Economic Security Beyond Jobs by Peter Barnes, www.onthecommons.org
Let's pay dividends to everyone from our common wealth
In Europe, there is growing interest in a minimum income that would be paid to all by the state. In the U.S., conservative author Charles Murray recently proposed a $10,000 guaranteed income, similar to Milton Friedman’s negative income tax, to replace welfare, food stamps, Social Security and Medicare. Here, OTC co-founder Peter Barnes, author of Capitalism 3.0, proposes commons-based income for all in addition to the existing safety net and separate from the federal budget. His proposal rests on the notion that common wealth belongs to everyone and that, as co-owners, we have a right to receive dividends.
There’s been much discussion of late about how to save America’s declining middle class. So why don’t we pay everyone some non-labor income? I’m talking about paying dividends to equity owners in good old capitalist fashion. Except that the equity owners in question aren’t owners of private wealth, they’re owners of common wealth. Which is to say, all of us.
A cushion of reliable income is a wonderful thing. It can help pay for basic necessities. It can be saved for rainy days or used to pursue happiness on sunny days. It can encourage people to take entrepreneurial risks, care for friends, or volunteer for community service.
Conversely, the absence of reliable income is a terrible thing. It heightens anxiety and fear. It diminishes our ability to cope with crises and transitions. It traps many families on the knife’s edge of poverty, and makes it harder for poor people to rise.
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