:

Ironically, I had seen this clip months ago, but didn’t realize it was from this movie until I got to this part.



The Emergence of Talent

An interesting meditation on the issue of what “talent” really means for artists.

Feeling Social Again

Hi All,

It seems that when I updated WordPress at the end of December, there was a glitch and the tiny little “allow comments” checkbox under each post was now unchecked by default instead of checked, so my last few posts couldn’t have comments. I’ve re-installed WordPress and got back and rechecked those previous posts, so the issue seems to have been fixed. Sorry about any inconvenience!

Thanks to Jack Ward for pointing it out, or I might have just assumed I freaked everyone out with that Opilions post and everyone was too creeped out to comment!


How Powerful Are Algorithms? | Idea Channel

Information Determinism. Scary stuff! Sadly, it sounds pretty reasonable. Think about it this way- we become like characters in a console RPG like Fable where every choice we make is locking us into a path because the Algorithms that are looking for key data indicators are channeling us this way and that.

Every time we make a choice, or a search, we’re slowly building a giant pile of data that will be used in certain ways to determine what we’ll be shown and where we’ll be sent online. Facebook is using these systems to even determine who our friends are, since our News Feed is being modified to just show us the people it thinks we most want to interact with based on our interactions with people. This will only get worse and worse with time, as the internet we see will become more and more customized to us and our tastes in an effort to keep us using it as much as possible. (To sell us stuff and make money from us.)

Not sure how to counter this, except maybe not using Facebook or other social networks, using Duck Duck Go for searching, and maybe proxies. But, if you want to use the Net at all for shopping, you have to log in somewhere, Ebay, Amazon, it doesn’t matter. And you will leave a trail, and they will use that data to try to sell you stuff, here, or in the future, it will happen unless you’re an ultra secretive and ultra-passive user.

A better route might be to give them too much confusing and conflicting data so they don’t know what boxes to stick you in. Or, since you know they’re watching, give them data which manipulates them to give you what you want. After all, if you show interest in a book with your Amazon account logged in, and then wait a week or two, you’ll get an email offering you the book at a greater discount. With a little knowledge and patience, you can use the system more than its using you.