What would you do if you could have ALL of your basic needs met without having to slave away at a job all day? What would SOCIETY as a whole do? Enter: BASIC INCOME.
Basic Income is a system which disperses an unconditional sum of money to ALL citizens. The idea dates back hundreds of years to THOMAS PAINE‘s “Agrarian Justice“ and THOMAS SPENCE‘s “The Rights Of Infants.” It’s benefits are UNDENIABLE and many-fold:
● HALF of the people on this planet live in poverty. Basic income allows EVERYONE the opportunity and ability to meet their basic living needs, thus curbing and eventually bringing an end to poverty (FACT: over 22,000 children die EACH DAY due to poverty and over 1.1 BILLION people lack access to safe drinking water).
● It stimulates the economy by increasing individuals’ buying power and encouraging and giving them the ability to engage in economic activity.
● It promotes economic and social equality amongst EVERYONE.
● It increases overall societal and individual happiness by encouraging and allowing people the opportunity to pursue their passions instead of having to spend so much time working.
● It would help businesses prosper and lower the prices of goods and services by eliminating the need for a minimum wage.
WHERE WILL THE MONEY COME FROM?
Would you believe that most nations can ALREADY AFFORD to pay their citizens a guaranteed basic income? If not, then small but easily-implementable changes can make it possible.
● This can easily be accomplished by re-allocating already-existing funds. In the United States for example, over 50% of discretionary funds are spent on military endeavors. Wouldn’t these funds be better off being spent to ensure that citizens are provided the basic necessities to live?
● Replacing already-existing social safety nets such as SNAP (foodstamps), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), Housing Vouchers (Section 8), Social Security, Medicare / Medicaid, Earned-Income Tax Credits, Unemployment Benefits and Disability Benefits with a guaranteed basic income would not only save the government (and its citizens) money, but also cover those same basic needs (and many more).
● Implementing a negative income tax would provide for those in society who need help providing for themselves. This would be accomplished by exempting individuals who earn under a certain per-determined amount of income from having to pay income taxes and instead giving them a supplemental income equal to the difference of their original income and that per-determined amount.
● Extremely small increases in sales or property taxes would increase available funds for a guaranteed basic income.
WHO WOULD RECEIVE A BASIC INCOME?
Should a basic income be allocated to ALL citizens, or only certain ones? There are several competing schools of thought on this matter.
● Some believe that ALL CITIZENS should receive a guaranteed basic income.
● Some feel that individuals whose income falls below the poverty line should receive supplemental money which brings their total income up to the poverty line.
● Some believe that only those over the age of 18 should receive a guaranteed basic income. Others feel that individuals with children should receive an additional full or partial guaranteed basic income for each child that they have.
This novel idea, as well as various similar ones, are already being considered (even voted upon) and implemented in various forms by individuals, groups, corporations and governments in nations such as Brazil, Colombia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Finland, Germany, Iran, Kenya, Liberia, Macau, Malawi, Mexico, Switzerland and Uganda. Countries like Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, The Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Namibia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and The USA are also spearheading basic income legislation.
[Originally published on October 7th, 2014]
~ MERIT FREEMAN