We should all be able to agree: no one should be poor in a nation as wealthy as the US. Yet nearly 15% of Americans live below the poverty line. Perhaps one of the best solutions is also one of the oldest and simplest ideas: everyone should be guaranteed a small income, free from conditions.
By Colin Holtz - The Guardian
Called a universal basic income by supporters, the idea has has attracted support throughout American history, from Thomas Paine to Martin Luther King Jr. But it has also faced unending criticism for one particular reason: the advocates of “austerity” say we simply can’t afford it – or any other dramatic spending on social security.
That argument dissolved this week with the release of the Panama Papers, which reveal the elaborate methods used by the wealthy to avoid paying back the societies that helped them to gain their wealth in the first place.
Roads and transportation infrastructure. Educated workforces. Courts and legal systems. Innovations sparked by government funding, such as the internet. No one – no matter how smart or hard working – joins the American or global elite without making use of these shared resources.
But while working and middle-class families pay their taxes or face consequences, the Panama Papers remind us that the worst of the 1% have, for years, essentially been stealing access to Americans’ common birthright, and to the benefits of our shared endeavors.
Worse, many of those same global elite have argued that we cannot afford to provide education, healthcare or a basic standard of living for all, much less eradicate poverty or dramatically enhance the social safety net by guaranteeing every American a subsistence-level income. READ MORE
PHOTO: On October 4th 2013, Swiss activists from Generation Grundeinkommen organised dumped 8 million coins on a public square, as a celebration of the successful collection of more than 125,000 signatures, which will force the government to hold a referendum on whether or not to incorporate the concept of basic income in the Federal constitution. PHOTO CREDIT: Stefan Bohrer