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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Would A Basic Income to End Poverty Make Sense?


This story in Business Insider says we can eliminate poverty. The only thing standing in our way, they say, is a dysfunctional political system.

The solution to this big problem is complex: send checks to everyone.

Okay, that’s it.

If the poverty rate is determined to be at $12,000, then everyone over 21 would get a check for $1,000 each month that year. You’d get it whether you were working or not.

To pay for it, they suggest we can cut all the unnecessary state and federal benefit programs that would no longer be needed if people had enough to get by, and try a few others things.

An alternative idea is for the Fed could print money and give it out like they did with big banks. Ben Bernake famously called it a "helicopter drop" of money. “What could boost demand more simply and easily than giving people money?” asks Duncan Black.  Indeed.

Shall we eliminate poverty and give everyone free money?

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Guaranteed Minimum Income

The idea of a guaranteed minimum income has been around for a long time, but is rarely discussed these days.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guaranteed_minimum_income

As a political reality, this idea will likely be rejected in the United States, not as a result of rational discussion of its merits, but because it offends puritan morality. It is refreshing to see a business publication presenting the concept of a minimum guaranteed income in a factual, dispassionate manner.

The article cited by Chris explains that establishing a minimum income would guarantee security for people’s basic needs, and would not destroy the incentive to work for extras. The article shows that cost would be a fraction of our gross national product, and that a guaranteed minimum income would replace social welfare programs, so that a large part of the cost is already covered.

In an economic order which regards workers as units to be discarded when technological advances makes their work obsolete, automation creates insecurity and poverty for many, and obscene accumulation of wealth for very few. How ironic that greater productivity does not create general abundance, but creates poverty and insecurity.

In a socially cooperative society, automation would promise to eliminate much of the repetitive drudgery which has characterized the industrial revolution, giving people the luxury of more free time in which to develop our human potential.

 
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A guaranteed minimum wage for

A guaranteed minimum wage for all adult citizens seems like such a common sense, humane and efficient concept. Which is why I'm sure that not only will it never be instituted in the United States but will also never even be discussed in a serious and cooperative manner by our elected officials.

 
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Never say "never"

Things do change. Twenty years ago, or even ten years ago, the idea that same-sex marriage would become legal would have seemed implausible. Sometimes good sense prevails, but it may take awhile.

 
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Income for everyone; wages increases for working

This isn't the same as a guaranteed minimum wage, though it is similar.

This is a guaranteed basic income, regardless of whether one is working or not. The guaranteed minimum wage would be a nice addition for those who do work.

I'd keep working if I was sent a check for $1000 each month. It would help me by taking some of the pressure off those periods when work is slow, or clients fall behind in paying. I'd probably be more willing to do extra pro bono work if the need to hit the nut was lessened.

This plan has some appeal for conservatives - there's no incentive to, say, have more children. And the incentive to sit around and do nothing is minimal - most people would want a bit more than bare minimum.

 
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I actually meant to say

I actually meant to say minimum income not minimum wage. This plan would certainly make a huge difference in my life -I live on a limited income - work part time but just barely make my bills each month. An additional $1000 per month would mean actually being able to not only pay all my bills on time rather than juggling them each month but would allow me to save a little for the time when I can't even work part time.
I do wonder , though, if this wouldn't be a more fair strategy if the $1000 were paid to people who earned/lived on less than, let's say, $60,000 annually. There's something about the idea of giving the 1% additional money that makes me want to throw up. (not that I'm insinuating that someone who makes $60,000 is part of the 1% -I'm certainly not!)

 
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Pay for the Rich and for the Poor

The way to get the Rich to work harder is to pay them more.
The way to get the Poor to work harder is to pay them less.

 
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Just a couple of thoughts

I wouldn't think just giving money, no strings attached, would produce the desired results. But it's worth consideration. :)
I have been working in retail (a couple of months already) where people come in to buy everything under the sun. I can see the concern and stress on the faces of many people as they put their foods on the belt to be totaled and bagged, making last minute decisions to return some of their items to the shelf as they see their total cost rise with each scan. I also see where people who use food benefits (SNAP) are better able to meet their nutritional needs than those who are likely low income, but have no benefits to use. When the final item is scanned and the total announced, the faces I observe are strained and serious. It should never be a stress or strain to walk into a food store and buy groceries, but it is very real and very widespread.
In this same store, during a lull here and there, I bring those foods that were handed back and put them away. I also clean up my aisle, finding things like a pair of shoes or a toy or cosmetic tucked in with the chips or impulse items; placed there by someone waiting in line who had second thoughts. I also find bags and boxes, empty of the product they once contained, tags that had been ripped off from items and stuffed into a box of candy, where obviously someone made a decision of another sort for things they may not have "needed" but certainly wanted enough to risk being caught.
I think 1,000 a month for the majority of the people I greet each day would create an entirely different atmosphere and I'd bet nothing would be handed back to me at the last minute .. nor would I find so many things stuffed onto shelves near my register, including empty packaging. However, not for one minute do I think any person who "consumes" should not also "produce". If this dream of handing everyone 1,000 a month increased demand, I would think it would also therefore produce jobs and those who are able-bodied should be required to go get one.
But the real answer wouldn't be there alone.. what about education and job training; what about the drug trade and those who are addicted, and the still-too-high numbers of men and women thrown in prison for long terms? So, I also think handing over 1,000 a month to everyone over 21 would create a whole new set of problems to be solved.
I think a first step toward ending poverty would be to increase the minimum wage to at least ten dollars an hour. Most people WANT to be self-sufficient and productive despite all we hear that too many people "work" the current system. No one would be unhappy about being able to provide for themselves through their own efforts.
Whatever the answer will be, money will need to be in the equation; no doubt about it. The problem is the way it's distributed. Right now, the government is subsidizing the company I work for who would not be selling half of what leaves their doors without them. Many of the people who work there do so only because "it's a job" and there aren't alternatives. There's no middle class... it's the have and have-not economy and the solution isn't going to be simple.
I'd like to see someone come up with a diagram of how money flows in this country.. it siphons in an upward motion. Things staying as they are, adding 1,000 a month to everyone's budget is only going to make those at the top reach heights higher than ever before.. they are the ones in control. For the rest of us, life is either "sufficient" or, for many of us, one step above outright slavery.

 
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Maximum wage

We should add a maximum wage law while we're doing this.

I think we'd see crime and addictions go down. Those are often results of living in poverty. It might not end them, but I bet it would make a dent.

I'd also be willing to let a few who didn't need it to get it anyway, if it meant everyone else was in on the deal. It's a bit like our jury system. Better to let a guilty person walk than to ever lock up someone innocent. It's a bit of a fade off.

I agree that we'd see an entirely different atmosphere.

 
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How About This?

Why not just return to what the founder's envisioned. Instead of giving everyone a minimum income of useless prommisary notes from a illegitimate printing press, why not just let them keep what they earn to begin with?
And let a free society take care of those in need as they see those needs much better than beauracracy.

 
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This solution wouldn't

This solution wouldn't address the issue of those people who do not make enough in wages to support their families. Nor does it address our older population trying to exist on Social Security payments that don't even cover the most basic of living expenses. It would just be more of the same - people working low wage jobs; sometimes multiple jobs, struggling to provide for their families and senior citizens and disabled citizens still not receiving enough money to take care of themselves. A basic income initiative would help to equal the playing field for those who live below the poverty level.

 
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This was actually suggested before

This idea was proposed by George McGovern as part of his platform in 1972. He was soundly ridiculed.

 
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And Richard Nixon before him

also championed a guaranteed minimum income, believe it or not.

 
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Be forewarned

This is the exact scenario as Obamacare which was a Heritage Foundation program, created by Republicants to stall the Hillarycare effort. Nixon wanted this income support as a defensive measure also. It is good to remember that in our current experience Republicants just won't take "Yes" for an answer. Every single thing that they have proposed was agreed to by Hussein Obama and they just will always want more because they want to repeal it so that that black Commie Kenyan bastard gets no credit. It would be the same here. Just look at what is going on in the states that have yet to accept Medicaid expansion like NH. Giving them more and more just makes them ask for more and more. The current state senate bill has so many trap doors that particularly Republicants say that it couldn't work even if accepted. Opponents of Obamacares can't be appeased. It will have to come down to "jambing it down their throats" just like they fear. I don't know who Aiken was but this nails it:

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.
-- Howard Aiken

 
 #

from Politicususa

Wonderful article by Jones today:

It will be degrading and ugly, but the truth is that Republicans are never going to stop this – they can’t be taught to behave and put country first. They will have to be shamed by the truth each time.

 
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Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Sorry, just this idea is so stupid I can't stop laughing. Why stop at just 1000$ each month, if you're going to print money might as well make it a million each month. The effect would be virtually the same in either case, it'd just cause massive inflation which would cause great economic chaos and result in people even poorer and worse off before. It's simple undeniable mathematics really, 1% of 100 is the same as 100,000/100,000,000. The Fed printing more money really hurts the economy, and has been for some time. Unfortunately we're locked into "quantitative easing" now until the next crash comes, as everyone's been brainwashed into thinking it's helping the economy when it's actually been the rung around it's neck. The way to help the poor isn't to give them a minimum income or even a minimum wage, it's to increase the buying power of the dollars they're already making, something that we've been doing the exact opposite of for 70 years! No one gets it, but deflation is actually the best thing for the masses that could happen, not surprisingly our country is desperately trying to avoid that.

 
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Fun though to think

Who is hurt by inflation? Rich people, the same exact ones that account for the enormous inequality of everything.

 
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As I recall,

Nixon's variant was the "negative income tax". Anyone with an income below a specified level would get a payment that would make up the gap. That avoids throwing yet more money at the wealthy, while insuring the money paid out would flow back into the basic economy (as opposed to the luxury yacht industry).

 

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