24 February 2016

The Minimum Income

This is part two of the Kallipolis series, which began with "Only Veterans Deserve to Vote".

One thing I've never understood was brought up in one of my favourite books Generation Kill. You go all over the world and poor people are skinny, yet in America, for some unknown reason, poor people are obese. That makes no sense. Why are poor people fatter than rich people in America? How can someone living entirely off the welfare possibly purchase or otherwise acquire enough food to actually become obese? That does not make sense.

You look at these Mexicans who come over to mow lawns or put up roofs (rooves?), they are 130, 140 pounds, and it's pure muscle. They get paid one shiny penny per hour and they work themselves to death and they have zero body fat. I like that (I like their work ethic, not that they are underpaid or die early). I greatly admire the amount of work they do. More poor people should be like that. One big problem is that there aren't enough good jobs for poor people. The roads are disintegrating, inner cities look like war zones, all this construction needs to be done but there's no money to pay for it because all the money goes into the pockets of bureaucrats.

I read somewhere that at least 80% of all money spent on welfare in the US goes to pay government salaries, not to actually help poor people. If all that money were redistributed from the bloated government then every adult in the US could be given $10,000 per year. I actually recorded (I have not uploaded or even thought to edit it yet) a 50 minute video defending the idea of replacing welfare with a minimum income. 1 January everyone gets a direct deposit of $10,000 into their bank account (this makes the bankers happy because of all the new customers they get). The people who won't work wouldn't work anyway under the current system, so you're not actually losing any additional money, poor people who do work and are making slave wages are automatically lifted out of poverty, it incentivises more people to invest more because they now have more to invest, and for the people who don't need the extra money you get it back with taxes, so you don't lose anything that way either.

Yes, but how do you pay for it? Welfare spending is (one of the contributing factors in) bankrupting America. It's a sunk cost. The government is spending that money anyway. If the money is already spent it might as well be spent on something useful. But I do have some ideas on how to eliminate government spending while maintaining the minimum income.

Step One: cut the size of government by 50% over the next 10 years. As I mentioned earlier, nearly all the spending on welfare is wasted on the government itself. Get rid of everyone in the federal welfare department and have the jobs reassigned to the Treasury without hiring any additional employees. "But you've just laid off thousands of people!" Yes, but remember, with the minimum income they're still getting paid anyway.

Step Two: Stop inflating the currency. The number one reason people are poorer today is because the money is worth less. In fact, the US Dollar is almost completely worthless, having lost over 90% of its original value (The British Pound, by contrast, has lost only about 10% of its original value). People are talking about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but if the value of the Dollar had not been destroyed by inflation than the current $7 minimum wage would be worth about $23 an hour. Here's a real world example of inflation. 100 years ago you could take a $20 gold coin, worth exactly $20 USD, and have a finely tailored suit made. Today you can still use that same gold coin to get a finely tailored suit made, but the gold and the suit now both cost $2,000 USD. The gold coin and the suit are still worth exactly the same, the US Dollar is just worth 100 times less.

Step Three: Stop the war on drugs. Legalise and Tax. I read about 8 years ago that if weed was legalised the government could tax it and make $400 billion per year. That right there is equivalent to federal welfare spending, just with weed. You break the backs of the cartels, empty the prisons, and make a huge windfall in taxes simultaneously. That's win-win-win. That's a Charlie Sheen level of winning.

Step Four: Stop policing the world. There are 50,000 US troops in Germany and another 50,000 in Japan even though we beat them 70 years ago. Der Fuhrer is not coming back. The Reds are not going to pour through the Fulda Gap with "more tanks than God" and make it to the Rhine in a week. What the hell are we doing there?

Step Five: Stop the waste in general. SpaceX has spent about $500 million on its Dragon capsule and has already tested it and it works beautifully. The only thing holding them back is red tape. The official NASA government contract for the Orion system, which was obsolete when it was first proposed, and has not gotten off the paper yet, is $17 billion. What's wrong with this picture? The government has tried to produce a POS rocket, spent a load of time, wasted a tremendous amount of money, and hasn't made anything. The SpaceX guys see there is a huge market for commercial spaceflight design AND BUILD something that works perfectly for a fraction of the cost and they're finished already! And why is government so damn slow and why does it wast so much money? It's just like the welfare problem. People see government as a means to line their pockets because they can't do real work producing something. Government is nothing more than one giant slush fund.

I'm not saying government has no purpose. I'm not a wackjob looser utopian fanatic who brays about "the free market" solving all the world's problems. I don't want Apple to put their logo on the Moon even if they pay a trillion dollars for it. I don't want ExxonMobil to drill for oil in Yellowstone. I don't want Blackwater policing US streets (and I don't want to see the friendly-looking police I remember as a kid dressed like mercenaries with machine guns and black ski masks either). I think a world with three or four nuclear powers is a much safer world, and I see nothing wrong with bombing Iran or Saudi Arabia into submission to kill their nuclear ambitions. If a million Iranians die that's better than five billion people who would die in a nuclear war. Stopping nuclear proliferation is not policing the world, it is the calculus of survival. Nuclear weapons represent such a grave threat that they are awarded a special category. Policing the world necessarily involves nation building. Blowing up reactors and then hauling ass is not nation building, it's limited war. The government should police the streets, put out the fires, and kick ass in limited, defensive wars (keeping Iran from getting nukes is defending the US). The government should maintain protected wilderness areas and make people like BP accountable for releasing millions of tons of oil. And the government can do all this in a much more efficient way than it does now. And being efficient starts with cutting jobs and eliminating corruption. I'm not saying everyone needs to be perfectly moral, although if my only veterans get to vote scenario was adopted that would contribute greatly to the morality problem of government (not because veterans are inherently moral in themselves, but because history and moral philosophy will become a mandatory part of their training).

And I think all that can be done while implementing my minimum income system. I'd love to say more but I can no longer see the top of the page, so I'll save that for a part three.