Mike Konczal wrote in the Washington Post on May 11th, his latest post: ‘Thinking Utopian: How about a Universal Basic Income. ‘ In this post, he discussed the possibilities of implementing a universal income as a solution to solving such problems like the difference in income among genders, the poverty level, as well as working conditions. This entire concept works great in theory, but not reality. This should come to no surprise, concepts of government enforced wealth distribution rarely are as effective in reality as they are in theory; see the ‘War on Poverty,’ Social Security and the Affordable Care Act.
The results of such initiatives are programs of good intentions that result in the Government subsidies of poverty, healthcare and pensions. As a result, bankruptcy ensues…and I’m pretty sure the economic downturns do as well.
It should not be a surprise to anyone that this are the results, this is what Government does. Government only has the ability of management through subsidization, taxation and redistribution. It cannot produce, it can only manage the producers in the way it sees fit. Which begs the question that I asked Mike Konczal, how will the Government produce the funds to finance a universal income? I can answer that for him: It will print the money or move it around from other programs. Wow, what a fantastic solution. Konczal said in his article:
In addition, the government has unique abilities that allow it to provide these goods more efficiently. Medicare is able to hold down costs better than private insurance, and Social Security is working significantly better than 401(k)s or private pensions in providing income security in old age.
Again, this is great in theory-but I prefer to live in reality. Could I see a possibility where a universal income could work if we ended Medicare & Social Security for a brief time? Yes, of course it could. But like Social Security, it is a horrific long term option. Which like Social Security, it would be extremely difficult to pay for in a long term. When I asked Konczal this, he responded and told me: “Like anything; replacing programs and/or taxes. The Dylan Matthews link in 1st paragraph gives a sense, as does Murray link.”
Well, that was nice of him.
The Dylan Matthews link of course, is an article written by Dylan Matthews (who else?) in which Matthews paints a picture in which we give the idea of simply writing checks to citizens instead of welfare.
All of which is to say that while Mitt Romney mocks the idea of just sending checks to fight poverty, the idea has an impressive intellectual pedigree, including among conservatives. Perhaps we should give just writing checks a shot.
See, what Konczal & Matthews are both forgetting, is that a wage is determined by what the employer believes the laborer’s worth to be, not what the Government determines. While every business owner should pay his workers a respectable wage, (and I believe it’s morally wrong not too) a wage is agreed upon, no Government official should interfere. So, it seems unfair to simply give out a ‘wage’ to every American, regardless if they work. While I’m all for helping those who need an income, how would America benefit if we simply gave everyone an income?
Everyone would lose. If we simply gave income, how would we determine how much is ‘enough?’ How would we make sure that this income is keeping up with inflation? What happens when we simply flush 10,000 dollars to each person regardless of our nation’s production? Abra, ca-dabra…CRASH! It doesn’t work, we would see a tanking of our economy overnight. The fluctuation of cash has to be met with the equal production of labor, which is where Konczal’s theory falls apart like a ice cream cone in July.
Konczal has a great theory but it simply does not align with reality. If you were to implement a system such as this, good luck trying to do away with social security & medicare-those two programs will never be removed, I also doubt either will ever see significant reform. But here’s an idea, instead of looking at two programs that are already bankrupted and replacing them with an even more catastrophic program, let’s do something about that near 17 trillion dollar debt?
Let’s do something about inflation. Instead of creating a society where every one must economically lower themselves in hopes of possibly raising themselves, how about we create a policy where everyone manages their own destiny?
I mean, let’s face it: we’re broke. I won’t deny poverty is at one of it’s worst levels. But if you believe that the Government, which gain’s it’s resources from it’s citizens, has the solution, then you’re part of the problem. To implement such a income system as Konczal’s as this is to simply admit that we are incapable of managing our incomes ourselves. My solution to the problem, is not to use a Utopian idea, which has never succeeded. Rather,I would recommend a system in which I’m free to determine my wage with my employer.
Isn’t that the essence of a free society? Free citizens working out their solutions or problems together without government interference? Sure sounds like a heck of a free society to me.
Tanner Brumbarger | @Brumbarger