Friday, September 15, 2017

Blueprint For America: Going Minimum Wage One Better

Not long ago -- a few hours, as it happens -- I published an article (you can read it here) arguing for an increase in the minimum wage to a livable wage. So far I've gotten a few comments on this ... one guy who regularly trolls my stuff dropped his load, as expected, but other than that the comments have come from thoughtful, reasoned places (both for and against).

One of those comments linked to this article in The Atlantic published 'way back in 2014 (seems a lifetime ago, don't it?) arguing for a guaranteed minimum income -- in short, giving people money. I love this idea, and for reasons that conservatives might actually get on board with. So let's dive in, shall we?

First off, taking this approach would eliminate all forms of means-tested government assistance. Food stamps, child care subsidies, home heating assistance -- any federal dollars going to these programs or others like them would be redirected into this fund. This also means entire bureaucracies could be dissolved completely, saving the government billions each year.

Second, doing this would effectively eliminate poverty.

Third, in many cases the government would get the money back under my proposal. "But wait," say the people who actually took the time to read the Atlantic article (you did read it, didn't you? Good. I thought so), "I didn't see anything about getting money back. What gives?" The explanation is quite simple, really:

I made it up.

Now, before y'all start accusing me of being just another lying hateful liberal communist socialist atheist muslim dog raper or something, let me just clear one thing up: I love dogs. I have two.

As far as the "getting money back" thing, I am doing nothing more than expanding on the idea espoused in The Atlantic. The way I see this program working is simple:

  1. Each year, at the start of the year, every adult who is not being claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return will get a check from the Federal government equal to the annual poverty line for that person's household size. So, using this years poverty lines as examples, a single person living alone would get a check for $12,060. A household with two people would get a check for $16,240, a three person household would get one for $20,420, and so on (the actual mechanics of how these funds would be disbursed would have to be worked out ... for example, a household of two of which one is a minor might see a single check for $16,240 going to the head of the household, whereas a two person household with two able-bodied adults might see two checks for $8,120 each).
  2. This amount would be taxable, and taxes withheld according to contemporary rates.
  3. For people who are working, an additional amount sufficient to return the amount of this payment by the end of the year will be withheld in addition to normal payroll taxes. This amount will not exceed 10% of the gross wages for that pay period.
  4. For people who are working for only part of the year (seasonal workers, for example, or someone who had not been working starts a job), the amount to be repaid will be prorated based on the number of months of the year spent working.
  5. If the full amount is not repaid by the end of the year the remainder is taxed as income at the highest tax bracket in place for that year.
This is all just spitballing, so I have no hard numbers to bolster this, but it seems like a good way to both reduce (if not eliminate) poverty while simultaneously ending the minimum wage debate and reducing income inequality. Obviously, there are many aspects of this that I haven't dealt with here -- incorporating incentives to work for those who are unemployed, for example -- which is why this is just an idea, folks, and not an actual policy proposal.

I gotta lie down.

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