Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Body Economic video

This talk by David Stuckler goes over some of the same information in the book I reviewed yesterday here, with some of the same figures. There is an additional figure in the talk (at the 20 minute mark) that is taken from a paper* they published the same year. It looks at the return on investment of various types of government spending. Government spending in general tends to lead to economic growth, but it depends on what it is spent on, with defense spending actually shrinking the economy but spending on health, social protection, and education leading to significant economic growth. (“Community” means things like housing, water, street lights. These numbers are averages for 25 countries.)

The sound in the video isn’t the greatest, but it’s relatively short (24 minutes) and covers the same territory as the book. There are other videos as well if you want more details and don’t want to read.

*Does investment in the health sector promote or inhibit economic growth? Aaron Reeves, Sanjay Basu, Martin McKee, Christopher Meissner and David Stuckler. Globalization and Health 2013(9):43. You can find it online fairly easily if you want the details of how they came up with the numbers.

Book Review: The Body Economic: Why austerity kills

The body economic: Why austerity kills. Recessions, budget battles, and the politics of life and death. David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, 2013. Basic Books.

The authors are public health experts who study how social and economic policies affect our health. I first read this book in 2013 when it came out, and was blown away, mostly because I was not aware of the effects of austerity vs government spending.

It’s unethical for researchers to conduct austerity experiments on populations to see what happens, but there are plenty of austerity experiments out there already, enacted by governments, that researchers can study to see what the effects are. This book is a plain language translation of their scientific research.

According to the authors, economic policy affects who lives and dies more than medical care does; in the US, zip code is a top predictor of life expectancy. Continue reading

Barb Jacobson on Basic Income

Barb Jacobson is co-ordinator of Basic Income UK. She has a number of videos online – I’ve seen a few and like this one best, even though it’s not very exciting to watch. She brings up a lot of good points, talks about the history of BI (back to the agricultural revolution), and talks about women’s unpaid work. The questions are good, too, though you have to watch for them because they’re subtitled since you can’t hear the questions (no mics). The video is 32 minutes long including questions.

I have viewed quite a few videos I haven’t posted and am not going to post, in case anyone is wondering.

Future of Trade Unions and Social Security

This is another video from the conference in Switzerland last spring. It features two labor organizers, Andrew Stern from the US (I loved his talk) and Vania Alleva from Switzerland (she speaks in German from about 17 to 23:45 minutes – I think she prefers minimum wage to basic income), and Nell Abernathy and Dorian Warren from the Roosevelt Institute in the US. I think the speakers I understood all brought up a lot of good points worth thinking about. The video is 56 minutes long, but unless you understand German you can skip about 7 minutes in the first half, and sections of the Q&A (36:30-38:37; 44:15-45:15).

Creative Citizen, Creative State: The Principle and Pragmatic Case for a Basic Income

Anthony Painter is Director of the Action and Research Centre at the Royal Society of Arts in the UK. He makes a good case for basic income, then advocates introducing it incrementally. This is another talk at the basic income conference in Switzerland last spring. It’s only 18 minutes including Q&A.

“Basic Income Experiments – an Overview”

This is another video from the conference in Switzerland before their referendum on basic income. Panelists include people who are with organizations that actually give people money to see how well it works (Give Directly and Mein Grundeinkommen), and someone from Basic Income Earth. The video is almost 50 minutes, with 35 for the panel and 15 for Q&A.

Erik Brynjolfsson (MIT): Basic Income and 4th Industrial Revolution

This is another talk given last spring before the Swiss vote on Basic Income. Brynjolfsson is the author of The Second Machine Age.

This video isn’t the greatest, because he wasn’t there live – he participated from Boston – and there are a few places where the transmission froze or stuttered. I disagree with him about the timeline and the work side of things – I think people will work regardless, and I think basic income needs to come in sooner than he does – but these are the things we need to talk about.

Again, if you like this, head over to YouTube and give a thumbs up.

Basic Income – Beyond Left and Right?

Today’s video is a panel of four economists at the conference in Switzerland in the spring of 2016, chaired by a journalist. The economists are Michael Tanner (USA), CATO Institute; Daniel J. Mitchell (USA), CATO Institute; Robert B. Reich (USA), UC, Berkeley; and Reiner Eichenberger (Switzerland), Ökonom. Moderation: Alexandra Borchardt (D), a German journalist.

The video is 45 minutes. Among other things, they discuss the loss of jobs to automation, the need for welfare reform, and issues around financing and implementation. The last 15 minutes they take questions from the audience. One tidbit: the smallest government spending (e.g. Hong Kong, Singapore) is about 20% of their GDP. Switzerland’s government spends 34% of their GDP; France’s government spends 57% of their GDP. (By my calculations Canada’s governments, all levels combined, spend a combined 25% of our GDP, but I could be wrong.) One of them asks if taxpayers in any of these countries are getting their money’s worth. How do you decide?

If you like this video, head on over to YouTube and give it a thumbs up. None of these videos are getting many views.

Dr. Evelyn Forget: It’s 2016, do we still need a B.I.G.?

This was a talk given at the Northern Policy Institute BIG Conference 2016, October 5-6, 2016. Dr. Forget is the researcher who dug into the files from Mincome and started analyzing the data. The video is 26 minutes long. You can see her slides here.

If you like this video, head on over to YouTube and give it a thumbs up.

Robert B. Reich: Technological Change and the Inevitability of Unconditional Basic Income

Robert B. Reich is professor of public policy at UC Berkeley. He was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. I think this talk was to promote BI in Switzerland before their vote on it last summer. He talks for about 20 minutes then takes questions. Among other things, he talks about how people want to work and a BI would free them up do to the kind of work they want. In the Q&A he suggests reducing business subsidies to help fund BI. I LIKE THAT IDEA!

If you like these videos, please go to Youtube and give them a thumbs up. They are not getting nearly enough views.