Is this just "pie in the sky"? Just a pipe dream? NO. The distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society is one of the most clearly observable signs of how much a society values their citizens.
Article 25 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads:
" Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control." We, the United States, signed off on this as a member of the U.N.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 6.5 million people in the United States are working two jobs, and they still can't afford a decent standard of living. Nobody ever got rich by working for someone else, so I encourage everyone to embrace what I call Independent Income Generation. However, that doesn't relieve our government of their responsibility to provide for our needs.
Since our government is a government "by the people" then we, the people, should be able to decide that we want to see a universal basic income to become a reality. For some reason, our elected officials are more interested in enacting their own ideas rather than representing what we the people want.
According to Stephen Faris of Bloomberg.com, "Philosophically, the idea has a long history, drawing support from the likes of the English-American revolutionary Thomas Paine and the economist Milton Friedman. Every European country except Italy and Greece has welfare programs designed to keep citizens out of poverty...The most generous program is Denmark’s, which gives its poorest citizens roughly $1,800 a month, enough to pull the destitute over the poverty threshold." Switzerland has their basic income measure on the ballot and should be voting on it within the next two or three years.
Many think that giving everyone a basic income is a very liberal idea. However, many conservatives like the idea of giving a $10,000 a year lump sum to each family, and doing away with HUD, SNAP benefits and Medicaid, and allowing each family to pay for those things on their own out of that stipend. This would downsize big government by getting rid of the departments which manage those programs.
My fear in giving an annual lump sum is that making that lump sum last all year long might be a challenge for some families if emergencies come up and they feel they have no alternative but to dip into that fund. Perhaps if that sum could be set aside but only paid out monthly, this program would work well. Also, there is no way that $10,000 a year is going to pay for more than housing and food, and healthcare would still be unaffordable for most Americans. So even if there was a universal basic income, there would still also need to be universal health care in addition.
It has been calculated that, just using the money we spend on the military each year, we could give every single person an income of $2,200 a month. So this proposal is not at all unreasonable. In order to not drain the whole defense budget, it would definitely be possible to do away with several government agencies that now dispense social benefits, and downsize several other programs. Changing the tax code to make a 25% flat tax for everyone no matter how much they make would assure that the wealthy are paying their fair share, and that money could be redistributed to the rest of the population. This program is definitely fiscally feasible.
Other than lifting people out of poverty, which is in and of itself a worthy goal, what would this accomplish? People could work at jobs they enjoy and are good at, irrespective of how much those jobs pay. People could afford to go to university and get an education because they don't have to try and work a job at the same time. Our population would be more educated, more fulfilled in their work, and people would have more time to invent new and outstanding technology. This would have a direct effect on our economy because it would reduce stress levels and the effects of stress, which would lower our healthcare costs. Self-actualization could actually be a reality for the majority of people.
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