Posts Tagged ‘Guaranteed Minimum Income’

The passing scene: January 7, 2015

January 7, 2015

enhanced-buzz-wide-25305-1389933990-1160 Words and a War Without End: The Untold Story of the Most Dangerous Sentence in U.S. History by Gregory D. Johnson for BuzzFeed.

The Authorization for the Use of Military Force was intended to give President George W. Bush the authority to hunt down the terrorists who plotted the 9/11 attacks.  But President Bush and President Obama after him have used it as justification for any kind of covert or military action anywhere in the world that they deem necessary for national security.  This article tells how AUMF was enacted, and the debate over its meaning.

Nonviolent Conflicts in 2014 You May Have Missed Because They Were Not Violent by Erica Chenoweth for Political Violence @ A Glance.

Violent methods of struggle have more credibility than non-violent methods.  When mass defiance fails, it is seen as a reason to shift to violent struggle.  When violent struggle fails, it is seen as a reason to double down on violence.

FBI says search warrants not needed to use “stingrays” in public places by David Kravets for ars technica.

The FBI has erected fake cell phone towers which it uses to intercept and listen in on cell phone conversations.

Bernie Sanders Brutal Letter on Obama’s Trade Pact Foreshadows 2016 Democratic Clash by Zach Carter for Huffington Post.

Why the Tech Elite Is Getting Behind Universal Basic Income by Nathan Schneider for Vice News.


The passing scene: January 3, 2015

January 3, 2015

Social Programs That Work by Ron Haskins in The New York Times.

Many social welfare programs fail.  The Obama administration has identified some that succeed.   While this does not change my unfavorable opinion of the President’s policies overall, I think he is entitled to credit for having this research done.

This City Eliminated Poverty and Nearly Everybody Forgot About It by Zi-Ann Lum for Huffington Post.

Between 1974 and 1979, the small city of Dauphin, Manitoba, guaranteed all residents a basic income—employed or not, able to work or not.  What was the ultimate outcome of this radical experiment?  Nobody ever bothered to check and find out.

What’s Wrong With Georgia? by Alana Semuels for The Atlantic.

Scott Walker has failed Wisconsin and Minnesota is the proof by Jimmy Anderson for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Georgia and Wisconsin are the latest American states to discover that a Third World economic strategy—low wages, low taxes, low services and low regulation—is not a successful formula for creating jobs and promoting economic growth.


Swiss to vote on basic income for every adult

October 14, 2013

Switzerland will hold a national referendum on giving every Swiss adult a guaranteed income of 2,500 Swiss francs a month—equal to about $2,800, or $33,600 a year.  I don’t know whether this would be feasible, but it would be an interesting experiment.  There are two arguments in favor of a guaranteed income—one philosophical, one practical.

concentrationofwealthThe philosophical argument is that basis of our material prosperity is not our own individual efforts, but the achievements of those who came before us.  Thanks to the inventors of the printing press, the steam engine, the electrical generator and the digital computer, I enjoy a kind of life that was available only to kings and emperors in centuries past.

But I did not create these things.  So there is no reason why I have more of a right to the fruits of these achievements than anybody else.  All I have by right is the incremental value added by my own efforts.

The practical argument is that the United States and other wealthy countries already have made the decision that nobody is going to be left to starve.  But we have a patchwork welfare system that is costly, inefficient and full of perverse incentives that discourage people from supporting themselves.  The free-market economist Milton Friedman advocated a guaranteed income as a lesser evil than the current welfare system, because it would mean less bureaucracy and less distortion of the free market.

The Swiss also will vote on a referendum to limit corporate executive pay to no more than 12 times the pay of the lowest-paid employee of the firm.  Based on my (possibly very ignorant) idea of what the Swiss are like, I don’t expect either referendum to pass.

From my standpoint, that would be a pity.  I am curious as to how these ideas would work out in practice.   Would the Swiss become a more humane society, or a nation of lazy do-nothings?   Or would the referenda after all not make much difference?


U.S. still hasn’t caught up with Dr. King

August 30, 2013

martin.luther.king.jrThe Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for voting rights and the abolition of Jim Crow laws, but he didn’t stop there.  The 1963 March on Washington was a march for Jobs and Freedom.

He believed that everyone who wanted to work should be guaranteed a job.  This is more relevant now than ever.  All you have to do is to look around, and there is work that needs to be done, from ensuring old people in nursing homes get good care to rebuilding our nation’s bridges and water systems.

Yet the jobs aren’t there.  Why should the upper 1/10th of 1 percent of income and wealth holders be the job creators?  Why can’t we the people create jobs?

Dr. King also believed in a minimum guaranteed income, which I’m not sure about.  I’d rather have a guaranteed jobs program, in which everybody could do something useful according to their abilities and receive an income adequate to their basic needs.  But then again, a guaranteed minimum income might work better than our present hodge-podge welfare system.