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Forum Post: Unconditional Basic Income

Posted 12 years ago on Nov. 21, 2011, 7:28 p.m. EST by ubi (6)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Basic income is a particular form of guaranteed minimum income, which gives all people access to some income irrespective of their current work performance or their past work performance. A guaranteed minimum monthly income in this sense is something which has existed in several European countries for a number of years, but basic income differs from the existing guaranteed minimum income along three dimensions: first, basic income is strictly individual, given to all people on an individual basis irrespective of their household situation; second, it is given to all irrespective of income from other sources (labor income or capital income); third, basic income is not subject to whether people are willing to work or not. It is not restricted to the involuntarily unemployed, but would be paid to everyone, including people who choose not to engage in paid work (for example, housewives, househusbands, volunteers, students, and tramps).

Funding solutions could involve a combination of the following:

  • Income taxes
  • Sales taxes
  • Capital gains taxes
  • Inheritance taxes
  • Wealth taxes, e.g. property tax
  • Luxury taxes
  • Elimination of current income support programs and tax deductions
  • Pollution taxes
  • Profit accrued from state-owned enterprises
  • A National Mutual Fund
  • Lottery / gambling taxes



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[-] 6 points by LibertyFirst (325) 12 years ago

So you are pro-slavery, then? Pro endentured servitude?

You are for forcibly taking money from people who work and giving to people who don't, regardless of whether they could work or not?

You believe that it is right to forcibly take my work product and hand it over to someone else, whether they need it or not?

What happens when this system that rewards sloth and discouraged productivity results in everyone being poor? When my family has just one slice of bread a day per person, are you still OK with taking half my bread to give it to someone else?

I honestly don't understand people who put forth these types are arguments. Are you just not thinking this through? Do you have no understanding of human nature? Not familiar with history?

Honestly, this is the road to ruin. it's really not even debatable--there are mountains of historical examples of societies hwo ruined themselves precisely by pursing these types of policies.

[-] 0 points by Fredone (234) 12 years ago

No that is not what we are talking about. People who really need the money they work for would not be paying for this. Only rich people who do not really need the money.

If you are in the $50k income category or thereabouts, you need not panic. Take a deep breath already.

The reason you people get so excited about taxation is that you are afraid it will be done unfairly. Just relax, we will address the unfairness in the tax code too while we are at it.

[-] 2 points by JoeTheFarmer (2654) 12 years ago

I am confused.
How is taking money from someone by force and giving it to someone else fair?

I believe in charity and believe people should share but I have a hard time with using the word fair when you are taking money from someone.

[-] 0 points by Edgewaters (912) 12 years ago

If they called it a tax refund, would you be happy? You guys usually bite for that when gov't wants to give handouts to the rich.

[-] 1 points by JoeTheFarmer (2654) 12 years ago

I repeat, I am confused. How is taking money from someone by force and giving it to someone else fair?

Also, you get a tax "refund" when you have overpaid your taxes in your paycheck during the year. In a sense you loaned the government money for the year.

I am totally against any government subsidies and rebates. They government should not be giving money to Oil and gas companies, Sola, Wind, or any other energy, Agriculture... Businesses and ideas should succeed on their own.

[-] 0 points by Edgewaters (912) 12 years ago

You can get back more in tax credits than you ever paid out. Lots of big companies do. That's what your "tax cuts for the rich" often amount to - corporate welfare. But you guys lap that stuff up anyway.

[-] 1 points by JoeTheFarmer (2654) 12 years ago

Yes there are tools corporations have to defer taxes which they end up paying eventually. Deferral of foreign-source income of American multinational firms and expenditures which is the largest which is what GE used to avoid taxes this year.

The credits you are talking about are for research expenses because companies spend years researching a drug or product before they can sell the product. The credit has to be paid back when the drug or equipment is approved to be sold. The second largest credit is for low income housing.

[-] 1 points by Edgewaters (912) 12 years ago

Nice try, but no. Lots of corporations with no research division at all get back more in "cuts" than they ever paid out in taxes.

[-] 1 points by JoeTheFarmer (2654) 12 years ago

Please give some examples of this. Please list the Company, amount paid, amount in "cuts", as well as a reference to where the data came from. I would love to see that since I have never heard of this.


[-] 1 points by LibertyFirst (325) 12 years ago

No, I get excited about taxation because I feel that many of you and many in our government look at taxation exactly backwards. The idea seems to be, "Take as much as we possibly can from people, and then figure out how we want to spend it. Even better if we can claim the moral high ground by only taking from people who we decide have more than they need, or more than their fair share (whatever the hell that means)". This is the attitude of a government who feels that they actually own everything a person produces, and it is only by their grace that decide how much to let you keep. I find this an abomination and an affront to liberty.

The correct framework in a free society is, "What are the essential services that the people want government to provide, how much money will it cost to provide those services and then, is the citizenry willing to ALLOW us to tax them to that degree." If that is not the starting position of the government, then they may as well put a gun to my head, force me to work, take everything I earn and 'give' me back only what they determine I need.

[-] 2 points by david106 (2) from Portland, OR 11 years ago

I think it's sad that when we have ideologies for answers for just about everything to do with the poor. If anyone has ever been poor, or has lived among the poor, has breathed and eaten what they have or has at least felt the same sort of loneliness and despair they have, then you'd understand that at least giving them some sort of support like this is the first step to getting rid of poverty, NOT some ideology that your grandaddy told you.

I am saddened that the majority of the population feels entitled to their opinions when they have probably never had to worry about where they were going to sleep next, or whether to provide healthcare or food for their children.

Or maybe you were poor yourself and by your so-called "wits" you were able to "pull yourself" out of that situation. Tell me, how many people were there to lend you a hand, whether spiritually, physically or mentally? And how many government agencies, no matter how rude they were, at least provided you with the basic necessities? And now you look at your brothers in contempt the same way strangers did when you were also cast out and dirty??

i'm not going to bother anyone with the statistics. They're there for anyone to see. The poor are not lazy and the poor are definitely not stupid. But take time to walk in their shoes and maybe you'd see where I'm coming from.

So I fully support this post. There's already too much ** happening to the poor in the world. It's time somebody came to clean it up.

[-] 2 points by baycat250 (7) from Gastonia, NC 12 years ago

So you want to tax the hell out of us who already work and are taxed the hell out of so we can pay people not to work??? Ohh wait that's what is already happening!

[-] 0 points by Fredone (234) 12 years ago

Yes, yes that is what is happening.

The whole point of this is that it is not means tested. You don't get paid for not working, you always get paid the amount. Always.

It is what we have right now that pays people for not working. If you are not unemployed you don't get unemployment. Or if you are poor you get various benefits. This is wrong, because it incentivises people to be poor. You get paid to be poor or unemployed or injured or whatever.

That is wrong.

The basic income provides away to have a safety net without doing that precisely because it is unconditional.

[-] 1 points by michael4ows (224) from Mountain View, CA 12 years ago

sure... i'd like a basic income of $1M/year... what form do i have to fill out to get my $1M/year... can i get that direct deposited?

[-] 1 points by morons123 (131) 12 years ago

send me your address and I will send you part of my paycheck you lazy fuck

[-] 1 points by Ideaswithpurpose (1) from Dallas, TX 12 years ago

Let me get this straight....I work and pay taxes...someone else decides they want to play X BOX all day.....NOW WHO IS THE 1 % ?!?!?!?

[-] 1 points by JohnmcHD (16) from Chandler, AZ 12 years ago

how do u get those nice bullet points ? I mean u, for real how did u figure that out ? and not anything else :)

[-] 1 points by tomcat68 (298) 12 years ago

tax tax tax tax tax tax

I'm not Opposed to getting anything free. Don't get me wrong. and If anyone I know needs financial help it would be myself.

It seems to me your proposal is the hallway towards communism.

The American Union where we derive our daily motivation to work and succeed not based on an opportunity to personally succeed in life but for the Love of Mother America. after all, the more you make the more the government will take in order to spread out the wealth.

Redistribution of Wealth = Communism

[-] 1 points by JohnmcHD (16) from Chandler, AZ 12 years ago

not even viable, in fact ridiculous, preposterous, lunacy, but thanks for sharing :)

[-] 1 points by Coriolanus (272) 12 years ago

Sounds good to me. I would like to quit working and spend all my time fishing. How long do you think before you can set this up?

By the way, one thing that I found curious in your post was the use of the word "tramps." Is that word still used? Is it politically correct? Isn't "homeless" the current term? My dad used to say "Hobos travel and work; tramps travel and don't work; bums don't travel and don't work." Are there still hobos and bums? (And whatever happened to beatnicks?)

[-] 1 points by Daennera (765) from Griffith, IN 12 years ago

You will ruin society with such a plan. Why would anyone work? Why would anyone sweat and bleed for their craft if the results don't matter?

[-] 1 points by JenLynn (692) 12 years ago

You're building a class of lazy people. Why work all week for, say, $500, when someone will give you $400 to sit around? Whoever has to pay this tax you mention will just up their prices so we're back to where we started. We don't tax enough to pay for what we do now anyhow. First fix the tax codes and get some extra money before you start spending it.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

The welfare system would be changed so this would not be possible, right?

Hopefully the money going to politicians will be reduced so we can get government moving again. Then we can reform welfare to prevent these kinds of obvious abuses.

Grover Norquist's influence must be stopped.

[-] 1 points by miccheck911 (18) from San Diego, CA 12 years ago

I agree that there is wealth inequality in this country and reforms need to be made but you can't expect to do absolutely nothing and have the rest of the world be your slaves. It's posts like this that discredit the OWS movement. Fox News would love to interview you to get everyone else in the world to think this movement is full of people who don't want to contribute anything to society.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

Who says those being helped would do absolutely nothing? Where is this occurring? I take the medicine prescribed me until I am well. Don't most people try their best to get well, or find productive work, or live healthy lives?

[-] 1 points by Monkeyboy69 (150) 12 years ago

A lot of taxes

[-] 1 points by me2 (534) 12 years ago

I believe a civil society should have safety nets for its disadvantaged, but I'm not convinced that this approach would work.

[-] 1 points by rickMoss (435) 12 years ago

We are the 99%. Why are we begging from 1%. This is silly. Wake people!

JOIN THE REVOLUTION Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( www.revolution2.osixs.org )

FIGHT THE CAUSE - NOT THE SYMPTOM We don’t have to live like this. "Spread the News"

[-] 0 points by Jimboiam (812) 12 years ago

Cool so i can work and run a business AND get another check just because? Thats great. I want to be able to dictate the minimum level of income i need, because i just have to have prime rib and lobster for every meal, and i need to drink $400 a bottle of wine everyday, and of course run my air conditioner or heater constantly just so i can have the perfect temperature. And of course i need to run super premium gas in my car. So lets call my basic minimum $10k a month. Okie Dokie? where do i sign up?


[-] 0 points by Fredone (234) 12 years ago

Sigh. People. Search this forum for other posts on this topic using keywords like "mincome" "universal income" "universal basic income" "negative tax".

This is basically a negative tax. That is another way to think of it. There are many examples of it in the world, and if you stop hyperventilating and look at the details for a second you will see that it actually makes a lot of sense. Search my username in many of the threads and you will see me slapping down many of the myths that surround it.

Society already pays people in various ways in terms of benefits of varying sorts, roughly 700 bucks per person in the US. This could replace most of that and be extremely useful for reducing bureaucratic overhead and also fixing incentive distortions that currently occur.

People would not just sit around doing nothing all day. As I said there have been empirical experiments on this and there is no problem at all.

[-] 0 points by KahnII (170) 12 years ago

Someone who wants to be owned by their government. Fools.

[-] 0 points by raines (699) 12 years ago

You want/need money,............get a job and work for it . The govt isnt your mother.

[-] 0 points by fuzzyp (302) 12 years ago

Programs like the EITC that have been paid for through income taxes are fine but minimum wages are not cool.

[-] 1 points by Daennera (765) from Griffith, IN 12 years ago

But they haven't been paid for! These people get more money back than they ever paid in!

[-] 0 points by fuzzyp (302) 12 years ago

That's the point of eitc. People of low income get money back instead of paying taxes. It targets the poor better than minimum wage

[-] 1 points by Daennera (765) from Griffith, IN 12 years ago

But they're getting my tax money for nothing! If they want my money, that's fine, I have plenty of tedious labor I need done that I will pay them for. But something for nothing is disgraceful and insulting for those of us who don't pop out ten kids without the fat bank account to pay for them.

[-] 0 points by fuzzyp (302) 12 years ago

Ok? Well, we have a huge income gap and we try to close it with raising the minimum wage, which doesn't work effectively. EITC helps to fix that.

Not every poor person pops out 10 kids. The point is also to have the program paid for instead of just printing money for it. I'm not really for this ows thing but its the best way to help poor people out with maybe the exception of unemployment

[-] 1 points by Daennera (765) from Griffith, IN 12 years ago

The best way to help poor people is to move them into government housing and give them basic food, shelter and clothing. Then have them work a full 8 hour schedule. 4 hours devoted to work that benefits the community (filing, janitorial work) and 4 hours devoted to education. If they want to keep their welfare, they have to play along. Drug tests and curfews are mandatory and child care will be provided for those who need it.

If you want to live as an independent adult without the restrictions, then you forgo welfare.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

This works for me.

[-] 0 points by fuzzyp (302) 12 years ago

That's pretty dumb. Welfare isn't meant to enslave people; at least not ideally. Its meant to help people get themselves off their feet.

Your model will just keep people poor.

[-] 1 points by Daennera (765) from Griffith, IN 12 years ago

So, educating them and providing for them while educating them will enslave them how exactly? I mean they don't HAVE to do anything. They can choose not to live on welfare and therefore will not be subject to those rules. But poor people are poor because they make poor choices. By building better habits (in bed at a decent hour, no drugs, going to work every day, going to school every day) that really is there only way out of the poverty cycle.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

Thank you. This is possible with today's technology, communications, ability to monitor, remind, encourage, and treat underlying causes rather than pretend to address it, as private philanthropy all too often does.

[-] 0 points by fuzzyp (302) 12 years ago

Not everybody is poor because they make poor choices or do drugs. Stop making idiotic generalizations. There are people who just end up in shitty situations for weird reasons. There are people who can't provide for themselves.

Better habits won't bring you out of the poverty cycle but improving job skills will. Making them volunteer and go to school won't give them work experience.

[-] 1 points by Daennera (765) from Griffith, IN 12 years ago

You do realize that every day there are people landing jobs who have no work experience. They're usually new grads, either high school or college. The poor are poor because of bad choices. How many kids do you know who go through school and get straight A's, avoid drugs, and take care of their health; end up not being able to hold at least an okay paying job in the world? Sure you can become poor because you get really sick and have tons of medical bills or became disabled. But when I walk around the projects, I sure do see alot of perfectly fit people who have no real excuse not to be working. No excuse other than the 5 kids or the alcohol problem that is.


[-] 0 points by MVSN (768) from Stockton, CA 12 years ago

In other words a Dole.


[-] 0 points by sanclitorisCA (31) 12 years ago

I like being rich.

[-] 0 points by Choicesmatter (93) 12 years ago

Cool, more shit for free!

This is left-wing loon talk. Getting paid just to breathe the air is utter bullshit. Government gives you a lot of rights. But rights are about what government leaves to you to figure out for yourself. They aren't about what government takes from someone else on your behalf.

UBI, you are a parasite.


[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

Have you examined the U.S. tax code and how it treats the upper .1%? Did you know the combined net worths (assets minus liabilities) of the 26 wealthiest American individuals total 591 billion dollars? Is it okay with you for 26 people to control 591 billion dollars in assets? Indices of wealth disparities place the U.S. just above Mexico, South Africa, and another second/third world country. Are you proud of that? Would you like to live in those places? Their quality of life suffers, as does ours. Think about the causal relationship between high wealth stratification and quality of life.

A guaranteed annual income wouldn't tax the working people (like you and I); it should rightly tax people like those 26, each of whose annual income averages about 400 million dollars per year. Their wealth requires working folks like you and I, functional infrastructure like health care, transportation, bridges, environmental controls, libraries, fire and police protection, schools, the post office, building departments to maintain building codes, and an educated, trained workforce. Their wealth didn't happen magically. They provide jobs for millions, whose productivity depends on support systems paid for by -- you guessed it -- taxes. Perhaps you prefer they work in complete slavery with no rights to legal representation or services mentioned above. If you really think this, at least you are in the minority and unlikely to assume power any time soon.

[-] 1 points by Davia (33) 12 years ago

And if we were to enact such a plan, WHAT reason would those 26 have to stay in the country? How much should we push before they take themselves, their current tax contributions, and their jobs somewhere else?

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

At this point we must question the patriotism, or civic-mindedness of 1) those who make this argument, and 2) those who simply repeat it over and over without appearing to really consider it on its merits.

If it is true, it must be true that the wealthy do not care one bit about our country, its future, our future, etc. They really are simply greed gone out of control, and do not have a place among us. They might be a bit pathological (or maybe very pathological). Their issues aren't our issues, of simply having to do the most practical thing, sacrificing our lives, putting our lives on hold, delaying gratification our entire lives to meet the next goal, saving enough for a house or apartment, getting that credit score where it needs to be, obtaining affordable health insurance, finding a safe neighborhood and school for our families, etc. The very wealthy would only leave our country because they simply do not care a bit about what happens to it, or us. That's all they have to worry about. They are, after all, the very wealthy. They have not a concern in the world about you or I. Their philanthropy is apparently tax-advantaged, right? That is the only reason for their philanthropy. Otherwise, without the tax advantages, these "philanthropic" organizations wouldn't exist. They are only for show, anyway. They only further their own interests and really aren't about creating wealth or opportunities for others. The very wealthy represent a return to the old European feudalistic system.

Productivity gains have never been greater than over the last few decades, with the help of exceptionally well-educated workers and technology to support their productivity. This has allowed the very wealthy to continue to accrue wealth (the top 26 are collectively worth 591 billion dollars) over these decades, without the promised job creation that "trickle-down" economic theory promised. Existing jobs can get done with fewer, more targeted resources, and outsourcing to countries which subject their citizens to slave labor like conditions.

Would you be proud if slave-like working conditions were re-instituted in these United States?

If they take themselves, their current tax contributions, and their jobs somewhere else, won't that create a vacuum into which other enterprising, entrepreneurial individuals would insert themselves? The problem isn't that we aren't afraid enough of the very rich, the problem is that of a lack of demand for their products and services. We simply don't need them as much as we're led to believe. We can't see our own situation clearly as long as we're hamstrung by our fears about what the very wealthy will do. Who cares if they leave? What's so great about them, anyway? Don't we have the ability to create and manage corporations in a win-win kind of way? Or do you think there always have to be winners and losers in this world? It comes down to your perspective on humanity in general. The question becomes, are we as a species smart enough to create a viable world for us all? We are, after all, "all in this together."

[-] 1 points by Davia (33) 12 years ago

If we don't need them, if we're capable of creating our own viable world independently from them (a statement with which I strongly agree, btw) then I see no justification in continuing to take more and more from them.

Is it reasonable for the 99% to shout out to any random part of the 1%, "Screw you!," to villify them, march on their streets, elect officials who waste millions of dollars on unneccessary expenditures, then say we can't provide for our needy only because you don't pay enough, lump everyone together and blame each for every financial problem we have, based not on their philanthropic practices or business ethics( or lack thereof), but solely on their bank account..... But inconceivable to think that some of them may eventually throw up their hands and say, "No. Screw YOU."

I'm just saying, it's not the best idea to walk up to someone with one hand held out and the other hand flipping them off.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

Do you see me shouting? I am writing on a blog. I use coherent, legible, well-thought-out language when I communicate. Sorry you're having trouble processing this.

It is interesting to hear you refer to the streets as "their streets." These are our streets, too. Did you forget this?

Are you afraid of them? Why are you so afraid of them? Why do you not think we could recreate what they will have left behind? Whose side are they on that you need to be so afraid of them?

This is all about numbers, and numbers only. You live in a world which thrives on vilification. I feel sorry for you.

[-] 1 points by Davia (33) 12 years ago

I apologize for the ambiguity. Let me clarify.

I do not see you shouting. I have seen others. My point is still the same if you want to substitute "say" for "shout."

"their streets" .... I meant their residential areas. It would have probably been more clear if I had said "their neighborhoods."

I do not fear the rich. I don't think it makes much sense to assign any one emotion or judgement to an entire group based on economic status. It is equally illogical to point to a random poor person and say, "you are there because you are lazy" as it is to point to a random rich person and say, "you are there because you are corrupt/ a cheat/ hollow, etc."

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

Everything you say is true. I hope no one is going into the residential neighborhoods of those they perceive to be wealthy, unethical, etc. That certainly won't accomplish anything positive.

There is nothing unethical about the concept of shared responsibility for maintaining infrastructure, clean air, safe housing, health care, education, etc. There is something unethical about regressive (not progressive) taxation on those making an average of 350 million dollars a year (about 400 Americans), whose net worths (assets minus liabilities) are at least a trillion dollars. As long as people disagree on this, we can't move forward. This issue must be studied and discussed at greater length within the wider society.

I am relieved you do not fear the rich.

[-] 1 points by FattyFatty2x4 (13) from Anchorage, AK 12 years ago

So we get guaranteed about 1$ a year each from 26 people? Even if we redistributed all of the current income from taxes each american would only get around 5000 (and that's if we don't use any tax money to pay for government) The US government would have to take in almost 7Trillion a year just to keep us above the poverty level.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

The Forbes 400 are collectively worth trillions of dollars. A guaranteed annual income would be a small amount to help us survive times like these. This does not involve confiscatory practices. It is a recognition that we have the means to produce what we need, and provide for everyone.

Research and development through corporate-government partnerships have resulted in incredible technological, medical, etc. breakthroughs in our recent history. Those who worked and sacrificed over the years in these efforts deserve a great deal of honor, respect, and compensation. But they don't deserve so much wealth. This level of wealth disparity puts us back into medieval times in terms of standards of living, education, and opportunity. There is a certain baseline standard of health that is possible for us all, though it may not be flashy or exciting. We're talking about basic infrastructure, health, education, and issues related to these. We're not talking about providing anything that's out of the realm of possibility.

There appears to be a lack of common understanding of what our collective concerns really are. Until we agree on essentials, we don't deserve a higher credit rating or political standing in the world.

We're talking about decades of shared sacrifice to solve this problem. We're not talking about taking from the rich and giving to the rest. We're talking about restoring the creditworthiness of our country to the rest of the world, which implies an ability to objectively, intelligently manage our money.

[-] 0 points by Choicesmatter (93) 12 years ago

Is it OK for people to get paid for doing nothing? Is the point of government really supposed to be simply be the enabler of a parasite class?

Arguing that people don't need as much as they have isn't really much of an argument of why it should now be yours for nothing.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

Define "parasite class."

I personally don't want something for nothing. It's like eating food when you're not really hungry or watching T.V. because you're bored. There's no appeal. Do you want something for nothing?

[-] 1 points by Coriolanus (272) 12 years ago

"Do you want something for nothing?"

I sure do. I am going to spend all my time fishing and watching baseball, while you working stiffs pay for my food and shelter. I have simple needs, so it won't take that much. C'mon, let's get this ball rolling.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

I wholeheartedly support your position, except the part about making others on your level of net worth pay for your leisure. The proposal is that we tax wealth made through no effort on anyone's part at all, which is kept by those worth billions and trillions (not on either one of our levels, right) and give it to you so you may enjoy a wonderful, healthy life. Those billionaires can keep their billions, but just be taxed at the same rate as the rest of us. That's all we're asking. We are willing to work our entire lives, sacrifice, cut benefits, etc., as long as the very wealthy will contribute at the same percentage level as the rest of us. At present, they are not. This is simply not right.

You deserve the happy life you envision. I would celebrate your leisure time spent the way you described.

[-] 1 points by Coriolanus (272) 12 years ago

"The proposal is that we tax wealth made through no effort on anyone's part at all, which is kept by those worth billions and trillions (not on either one of our levels, right) and give it to you so you may enjoy a wonderful, healthy life. Those billionaires can keep their billions, but just be taxed at the same rate as the rest of us."

I'm not sure I understand your tax plan. When you say "tax wealth" are you proposing a tax on assets? If so, at what rate and on what level of wealth? (By the way, no one has "trillions": I think the wealthiest people in the world have net worth somewhere in the $50-80 billion range.) How will you deal with wealth held outside the US? (I think a lot of the Kennedy money is kept in Tahiti.) In the global economy, what will prevent people from moving to more economically hospital climates? (A friend of mine moved to Saudi Arabia; he makes bundles of money and pays very little in taxes.) Based on the figures I assume you have developed, what sort of revenue will a wealth tax generate? How much will you be able to distribute to those of us who would rather not work, without ballooning the debt?

And for an income tax (I assume you will still have an income tax) are you only going to tax people above a certain income level? At what income level will taxes start, and what will the rates be? How much revenue will this tax generate?

One small problem. A lot of the goods and services that help us have "a wonderful, healthy life" are made or provided by people working in low paid jobs. Assuming that a lot of these people will join me in a life of leisure (after all, why work for minimum wage when you can spend the day fishing?) those products and services will disappear. We could of course ship more jobs overseas, and have everything made in China, Vietnam, Mexico, Indonesia, etc. But if all we have to trade for it is printed money, the prices will soon be out of reach. And we can't outsource the service economy (at least not to the same degree).

But I trust you will solve all these issues so that I can spend my time fishing.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

Numbers are really marvelous tools, when used correctly.

The collective wealth of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans is in the trillions. Individually, Bill Gates is worth 59 billion, Warren Buffett 39 billion, Ellison 33 billion, and so on. Add the net worths of the 26 wealthiest Americans and they total 591 billion dollars. I haven't added up the net worths of the next 374 wealthiest, but it probably approaches or exceeds a trillion dollars.

I am not proposing a tax on assets, merely on annual income, and diminish the huge deductions claimed annually by the very wealthy. Do the wealthy obey laws? Laws can be passed which require them to pay their fair share, and they can pay what they owe, even if it is in a foreign bank account. Right?

Are you suggesting the very wealthy shouldn't have to obey laws?

If you are, you surely understand how seriously you undermine your position.

Income taxes are appropriately required of those who don't need as much. Doesn't this make sense? Can you explain to me why someone needs even one billion dollars in assets in order to lead a happy life? Is your premise that greed is the only thing that truly motivates anyone to produce anything? Are you still beating that dead horse, fear, fear that the very wealthy will take everything away from us, they'll simply exploit others elsewhere, and where would that leave us? Are you kidding? We are tired of submitting to this fear-based narrative.

[-] 1 points by Coriolanus (272) 12 years ago

"I am not proposing a tax on assets, merely on annual income, and diminish the huge deductions claimed annually by the very wealthy."

Oh, OK. I think some people (including the OP) have suggested a wealth tax, sort of like a federal property tax. Which deductions would you eliminate? I think eliminating deductions is an excellent idea, though I am not sure how much revenue that would generate. I think at some point a wealth tax and other taxes would need to be considered.

"Are you suggesting the very wealthy shouldn't have to obey laws?"

Of course not. And the point is moot if you are not favoring a wealth tax.

"Can you explain to me why someone needs even one billion dollars in assets in order to lead a happy life?"

So you are saying from each according to his ability, to each according to his need? I think that has been tried before with less than stellar results.

"Are you still beating that dead horse, fear, fear that the very wealthy will take everything away from us, they'll simply exploit others elsewhere, and where would that leave us?"

No, I am suggesting that if one can make the same money doing nothing as he can working, a lot of people (myself included) will decide to do nothing. And "the wealthy" won't be able to find people to work in their businesses and will have to go elsewhere. It would not be the wealthy deserting us, it would be us deserting the wealthy.

But like I said, go for it, see what happens. I am looking forward to a life of leisure.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

You know what? The phrase "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" was part of a book from over a hundred years ago.

We now live in a electronic, technologically advanced age, in which abuses to that ethic can be checked. The "less than stellar" results were due to the lack of technology. I know those in positions of power will sabotage advances in technology, and social safety networks, in order to make it seem the government's fault that they don't work as well as they could. It is a sad fact that "power corrupts, and absolute [economic] power corrupts absolutely." Right? Can we agree on this?

We must aspire to something better than this huge stratification of wealth. We have the means to provide for everyone's well-being.

No, really. If a person "doesn't want to work" it points to pathology rather than criminality. Please educate yourself on labor relations, which incidentally, don't exist much in countries to which the very wealthy have outsourced our jobs.

[-] 1 points by Coriolanus (272) 12 years ago

"It is a sad fact that "power corrupts, and absolute [economic] power corrupts absolutely." Right? Can we agree on this?"


"No, really. If a person "doesn't want to work" it points to pathology rather than criminality."

What pathology? I would rather not work, and if I could be paid for doing nothing I would jump at the chance. I don't feel that I have any particular pathology; I think Freud hit on the truth of the relationship of man to work in "Civilization and Its Discontents." But maybe Faulkner put it in more poetic terms: "You can’t eat eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours — all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy."

I don't think it is pathologic not to want to work, I think it is more the normal state of humans. And there are small scale subsistence hunter-gatherer societies that do not engage in organized "work" the way we do. Of course, they have to do the minimum needed to survive. By contrast, we have built an enormous economy based on people buying stuff they don't need. And in order to maintain that, everyone is exhorted to work, 40-plus hours per week. If you don't you won't be able to afford that big screen TV or iPad or swimming pool or whatever.

By the way, an excellent book on the subject (aside from Freud's book mentioned above) is "Working" by Studs Terkel. It is a great book. Another is "Worlds of Pain" by Lilian Rubin.

"Please educate yourself on labor relations, which incidentally, don't exist much in countries to which the very wealthy have outsourced our jobs."

What do you suggest? I have some experience-based understanding of labor relations, as I was a union member for many years when I was a factory worker, and my dad was the union local treasurer for over 30 years. So I did absorb something about the topic. And in later years I did some consulting work in Asia, so I saw the other side of the coin. But if you have some specific references to suggest, that would be appreciated.

[-] 0 points by Choicesmatter (93) 12 years ago

The thread is about simply getting a dividend check for breathing the air, forcibly taken from someone else. That's parasitic. That's something for nothing.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

Thank you.

Did you know that overall productivity has risen over the last few decades while compensation for that productivity has not? Part of the reason there are so few jobs is that those with jobs accomplish so much, with the help of technology and innovation, etc., that there is no labor shortage. We have too many qualified, capable individuals, who must somehow invent jobs for themselves since jobs for which they trained no longer exist.

The rationale behind "trickle down" economic theory (decreased taxes on the very wealthy) was that it would create jobs, and therefore a chance at a reasonable life style (the "American Dream"). Instead, what anyone who has added up the numbers has seen is a dramatic increase in the individual and collective net worths of the very wealthy, with very little job creation for the rest of us. That is characteristic of second and third world countries like Mexico and those in South America. Do you want our country to resemble these places? I don't.

[-] 0 points by Choicesmatter (93) 12 years ago

Capital has had the upper hand over the past couple of decades. I think that's clear. The share of GDP going to corporate profits is at a record. Globalization has had a lot to do with it. Workers simply have a lot more competition.

I don't want our country to look like Mexico. I try hard to buy American, many don't. I also donate money to groups determined to end mass immigration of unskilled people. We've flooded the country with 6th grade educated people fit for little more than washing dishes or cutting grass. They're obviously going to remain poor given the enormous skills gap. The more of them we import, the more we aggravate our problems with inequality. Kinda obvious.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

Tell this to the very rich. Persuade them to provide their fair share of what is required to enforce existing regulations on immigration -- and taxation. They shouldn't be allowed to continually hide their money in off-shore accounts, etc. Outsourcing should be more heavily regulated.

Government works as well as we allow it to. We must remain vigilant but we also must trust that the vast majority of government workers actually have our best interests at heart. It seems there is an incredible lack of trust toward government, perhaps media-generated. By the way, who own the media? Follow the money. The very wealthy would have us return to the times of slavery. They are clever enough to call it by a different name, but the conditions are often the same.


[-] 0 points by Choicesmatter (93) 12 years ago

You're really ignorant. Having government extract money to hand over to a parasite class that does nothing is wrong. Do enough of it, and the productive class will leave.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

You're really ignorant, in assuming the very rich are "the productive class," when in reality productivity gains among those lucky enough to have jobs have never been higher than in the last few years. It's been documented -- of course your "productive class" is probably too arrogant to acknowledge such documentation. Oh, well.

[-] 0 points by Choicesmatter (93) 12 years ago

Yeah, ok, bus drivers and ditch diggers are the REAL wealth creators. Sure, socialists repeat that sort of stuff. So, we'll just disagree. I think talent, skills, motivation, and hard work tend to create wealth. You don't.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

I do think talent, skills, motivation, and hard work create wealth. Most people in our family are examples of this.

I do not think a tax code unfairly tilted toward those already in the upper 1% of the very wealthiest is helping solve our budget problems. I do not think the working/middle class should have to shoulder all of the burden in getting us out of this mess. The "productive class" work harder than most, and have a lot of the talent, skills, motivation, etc., which is why productivity has risen so much. Greed at the very top prevents their compensation from matching their productivity. Please explain why this must continue.

[-] 0 points by Choicesmatter (93) 12 years ago

You're not being objective about the tax code. Now, you may want it to tilt more and arguments can be made for that. I might even support some of them. But the tilt is already there. Huge numbers of us now provide almost no support for our government. That's bad for a democracy over time.

I'd be alright with higher high-end taxes as long as long as the number paying nothing goes down along with it.

I don't think people are prevented from earning their productivity. Productivity has gone up a for lot of reasons. Importantly, it's risen because of the capital (tools) people use (especially the internet) and how those resources are used (management). It's also up, of course, because of education.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

Why does my mother pay a larger percentage of her 16,000 dollars a year pension in taxes than do the wealthiest? Please provide a rationale for this. Thank you.

400 people shouldn't own a greater proportion of the world's wealth than one or two billions of others. This is a symptom of a dysfunctional system whose tilt needs adjustment.

If we are so productive, why won't businesses invest more in us? It would help our unemployment problem if they did, but we're too productive already, so they don't need to. In the meantime, wages remain stagnant. They make most of the money and are greedily unwilling to share the profits in an ethical way. They are also unwilling to pay their fair share in taxes. If people are paying "nothing" in taxes, it's because they have absolutely nothing from which to pay them. This problem is only solved by proper education. But are we funding education sufficiently? Do we listen to our teachers? Instead, we blame teachers for problems not of their doing.

[-] 0 points by Choicesmatter (93) 12 years ago

I'm not sure what women and what pension you're talking about.

I'm not sure why not. Some countries on earth have galloping population growth rates that have nothing to do with wealthy people. Every one of them adds to "inequality", but so what.

Businesses do use people. But they have alternatives. Unfortunately, they're been using a lot of foreign labor. I wish they were more nationalistic, but they can't be when their customers aren't.

It's really not the case that people pay nothing because they have nothing. We've just let a lot of people off the hook. The top-end very well perhaps should pay more, but the lower end should at least pay something if we're going to call ourselves as society of shared citizenship.

[-] 1 points by ebri (419) 12 years ago

I can't argue with that, except there's the little detail about the relative inelasticity in basic living costs, like food, shelter, water, health care, and some modicum of safety in one's community. To tax someone making a pittance seems unfair when the 400 richest Americans who are worth 1.7 trillion dollars have a lower percentage of their annual income taxed than the low-wage earner.


[-] 0 points by Choicesmatter (93) 12 years ago

Let's see, we'd stop funding dysfunction and dysfunction would begin to recede for starters. You'd probably have to make a new life plan too, I suppose.