RE: true abundance?

From: Barbara Lamar (
Date: Sun Feb 11 2001 - 16:51:10 MST

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Damien Broderick

>The guaranteed income model I promote in
> THE SPIKE ... was developed by an economist
> who lived
> for most of his life in the USA, Robert Theobald.

 the key aspect of Theobald's proposal (and that mad
> socialist Milton Friedman's) ... is to *abolish* most of the
> bureaucratic meddling and tinkering by making the income floor a
> *guaranteed `right'*, a secure floor permitting either enterprise
> or sloth.

This might be workable in a situation where basic necessities (however these
might be defined) were available at such a low cost that to provide them for
everyone would cause no hardship for anyone (however hardship might be
defined). Here are the main problems I would predict in administering such a

1.If it were limited to a specific geographical region, non-productive
people from elsewhere would want to get in. In the absence of unlimited
resources, this would eventually cause the program to fail.

2. In order for the program to work without using force against some of the
people expected to fund the program, everyone participating in the program
would have to have similar definitions of basic necessity and hardship.

 3. If the program is administered over a wide geographical area in order to
alleviate problem #1 listed above, there is less likely to be agreement on
the definitions of basic necessity and hardship--thus you'd end up with a
central authority making rules which would effect people in widely separated

> True, most models then propose higher taxes once incomes start to exceed
> that minimum, but this needn't be any more complex or horrid than the way
> things are done now.

Higher taxes might not even be necessary in the US. You'd only need a shift
the way currently available money is spent. As I've pointed out before, the
money spent to perform a "drug" raid on my 2 Vitex shrubs--a totally
non-productive activity even if one agreed that cannabis should be
illegal--could have supported three or four people at a basic level for six
months or maybe even a year.

In order to make a guaranteed income work, you'd want a very gradual
progression in tax rates as earned income rises. A common problem in the US
is that if people go off welfare and go to work, they find themselves worse
off than before, particularly if they have to pay for child care. Even if
child care expense is not a problem, expenses for clothing, transportation,
and food purchase generally go up. Our egregiously regressive social
security and medicare taxes are deducted even from minimum wage earnings.
The most common way I've seen people deal with this situation is to get work
that's paid for in cash and not reported. There's no reason I can think of
for this sort of relationship between the welfare and taxing structures. And
yet, there it has been, year after year. One might almost suppose that the
people making the laws have no contact whatsoever with the real world, or
that they want the program to fail.

Note: the earned income credit's actual effect is to offset the social
security and medicare taxes at low incomes.

> But where the money going to come from? I'm not going to pay some lazy
> thief to loll around, or suffer my rightful earnings to be extorted from
> me! --Different points, those. Irrelevant to this particular
> objection. (Or
> so it seems to me.)

They're different points, yes. But for reasons stated above, I don't agree
that they're unrelated. Some people's unwillingness to participate in a
guaranteed income program (presumably, those unwilling to participate would
be the ones expected to fund the program) will make behavioral control (and
thus bureaucratic meddling) necessary. I do agree that a program could be
structured in such a way as to minimize such meddling, but unless one
expects to get along by blind luck, one must first recognize the problem
before one can take appropriate steps to solve it.


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