I don’t normally write on things I know little or nothing about, but recently I developed an interest in Basic Income Guarantee (or Negative Income Tax) schemes. The idea is surprisingly simple – everyone is paid a straight forward dividend or cash payment sufficient for their needs, all equally, and those who wish can work on top. Yes I know it sounds very odd – but it is extremely interesting, and the ramifications are quite large. This essay from Andrew Usher on Men’s Wiki explains the idea a little – well worth reading. The best known theorist appears to be US economist Karl Widerquist, and there is an interview on the subject of BIG with him here. Thanks to Tom Nowell for introducing me to the USBIG Basic Income Newsletter, following our chat on Social Policy and Welfare Reform in Yates a few weeks ago. Anyway If anyone is interested I’ll find some more resources.
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There are some obvious flaws in the essay. The estimation of how much the workforce would decrease (and thus the tax base to fund the program)fails to account for a ripple effect. If I reduce my hours or quit altogether I will not consume as many goods or services which will lead to a reduction in those workforces.
The idea that the wealthy would somehow fund the program through corporate tax is flawed as well. There are two types of wealth. You can inherit wealth or gain it through business. Inherited wealth will not be affected because the essay says we would not tax investments. If you are truly wealthy you could simply relocate your headquarters to a country with a better tax situation.
Putting the entire country on welfare will only exacerbate the problems inherit in the program. You will need a huge expansion in the government workforce. Where will the new workers come from if everyone is paid not to work?
The people hurt most by this type of program will be the middle class. Once they are eroded by the burden of funding the progam you are left with the extremely wealthy and the poor. Ironically this is exactly the situation proponents of this program are trying to eliminate.
Actually Jobs Cause Poverty — read this radical analysis here.
The Last Taboo: How Jobs Cause Poverty on the website of Livable Income For Everyone
And why are there so many people who get a guaranteed income now but deny the need for a universal guaranteed income?
And a guaranteed livable income is the only way to save the environment:
Economic Foundations and Environmental Progress
Your instincts to be interested in Basic Income Guarantee are correct and the fact you are a non-expert is an asset not a lack, re: “I don’t normally write on things I know little or nothing about”