GOOD POLICY? OR A RECIPE FOR DISASTER?
We’ve always been intrigued by reform. There’s something eminently satisfying about the notion of fixing something … and since there’s so much wrong with government these days, there’s literally no shortage of stuff to fix.
Which is part of the problem …
Anyway … one of the reforms that’s always intrigued us is economist Milton Friedman‘s negative income tax. Under this system, people who earn below a certain monetary level would not only get out of paying taxes, they would receive direct cash supplements from the federal government – money they could spend on whatever they choose.
The goal of such a program is to replace the perverse incentives of the current welfare system – which keeps millions of Americans stuck in a rut of dependency – while at the same time eliminating vast swaths of bureaucracy.
We don’t necessarily like any form of welfare, but it’s easy to see how such a system would be infinitely preferable to the current, ever-expanding maze of entitlement.
University of San Diego philosophy professor Matt Zwolinsky is touting a new version of this concept – which he calls the Basic Income Guarantee (a.k.a. BIG).
Hold up, did somebody say B.I.G?
(Click to play)
Ah, that’s better …
Anyway, Zwolinsky writes that there is a libertarian case to be made for cash grants awarded to all Americans regardless of need – with no strings attached.
“Unlike other welfare programs which encourage or require recipients to consume certain specific kinds of good – such as medical care, housing or food – a BIG simply gives people cash, and leaves them free to spend it, or save it, in whatever way they choose,” Zwolinsky writes.
He also correctly points out that while “no libertarian would wish for a BIG as an addition to the currently existing welfare state,” it might be a nice replacement – limiting bureaucracy, paternalism and “rent-seeking” behavior.
Those are all good reasons …
We would add that such a concept fits nicely within the “equality of opportunity” mantra our nation was founded on … a principle that the redistributive and regulatory state has shredded in favor of “equality of outcomes.”