In 2012, the Federal Government of the United States spent $773 billion on Social Security and $695 billion on means tested welfare programs, excluding health and education. State and local governments in the United States spent an additional $250 billion on means tested welfare programs, excluding health and education. That is a total of $1.718 trillion dollars.
We should divert the income from those taxes whose proceeds fund these programs to provide an equal, unconditional, and bi-weekly income to the 316 million citizens of the United States. Annually, this would give each American citizen an income of around $5,500.
This program is actually cheaper than what we are doing already. Because the payments are a direct distribution of the incomes from certain tax sources, its cost is always deficit neutral and the income granted to each American citizen increases and decreases according to the strength of the economy, at least inasmuch as those tax sources mirror it accurately, thus avoiding the automatic growth, deficit spending, and interest charges caused by our current system.
This program is easier to administer than what is already in place. Because it is easier to verify that each citizen exists than it is to verify the shifting and complex eligibility of petitioners for assistance by conflicting and overlapping government programs administration will be simpler and fraud rates lower.
This program is more effective at reducing poverty and its effects than our current means tested welfare programs because it directly corrects the literal definition of poverty, which is a lack of income. The conditions that cause poverty are extremely complex and difficult to address. But poverty itself, through this program, can be addressed, and outright solved, directly.
Last but not least, this program does all this while giving that around $5,500 to every middle class family member, every college student, every retired person, and every family between jobs, and still spends less than our current system.
Numerous experts in economics, politics and culture, as well as significant government and university panels, have come to the conclusion that the Universal Basic Income would solve many seemingly intractable social problems. The obstacle it faces today is the obstacle it has always faced: that many people, perhaps everyone, has an initial distrust of the concept because unconditional handouts seem like an implausably simple minded solution and one that will discourage people from working at all. Let me address those concerns.
Firstly, the very simplicity of the Universal Basic Income, coupled with the fact that we and every other government currently operates a far more complex Social Welfare Programs, leads people to doubt that such a system can truly deliver on what it promises. The reason why governments operate such complex Social Welfare Programs is that before this age of globalized low prices and modern prosperity no government could afford to distribute a meaningful Universal Basic Income. It has been repeatedly recommended as the next progression of Social Welfare, only to fall just short of practicality. But in America today, for the first time in history, the math makes sense.
Secondly, studies and pilot programs of the Universal Basic Income have shown that hours worked, on average, decline by only one or two percent, and that this decline comes mostly from young mothers and teenagers, many of whom opt to continue their education. This positive outcome exists for the same reason that people work more hours than would be required to pay for their food, housing, and utilities.
The Universal Basic Income is a simple and inherently popular concept with long running historical and academic support. To promote it, share it.
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