In exploring the world beyond the view from my study window (a large, lush green yard surrounded by tall trees and the mountain beyond the river valley) I came across a discussion of reasons for giving money to the poor.

I believe we have a collective responsibility to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to experience the same standard of living as everybody else.   This should apply to all the people of the  world.

This does not mean that everyone should have to take that opportunity. If a person chooses to do something else that is okay whether it be a life of poverty and medication in a cave or a life ruined by  drinking.

I also believe that full employment is not a realistic goal.  Nor is full employment desirable if it means working for the sake of working when there are other things people could do if they wanted. Nor is full employment desirable if it means using up scare resources or destroying the environment.

I also believe subsides should be given to consumers rather than producers.

And I believe that we as individuals should be able to make our own decisions according to our own values.

Therefore we should deal with poverty and/or ensuring everyone has the opportunity with some sort of universal income scheme.  Milton Friedman proposed a negative income tax.  I take the concept further and suggest an income scheme combined with a new way of creating money in the form of universal subsistence payments.

In either case the income scheme would replace all subsidies to producers and all other income support to individuals.

This approach would require some heavy-duty changes in our ways of thinking and behaving.  Many people would find it difficult to get their minds around these changes.  However, considering the current economic crisis and all the threats it may be that we need drastic changes.

One Response

  1. Milton Friedman, God bless him, assumed (of course) that any person can move seamlessly and withouth impediment in and out of employment. He assumed tat a person was unemployed because of their rational decision not to take a job which does not offer sufficient reward. As a corrolery everybody is poor because it is their choice to be poor. A nice simple model which bears absolutely no relation to reality.

    Let’s just talk about getting the unmployed back into paid employment. Ignore why they became unemployed in the first place.

    It is now generally agreed among public sector economists that the unemployed, or at least the vast majority, need to be coerced back into a job. No matter how much they want a job, there is a barrier beween unemployment and employment. This barrier is partly very real economic factors, and partly psychological. It has been found that the unemployed actually feel physical pain entering the workforce.

    So ‘being nice and persusive’ to the unemployed does not work. Threats, even cutting their allowance, generally does not work. Each unmployed person actually needs a case worker who actually drags them through the barrier.

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