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Pechiez tout au lonc de vos tristes vies

Bryan Caplan writes an argument against Universal Basic Income:

To sum up, the majority of the people not in the labor force spend most of their time on screens, and this is bad for their health and their wellness. If more people were to exit the labor force, many of them would presumably behave the same way, therefore UBI is a bad idea.

I am not sure of the validity of the object-level argument (the causal link could be in the other way: maybe people who spend their entire day scrolling their Facebook feed are more likely to become NEET, and not the reverse).

However, on a meta level, this hit me as an uncommonly Puritan argument. If people did not have the need to work, many of them would end up living a miserable life, pursuing short-term petty pleasures. This rings true to me, it somewhat resonates with my “high-level generators of disagreement”. So my brain is trying to find ways to defend this argument.

Is it reasonable to think that, if relieved from the necessity to work, the majority of people would just procastinate all day? But I guess it is possible to conceive a model in which lotuses tend to trap men, and if you decrease the incentive to getting things done (in the example of this article, if you decrease the reward from green circles), more people will spend more times eating lotuses. There are many social incentives to work, which would not disappear if we remove the economic incentive to work; but it is also true that social rewards are often easy to pursue on social network.

So we should expect an increase the mean time that the population spends on lotuses. But on what lotuses in particular? Is procastinating on the Internet the most brain-gripping short-term reward of this age, or there are other competing lotuses?


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