about a “minimum income.” It is an intriguing idea. Thomas Paine was a big advocate of this. I’m having a hard time seeing the flaws in this plan.
Let’s say (for the sake of argument) that right now we spend about $3000 per month for every welfare recipient. What if we cut each one the check for $1500? That would put them well above the poverty line. No Social Security disability, no Social Security retirement, no nothing. Maybe the payment goes down a bit once you retire.
Up until age 18, children would get $4000 a month or so if their parents qualify. Now, that assumes that we have a real dismantling of every other welfare program in the nation. The administrative savings would be huge. And this would have to be done on the constitutional amendment level. But there would be no buildings, and no employee costs such as salary and benefits.
In this case, everyone would choose whether to be on welfare and get the minimum income or not. Any earned income would just be subtracted out of the minimum income payment. And it would make no difference if you are married or single (freeing up women who are in bad marriages). You choose whether to have your own income or to rely on the minimum income. Some of this would depend on whether you’re filing taxes separately or in conjunction with a spouse.
And the payment amount would be pegged to inflation. It should be re-adjusted every six months. So now, if you want housing, go buy it. If you want food, go buy it. Medical care might be totally separate. That does mean there might be “indigent care” and may not be the most convenient thing. You could get that when you step up and pay your own bills, if you choose. And even indigent care would be plenty adequate. But that is already case today in the sense that you get much better service if you have of a lot of money than if you don’t. Really wealthy people have physicians who come to their home on a regular basis. You go to the emergency room when you have a real problem.
Now you might decide to take the money and spend all day every day fishing. OK. You start being eligible for payment at age 23 or when you are married. Just like Pell Grants (another form of welfare–one that does have some benefits to society as a whole).
If you blow all your money on beer and pizza the first day of the month, there are ways to address that. There would be “poor houses” in certain cities where you would sign over your check to them (if you still get it for that month) and then get room and board. It might not be awesome, but it would absolutely support life. No one would be left to go hungry or without shelter. And there would be payees for those who cannot manage their funds, as needed.
Okay, poke holes in that plan. What are the weaknesses? Where would be the problem areas? I only just started thinking about this.