One thing I learned right away in college philosophy is one of my weak points. After hours puzzling how desk can be considered abstract, I decided it really didnt make a difference at least not to me.
So I havent paid much attention to the works from think tanks. I once learned that a conservative one wants to sell various rights to federal lands e.g., mining, access, lumber, recreation and soon found that the conservatives I know were stunned to hear it.
Similarly, many Idaho Libertarians have no idea their think tanks support abolishing public schools and roads. They think their party stands for individual rights, not destruction of infrastructure.
So, even though I knew of the American Enterprise Institute one of the older, more prestigious conservative think tanks I had no idea that any of its fellows supported universal basic income. Then Violet Harris one of the thousands in the area more philosophical than I sent me links.
Under universal basic income, the U.S. government would guarantee everyone a basic income and mail out billions in checks every month.
AEI fellow Charles Murray published his second book about UBI in 2016, In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State. In it, Murray claims the government could save money by ending all current social welfare payments think food stamps, Medicaid, Social Security, Earned Income Credit, etc. and mailing $10,000 a year in monthly installments to every person over 21. An additional $3,000 would pay for health insurance covering catastrophes. Payments would be reduced for those making over $30,000 a year with people making over $60,000 still receiving $5,000 a year.
To those who say that no one can live on $10,000 a year, Murray argues such a stipend would improve lives significantly for those who can only find minimum-wage or part-time jobs. And his program would encourage people to live together and pool their money. (Doesnt the current system do that?)
Murray claims that we must make the change because current welfare programs discourage people from entering the workforce, advances in artificial intelligence will soon wipe out many good-paying jobs, current programs face solvency problems, and there is too much bureaucracy.
Murray appears to be a caring person whos seeking a way to help.
Still, the need for his plan doesnt hold up.
For the past 25 years, welfare programs (think EIC) have encouraged and rewarded recipients who go to work. The percent participating in the workforce changes with the availability of jobs, not welfare.
Past gains in new technology has always led to more jobs, not fewer. We should be working to see this continues rather than mailing everyone money.
A growing economy and some small tweaks can solve the solvency problems. Social Securitys overhead is only 0.5 percent, and costs of Medicare and Medicaid have grown more slowly than health care in general.
More important there are major inequities in Murrays universal basic income.
Every person over 21 there is no support, not even additional insurance, for children.
Health insurance covering catastrophes with coverage limited, people tend to forgo continuing care; health care costs are higher and outcomes worse.
$10,000 a year Social Security payments now average $15,444 annually. Senior citizens many not capable of working would take a 35 percent cut.
I believe even those who support Murrays version of universal basic income dont see Congress ever accepting it.
Want to know more? Charles Murray will speak in Boise at the annual Idaho Freedom Foundation annual banquet on Aug. 26.
Judy Ferro is a former state committeewoman for Canyon County Democrats. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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