THC is pleased to announce that a high-powered think tank has arrived at the simple solution to solve the financial woes of most Americans: give them free cash. Give all U.S. residents free cash, and finance it all by taking cash from residents as well.
Here’s an article which discusses the effort, led by a few notable like Elon Musk and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, to explore the idea of universal basic income for everyone living in the U.S.: Facebook co-founder’s new $10 million initiative to test if cash handouts will help fix America
Basically, a bunch of really high-powered rich folks are looking at what effect giving free money to people in the U.S. would have. THC ventures to guess that increasing the amount of handouts we give to people will help them game the system and do even less, but what do we know?
The initiative was inspired by the rise of automation of formerly human-performed jobs in the U.S. and across the globe. THC has covered that idea before:
The first article we linked merely discusses a study on the subject of universal basic income, but this article goes more in depth on how basic universal income works, and how much it would cost. Check it!
Here’s one of our favorite snippets from the second article, a quote attributed to Martin Ford, the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, who talks about the effect lots and lots of free money would have on the U.S.:
“”Of course,” Ford adds, “some people, hopefully not too many, will do nothing. They will stay home and play video games, they will take drugs, whatever. That is unavoidable, that’s part of the cost you are going to have to accept.”
So, THC has to ask, is that an acceptable cost? There’s already a whole heck of a lot of people, particularly in Humboldt, that seem to content to do nothing (or to do drugs, or commit crimes) and subsist on the current level of handouts available to the public. We think universal basic income would exacerbate the problem. Sure, there’s potential that some extra cash could make people turn to more entrepreneurial pursuits – but THC is inclined to think that people would turn that extra cash to being more entrepreneurial criminals than anything else.
Of course, the current $10 million study is just that – a study. But with a growing number of other countries glomming on to the idea of universal basic income, it seems like it might be a foregone conclusion that the U.S. will explore the practice of a universal income on some level.
The main problem with this is the cost. The second article we pointed you to mentions that the number “floated” around to be given to each individual U.S. citizen is $1,000.00, which would mean that providing it to everyone in the U.S. would be prohibitively expensive. From the article:
“If each of the 319 million people living in the U.S. right now get $1,000 a month, it would cost $319 billion a month to pay a universal basic income. That’s nearly $4 trillion a year.”
Another way to put it is that this would be $12,539.19 per U.S. resident to fund the whole shebang. Ouch. How is that going to help our pocket books again?
Yikes! Where oh where could that extra $4 trillion come from? Well, here’s what the article suggests (and we’ll give you a hint – more taxes!):
“He suggests that it could be possible to tax the universal basic income payments to higher net-worth individuals. The government could also raise taxes on their other sources of income.”
It’s also important to note that the idea of universal basic income isn’t something that would replace our existing social safety nets like social security, etc., but would “supplement” them. Meaning that in addition to the poorly managed handouts that U.S. taxpayers are already on the hook for, we’d also have to foot the bill for an additional $4 trillion dollars.
$4 trillion dollars is quite a lot of money – do you think it would be better spent in perhaps trying to create more jobs, rather than just giving it away for free and enabling people to do next to nothing in order to get by? THC is leaning that way…but we’d like to hear from you, too.