Imagine a group of 5 people. They have an income distribution of $10, $20, $30, $50, and $100. Someone gets the BIG idea of everyone putting 40% of their money into a hat, and dividing the result equitably between everyone.
That means $4, $8, $12, $20, and $40 goes into the hat. That's $84 which when divided by 5 is $16.80.
Another way of looking at this result is that the amounts paid were -$12.80, -$8.80, -$4.80, $3.20, and $23.20. The poorest three people paid negative amounts (negative taxation), meaning they received money, and the richest two people paid positive amounts (positive taxation), meaning they lost money.Read more
By Scott Santens
Consider for a moment that from this day forward, on the first day of every month, around $1,000 is deposited into your bank account – because you are a citizen. This income is independent of every other source of income and guarantees you a monthly starting salary above the poverty line for the rest of your life.
What do you do? Possibly of more importance, what don’t you do? How does this firm foundation of economic security and positive freedom affect your present and future decisions, from the work you choose to the relationships you maintain, to the risks you take?
By Scott Santens
I love watching documentaries and one of my recent favorites on Netflix, aside from Noam Chomsky's "Requiem for the American Dream", is "Poverty, Inc." I highly recommend just watching the entire film yourself, but there is one story from it that is one of my new favorites to share onward, and that's the story by Peter Greer who is the CEO of Hope International.
As soon as I first saw it, I immediately even recorded it onto my phone and shared it on Twitter. It is such a short and simple lesson of the unintended consequences of giving goods instead of cash to buy goods.Read more
The recent announcement that the provincial government will fund a basic income pilot project had Windsor’s politicians clamouring to make the case that our city, struggling with chronically high unemployment and persistent poverty, was the perfect proving ground for a seemingly radical approach to public spending.
While pushing for the pilot project was an opportunity any elected leader would take, it’s perhaps a signal that their often-touted dedication to creating jobs and reducing unemployment is at odds with the trends of a changing world.Read more
By Scott Santens
On Dec. 2, 1942, a team of scientists led by Enrico Fermi came back from lunch and watched as humanity created the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction inside a pile of bricks and wood underneath a football field at the University of Chicago. Known to history as Chicago Pile-1, it was celebrated in silence with a single bottle of Chianti, for those who were there understood exactly what it meant for humankind, without any need for words.Read more
Roderick Benns, publisher of Leaders and Legacies, recently interviewed Scott Santens, one of the leading American voices for basic income policy. The New Orleans-based writer is an advocate of basic income for all people and he serves as moderator of the BasicIncome community on Reddit.
Benns: The very notion of a basic income guarantee frightens a lot of people, particularly in western societies like Canada and the U.S. Thinking of employers, how can they be convinced that basic income policy is a good idea? Won’t they be worried about finding people willing to work?
Santens: It’s kind of interesting isn’t it, that the asking of such a question directly implies that employers don’t actually pay workers sufficiently for them to work voluntarily. We all know that’s the case, but we ignore it. The rate employers currently pay for the jobs people don’t want to do is artificially low. It’s low because people have to choose between no money at all, and at least some money. That’s coercion. It’s an imbalance of bargaining power. It’s also a market distortion. Employers have no incentive to pay sufficient wages, so people accept insufficient wages and consider themselves lucky they don’t have to live hungry in a box in an alley somewhere.Read more
By Scott Santens
I think we should avoid letting our ideologies inform our opinions on matters of social and economic policy. What matters is scientifically observed evidence. I support the idea of providing everyone with an unconditional basic income not because I just think it’s the right thing to do, and the best way to make ongoing technological unemployment work for us instead of against us, but because such an overwhelming amount of human behavioral evidence points in the direction of basic income.
In their opinion pieces for the week-long series about universal basic income published in September by The Washington Post, I was struck by how both Oren Cass and Jonathan Coppage expressed a distinct lack of knowledge of the evidence we have available to inform our opinions on giving people money without strings attached, by citing none of it. Science involves testing our hypotheses. They both expressed the shared hypothesis that giving people additional income in the form of a basic income would somehow reduce social cohesion, and that it is growing social inequality that’s leading to economic problems and not the other way around. We can test such a hypothesis by simply looking at what actually happens when people are provided unconditional cash, and comparing it to a control group of those who aren’t.Read more