Idea: Preview

Relevance:     Universal
Basic Income (BI); Amount of BI; Funding and administration of BI; Replacement of other programs by BI; Qualifying for the BI; Further argumentation

Section 1.
In our sophisticated society with a complex economy we recognize that, while we must incentivize people to be productive members of our society, the value of the contributions of some members to our society cannot be easily gauged by their activity in the market, for example: parents, artists, innovators, philosophers, and community servants. Nevertheless, these participants deserve to be compensated for the value that they contribute. For this reason, we should institute a Basic Income (BI).

Section 2.
The amount of the BI will be dependent on the size of the economy, measured by GDP per capita (GDP/c), so that higher productivity of our society is not disincentivized. Therefore, using USA as an example, if the starting monthly BI amount in Year 1 is established at $100 and the GDP/c increases from what it was in Year 0, in Year 2 the BI would be increased, by an increment of $100, to $200. The BI would continue to be increased annually until the GDP/c falls in the following year. The BI would then continue to be decreased annually, also in increments of $100, until the GDP/c rises in the following year. In this manner we will be able to find an equilibrium at which the size of our economy is optimized.

Section 3.
The BI will be funded as a part of the regular state budget with money raised through ordinary taxes (at adjusted rates). In countries that are federated, the BI would have the possibility of being administered at multiple levels, such as both the federal level and the state level.
          To ensure that the administration of the BI will be unaffected by political games, the BI will be determined and processed by a department of the government that is largely independent from election cycles. For example, in the USA the BI could be administered by the Department of Labor, with the involvement of the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Section 4.
The BI will replace nearly all social subsidy programs by the government, including poverty welfare programs, retirement programs, and educational grant programs (to those 18 and above). If the government were to continue to implement such programs, the amounts awarded to each recipient would be subtracted from their BI entitlement.
          The only exception to the replacement of other social subsidy programs by the BI will be programs subsidizing medical care and disability assistance.

Section 5.
To qualify for the BI a person must be at least 18 years of age, a lawfully documented resident of a country (and/or state), and not be sentenced to confinement by the criminal justice system. Persons between the ages of 5 and 18 (lawfully residing and other) will receive a subsidy to their educational institution in place of the BI, which will be allowed to be partially disbursed to the students as payment for participating in their education (institutions would have the option of paying students for attending class).
          For people who spend significant portions of their time traveling outside of their country of residence, the amount of the BI in a particular year will be reduced by 10% for every increment of 1-30 days spent outside of a person’s country (and/or state) of residence in excess of 65 days per year (66 days per leap year). A person will be required to spend at least 150 full days per year in their country (and/or state) of residence to qualify for any amount of BI.
          Anyone found to be misrepresenting their duration of residence will be deprived of the BI: temporarily-partially upon first offense, temporarily-fully upon second offense, and permanently-fully upon third offense.

Section 6.
For those who are unconvinced by the necessity to implement the BI, here we will offer the most compelling argument. The strongest argument for the BI is not based on charity, compassion, kindness, or some other “good will” toward others (those sentiments are nice, but they are subjective and thus not compelling to everyone); it is instead based on sound business economics.
          A nation is most fundamentally a business. Certainly, a nation also has its heroes, hymns, holidays, and heritage (especially a territory), but the main and most real reason that a nation maintains its existence is to provide a better material quality of life for its members – if a nation does not do that, then it is on a path to extinction. Once a nation is large enough to outgrow the familial ties that keep people together—i.e. once a nation stops being merely an extended family—people want a nation that is able to provide the best quality of life for their family, and such families will trade their original nation for a better one. Basically, besides families––which also serve to better the material quality of life but are quite impossible to trade––nations are the original businesses. All other businesses that function within a nation are only rudimentary derivatives of the overarching nation, so that they can achieve higher productivity through specialization of labor and industry.
          That being the case, how do businesses work? Most importantly, they distribute profits to their owners (one or multiple). Besides everything else that a business does, if a business does not distribute profits to its owners, those owners have very little interest in continuing to own and operate that business – those owners' invested capital is usually better invested in another business that does distribute profits to its owners. But before an owner sells their business—which is typically also their legacy and pride—the essential question they must ask is “why is some of the revenue not being disbursed to me as profits?” And the answers can only be either that the business is not generating any revenue or that the costs of production are higher than the revenue.
          And this is exactly how we, the lawful residents of any particular state/national economy, should think about our economy. Before we even consider moving somewhere else—which comes at an extremely high financial and social cost to most of us—we must ask ourselves: “is our national corporation doing so little business that we do not have any revenue to distribute to ourselves as profits or are our costs of production too high?” Now, in a nation that controls its own territory and knowledge, and given that international trade balances itself in the long run, the cost of labor is therefore the only relevant input to production. So the question really becomes “is our nation not doing any business or are we paying some of our workers too much?” In a nation that is even partially industrialized, the answer to this question is clearly not that it is not doing any business. Therefore, the only remaining answer is that its staffing costs are too high.
          But who is getting paid too much? Is it the investors, the CEOs, the managers, the technicians, the laborers, the builders, the drivers, the entertainers, the educators, the healers, or the farmers? We should not be so arrogant to presume that we can answer this question arbitrarily; after all, this is why we utilize the market to determine prices of everything, including individual compensation. Therefore, the solution is to tax everyone’s market transactions equally (at a rate that is sufficient to cover the necessary BI expenditures) and let the market adjust accordingly. Then, with the additional revenue that is raised by the government, we––the owners, the people, the ones who make the whole operation possible––can finally be paid the profits that we deserve.
          To put it simply, a BI is not a gift to the residents of a country (and/or state) but a payment of what we are rightfully owed (for being here instead of somewhere else). For a government to not implement a mechanism paying out the BI is nothing other than fraud. Furthermore, if the BI is adjusted according to the GDP/c so that the economy is optimized––which is the only reasonable way to do it—not implementing this BI mechanism is ultimately sabotage of the economy and treason against the nation itself.
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