Right up front: on ideological grounds, the Universal Basic Income annoys me. But on a practical level… it’s probably coming. The combination of the re-rise of socialism, despite it’s utter failure in the Soviet Union and China and Venezuela and Cuba and every damn where, with the likelihood of automation rendering most people simply obsolete, makes something like the UBI probably inevitable. So, if it’s inevitable, the best thing to do is to try to make it make sense.
First, some numbers.
The population of adults in the United States: 125.9 million women, 119.4 million men = 245.3 million. About 93% of the population are citizens,so handwave that to 228 million adult citizens.
The 2017 budget:
From this, the “welfare” expenditures include:
Medicare & health:$1.17 trillion
Social Security, Unemployment & labor: $1.139 Trillion
Housing & Community: $0.09 Trillion
Total: $2.399 Trillion
So if we simply divide up what we’re ALREADY SPENDING by the number of American adults, you get $10,521 per person, per year. Simply cutting everyone an annual or even monthly check would be *far* simpler than the current mess of government offices and bureaucrats and armies of accountants and all the rest.
There would be ways to increase the payments per person without increasing the actual cost. Criminal status would of course be an obvious one… commit a violent felony and you’re off the Freebies List for *life.* You could make receiving the UBI optional… if you get it, you don’t get to vote in Federal elections, perhaps. Or perhaps if you turn down the UBI payment, you get *two* votes in Federal elections.
Ten grand is a good chunk of cash, but its still well below the current poverty rate. A way to help people cope, now that food stamps and the like are gone, is to make food free. As previously proposed, every place that sells food or booze could have a stand carrying free bundles of food loaf. It’s not tasty, but it’s nutritious and it would be free. And being free and of limited interest to those who don’t actually need it, there would be little to no opportunity for a black market in the stuff, eliminating the likes of food stamp fraud.
By getting rid of Medicare and the like, medical care and its costs would be returned to the responsibility of the people. Getting government out of the business would restore a measure of free market economics to the medical business; this would lower costs, potentially by a *lot.*