Can Republicans Stomach the Idea of Free Money?

Since I left the Libertarian Party a decade ago, I have reverted to a more pragmatic and utilitarian vision of liberty, more Milton Friedman and less Murray Rothbard. Way back when I was in high school I was impressed with Friedman’s Negative Income Tax. Today, I want to simplify the idea and have a flat tax for The 99% coupled with free money for everyone.

But one of my favorite political pundits, P.J. O’Rourke, says NO. He says that a universal basic income is one of this month’s two worst political ideas. He points out that if his younger self had gotten a thousand dollar a month stipend, he would have remained an insufferable useless hippie.

He has a point. Some people will manage to live unproductive lives on a universal basic income, writing bad poetry, chanting Marxist slogans, crafting bad art, and sporting bad hair.

But people are doing this now, with much bigger government grants. We call them college professors, and fine artists.

P.J. makes a major mistake in applying the UBI idea to his younger self: $1000/month today would be far less than a thousand a month was back when he was an insufferable hippie. We had a rather serious bout of inflation in between then and now. To live as a happy hippie on a kilobuck/month today would require serious frugality, or even a bit of farming and other productive, if non-monetary, work. But under a UBI, unlike welfare, you could supplement your free government check with some legal monetary work without losing your benefits. Yes, you would pay taxes on that work, but the rate would be no more than what doctors and lawyers pay today — and they still show up for work from time to time.

Yes, this money is “unearned.” So are inheritances. I have a question for the Republicans in the audience: should inheritances be banned? I can say from direct experience that some who receive major inheritances do live lives of unproductive socialistic yammering. (I knew a few trustafarians back in my Asheville days.) Should we ban all inheritance to make such people get a job?

 

A New Series on Criminal Justice

Oops! I forgot to announce it on this What’s New blog: I have started a new series on the main site on criminal justice.

Besides the first page of the series, I now have one on the economics of crime, and one on criminal psychology; i.e., I go a bit beyond economics in modeling criminal behavior.

The goal is to make people aware of how we can reduce crime while restoring lost civil liberties at the same time.

Tips on Balancing the Federal Budget

For all ye Ron Paul fans who want to abolish the Federal Reserve System and go back to a gold standard, I have sad news for you: the federal budget needs to be balanced first.

And not just balanced now and then. It needs to be balances on average. That means surpluses during good years to offset any deficits during bad years. Given that the Baby Boomers are beginning to retire, we cannot simply assume that real economic growth will take care of tomorrow’s problems.

If we drop back towards a more neutral foreign policy, end the Drug War, and let the states handle education, then we come closer to a balanced budget — but these reforms are likely not enough. And so I recommend some revenue enhancements for Ron Paul supporters. They are part of my new tax reform series.

Green Power vs. Terrorists

In their classic Our Dumb Century the geniuses at The Onion made up a headline from the 1960s about the Pentagon harnessing flower power to create a new super weapon.

Well, I’m not quite sure about flower power, but green power definitely has potential against our current enemies. Check out Green Energy vs. Terrorism.

All ye eco hippies can have a neener dance at the expense of the Neocons.