Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why not $10,000? $100,000? A pony for Christmas?

You know that quote from Sal's favorite Founding Father?
When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.
I think this insanity from TheAtlantic is about what he had in mind.
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 upside of giving everybody about $3,000 is that it’s a very easy policy to run and a surefire way to cut poverty in half. But it's a large program: it would require about $907 billion in 2012, or 5.6 percent of the nation’s GDP. (In a real implementation, we might exclude the more than 45 million Americans receiving OASI Social Security benefits from a basic income, bringing the cost down substantially.)

Could we afford it? Sure. 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.

The point is: this could be done.
Ben ... any other ideas?
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

In case you were wondering, your humble blogg'r fell in with Franklin when as a young man he read, Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School.

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