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Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness
2017-02-23 09:53 am (UTC)
I played around with a federal tax revenue estimator recently, and what I found was that a $10k basic income could be balanced by raising the tax rate to around 50% across the board (above $20k), with a higher rate at $250k and higher still at $1 million. The $10k basic income balanced out with the tax increase at about $80k (so below $80k, everyone had more money than currently, and above about $140k, everyone had noticeably less money than currently). The estimator didn't allow tax rates above 75%, but taxing the 0.1% that last 25% more wouldn't raise that much more income. So a $10k UBI is (just barely) doable, and it certainly would make a huge improvement in the lives of poor and working class people in the US. My estimate was based on leaving all existing social welfare programs in place, as the work supplement of the EITC would help bring working poor people even further out of poverty and medicaid is obviously not replaced by $10k in cash for people who actually need medicaid. Arguably, you could replace food stamps and some other benefits with a tiny increase in the UBI, but targeted food security programs would still be a good thing for people at marginal incomes, even with an extra $10k.
However, I'm unconvinced it would solve the resentment problem. A large part of the resentment class seems to be the $50-100k range, and they would either benefit only a little from the UBI or would be harmed by the necessary new taxes. Even if they weren't harmed by it, their aspirational income class of $150-$250k (the "once my business really gets going..." range) would definitely be noticeably harmed by the UBI taxes, so their fantasies of being better off would be being crushed so that 'those people' could laze about living it up on free money. That would be easy bait for resentment propaganda!
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