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Monday, November 18, 2013

Slate Understands:

Another article has come out endorsing the citizen's dividend.  They call it the basic income, but it's all the same concept.  They also listed the same total I called for, $12,000 a year per adult.  This adds up to a cost of 2.14 trillion dollars.  However, if you simply subtract the welfare spending we are already giving out to the poor, the extra cost sinks down to 1.14 trillion.  This extra cost could easily be made up for by cutting medicare/medicaid (since people now have a basic income they can pay for their health insurance themselves), the military (from the current 700 billion a year down to on par with the rest of the world, say 50 billion a year), or interest on the debt (by defaulting on our debt, which we need to do sooner or later anyway).  Or we could just lower the basic income to $6,000 a year by cancelling our current welfare spending and call it a day.  Both plans sound like music to my ears.

What's great is that so many people, from so many mainstream organizations, are finally speaking out on this subject.  This article is extremely positive towards the idea of the basic income, and so is the New York Times article which it links to, as was the Atlantic article last week.  Finally, it seems the idea is percolating through the intelligentsia.  It is such an obvious upgrade from the current system, in terms of fairness and efficiency, that it is impossible to make any logical argument against it.  Furthermore, as more and more people, even with college degrees, through no fault of their own, can't find work, the blame the victim system where the poor were always 'evil people anyway' can no longer hold water.  In a Spanish economy where 57% of young adults can't find work, who exactly is the evil sinner that needs to be punished?

Apparently, the Swiss people are being allowed a popular referendum to put this policy in place.  However, odds are the Swiss will reject the idea, because most people only care about themselves and Switzerland only has a 2.9% unemployment rate, unlike Spain or Italy that desperately needs this kind of relief.  So long as a country can imagine that only evil people can't make a living on their own they'll always find an excuse not to help those around them, even when it's easily affordable and is the greatest blessing they could ever give their fellow man.  Still, I would love to be surprised by the capacity of people to be good and pass this bill.  In my opinion, anyone who doesn't support the citizen's dividend is evil and a worthless human being, and as a result, I don't have a very high opinion of the majority of the world's inhabitants.  Switzerland has always been an admirable place, relative to the rest of the world, so maybe they can lead the world into the light on this issue as well.

If the policy is just passed once, anywhere, and shown to work, people from all around the world, the citizens in every country, will rise up in indignation that their governments aren't offering the same benefits to them.  They'll ask their representative democracies why Switzerland has a basic income while they are still left to starve homeless on the streets.  And they will flood into the voting booths and elect the first party that changes its platform to "FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE, WE JUST WANT A BASIC INCOME."  The entire first world will become paradise on Earth overnight.  And we're only one Swiss referendum away.  If only.  If only.

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