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As GOP Targets Social Security, Arguments Raised To Expand It

Not surprisingly, the new Republican-led Congress is, once again, planning to attack Social Security as part of the party’s historic blood oath to undo anything associated with the New Deal no matter how successful. That Social Security is one of the most successful programs in this country’s history and has made incredible progress in alleviating poverty among the elderly is of no interest to the GOP. For conservatives Social Security is an abomination that has convinced generations of Americans that government can work – not to mention the Wall Street donors of both parties who want to get their hands on that retirement money.

But for some progressives Social Security is not only something to be protected. A new idea circulating through left-wing policy circles is the notion of going past protection into expanding the program. Through expanding the program into “Social Security for All” or a universal basic income poverty could – at least at a technical level – be eliminated for all Americans just as it virtually has been for seniors.

The proposal for a UBI is nothing new, a version of it was a major part of the program advocated for by the Poor People’s Campaign organized by Martin Luther King shortly before his death. Even some on the right have advocated a UBI on the condition that in exchange much of the welfare state be collapsed. A deal such as that would arguably be budget-neutral:

In switching over to a universal basic income, the books will not only stay balanced—they might even move into the black. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 115,227,000 households in the U.S. Split $1.88 trillion among all these households and each one gets $16,315.62. In other words, if you turned the welfare system into a $15,000 basic income payment, you’d end up saving over $150 billion (or $1,315.62 per American household).

The basic proposal can be tweaked, of course, so that the system makes a bit more sense. Households making over $100,000 per year probably get by just fine on their own. Cut them out of the equation, and you would end up with a $20,000 basic income check for the remaining households, while still netting the government some nice savings.

Balancing the budget is generally not the first priority of people concerned with poverty but if that is the net effect so be it. The point is that straight cash transfers have already proven to work through the example of the Social Security system. It turns out when you give money to people whose problem is principally that they lack money the problem goes away.

The only real counter-argument to this policy proposal is a belief held among the elite of the right and the left that poor people are by their nature immoral and that their poverty is tied inextricably to flaws in their character. This is not only disproved by understanding the nature of capitalism and how rewards are distributed (luck and privilege) but completely invalidated when one looks at the rich in America who are typically parasitic and hedonistic. Or did conservatives change their mind about Hollywood?

The rich are, if anything, more immoral than the average American they just don’t have to pay for their crimes like everyone else does. In any case, it is time to consider real solutions to poverty and UBI seems like the best one available and possibly worth making some trades for.

CommunityThe Bullpen

As GOP Targets Social Security Arguments Raised To Expand It

Not surprisingly, the new Republican-led Congress is, once again, planning to attack Social Security as part of the party’s historic blood oath to undo anything associated with the New Deal no matter how successful. That Social Security is one of the most successful programs in this country’s history and has made incredible progress in alleviating poverty among the elderly is of no interest to the GOP. For conservatives Social Security is an abomination that has convinced generations of Americans that government can work – not to mention the Wall Street donors of both parties who want to get their hands on that retirement money.

But for some progressives Social Security is not only something to be protected. A new idea circulating through left-wing policy circles is the notion of going past protection into expanding the program. Through expanding the program into “Social Security for All” or a universal basic income poverty could – at least at a technical level – be eliminated for all Americans just as it virtually has been for seniors.

The proposal for a UBI is nothing new, a version of it was a major part of the program advocated for by the Poor People’s Campaign organized by Martin Luther King shortly before his death. Even some on the right have advocated a UBI on the condition that in exchange much of the welfare state be collapsed. A deal such as that would arguably be budget-neutral:

In switching over to a universal basic income, the books will not only stay balanced—they might even move into the black. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 115,227,000 households in the U.S. Split $1.88 trillion among all these households and each one gets $16,315.62. In other words, if you turned the welfare system into a $15,000 basic income payment, you’d end up saving over $150 billion (or $1,315.62 per American household).

The basic proposal can be tweaked, of course, so that the system makes a bit more sense. Households making over $100,000 per year probably get by just fine on their own. Cut them out of the equation, and you would end up with a $20,000 basic income check for the remaining households, while still netting the government some nice savings.

Balancing the budget is generally not the first priority of people concerned with poverty but if that is the net effect so be it. The point is that straight cash transfers have already proven to work through the example of the Social Security system. It turns out when you give money to people whose problem is principally that they lack money the problem goes away.

The only real counter-argument to this policy proposal is a belief held among the elite of the right and the left that poor people are by their nature immoral and that their poverty is tied inextricably to flaws in their character. This is not only disproved by understanding the nature of capitalism and how rewards are distributed (luck and privilege) but completely invalidated when one looks at the rich in America who are typically parasitic and hedonistic. Or did conservatives change their mind about Hollywood?

The rich are, if anything, more immoral than the average American they just don’t have to pay for their crimes like everyone else does. In any case, it is time to consider real solutions to poverty and UBI seems like the best one available and possibly worth making some trades for.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.