By Paul Buchheit - Op-Ed
August 28, 2016
Overwhelming Evidence that a Guaranteed Income Will Work
Most importantly, a guaranteed income could relieve some of the pressure on our newest generation of young adults, who are deep in debt, underemployed, increasingly unable to live on their own, and ill-positioned to take the entrepreneurial chances that are needed to spur innovative business growth.
We’ll have to do something drastically different to employ people in the future. Our jobs are disappearing. The driverless vehicle is here, destined to eliminate millions of transport and taxi-driving positions. Car manufacturing is being done by 3-D printing. An entire building was erected in Dubai with a 3-D printer. Restaurants are being designed with no waitstaff or busboys, hotels with no desk clerks, bellhops, and porters. Robot teachers are interacting with students in Japan and the UK.
There are plenty of naysayers and skeptics, of course. The Atlantic proclaimed, “The job market defied doomsayers in those earlier times, and according to the most frequently reported jobs numbers, it has so far done the same in our own time.” But this is a different time, with no guarantees of job revolutions, and in fact a time of unprecedented machine intelligence that threatens the livelihoods even of doctors, teachers, accountants, architects, the clergy, consultants, and lawyers.
Most of our new jobs are in service industries, including retail and personal health care and food service. The only one of the eight fastest-growing occupations that pays over $33,000 per year is nursing — and even nursing may give way to Robotic Nurse Assistants. The evidence for downsized jobs keeps accumulating. A US Mayors study found that ‘recovery’ jobs pay 23 percent less than the positions they replaced. The National Employment Law Project estimates that low-wage jobs accounted for 22 percent of job losses but 44 percent of subsequent job gains. Business Insider, Huffington Post, and the Wall Street Journal all concur: the unemployment rate is remaining low because of low-paying jobs.
We’re fooling ourselves by believing in a future with satisfying middle-class jobs for millions of Americans. It’s becoming clear that income should be guaranteed, so that recipients have the wherewithal and incentive and confidence to find productive ways to serve society.
Evidence from Research
Credible research overwhelmingly supports the concept. A World Bank analysis of 19 studies found that cash transfers have been demonstrated to improve education and health outcomes and alleviate poverty…concerns about the use of cash transfers for alcohol and tobacco consumption are unfounded. An MIT/Harvard analysis of seven cash transfer trials found “no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work.” The Brooks World Poverty Institute found that money transfers to the poor are used primarily for basic needs. Basic Incomes have been shown to lead to reductions in crime and inequality and malnutrition and infant mortality.
Successes in North America
One of the earliest experiments with guaranteed incomes was the “Mincome” (minimum income) program conducted in the town of Dauphin, Manitoba during the 1970s. The results were never made clear, partly because of a change to a more conservative government, which put the program’s records in storage, unevaluated. One study, however, found improved health outcomes for the recipients of the basic income payments.
In the U.S., the Alaska Permanent Fund has thrived for 35 years, even with anti-socialist conservatives in power. Texas has long employed a “Permanent School Fund” to distribute funds from mineral rights to the public education system. Wyoming has used a similar “Mineral Trust Fund” to help eliminate state income taxes. Nebraska distributes low-cost electricity from a publicly owned utility. Oregon has used the proceeds from wind energy to return hundreds of dollars to households. Vermont has proposed “Common Assets Trust” to raise money from taxes on pollution and pay dividends to residents. A pilot basic income experiment is set to begin in Oakland.
Numerous Native American communities have instituted guaranteed income programs, both in the form of shared benefits from casinos and as “land trusts,” which recognize the common ownership of natural resources. Notably, according to a Duke University analysis, the establishment of the Eastern Cherokee Indian Land Trust has resulted in fewer behavioral and emotional problems among the community’s children, relative to neighboring communities. In adulthood, recipients had less depression, anxiety, and alcohol dependence.
Even the concept of providing grants to homeless people seems to work. In both Utah and California, trial programs have led to stable living conditions for dozens of formerly homeless people, with few conflicts or behavioral issues within the communities, and at a significantly lower cost than the alternative of temporary shelters — especially if people without homes are given jobs, as in a new program in Albuquerque.
Successes in Europe
A 2005 program in Britain added support to the argument that the reduction of poverty promotes family stability, rather than the other way around. Efforts to increase family income, especially through work opportunities, resulted in “sharp and sustained decreases in material hardship for the most vulnerable families,” and, in the cases of households with children, more spending on family needs and less on alcohol and tobacco. A broader study of 18 European countries found “increasing employment commitment as social spending gets more generous” — in other words, dividend payments encourage people to work harder, rather than the other way around. Now Finland is readying a wide-scale guaranteed income program, and cities in the Netherlands are preparing similar experiments with such “basic income” payments. Despite an initial rejection of a basic income proposal, citizens of Switzerland continue to advocate for a Guaranteed Income plan that would provide $2,600 a month tax-free to every adult, and $650 to each child.
Successes in Africa
A program in Uganda followed young people who were given cash grants with twice the typical annual income. After four years most had invested their earnings in vocations, causing their earnings to rise by 40 percent or more, an outcome that generally lasted well beyond the four-year study period. Women overall earned more than men. As summarized by the authors of the study, “The grants are typically invested and yield high returns…even among poor, unemployed and relatively uneducated women.”
In Namibia, a two-year program yielded remarkable results, reducing poverty from 76% to 16%, child malnutrition from 42% to 10%, and school dropout rates from 40% to almost zero. A Unicef-funded study in India recorded the same positive health effects, with particularly noticeable improvements among the disabled population.
The charity Give Directly, which has been highly rated by the charity research organization GiveWell, provided cash transfers to poor rural households in Kenya. Results showed increased spending on food, medical needs, and education, with very little used for alcohol and tobacco, and with similar outcomes for both males and females. According to the authors of the study, “Transfer recipients experience large increases in psychological well-being.”
Almost Everyone Likes the Idea
The Guaranteed Income concept is not a left-right issue, it is not welfare for the poor or the rich, it is not blessing or bane to any exclusive segment of America. Whereas liberals see it as a means of lifting millions of Americans out of poverty, many conservatives and libertarians endorse it as a means of decreasing government intervention and promoting individual choice in spending decisions. Individuals as diverse as Milton Friedman, Martin Luther King, and Charles Murray have all promoted the concept.
Perhaps most importantly, a guaranteed income could relieve some of the pressure on our newest generation of young adults, who are deep in debt, underemployed, increasingly unable to live on their own, and ill-positioned to take the entrepreneurial chances that are needed to spur innovative business growth. A recent Gallup poll found that nearly 70% of workers don’t feel ‘engaged’ (enthusiastic and committed) in their jobs. A guaranteed income will offer young people the freedom to choose appealing work. No other group of Americans could make better use of an immediate boost in income.
Paying For It?
Several ways have already been suggested, and the extended list, detailed at You Deserve Facts, includes:
—–Collecting from Corporate Tax Avoiders
—–Collecting from Individual Tax Avoiders
—–A Financial Speculation Tax
—–A Progressive Income Tax
—–The Reduction of Regressive Taxes
—–A Wealth Tax
—–A Carbon Tax
—–A Land Tax
—–A Share of the Research Benefits
—–Safety Net Savings
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Bio: Paul Buchheit is a college teacher with formal training in language development and cognitive science. He is the founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, RappingHistory.org, PayUpNow.org), and the editor and main author of 'American Wars: Illusions and Realities' (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.
ShaunMarie paperpushermj • 11 hours ago
You didn't read the article, did you?
There is so much work to be done in service to each other - but economics makes it impossible. The elderly need assistance, young children need wonderful teachers, schools need people who study history and humanities - but in our brave new world, choosing to work in those fields guarantees a life of poverty. Our current system values ONLY those people who move digits across screens that enrich 'shareholders'. The idea that stake holders (those who build, serve, invest through taxes, educate the children of workers, service the local economies that make business possible....) deserve anything is now just a quaint, old-fashioned notion.
This is not a 'sign of the times' - we are all deserving of the inherited wealth of our nations. For example, we Americans own the park land and waterways that Exxon uses for private profit. Our tax money built the very infrastructure on which Amazon and Facebook is built. Our dollars, invested in our Universities and foundations built the Epi-Pen - yet not only do we not have a share of the profits, we are being gouged to buy a life-saving product that we, ourselves, paid for.
People aren't asking for money they haven't worked for. They are asking a fair return on investments that we have made in private industry (against our will, for the most part) - the true sign of the times is that we now live in a nation where risk and investment are public costs, while all profits are privatized and awarded to those with the greatest ability to buy our political systems.
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PeterBurgess ShaunMarie • a few seconds ago
Very good response ... I have been trying to figure out how a truevalueadd economy can be operated to supplement or possibly replace the money profit economy that has been becoming increasingly dysfunctional for ordinary working people over the past 50 years or so. Money and banking is part of the essential infrastructure needed for the modern money economy. At the moment that type of infrastructure does not exist for a truevalue economy ... but better metrics and modern technology could create the platform needed to make this all come together. By the way, the system should not only work for the increasingly dis-empowered workers of the rich countries, but also the disenfranchised in poor countries.
Peter Burgess ... http://truevaluemetrics.org
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Jed Grover ShaunMarie • 10 hours ago
Very thoughtful post especially the important point noted in the last paragraph. Milton Friedman made a similar proposal back in the 60's that he referred to as the Negative Income Tax but was demonized by neocons. The 60's started an era of secret privatization all throughout Latin American and may have rendered a totally different outcome had the NIT been incorporated during the so-called transition from state run to private based economies. The footprint left behind was disastrous creating a gap of a few mega rich and masses of poor by withholding NIT from the equation.
As you state all citizens have equity in this country especially our veterans. We must learn from our failed past and make fruitful changes that uplift all of our citizens. We don't have to abandon globalization but we should step back heal and reprogram this nation and only then can we begin to lead by example instead of being the ruthless bullying Empire that some bad leaders started some decades ago. Additionally Corporate has been given a free pass for it's usage of our military and its time they start paying for that.
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vanyam • 4 hours ago
How about this... if Americans began reading the labels on EVERYTHING they buy and put back on the shelf all products made in China, there would be a huge cramp in Washington and Wall St guts. Rather than be a consumer of cheap, be a consumer of conscience. China is our new Cold War adversary via your retail spending. Washington... your Republican AND Democratic 'representatives' sold YOUR jobs to a bunch of oligarchs on Wall St. and those jobs floated off to Red China. Now, you are being replaced in the retailing of the American labels made in an existing Communist totalitarian states.
The jobs got sold off
The raw materials got sold off
The revenue went with it
And now China can send you anything you want to buy off Ebay or Amazon for almost nothing in postage and shipping.. however, the people who whine most about job loss are the consumers who support this scam. The answer is not scamming Americans again to collectivize their hard work and income. The answer is to look at what each of is doing to support the oligarchy.
Isn't it time to wake up? Heard the marketing slogan 'Feed the Pig'? Let's starve the pig...
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PeterBurgess vanyam • a minute ago
I like this ... but at my age reading labels is a challenge. A young friend has developed a system where the check out system reads the SKU and computes the amount of plastic trash being moved from the supermarket to society and solid waste pollution. The supermarket then gets a tax bill for the clean-up! I am trying to work out how a similar SKU reader can figure out the complete impact profile of everything I buy, and then give me something like a reward for buying responsibly (healthy food, responsible supply chains, etc) so that the buy or not-to-buy decision can be based on good information and complete profile about all the products I buy. In the end, the consumer has power because it is consumer money that eventually is the source of all profit for all manufacturers. Big brands know the importance of the consumer and spend mightily on advertising but do almost nothing to inform their consumers are things that are really important for either the consumer or society at large!
Peter Burgess ... http://truevaluemetrics.org
vanyam vanyam • 4 hours ago
And support local our own manufacturers
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EarthVote • 4 hours ago
In the beginning, we sat down to play a game of Monopoly (Capitalism), we chose a neutral banker (Government) but then, in the middle of the game, a small group of players instead replaced the Banker, and now the Banker is unknown, private, as is the money supply. The players (the people) nor their Government know who the Banker is and how much $ they have, because they have made $ digitally now. Do you think the Federal Reserve does not actively speculate in the various financial markets? Would you if you were the Banker? when no one can see what you are doing. the amount of $ in the world is now just ridiculous. It is now time to remove the bankers, their $, and play a different game, one that takes care of the needs of the people and the planet. Of course it sounds ridiculous, and difficult, but wait til you hear of the new rules proposed before thinking it impossible.
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