There has been a lot of speculation about the current unrest over heavy handed police actions resulting in the deaths of several African American men around the country.
The militarization of the police certainly is part of the problem. Sparked by the War on Drugs, Federal dollars expanded police agencies and bought the latest equipment. Beefed up City and Sheriffs offices started acting like a branch of the military and the military started a program of giving old military equipment to local police forces. The problem is that a military force needs an enemy and we, my fellow citizens are that enemy! This is especially true if one lives in an economically depressed area, are a member of a minority or are poor.
What then is the root cause of the unrest? Simply put it is poverty. Crushing poverty that has a man working 40 hours a week and still needing food stamps to survive. Poverty that has a man making only enough to feed his body enough energy to go work another 40 hours. Servitude of the ‘Company Store’ variety experienced by our coal miners in the past.
We can eliminate poverty here in America if we choose, we have both the tools and the wealth. Here’s how we could do it! Eliminate the cap on taxable income for Social Security currently at 160,000 dollars and raise the tax to 8%. Then lower the age of eligibility to 50 years old. Place a tax on all Stock Market trades of one or 2% and use that money to create a basic citizen stipend equivalent to 3 meals and a place to live say, 1500 to 2000 a month for all from age 21 to 50 as a right of citizenship. This stipend could have a means test to cut costs. For our young citizens we should start an account for all newborns that the government under some kind of formula deposits money into on a regular basis that the child gets when they turn 21 to get started in life. Of course 4 year college would be free as it is in other modern countries.
There it is. The elimination of poverty in America. Think of what freeing our citizens from economic servitude would do. The creative energies of our citizens would change the world. One could dedicate oneself to improving his life and the lives of all if one were not being held in economic servitude.
The nay-sayers will tell you that if people have a basic income, enough to cover 3 meals and a place to lay one’s head they will not work. However Social Security recipients work, military retirees who receive a good pension work so there is no reason to believe that those receiving the basic citizen stipend would not. One of the reasons businesses do not open in depressed areas is because the population does not have any money to spend. The basic citizen stipend would change all that.
There is no question that the plan outlined above can, with some tweaking if needed, work. It works in other modern countries so there is no doubt, if properly administered, it will work here in America. We have the tools and wealth and ability to end abject poverty in America, we only lack the will.