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When I first read the article in The Atlantic the other day about giving an annual income to every American every year as a way to reduce poverty, my first thought was that it was to brush it off as some pie-in-the-sky liberal fantasy that would never happen.

"Socialism!" Republicans would cry. "Benghazi!" they would then say (because why not?).

But the more I thought about the idea of a Universal Basic Income, the more I liked it. Think about it: roughly 15% of Americans live below the poverty line. That's 46 MILLION Americans. And for millions of Americans above the poverty line, we're just one emergency away from serious financial trouble.

As the article stated, the quickest way to get Americans out of poverty is to give them money. But how much do you give everyone? Per The Atlantic:

"Using the dataset from the latest Census poverty report, I determined that if we cut a $2,920 check to every single American—adults, children, and retirees—we could cut official poverty in half. Economists consider this sort of across-the-board payment a “universal basic income.” You can think of it as Social Security for all, not just the elderly."
The cost estimate for this program in 2012 would've been just over $900 billion, or just a little more than the stimulus of 2009. In order to silence the outcry from the right that this would increase the debt, this would need to be paid for.
"For starters, we could raises taxes, first on the rich, who would pay more in new taxes than they would receive in basic income, and then on lower-middle class and poor families, who would come out ahead. There is also plenty of room to cut tax expenditures on homeowners, personal retirement accounts, capital gains exclusions at death, and exclusions on annuity investment returns. This submerged welfare state for the affluent costs hundreds of billions of dollars each year. There is also the matter of the $700 billion military budget, which could take some trimming."
So it'd be paid for. Now how would it work?
"You get a check from the government every month no matter how much you make or how much you work. Maybe that will convince a few Americans work isn't worth it anymore—but the vast majority who will probably continue to work won't have to worry about losing their check as they move up the income ladder. That security might not just keep people out of poverty. It might let workers demand better wages and working conditions, because they know they always have something to fall back on. In other words, it could level the playing field for the bottom 99 percent."
With the advent of new technology in addition to job losses from outsourcing and the Great Recession, a very real threat industrial nations must face is the idea that with each passing year, full employment will become harder and harder to reach. Machines now check us out when we want to buy groceries, check in for flights, buy movie tickets, and they even help build our cars. These are all jobs people used to do and - for better or worse - aren't coming back.

We know from various studies that the lower the rate of poverty, the lower the crime rate, so this program might indirectly reduce the need for more police officers and prisons, saving some our tax dollars. Switzerland is putting this idea up for a vote after collecting over 100k signatures in favor of the plan. And in the past, even that liberal commie Richard Nixon proposed an idea similar to this.

A program like this has its political risks, so the best step might be to implement it on a small scale in a small, liberal state (ahem, Vermont or Hawaii) that could serve as a testing ground for it. But if successful, that state could be a model for a new American program that can both reduce poverty and give all Americans a financial peace of mind.

Originally posted to GleninCA on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 12:24 PM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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Comment Preferences

    •  If Freidman, who was a complete crackpot, (12+ / 0-)

      liked it, that should give you pause.

      Look, there is, and has always been a tried and tested way to eliminate poverty. The Rebuild America Act. Take about half of the 10-20 TRILLION dollars we've blown bailing out the banking mafia and put people to work. Boom. No more poverty. No more peasant labor jobs because then, people can say, "Fuck you, I'm going to work for the government" which will create a massive upward pressure on labor rates.

      And as a fringe side benefit, we get to reverse the decay of our country to the sate of a Third World banana republic and create thousands of new schools, state of the art infrastructure, high speed etc.

      And finally, the icing on the cake, it will finally shut the fuck up the sociopathic Republicans always complaining about the freeloading poor.

      No more welfare. Just decent paying jobs rebuilding America. Who can bitch about that? No sane person. Which is why, every time I present this idea to wingnuts, they like it. I shit you not. I have never once heard a wingnut, and I know many, cry "socialism" at my idea for the Rebuild America Act. Not once.

      •  Crackpot Milton Freidman who won the Nobel Prize (4+ / 0-)

        in economics. That Milton Freidman?

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:10:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's no such thing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Buckeye Nut Schell

          as a "Nobel Prize in Economics."

          Regardless, here's a good primer on why any decent progressive (or just generally intelligent person) would be wise not to brandish about the Bank of Sweden prize as some sort of bona fides of credibility.

          Or you can just use your brain instead of appealing to authority. We, over the last 30 years leading up to the financial crash of 2008, got to put Milton Friedman's economic theories to the test. How do you think that went?

          •  such an insipid semantic dodge (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, BusyinCA

            Yes it was not specifically enumerated by Alfred Nobel's will.  But it is managed by the Nobel Foundation and the nomination process, selection criteria, and awards presentation are all handled by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences exactly as they handle the prizes of Chemistry and Physics.

            Why do people constantly try to delegitmize this singular prize in a universally recognized field of study?  If the Nobel Foundation wanted to commission a new prize in Energy or Ethics or Philosophy would people put as much energy into shitting on it?  Its not like its just some random organization latching on to the name "Nobel" to try and look important.

            This cant all be related to Milton Friedman, can it?  Or maybe it is just that "economics" is tied to "Wall Street" and therefore FUCK THEM! ..or something...

            Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

            by Wisper on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:19:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  James - I would encourage you to repeat this (0+ / 0-)

            comment, regarding the Nobel Prize in Economics, whenever anyone here attaches that label to Paul Krugman. I don't think his name is ever mentioned on DKOS, without the writer adding the tag "Nobel Prize Winner".

            Just our of curiosity have you ever mentioned your view of the Economics Prize in a diary or comment about Paul Krugman?

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 07:40:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  IIRC Milton Friedman also championed the EITC (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlackSheep1, Cassandra Waites, VClib

          which is an important if unsung pillar of our welfare system. In fact, the EITC is somewhat similar to this guaranteed income idea in that it is a cash giveaway. You can do with it whatever you want.

          The catch is that you do need to have some income to qualify for EITC.

      •  does the government (4+ / 0-)

        have an extra 12 million jobs it needs done?

        •  I'm guessing that between rebuilding our (8+ / 0-)

          infrastructure, teaching prisoners to read, helping the elderly and disabled, just to name a few pressing tasks, that 12 million jobs could be identified.



          Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

          by Wee Mama on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:20:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  With the amount of money printed up to (10+ / 0-)

            prop up the banking sector, we could have built the greatest civilization in human history, at least in terms of infrastructure and sustainable prosperity.

            We could have transformed our energy distribution infrastructure to accommodate and maximize new energy and sustainable efficiency. We could have transformed our transportation infrastructure to, again, maximize efficiency and sustainability.

            We could have made advanced progress in clean energy production with multiple technologies that require massive investment to develop.

            We could have transformed our infrastructure to be vastly more efficient, instead of wasting as much as 80% of the energy we burn, by reinsulating homes and offices.

            We could have transformed our education system by building thousands of smaller, neighborhood schools with teacher/student ratios in the 10s instead of 40s per class.

            We could have built thousands of libraries and community centers fostering...community.

            We could have begun paying public servants a decent wage thereby dramatically reducing corruption and incompetence.

            America is falling apart. I walk through city streets and I see a lot of work to do. Just fixing and cleaning up our streets, without the somewhat lofty goals of transformation would employ millions.

            Of course, the mere act of just creating millions of decent paying jobs would be the most transformative thing.

            Putting millions of Americans to work will dramatically reduce crime, abortion rates, suicides, drug addiction, and a plague of other social illnesses we suffer from in our dog eat dog, sociopathic-like society.

            Of course, giving tens of millions of people stable, comfortable incomes and a sense of serving their fellow Americans won't solve all of our problem. Just the vast majority of them.

        •  are you serious? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama, Cassandra Waites

          there's that many jobs going begging in just maintenance ...

          and teaching people how to do that maintenance safely, effectively, and so it will hold up over the long term to hard use.

          LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

          by BlackSheep1 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:21:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  All we have to do is convince the "banking mafia" (0+ / 0-)

        By the way, Friedman is responsible for the Earned Income tax rebates for poor people with kids....the only reason the right likes either proposal....

        Molon Labe..

    •  ThatSocialistNixon presented it to Congress (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cofcos, lcrp, claude, GleninCA, BusyinCA

      where it went nowhere. But then Nixon is well known to have been a

      • tree-hugger (EPA)
      • appeaser (détente with Russia and China)
      • cut-and-run Peacenik (Vietnam)

      in addition to being a crook.

      Friedman and Nixon both thought it worthwhile on Republican principles to replace the vast maze of welfare laws with a single payment that the recipient would decide how to use, in more-or-less Free Market style, thus cutting out a vast bureaucracy managing vast paperwork wastefully trying to decide who doesn't qualify. Then we could argue what is the appropriate level of payments. Should we set them at well above poverty, the Progressive position; or just above poverty, as Democrats might argue; or well below poverty, as many Republicans would have demanded?

      That plus real stimulus, a minimum wage with COLAs, free education through college, single payer, serious reform of disability (VA and civilian both), full unemployment coverage for as long as recessions run on, and giving unions about as much rights as corporations would go a long way toward ending poverty, not entirely, but to a degree comparable with Sweden or Denmark today. I could add a few other measures to roll back job-killing Republicanism, such as switching government and education to all Free/Open Source Software and Creative Commons content, cutting back copyright to sanity (including a legal process for the public to claim abandoned copyrights), eliminating software patents, and so on.

      If you want to hear my ultimate fantasy, it is this: an Unbalanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that would index tax rates inversely to the state of the economy, so that taxes on workers and the middle class would go down in recessions and crashes, and taxes would go up in good times, and sharply up during bubbles, preferably enough to pop them right away, and prevent any succeeding crashes.

      I would consider adding a touch of hysteresis, so that taxes would go down more on the lower end in bad times, and up faster on the higher end in boom times, until the boom and bust cycle could be brought fully under control in a natural equilibrium rather than a bureaucratic or political process.

      My son, Certifiable Genius, thinks that we can achieve the same effect in a simpler way with a Wealth Tax that would treat wealth from income and capital gains exactly the same. So taxes on those whose net worth is hit worst by a recession would go way down, while taxes on those who profit from boom and bust alike would go way up in boom times. It could be set to return a refund for those whose net worth goes negative.

      Considering the amount of unemployment and underemployment I endured, plus the loss of my life savings, during the last two crashes, either way would work for me.

      Cue the screaming from the 1%.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:41:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No Friedman and Nixon (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BusyinCA

        thought it worthwhile on Republican principles to replace Social Insurance programs with welfare programs like EITC financed from General Fund revenues and tax credits while pushing to eliminate any and all taxation on capital.

        Look at the Ryan Roadmap. Or any other Republican economic plan. Right along side proposals to establish a guaranteed income floor for the poor in any program you could mention is an equal attempt to eliminate taxation on estates, corporations, (God Help Us) carried interest, dividends, while carving out tax exemptions for Health Savings Accounts, Education Account and whatever Accounts would allow Rentiers to shied their income from taxation while shiting the burden down to upper middle class professionals and the remnants of the unionized manufacturing and public service sectors.

        The Republican Roadmap always has run in the same direction: eliminate speed limits for capital (Makers) while imposing them on Takers (middle class people using "loopholes") and Moochers (anyone using any public service not including Coast Guard services to yachts in distress).

        "Tax fairness" "Flat Tax" "Rate Reform" "Consumption Taxes" no matter what the supposed public polciy justification it always has the proximate result of lower top rates and/or reducing taxation of capital. In this respect there is no difference between Forbes and the Kochs and Rubinistas. They are not all haters but they all share a fundamental Friedman and Rand induced belief that Makers should not be taxed. Ever. On Anything. Even On or After Death.

        For example the Full Ryan Roadmap would grant tax freedom for even the heirs of Billionaires. Forever. Every possible source of those heirs' incomes would be tax exempt. And all the while the Randites and Paulites serve this up as some sort of break for middle class savers.

        It's like we can't add.

        SocSec dot.Defender at gmail.com - founder DK Social Security Defenders Group

        by Bruce Webb on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:28:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Quite an Old Idea. I First Read of It From a Yacht (9+ / 0-)

    builder around 1970 (who was in favor BTW); dates to the middle 1800's with ideological roots back into the 1500's.

    3 grand a year seems awfully low though.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 12:31:12 PM PST

    •  I'm guessing that between many people living (2+ / 0-)

      with one or more other people and many people having at least a small income stream that it adds up to cracking the poverty level. I could be wrong.



      Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

      by Wee Mama on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:21:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That would happen. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, Cassandra Waites

        For example, a family of two with one breadwinner making $15,000/year is currently considered poor.  Add $5840 to the income and the family is lifted just above the poverty line.

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 02:12:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The idea is to halve poverty. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GleninCA, Cassandra Waites, lcrp

      The political problem with universal basic income is that it pays people who decide not to work even though they are able to.  At $2920/person, the benefit is low enough to make sure that work remains desirable, but high enough to avoid the dire consequences of severe poverty (income under 50% of the poverty line).    

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 02:11:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Redistributing the wealth. (5+ / 0-)

    Oh the cries of the far right... my ears are already burning!

    But... it would not only work but it would stimulate the economy something fierce as more money flowed through the system. More money means more demand, more demand means greater need for production of goods and services which means more and better paying jobs.

    •  Perhaps the most important argument in favor: (7+ / 0-)
      But... it would not only work but it would stimulate the economy something fierce as more money flowed through the system. More money means more demand, more demand means greater need for production of goods and services which means more and better paying jobs.
      I remember Jon Stewart asking, about the bank bailout, instead of giving that money directly to the banks, how about giving it to homeowners with mortgages, who could then pay it to the banks.
    •  mathmatically (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neuroptimalian

      i don't think that there would be more money as the money was just taken from somewhere else. It's just moving it from one account to another.

      •  Not really. We know that the wealthiest sit on (6+ / 0-)

        their money or invest in stocks and bonds which do not produce jobs. Far better for the money to be in circulation, creating and filling demands for goods and services. The vast majority of these dollars will be spent on essentials that create a greater economic return than dollars spent on investments.

        •  sitting on it does (4+ / 0-)

          not mean it's under the mattress. probably saved/invested somewhere for others to borrow/use.

          If i borrow that money for a mortgage, then that means jobs for all the people who will build the house.

          If it is invested in your company, then you have capital to expand, which can also create jobs.

          •  caldera - most people here don't fully understand (4+ / 0-)

            the capital markets, how they function, and what happens to money saved and invested.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:12:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  so we bring (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib, OrganicChemist

              the educatin

            •  Capital markets and other esoteric concepts (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib

              I completely agree that the money that the 1% gets (but come on - even families with 80 - 120k annual income make plenty of investments so I don't agree with the 1% meme here)  doesn't just sit in a mattress and does go to investments that are critical for our economy. Actually, I think the only reason we haven't seen a lot of inflation with the QE policies of the Fed are because most of this money is going to investments - not to the purchase of general goods which would show up as inflation in their indicies. In the area of investments where this money is directed, we do see incredible inflation. The Dow was at a new record. Housing prices are steadily climbing. The crash in the commercial real estate market is slowing. Treasury and bond returns are still low. All these investment areas show inflationary pressures - most likely from the easy Fed money provided.

              Having acknowledged that however, I do believe an honest analysis would consider thoughts on the velocity of money. The Fed stims are keeping the banking sector afloat so there is plenty of money for businesses that need capital for expansion, research or efficiency improvements.

              However, we do seem to be experiencing a problem with demand. There is plenty of labor and businesses are flush with cash and credit. I think they would expand if the demand was there, but it still seems to be lagging. We have already injected incredible amounts of capital into the individual marketplace via a 30% or so increase in food stamps and other aid along with various continuing programs based on the original stimulus. I think that much of the problem continues to be technology and other efficiencies that allow for unprecedented increases in production but require little, if any, increase in labor overheads. I know that in several manufacturing states, the value of their goods produced equals or exceeds that which they were producing in the golden days, but their labor requirements to do that are one quarter or less of the previous needs.

              This is all very complex. I don't think there are any silver bullets. I think it is folly to say that monies going into investments and savings shouldn't be allowed to pool there. I certainly don't think that lowering taxes by any great amount would increase jobs by any incredible amount, either. Globalization has created a whole new ball game with a completely different rule book.

              A onetime limited payment to various demographics might well stimulate demand. We have done that before and it has been successful. However, a continued basic income - particularly that as high as the Swiss proposal is probably not a good program, either. I think it would be quite inflationary and I think people would be quite surprised at how many people would just take the $28,000 a year and "retire". I'm not sure this is an ideal solution, either.

          •  The only problem is that no one is expanding, here (7+ / 0-)

            in the states. Banks are still sitting on money.

            I do understand the theory of investment, how it should result in expansion and job creation. But we haven't seen any of that since the crash in 2007.

            So it would seem logical to pump money into the economy to try to grow it, not from the supply side, but from the demand side. Even GWB encouraged Americans to go out and shop as a way to fight terrorism. And it may have been painted poorly, but spending money was one way to keep the economy afloat. God knows, the "job creators" aren't doing it.

          •  What if you park your money in hedge funds (6+ / 0-)

            or outfits like Bain Capital, or in tax havens overseas? What if you're churning your wealth over and over on untaxed futures and stock transactions? What you're saying may have been true 50 years ago. It isn't anymore.

            The gross mal-distribution of wealth and continuing, brutal economic stagnation are the best indicators.

            The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.

            by chuckvw on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:34:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not necessarily... (6+ / 0-)

            That is the way that most people are taught it works but unfortunately, it doesn't.  Do you think that there is suddenly a shortage of money in this country?  Did it just disappear?  There are reports of tens of trillions of dollars HIDDEN overseas that are dodging taxes or avoiding detection for any number of reasons that is not circulating and it is not being invested in building houses or businesses or anything else.

            Corporations are cash laden right now and the money is being gambled on stocks, speculation, currancy markets, etc... rather than being reinvested back into the economy.  Between hidden cash and gambled cash, our country is running on empty and not being replenished.

            Inflation is actually a great way to get some of it back.  If the wages are tied to inflation, that money under the mattress as you call it (or hidden money in general) becomes less valuable and therefore in a sense, taxed.  Also, taxing trades slows down the gambling encouraging actual investments rather than bets on the market.  This also generates revenue while encouraging circulation.

            The idea that invested capital is always working for us is the central premise behind low capital gains taxes and the entire trickle down theory of macro-economics which is utter bullshit.

            "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

            by Buckeye Nut Schell on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 02:01:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The fact that the banks are not in fact lending (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites

            is where this whole anti-Keynesian fantasy falls down. Also, price/earnings ratios in the stock market are at ridiculous highs, which means that we are in yet another bubble with yet another crash to come. The earnings gap is because they can't make money selling stuff to people without incomes.

            Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

            by Mokurai on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:46:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  caldera: again, are you serious? It's sitting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GleninCA

        in the accounts of the banks and the 1%, doing nothing.

        Getting it moving ... hell, even the Chamber of Commerce gets behind that. It's been 30 years, just about, since the last time I looked at their claims for the good a dollar spent with local business does locally versus a dollar spent with chains that take the money elsewhere, but I bet that's still a large positive difference.

        http://localfirstaz.com/...

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:24:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's not that there's more money. (0+ / 0-)

        It's that there's more money in circulation being used to purchase goods and services which in turn drives up demand and results in job creation to meet that demand.

  •  I'm a tad confused (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother Shipper, Johnny Q

    at one point what seems to be a one time payment of ~$2.9K is mentioned.

    Later a monthly income is mentioned.

    Which is the magic bullet here?

    (btw, I'm highly skeptical that a one time payment of $2.9K is going to cut poverty in half)

    •  I would guess (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy, Wee Mama

      That the reason (and this is a stab in the darK) is that there are a large number of people that DO have an income, through part time jobs or low-paying full time jobs, but are still considered below the poverty level for their household.  But giving them that extra $2.9k would boost them up enough to get them up over that official poverty line.

      •  Well, yeah they'd be over the line for a moment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greengemini, Cofcos

        in time.

        I imagine a few might be savvy enough to spin the 3 grand into something bigger (e.g., a microbusiness that eventually takes off).  But overall I remain dubious.

        I once saw a proposal that society should give everyone a one time payment of $80K (perhaps 50% higher now, due to tuition) - about when they graduate from high school.

        It would be up to the person what to do with it - one option would be pay for college, another might be to buy a house (or at least put a reasonable down payment on it) and a third would be spend it frivously.  Their choice.  With the point being that society would thusly fulfill any income re-distribution / equality issues.

    •  It's $2.9k... (5+ / 0-)

      divided up and paid out in monthly increments, so a couple hundred dollars a month.

      Whether it would cut poverty in half is definitely debatable, but a couple hundred dollars a month extra would definitely be a boost to many Americans struggling paycheck to paycheck.

      Wendy Davis for TX Governor, 2014!

      by GleninCA on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:00:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So continuously? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk

        year after year?

        It might work, or just end up being inflationary.  

        It would seem most sensible to just guarantee the funds to those below a certain income level, but I suppose that'd never fly politically.

        •  Correct. (0+ / 0-)

          It would be paid out year after year.

          Inflation could be a cause for concern, but there was also concern that the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program would cause inflation too and so far that hasn't really been the case (they currently buy about $40 billion in bonds a month).

          While basing it on income is a good idea, I agree that it would probably be less politically toxic if the income were guaranteed to all Americans regardless of income, similar to the way Social Security is less controversial than unemployment or Medicaid.

          Wendy Davis for TX Governor, 2014!

          by GleninCA on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:14:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I would prefer monthly...personally. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy
  •  not quite right (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neuroptimalian
    Think about it: roughly 15% of Americans live below the poverty line. That's 46 MILLION Americans.
    poverty is calculated excluding some government assistence programs.

    http://www.census.gov/...

    •Noncash benefits (such as food stamps and housing subsidies) do not count.

    So their earnings place them below the poverty line.

    I presume medicaid as well. If the value of those assistance programs is factored in, then the number of people living below the poverty line must be reduced somewhat.

    •  If you gave them cash and lift them out of poverty (0+ / 0-)

      then they will be using less government assistance.  There is a school of thought (and some experimentation in Africa IIRC), that instead of giving poor people strictly controlled aid (food, housing, medical care, etc), you just hand them cash and let them decide what to do with it.  It could be just as effective, while saving a lot of administrative costs.

    •  caldera: you seem not to understand (0+ / 0-)

      that lack of money is a critical issue whether one is eligible for gov't assistance due thereto or not.

      there are about 40% of Texans eligible for the drastically-cut SNAP benefits who don't bother to apply as is.

      LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:28:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So basically Star Trek (5+ / 0-)

    Laugh... get it out of your system...

    Then look at the economic model in "Star Trek" for the federation guys. Everything appears to be provided for, they don't really seem to have a currency...

    But people work and have jobs, and they have 'something' by which they engage with 'foreigners'...

    Basically: we're talking about a society where everyone's needs are met by society, and you then have the ability to push ahead from your own talent, merit, or in-bred luck.

    A 'Universal Income' is more or less, a precursor to the Star Trek economy. Not-socialism socialism.

    And it frankly, has a lot of merit to it.

    Good luck getting it to happen, but if it did, a LOT of other problems would start to go away.

    The roaches always win if you turn out the lights.

    by Jyotai on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:18:37 PM PST

    •  Carrot-only capitalism (0+ / 0-)

      Another way to phrase it...

      It removes the stick side of capitalism. The punishment of not being as resourced as the predators.

      It leaves the carrot in-tact. The part conservatives always trot out.

      You can still 'get ahead', but you can no longer fall behind or get crushed down.

      One flaw is that nothing is ever created or destroyed. Basic rule of physics: resources are finite.

      - Capitalism works to let some get ahead because it crushes others, or converts other resources into wealth.

      If there is no one left to crush under your boot, to rise ahead, your conversion of natural and other material resources into your own wealth risks becoming more transparent.

      The roaches always win if you turn out the lights.

      by Jyotai on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:42:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, we have conservation of energy (0+ / 0-)

        including matter, but what counts is that Nature and we can transform entropy, such as sunlight, and relatively low-entropy raw materials, into food, electricity, fuels, and products of many kinds of utility, including material wealth and information. So, no, we do not live in a zero-sum economy, and we are not going to, except on the multi-billion-year scale when the G-type stars go red giant and then white dwarf.

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 05:28:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  As an able-bodied type, (7+ / 0-)

    I'd love to have a minimum guaranteed income, but I'd also like to be asked to do something for it.   I've got skills, even if the private sector doesn't seem to want to declare them useful, I'd be happy enough to use them for the public if I could get such recompense for them.

    WPA 2.0.  We need it.

  •  You expect this to get traction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG

    in a country that can't even raise the minimum wage to something you could live on?

    Good luck with that.

    I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

    by mojo11 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:58:18 PM PST

    •  It won't get traction. (0+ / 0-)

      It's part of moving the Overton Window of acceptable mainstream political discourse.  

      Perhaps no payment, but maybe a jobs program that pays $60/week in return for eight hours of work for the community?  Or, perhaps, we can reweave the safety net so that people are not penalized for working or getting married.  For that matter, there are 186 million people (60% EAP) in the labor force;  giving 1.86 million people $400/week and expecting 40 hours/week of work would cost $64 billion plus administrative fees and equipment costs.  Even at $100 billion, it would cost $200 billion to bring the US to normal employment levels near 5% even if there were no indirect stimulus.  Part of the cost would be recouped by reducing expenditure on means-tested welfare.  

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 02:36:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The problem is, if it is too much of a subsidy... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nchristine

    too many people would want to be artists or singers or musicians or writers or hunters or...

    Not too many people would want to work at McDonalds or clean up shit for a living.  We need peopl to do all jobs and an unfortunate aspect of life is that some shit jobs have to be done.  I think they should pay more and I think that there should better regulations to ensure that the people doing them are safe and have time to enjoy their life but pure communism does not work in a reality based world.

    It would be better if we prioritized careers with the level of interest, capability and need (benefit to society).  Instead of paying hedgefund managers the most money and doctor's assistants minimum wage, subsidize the healthcare assistants and tax the shit out of the hedge fund managers.  

    Put a premium on those hard to fill but necessary jobs like trash collectors and morticians but nothing on jobs where an abundance of people are willing to do the work for a minimum wage.  Kind of an auction type system with a guaranteed minimum that prevents complete poverty.  Instead of stimulous checks, offer stimulus jobs to anyone like freeway cleanup, recycling sorting or peacecore type activities here at home.  Every able bodied person is eligible and the pay is sufficient to pull yourself out of poverty.

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 02:22:20 PM PST

    •  Why wouldn't people work at McDonalds? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GleninCA, Cassandra Waites

      $2900 a year is nice, but certainly not enough to make anyone quit their McD jobs.

      •  I was saying that if it was excessive or "Too" (0+ / 0-)

        much of a subsidy.  I do not think $2,900 is too much but I am not sure if it is enough either.  It would be rather difficult to hit the sweet spot on that type of system.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 04:20:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is based on a calculation of what it would (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GleninCA

          take to cut official unemployment in half by getting people just over the poverty line. That does not set the amount in stone. It merely starts the conversation.

          When the idea gets traction (presumably after the coming complete Republican implosion, and the inauguration of the second Era of Good Feelings) we can discuss what level of not-quite-poverty and just-under-the-line-poverty has majority support, and then we can discuss ratcheting payments upward from time to time above what the COLAs would provide. Along with funding education, infrastructure, regulation, environmental cleanup, and so forth.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 05:53:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  McDonald's would figure it out (0+ / 0-)

      Maybe "efficient, courteous self-service", as a sign in English in a grocery store in some other country allegedly has it. American engineering could certainly come up with a machine to flip burgers, mix shakes, and fry shredded potatoes. Also, self-cleaning stores.

      There was a time when AT&T calculated that the increasing volume of long-distance calls meant that the entire working population of the US would soon be required to serve as operators, if nothing else changed. And look! most of the population of the world now places its own long-distance calls through telephone company computers.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 05:48:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  But why pay everyone? Just limit it to low income (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GleninCA

    people.  They should gradually taper it off as the income rises (but not sharply cutting it off, which would have the undesireable effect of discouraging people from working)

    •  Because (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GleninCA

      It would probably cost the same to pay everyone. You would not have the expense of applications/reviews/appeals to qualify.

      Also, if everyone recieved the money you avoid the complaints about all those lazy people who are getting rich and driving cadillacs with $200 per month. Everyone likes to get money and the usual complainers like money too.

      •  The way it is done with oil royalties in Alaska. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassandra Waites, J Rae, GleninCA

        No extra bureaucracy. We could fully fund such a system by repealing carbon subsidies and putting in a very mild carbon tax, just like Alaska.

        Of course, Republicans would tell you that you can't use that as a model for a national program. Just like Romneycare is hunky-dory in Massachusetts, but cannot be a model for a Federal health care system.

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 06:01:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Money is a problem (4+ / 0-)

    When machines eliminate jobs worldwide, and they will, what will happen?

    I think we're getting to the point where there will not be enough jobs to go around.  And that problem will probably continue to get worse.

    Last time during industrialization, we went to a 5 day work week.  We're effectively doing that now by making more jobs part time, but that reduces how much people make.

    I don't know the solution and I'm pretty sure our politicians don't either, but it's going to have to be creative!

    •  Some rich people never work (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alexandra Lynch

      a day in their lives.
      It doesn't seem to be a problem for them.

    •  Not possible in the foreseeable future (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites

      There will always be something we want people to do, where we don't care whether the machine service is objectively just as good. Art, for example, or writing or live music.

      It's like strong AI. Anything that machines can't do and people can would be AI right up to the moment when they can, and then it isn't AI any more, and we aren't really interested.

      After we can't tell the difference, I make no predictions about how our descendants will react.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 06:12:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What makes you think the ruling class (0+ / 0-)

    want to end poverty? I think they understand poverty will become much more common as global warming trashes our food infrastructure.

    The "solution" to increasing poverty is going to be more police, more jails, and, eventually, rising mortality rates.

    Poverty is a feature of capitalism, not a bug.

  •  Pay for it? (0+ / 0-)

    Easy. Tax free bonds for the rich and for Ross IRA's. Hard for right-wingers to complain if everyone get's something out of it thanks to their funding idea. The bonds would be sold at a 1% or so higher rate and sell out in no time.....

    The reason these programs are dead is because of politics not economics. Same thing when discussing a fiat money system that we have not needing to balance...(Krugman and Friedman agreeing on something besides the Earned Income Tax for low income families, a not so right wing program under Nixon)

    Let's not forget, in the real world our illustrious leaders have to argue for votes and money or these guys in office are not relevant and soon unemployed.

    So, programs that mean we have less need for them are DOA in Washington...

    Unfortunately this means for the readers here that  nothing useful for society is possible until wholesale cleaning of both sides.

    Molon Labe...

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