Could a Seastead be the first country to implement a Universal Basic Income?

(.) #41

Hi Bruna;

I sent you my email address in private email of this forum.
I hope, you got it. It would be great to be able to keep in contact
in other email too, whenever it is convenient for you.

Sincerely yours;

(Marc) #42

The idea of basic income is a difficult social and economic issue. Otherwise seasteading comes along with many technolocial challenges.

I wouldn´t recomment to mix two difficult questions trusting that the result will be less difficult.

It is also important to understand the incitement of the basic income: Cowboy already described it in the right way. In postmodern industrial societies human workforce will become less important in future. Cars are build by robots and self-driven, my room is already cleaned by a robot, more and more paper work is done by IT (programmed abroad).

In short human (physical) workforce will be less required in future.

This creates on the other hand an economic problem: Without work there is no income, without income there is no consumption. Who will pay all the nice stuff in future? Besides a society with a high number of unemployed people who aren´t able to satisfy theirs basic needs will face additional problems (e. g. increasing crime rates).

Basic income is one (of many) idea(s) to solve this doom loop. There are many arguments for and against this idea. However this is not the question.

The open question: Is that a solution for seasteaders?

IMHO early seastead won´t face the same problems as postmodern societies. There is a lot of work to do keeping a swimming platform alive.

I would like to ask a very controversial question:
If a single seastead only host 50-100 people is it really necessary to implement a currency for internal use? Basic needs (food, water, energy) could be for free in exchange for work.


I’m interested in the concept, but how do you propose it be done?

The way I see it, a Universal Basic Income means everyone gets some money, right? That means adults, senior citizens and children all get a certain amount of money. But how much is enough money?

Enough money to get them a meal once a day? Sure, that means they can eat once a day without working, but that’s the same thing that every soup kitchen does. Making a soup kitchen would be much cheaper than giving money for meals.

Enough for two meals a day? Then we risk having people who don’t want to work and depend entirely on welfare. Businesses and factories still need to be staffed, Fishing trawlers still need to be crewed. Unfortunately, we now have a significant percentage of the population who just eat and sleep without doing anything productive.

Now, it’s not entirely bad. Universal Basic Income can stimulate business. Since now everyone has money, that means they will spend it. Of course, it’s possible they will save it in a bank, but this can be overcome by making it something like a coupon of sort with expiry date. As long as there’s money to go around, business will prosper.

Personally though, unemployment is a bigger problem than the solution it will provide. You will have plenty of jobs and plenty of unemployed people, but the jobs aren’t filled because the people who can fill it don’t want to work.

Then we would have another problem, as in where would this money come from? You mentioned Carbon Dividends. Yes, there is that, but it’s not much, and it means you are relying on green energy entirely or mostly for energy generation. The reason green energy is not used everywhere nowadays is the high cost of installment and maintenance. Solar panels don’t last forever. Wind towers will also need regular and expensive maintenance. Half of your money will be stuck maintaining your existing power plants and you will need the other half to build infrastructure, which include new power plants and amenities, such as roads, new floating sections and overall expansion of your economic plans.

(Bob LLewellyn) #44

[quote=“calisto, post:42, topic:2542”]
Basic needs (food, water, energy) could be for free in exchange for work.[/quote]

A conflict in terms… If it is in exchange for something else it is called barter. Besides nothing is ever produced for free, someone has to do the work, take the risks, and make the profit and pay the bills.

A user is someone who comes over drinks your wine, smokes your weed, eats your food and gives nothing back. Is this really the type of person you want to create? Free stuff will only be free if you have a Star Trek style replicator that can change energy into matter. We can easily change matter into energy so the reverse may be possible but until that time, if you don’t pay for it, you are living off of someone else, by definition, a user.


That’s a hypothesis, not a fact.

A Malthusian hypothesis.


the central issue is money, and I’m not talking about currency. A system that ties value or worth to an item that is backed up by a centralized institution and/or common consensus. Get rid of money and you will have to adopt another format - a neo classical system as envisioned in Plato’s Republic? a resource based economy ala Venus project or perhaps a return to the stone age with a recipient based exchange system or services/goods barter.

Each system has its pros and cons but fundamentally has to work within what ever physical and legal domain the stead is in. For example, If the stead is a services based economy then a block chain decentralized system works but you’d also have to account for outside adoption for it to have any value beyond the steads legal jurisdiction.

(Thibaut Labarre) #47

Here’s a thought: Carbon Dividends would be paid by land-based countries to carbon negative seasteads that then redistribute this to seasteaders similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund that sends a dividend check to every Alaskan resident of up to $2,072 per person per year. This creates an incentive for people to join and build seasteads, thereby accelerating the flywheel.


I think from reading your comment, most of you have essentially said something you agree on. Discussion where we attack the problem and not each others view point is refreshing. You have said: The current models for dealing with unemployed do not work. Cool, i agree too. But i think we are too focused on money, to give it to homeless, disadvantaged, disabled, or not to give it, as a solution. Why not go directly to the root of the issue? The basics of life are food, shelter, and clothing. If you give out a standardize set of very basic meals,or a small apartment to those who have nothing. It leaves room for improvement. A incentive if you will ,to do better while no one goes without the essentials. No one is ever in a spot where they have no starting point, or in a inhumane situation. With education and mentoring free in any field you would like to learn. You would get a population of talented and possibly diversely educated people. But that’s a digression.
Consider the USA food stamp system. If you get the card you can buy what many working class can’t afford, steaks or prime foods. What if the system only provided a choice of 30 prepared meals. Say something like 6 breakfast meals, 24 dinners choices. Nutritional balance , with several of the meals being diabetic friendly. Now if you did not contribute to society you would not starve, but no luxury items for you.
I’m not sure what systems would work but a balance of compassion and encouragement to find a way to contribute to our community would be idea but if you are not willing you won’t be mistreated. In fact most who do not want to do something with their lives are likely in need of help from depression, emotional or physical disabilities. Programs that foster a sense of close nit communities and early training in social responsibilities (similar to Japanese education or Amish without religious context). The trick with these programs is not to make cookie cutter people models but to encourage a system with biodiversity. There are many ways to do that ,and i do not want to start a religious discussion. That should be the individual journey, not a community exodus.Instead, I’ll order “The carrot and the horse model” maybe with a side order of positive encouragement, please.

(Bob LLewellyn) #49

The Marinea project had a bit of a solution. The problem is that workers are treated as a commodity to be an expense. Labor is itemized as a cost of doing business. This separates workers from owners and puts them at odds.

Part of the solution is to make labor a percentage owner of the company. We don’t try to keep labor cost down because it is a fixed percentage of the profits. Weekly paychecks are a draw against the profit due from dividends.

Manager would distribute the labors percentage to each laborer according to their position. Laborer may also increase their annual pay by buying more ownership in the company or buying ownership in another company (stocks).

This idea is loosely similar to sharecropping which was used after slavery was abolished. The system worked fairly well and demonstrated the fact that there was no need to dehumanize our fellow man in servitude. Of course it wasn’t perfect and there was always those that would try to cheat the system but it gave people a chance to own their own farm.

This won’t help the loafer but someone who has reach a level where he owns enough of the various companies that his dividends are greater than his profits from labor and he quits working at any age. The loafer can still fish but it is self defeating to give him, when he has not given of himself. There is always day labor where pay is in product and boarding. Like a night guard or an apartment manager. They don’t work much but they are still productive.

Its not a universal basic income but I think it is closer to what true communism was supposed to be. “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”. The abortion that we call communism today, takes that to mean that those who have a lot must give a lot to others and take only what they need for themselves. But there is a better meaning, not everyone has the same needs. Some may find happiness living free in a boat fishing for dinner and raising his own crops while others need a more elaborate lifestyle. “To each according to his needs”.

A person with more drive and ability should give according to his gifts. A person that is capable to do surgery should not do the job of a waiter for lees profits that his skills deserve. “From each according to his abilities”.

I really like sparks idea of co-ops. Cooperatives have a pretty good track record and it makes ownership of a diverse group of micro and small businesses easy. Its safer for the members to be diversified.

Of course I’m not against your religious institution doing a soup kitchen. One of my favorite charities is the Salvation Army and local rescue missions. If I have more, I’ll give more because it makes me feel good knowing that I have helped another. See, real communism may indeed work, who knows, it has never been tried.

One last thing is that the co-opes need to limit their size. This is where I part with Marx, A co-op needs to be able to change to better fit the members of the cooperative. The bigger a thing is, the more inertia it needs to overcome to make any changes to its path. A nation is way to large to be flexible to the needs of the people. In the case of marijuana, the states are showing a much faster reaction to the changing needs of their people than the feds are. But even states are too big. Co-opes should never get any larger than a community, and that is my definition of true communism. The kind that might come after capitalism has failed completely.


Some very interesting thoughts. I certainly agree that small communal groups are more dynamic on meeting the needs of its members. I think team leadership, which has a great track record for lower management infrastructure and reacting to group concerns, could probably be readily applied to community leadership and making sure everyone found their way to contribute.
The one point i probably disagree with in most communistic models is that all should be exactly equal. A Japanese author (forgot the name) said " If there was a world where everyone was rewarded exactly the same, a world where study & hard work didn’t matter. I don’t think i would want to live there. I believe utopia exist where the difference between top and bottom just isn’t so far apart." I really like what he was saying.
Also your point on company ownership. Here in the states i was involved with a company trying to raise their quality output. After 10’s of thousands and 2 years they were almost bankrupt. Then someone got the idea to make all the employees shareholders. Production skyrocketed in the first 6 months and quality came soon after. It’s a good way to make people care. It was literally their factory now :slight_smile:

Back to topic, Universal basic needs (yes) , Free money for all (probably not), The only exception i can see is have surplus profits beyond basic needs put back into the community as a whole. This idea would still need to leave room for the super motivated to excel and be rewarded for that.

(Bob LLewellyn) #51

I just call that fair. In the US everyone one is rated by his FICO score, a measure of how credit worthy you are. It is used to determine whether you can rent an apartment, how much interest you will pay on your credit cards etc. How fair is that? And how do you increase that FICO score? by taking on debt. In short, you have to pay to have better credit so you can pay less for other things.

The US economy is based on debt, not production. That is a poor use of capitalism. I am Libertarian by the way, but anyone can see that the current system is broken. Libertarians tend to support a silver backed currency which would stabilize the economy but would not allow for growth. There is a limit to the amount of silver and an unlimited growth in population. Therefore the value of silver would tend to increase as demand grew. That is deflation, not a desired outcome. We need to find a way to value a currency on human production. (All production minus any robotic contribution.) This would stabilize the economy while allowing for growth.


That is another issue. I was just commenting on the merits of universal income vs how to maintain a productive society. A world where everyone is reward the same , for the same effort is fine. A world where everyone gets what they want (this differs from needs) regardless of whether they contribute to their community or not, seem problematic. A garbage man works just as hard as a company executive for example. Credit score, currencies, debt discharge ratio vs credit worthiness aren’t what i was commenting on. Each of those is a lenthy discussion by itself.

The issue i was hoping for thoughts on was, how to prevent stagnation of production with free economic programs on a person to person level. Not national level, but in small community settings. What checks and balances would be needed to try and make a UBI work? Should it be universal income or universal life necessities that are free? I personally consider advanced trades and education a investment in the future for any nation, prehaps that should be added too, Universal Free Education?

I am reminded of one saying in all of this though: Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

(Kim Cowdroy) #53

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime, but automate fish production and he will be able to relax, improve or donate as he sees fit.

(Bob LLewellyn) #54

That may have been true in the times of Lao Tzu but today,
“Give a man a fish and he will be back tomorrow demanding to know what is for dinner”.


Why is production the only economic marker? infinite growth is not possible and therein lies the issue with contemporary economics vs actual value employment - all work has value, yes even flipping burgers at McD’s (otherwise those doing it wouldn’t get paid) but how do you address that within a model that continues to ‘cook the books’ to give an impression that the valued work adds to constant? it all goes back to that single word - money.

(Bob LLewellyn) #56

McD makes about $1M per year. If it holds true with other small franchises, about 30% or $300,000 will go to labor. Then 30% of the ownership would be held by labor with the General Manager dealing out percentages to the other positions. No ability to cook books this way.

So for a McD type business, $300K would be added to the county’s labor production totals. A crypto currency would be based on all the points from all the counties in the area of use. Of course it would start off based on silver but at some point in time switch over to a labor based valuation.

(Gerd Weiland) #57

Thank you for sharing your contribution to the topic of a basic income in land based societies today. A concept which has not only been successfully practiced on a community level but has been test proven in different european counties to be most beneficial in elleviating many social problems resulting from the brutal capitalist system we all have inherited on land today all over the world. There is a huge amount of documentation on this subject available to those who wish to inform themselves in more detail On-line. However if i may inform you, as a Seastead pioneer, of a field of knowledge which represents a unique alternative “basic income” System of financial support for those who choose to use the Ring-Weave Up-cycle Technology to build their own Seastead future. (more details under the topic engineering). In short; The Ring-Weave Up-cycle construction System used to build safe offshore floating island platforms upon which to establish a Seastead community uses exclusively Scrap-Tires as the only raw product needed to accomplish this. Each Scrap Tire is currently a very expensive waste management problem for the municipality you live in. In Europe this Equates to roughly 5 Euro’s pro Tire. Now if you consider the huge amounts of scrap tires required to construct any 3 dimensional Ring-Web structure ( 48 per square meter ) then you will realize that those willing to actually get their hands dirty and work hard will receive more than adequate compensation for their efforts. If the Seastead pioneer would enter an agreement with their local municipality to “dispose” (Up-cycle) this very expensive waste management problem for half of the present cost including free transportation to a location (not restricted too but best on shore line )of your choice–then you have everything you need to live your Seastead dream and get very well paid for it RIGHT NOW.
( the only tool required to Up-cycle any Scrap Tire is a carpet knife). This concept requires only a concise comprehensive coordination with the local municipality to establish the logistical requirements involved for this WIN WIN social development between the hard working Seastead pioneer and the local community.
(or if necassary if resistance is encountered, a media campaign to generate public support). The home stead pioneers who rode out into uncharted territory were hard working people with courage to take risks and would have been happy to have received financial support such as this. Those few “bums” referred too will stay on land rather than get their feet wet. Lets get together and Ring-Weave on.


you’re talking about centralized redistribution. Yeah, communism tried that - didn’t quite work. Hence China’s move towards a mixed economy or ‘Chinese capitalism’

(Gerd Weiland) #59

Dear noone, This is not “centralized redistribution” i am talking about, this is called “Fair trade” whereby one party is rewarded for a service to another with no middle man to steal a share of that reward. The one partner is the Seastead pioneer who can Up-cycle scrap tires for cheap and the other party is the municipality with an expensive problem concerning the disposal of scrap tires, resulting in a mutually beneficial trade.The communist philosophy (not the System that evolved in Russia) was based on the fair distribution of the common wealth to the working people who created it and not to an exclusive capitalist elite. A very humanistic Idea Jesus would have been proud of and possibly would have succeeded had not capitalist power intervened The present Chinese model benefits once again the very few with good connections and Mao is turning in his grave.


who sets the value of service vs reward?