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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cherokee Tribe Proves Citizen's Dividend Works:

Studies show that the Cherokees who received this $6,000 a year in free money had better health outcomes, better education outcomes, lower drug and alcohol use, lower crime rates, and actually cost the state less than if they had not been given these stipends overall.  In other words, with all the crime and health care measures we offer the poor, we were spending more than $6,000 a year on them due to complications due to poverty.  By giving them $6,000 a year and lifting them out of poverty, they then ceased their destructive behavior, and saved taxpayer money by abolishing the need for all of our special programs that help clean up after bad behavior once it's already too late to prevent it.

In other words, the citizen's dividend has a more positive effect at a lower cost than the current welfare state.  It is a win-win.  It helps everyone.  Everyone in the entire country is better off, the tax payers, the tax recipients, everyone.

The science is already in.  The logic is already in -- the citizen's dividend has no perverse incentives because it rewards everyone equally, so there's no reason to go out of your way to be unemployed, a single mother with kids, only make $10,000 a year and never rise to the next income tax bracket, constantly visit the emergency room, etc.  Get rid of the perverse incentives, just hand over the money and let people make responsible, common sense decisions with their own money, and the economy will boom because people are no longer doing obviously insane things just to qualify for government benefits.

If people are worried about the cost, start the citizen's dividend at $6,000 a year, which has already been proven to lower costs overall.  See how it goes, then raise it once it's shown to succeed.  The important thing isn't the details, it's the philosophical recognition that poverty is a) evil, and b) completely unnecessary in the modern world.

Currently the Wall Street Journal is arguing that people should be able to sell their organs for a profit.  This is the Republican alternative to the citizen's dividend.  Poor people should sell themselves to cannibals, slavers and pimps because that's their only remaining use in the world.  Republicans deny the dignity and worth of a human being and just see them as a sack of spare body parts for the rich.  If you're poor, just sell your own body on the market, it's worth way more than your soul ever was anyway.

The only reply to this line of thinking is the citizen's dividend.  If people have too much natural dignity to be forced into slavery, or prostitution, or organ sales, to make a living, then you must give them an alternate route out of poverty.  Jobs won't do it -- no one is required to hire you in America, and jobs haven't kept pace with population growth for decades now.  The only alternative to the Republican nightmare is the citizen's dividend.  The free market prefers organ sales.  Only socialism protects the dignity of the individual anymore.

In a decade or two, that is, before our children even leave the education system and try to go find a job, computers will be so advanced that virtually all low-pay work will be done by machines.  Various Oxford professors and the like have already crunched the numbers and shown that at least 50% of our jobs are replaceable by cheaper, faster robots.  There is no solution to this massive displacement because the displaced have nowhere else to go.  They cannot get the high end jobs because they aren't intelligent enough -- the actually intelligent people will be sure to hold on to their jobs with an iron grip that can never be dislodged.  A recent study showed social mobility is near all time lows in America, the idea that the peasants will somehow become the aristocracy through hard work or better education is laughable.  All that's already been tried and it all failed long ago.  They can't get low end jobs because robots are cheaper, faster, and more reliable.  They can't start farming or ranching because all property in the world is already owned by someone else.  There aren't infinite jobs.  Just because farmers could become manufacturers in the past doesn't magically mean that clerks can become Puropuropopkers tomorrow.  If you can't even imagine what job field they would next do, or what need these displaced workers would suddenly be able to meet once the machines have made them jobless, it is insanely irresponsible to insist they'll be able to do it 'somehow.'  If smart people can't even imagine how poor people will manage in the future, why do you think poor people will be able to figure it out?

Furthermore, most production of goods and services come out of powerful big businesses.  These big businesses are completely out of scale in terms of jobs versus production.  A big business with a huge capital base will hire a few thousand people or whatever, and be 5% of the entire US economy.  Meanwhile, small businesses will employ five people, have virtually no capital, and produce a non-existent share of the US economy.  Suffice to say even 1,000 of these businesses lined up together aren't remotely as important as Google.  The same is true of farms.  1,000 small family farms all lined up together aren't nearly as productive as one giant industrial corporate farm, owned by just one guy, of the same land size.  So telling everyone to go become entrepreneurs and found their own business is also a losing strategy.  It turns out, due to economy of scale, that the country is simply much richer and more productive when workers work for big, established, capital-intensive companies instead of striking it out on their own.  There is no substitute for capital.  It takes money to make money.  Small businesses will never be anything but a sideshow.  It's a phony way to raise employment without actually raising the economy -- if all those small businesses went out of business and lived on the citizen's dividend instead, the American economy wouldn't even notice and would produce the same output of good and services as before.

Right now there are poor people who could use the citizen's dividend's help.  It's cheaper and more effective than our current spiderweb of social programs that we already have in place.  But if this isn't sufficient reason to provide a basic income, then just look at the future.  Soon enough only around 10% of jobs will be immune to automation, and all of these jobs will go to the intelligent, rich, and powerful.  What do you plan to do about the remaining 90% of kids who were innocently born into this world and did not choose to be given this environment they cannot possibly succeed in?

Are you really going to tell the girls to become prostitutes and the boys to become gladiatorial warriors as a fun blood sport for the rich?  Are you going to go with the WSJ plan and farm people like they do fields as great heart and lung harvests for the rich?  Or will you pass the citizen's dividend?  These are your kids we're talking about.  Doesn't anyone give a damn at all?

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