Poverty has always been a problem in this country. And it is a problem that neither of our two major political parties has adequately addressed.
The Republicans believe it will always be a problem, and cannot be solved by government action. They consider the poor to be "lazy", and only grudgingly offer them a subsistence living level.
The Democrats aren't much better. They say they believe poverty can be eliminated, but have yet to show the political courage to make a real attempt to accomplish that.
I agree with Nelson Mandela. I believe poverty is a problem created by men, and can be eliminated by men if they have the desire to do so. I also believe that just because we have not solved the problem of poverty yet does not mean it can't be solved. We just need to put people in government with the desire and courage to make a real attempt to solve the problem.
There is an idea that has been floating around the edges of our political discussions for decades now -- an idea that could provide a solution to poverty. It is the idea of a "universal basic income" (also sometimes called a "guaranteed national income"). I think it's time we gave this idea some serious consideration.
Here is part of a thought-provoking article by Nicole Sallak Anderson at medium.com on this subject:
Ah, November. Time to vote for the lesser evil. And 2016 is sure to be American Politics at it’s finest. The scripted, binary world of American Politics leaves out much of importance during its process, preferring instead to emphasize fear tactics as a means of garnering votes.
One of the more important issues on the table for me is Universal Basic Income. This is not welfare, or assistance, or social security. This is a guarantee that every single human being in our society has shelter, food and health care. UBI is a call to finally use our technology to provide the most basic needs to all our citizens.
It isn’t altruism that drives me to the viewpoint that human life is important enough to protect. It’s pragmatism, and I believe that futurists need to consider UBI as an important step to achieving a more prosperous and technologically advanced society.
Welfare Isn’t Only For the Poor
The system of welfare, social security and other social support systems that we currently employ are based on the desire for those who have, to lord over those who don’t. Layers upon layers of administration exists for the sole purpose of deciding who is worthy of support, who is actually needy enough, and who can be given help. Each year we heap on more requirements, the most recent being restrictions on buying steak and salmon with food stamps. This behavior is inherently childish. It supposes that some of us are better than others.
Here’s a very simple suggestion: what if we got rid of EVERY safety net, from SNAP to Social Security to Unemployment, and pooled that money together to create a guaranteed minimum income of $30,000 to be paid to every living American, eighteen and older. In addition, we cut our military spending and add that money to the pool as well.
Now many will say, $30K!!! That’s outrageous. But remember, one war in Iraq has cost us TRILLIONS, so please don’t say we don’t have enough money. In addition, all the administrative costs of lording over the current assistance programs, i.e. deciding who is worthy of help, go away. Now there are only two qualifications for receiving assistance: Are you alive? Are you over 18? Done.
This is for everyone. Hillary’s grandchildren will get $30K a year as well as the immigrant’s child. ALL are worthy of welfare, not just the poor or elderly. All of us are worthy of food, shelter and health care. And this $30K will cover that, if you’re frugal.
Look up the word, welfare, in the thesaurus and see the many synonyms: well-being, abundance, euphoria, contentment, thriving. Who doesn’t deserve this?
Universal Basic Income Allows Freedom
So now, at 18, you get $30K a year, for the rest of your life. The government has no say in how you spend it, or what you do with it. However, $30K will not get you a Tesla, or an apartment in Silicon Valley, or NYC. Here’s where the freedom lies; Capitalism still exists. You want to live a more opulent life, then use the money to go to college and become a software engineer, or doctor, or financial wizard. There’s no stopping you. Earn as much as you want, continue with business as usual. This isn’t socialism, this isn’t a mandatory maximum wage, rather it’s a guarantee. The sky’s the limit. Go be Elon Musk if you want. Or drop out of college and invent the next big thing. More power to you. With everyone now fed and sheltered, the market place demand for your product has grown.
UBI would also open the door to tax reform and simplification. The first $30K earned each year is NOT taxed, regardless of your total income or net worth. Anything you make above that, whether in wages or investments, is taxed at a simple rate across the board. Consumption taxes on luxury goods can also be considered.
Most importantly for futurists: UBI will allow technological advancement. When a farmer is guaranteed a basic income to pay her bills, she might be more willing to try a new sort of crop and take the economic hit a few years. Or when fast-food workers are replaced by robots, they can still thrive while figuring out their next step. Experts suggest that within 20 years, robots willreplace 40% of our jobs. (Yes, each of the highlighted words in that sentence link to an article about the robot revolution that’s coming.) This is great for efficiency and technology, but not for humans if we don’t have any way of making an income. This means that many industries will AVOID technical advancement, rather than embrace it, because of the fear of losing their jobs and their livelihood. Take that risk away and watch the world change from one where many go hungry to one of abundance and health.