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Negative Income Tax

The Asahi Shimbun
The Asahi Shimbun

Paying people just because they are here. That is the idea behind the not-new-at-all idea of giving people money from the public coffers. Everyone would get a guaranteed check on a regular basis. The idea is called Universal Basic Income and would be guaranteed to everyone approved by the government to be eligible based on some guidelines and specifications.

It is the kind of scheme of social engineering many of us have traditionally called welfare. It has been championed by politicians and theorists for decades in fact centuries but has been spurned as not a common sense approach to real issues. The idea however is having a resurgence led by the socialist leaning government in Finland and other factions in numerous Western nations. UBI is now the pet cause of the one of the world’s wealthiest men, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Of course he’d have no reason to oppose such a notion or concern himself with how such a thing would be paid for. With all of his money he can afford to live with his head in the clouds and fancy himself some sort of postmodern intellectual because he had a wild idea one day that turned into the modern means of social communication.

Those that argue in favor of the idea insist that many of the jobs performed by people over the centuries are being relegated faster and faster to automation and robotics. They point out that if millions more jobs are taken out of human hands and put under the control of Artificial Intelligence there simply will not be enough actual jobs for people to hold to make the monthly nut.

Other groups that could only be described as radically left including Movement for Black Lives say such a payment would be in lieu of reparations for the wrongs endured during slavery centuries ago. To the north Canada’s Leap Manifesto says UBI is a way to create long-term sustainability. I am not sure how people doing less and demanding more is sustainable but that’s why we are having this Play-Doh free conversation in the first place.

There is one state that has had a similar plan in place for every single person since 1982, Alaska. The so-called Permanent Fund has been paying every single Alaskan resident from a few hundred dollars a year to a couple thousand. The checks however have a revenue source, oil. In fact I have argued that if America were to become the largest producer and exporter of energy in the world then we could have an ‘American Permanent Fund’. It has been met with skepticism and ridicule depending on who I was talking to. In fact I have written many articles on the matter.

The difference between my idea and what is being proposed elsewhere however is having a revenue source. My idea is rooted firmly in the American Energy Renaissance and that means there would be a flow of wealth from what could be argued is a common source and that is the natural resources under the real estate we inhabit. The big energy companies would still get the lion share of the income but a fraction would be shaved off to pick up the tab for the UBI. It is a socialist idea but it gained support of such wildly different thinkers as Milton Friedman and Martin Luther King Jr.

The biggest challenge of course is how to pay for the immense cost of making Universal Basic Income without having a well from which to draw. We are a nation buried by $20 Trillion in debt with other problems on the way as Puerto Rico struggles with insolvency and soon Illinois will follow into the pit of over-spending hell.

So the idea of a permanent fund can be explored but not before the question of how to handle our debt is answered in full.

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