The solution to America’s greatest ills is getting clearer and clearer in my mind lately. It involves a simple set of programs and policies I’ve written about in some previous articles, and I’m beginning to see how they’ll work together to solve nearly all of this country’s most serious problems, including….
- Soaring national debt,
- Growing gap between rich and poor,
- More people falling through economic cracks, becoming homeless, losing their life savings…
- High unemployment,
- High cost of social welfare programs,
- Swelling prisons,
- Crumbling infrastructure of roads, electric grids, communication networks…
Here’s the simple framework of the solution:
- Every adult American receives a tax-free basic income of $1,000 per month. It would be a free income to all adults, above and beyond whatever salaries, tips, gifts, and investment incomes they earn.
- The only condition for Basic Income is that adults do something useful. If they don’t have a job and can’t find work, they can do volunteer work at humane societies, homeless shelters, churches, cleanup sites, and infrastructure renewal projects. In any case, every adult receives $1,000 per month and is expected to do something productive.
- Income tax and capital gains tax would be replaced temporarily by a wealth tax. For the first year, all adults (and probably every corporation and for-profit organization) would be taxed 3 percent of all of their current wealth or assets. Secret, untaxed assets (such as off-shore bank accounts), when discovered, would be assessed a 10 percent penalty. The wealth tax would pay for the basic income program and the President’s budget, and it would start to pay off the national debt. The second year, a 4 percent wealth tax would be levied. The third year, a 5 percent wealth tax. Fourth year, a 4 percent wealth tax. Fifth year, a 3 percent wealth tax. After the fifth year, we could begin to phase out the wealth tax as the traditional taxes (income, capital gains) are gradually phased back in. Or, we might choose to continue to with a small (less-than-1-percent) wealth tax perpetually in order to continue to supplement Basic Income and to keep the gap between rich and poor from growing out of control.
With Basic Income, the costs of welfare programs and prisons would shrink considerably as everyone has at least subsistence-level income. Homeless shelters would not be as crucial for the survival of America’s poorest.
Society would go through lots of major changes as it heals from its current ills, but the result would certainly be a society of growing vitality and a healthier, happier population.
A Basic income program supplemented by a wealth tax may sound too good to be true… or too radical to be accepted… but as I assimilate the idea in my mind month after month, the more certain I become that it will work and work well.
Short of the Vitality Ratio (which the world is probably not ready for), a $1,000 Basic Income supplemented by a modest wealth tax is the only thing I can think of that will solve most of America’s biggest problems in a very thorough way. It will work.
While the specifics outlined above are tailored for the USA with its unique problems, a similar program could be tailored to work in any country with a reasonable birth rate. (Read more about that limitation…)
Other articles in the Fixing America series:
Northern Europe Does it Right
1 The Problems
2 Basic Income, One Solution
3 More Thoughts on Basic Income
4 Wrap-Up on Basic Income and Wealth Tax
5 Basic Income and the Fertility Rate
6 Restoring a Good Reputation
7 Contending with Savage Forces
8 Being a Noble Force
9. A Comprehensive Solution
10. Marching Toward the End Time
11. The Destructive 1 Percent
12. Overcoming America’s Oil Addiction