The US Owes Americans $5k Every Year — At Least
|August 28, 2014||Posted by Staff under Good Press|
This 2014 excerpt of PBS News Hour, Aug 27, is by Peter Barnes.
In his new book, “With Liberty and Dividends For All: How to Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don’t Pay Enough,” Barnes argues for a national dividends program like Alaska’s oil share that could distribute to all Americans as much as $5,000 per year in legitimate property income.
Creating millions of new jobs in a globalized, automated economy is hard. Workers are expendable — often they’re literally “temps” — and their benefits are shrinking. In unionized industries like autos and airlines, two-tier contracts are now the norm. This means that younger workers get paid substantially less than older ones for doing the same work. In the Labor Department’s latest list of occupations with the greatest projected job growth, only one out of six pays over $60,000 a year.
Fortunately, labor income doesn’t exhaust our possibilities. Since 1980, the flow of non-labor income has grown to around a third of every dollar Americans receive. From where might we all get some non-labor income?
We could pay equal dividends to all from wealth we own together. It is predistribution; it allocates income more fairly in the first place so there’s less need to redistribute later.
Dividends could come from a nationwide fund similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund, which, since 1982, has used the state’s oil wealth to pay equal yearly dividends to all Alaskans. Dividends wouldn’t come from taking people’s already-received income; they’d come from fees paid by businesses for value received. A bill recently introduced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-M.D., would generate money for dividends by auctioning a steadily declining number of carbon permits.
Over time, according to my calculations, such dividends could grow to about $5,000 per person per year.
Dividends from common wealth unite society by putting all its members in the same boat. The income everyone receives is a right, not a handout. This changes the story, the psychology, and the politics.
Ed. Notes: That’s so cool to see a word I coined in print: predistribution. Another is Citizen’s Dividend. One more is geonomics.
Since kids don’t have accounts and don’t contribute much to the creation of common wealth — the worth of Earth, our spending for land, resources, EM spectrum, etc — paying registered voters a share of this spending stream would raise the dividend to $1k per month.
That extra income could be coupled with much lower counterproductive taxes on earnings, purchases, and buildings. The public treasury won’t lose a penny as long as government recovers the socially-generated value of locations, which goes up when taxes on our efforts go down.
Such tax reform could also be coupled with spending reform, spelling the end of corporate welfare and bridges to nowhere (speaking of Alaska) and lots of other waste.
What’s needed is for regular people to feel enough self-esteem to demand a fair share of what’s already ours just like the rich feel when winning an enormous share of what’s not theirs. We’re not broke. There is a surplus. It just needs to be shared. People need to quit demanding jobs and start demanding justice.