I want to make a proposal. I propose we give every adult a government benefits card, along with a matching money account it can make payments from. Let’s call it the GovMoneyDirect benefit card. Now, all government benefits will flow through this card, with cash deposited once per month. You’re not allowed to transfer money out of the GMD account; you can only spend the money in that account directly at a business. We should probably also make a rule that the benefits can’t be spent online (that’d be a little too private). And when I say all government benefits, I’m talking about social security, supplemental security income, veteran’s benefits, food stamps (SNAP), WIC benefits, unemployment benefits, housing subsidies, energy assistance, the earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and all appropriate tax expenditures (other deductions and credits). This should represent just about the sum total the government is giving almost all US citizens in direct aid that isn’t strictly healthcare-related. Continue reading “GovMoneyDirect Benefit Cards”
I’m tired of reading about the coming horrors of climate change without seeing options to handle them. I’m tired of climate change deniers acting like abundant, cheap, clean energy would somehow be damaging to the economy. This plan is something I believe we can actually do, and that we can afford to do. Let’s stop nay-saying and doom-casting and start pushing for real solutions and progress.
Let’s take a cue from the Eisenhower Interstate Project: a very large, lengthy, and beneficial public works project that had as part of its goals remaining revenue neutral. We’ll budget 500 billion per year towards this, but the money should be reimbursed totally to the government over the following years. The Ike system did this via gas and diesel taxes, but we’ll do it via loan repayment from private entities or payments for energy provided. The end product of this plan should be a sustainable system that will provide cheap, clean energy to the citizens of the United States for decades to come, and a bedrock of infrastructure to keep our economy competitive.
As a brief aside while writing up my version of a Universal Basic Income for the United States, I wanted to point to some recent press to show I’m not the only one following such things.
So I’ve talked about what a UBI is, and about some benefits. Now let’s get down to the crunchy bits. I’m hoping to show here in a fairly clear way that a UBI is not a Utopian pipe dream, but an affordable, sensible alternative to the status quo.
Bring on the cameras. I give up. I’m ready. Recently in Chicago, a man strong-armed a woman sitting at a bus stop into an alley and sexually assaulted and robbed her. This happened at two in the afternoon on a clear day in broad daylight at a very busy intersection. I know it’s a busy intersection because I live two blocks away.
So I want this guy caught. I want people to know that crimes committed in public are going to lead to arrests. I want a camera grid to do it. But I want it implemented smartly.
It is hard to pick the most important benefit a Universal Basic Income (UBI) would bring; there are many. The benefits can be placed into two broad categories: those that represent increases in economic justice, and those that represent increases in personal stability. Market economies have no built-in sense of justice and are fairly chaotic (especially from the individual’s viewpoint), hence why it’s important to highlight how a UBI can combat these problems.
In a capitalist system, there are winners and there are losers. While competition doesn’t preclude growth in an economy, it does introduce real human suffering in the case of those who fail to compete. A UBI is one very simple method to blunt this negative consequence. While social safety net programs such as social security, welfare, disability payments, and unemployment insurance go part of the way, UBI is a naturally extension of these that eliminates many of their inherent problems.
A universal basic income (UBI) is a way for a government to ensure that its citizens all have access to a basic level of regular income to see to their fundamental needs for survival. There are many forms of UBI including negative taxes, but I’m envisioning a very specific version. I’ll outline my ideal system below, and in future posts I’ll address specific issues, costs of the program, benefits, and drawbacks.