I watched an episode of the business program ‘On The Money’ on Sunday July 30, 2017. The first and main topic was something called Universal Income. The idea that instead of all the poverty programs and such, the Government should just give everybody a check every month for $1000 dollars. When one considers the gap between rich and poor, the rate of automation and the fact that there will never be enough jobs to go around it might be a better way of keeping our folks out of abject poverty. The drawback was the cost. One of the commentators said it would cost upwards of 3 trillion dollars. However there is a way to reach the goal of a Universal Income, eliminating abject poverty, and at a much lower cost. Here’s how.
Start by expanding Social Security. Eliminate the cap on taxable income and raise the tax to 8% from the current rate of 6.2%. Then lower the age of eligibility to 50 years.
Create a stipend that will give a check to all adults and High School Grads of $1200 a month. Those who do not finish High School should have to wait till they are 20 to encourage them to finish school. They can use this fund to support them if they go to college or to help them in getting started in life. Our wealthy students are able to go to college and do well precisely because they have a financial platform to support them. This would give all our students the same support. Go to the Stock Market and place a tax of 3% on all trades to fund the stipend. The market in 2016 did, according to the World Bank, over 42 trillion in trades and a 3% tax won’t break the bank. The payments should be set up so one gradually loses the stipend as they move up the economic ladder in a way that will encourage advancement. A basic stipend would allow us to eliminate all those poverty programs conservatives always complain about. Currently we spend a trillion dollars on some 126 anti-poverty programs and their elimination would certainly offset the cost of the stipend.
Imagine the country with no one in abject poverty. Imagine the numbers of kids now being able to go to college because they have the financial support to do so. The economic force of all that spending would drive the economy to new heights and would certainly close the income gap between the rich and poor that is hurting our economy and country.
A basic stipend would free workers from starving or being held in economic servitude, making only enough to pay for enough food to be able to work another 40 hours. Business would have to bid for one’s labor instead of workers begging for a job! We can take back the dignity and value our labor should produce. We can boost the spending power of the poor and middle class and leave behind the failed and greedy policy of ‘trickle down’ economics which has damaged our economy and brought about the latest version of the Great Recession!
Yep, we can do this if we only have the will. We can make this country live up to the promises articulated by President Roosevelt in his famous ‘Four Freedoms” speech, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear and the last which always seems to be forgotten, Freedom from want! We have the power and wealth to accomplish the last of these. The mechanics are in place. The tools are available to us. Let us make a better country and thereby a better world by finishing the work set out for us by President Roosevelt some 76 years ago. Let us end poverty and financial inequality in America once and for all!