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The Panama Papers Prove It: America Can Afford a Universal Basic Income


The Panama Papers Prove It: America Can Afford a Universal Basic Income

Colin Holtz

We should all be able to agree: no one should be poor in a nation as wealthy as the US. Yet nearly 15% of Americans live below the poverty line. Perhaps one of the best solutions is also one of the oldest and simplest ideas: everyone should be guaranteed a small income, free from conditions.


Equalizing taxation, cutting corporate welfare programs, and eliminating bailout liabilities by restoring New Deal regulations and breaking up too-big-too-fail banks (and other companies) will fund everything Sanders is proposing plus the basic income.


"The upper class: keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class: pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there...just to scare the shit out of the middle class."
-George Carlin




"Some [...] object to it going to everyone"

When we are ready to make a real push for UBI, hopefully under Sanders' presidency for then it would be reasonably realistic, it will be very important to emphasize that it should go to everyone. That is a key element to the strength of the idea. In fact, UBI usually stands for Unconditional Basic Income; it is given to everyone without conditions. Not only does this simplify the idea, avoiding the need for a bureaucracy that means-tests who can get it and who can't, but more importantly it puts everybody on the same boat: Bill Gates gets it and the street drunk gets it too, the same $ amount to each. In this way nobody can be pointed at as "receiving welfare" or "being on the government's dole", etc. The difference will be that some people can frugally live on it, whereas others will chose to supplement it with additional money they will earn in traditional jobs or businesses, and then be able to splurge a little. Both modalities will enjoy social respectability.

Thanks for mentioning UBI, in connection to the Panama papers. We should mention it at every opportunity. It's inevitable (automation is forcing it), so the sooner we implement it, the better. Also, it will remove incentives in some communities to spoil the environment only for the sake of jobs (fracking).


The looting class.


100 percent agreement. Everyone means everyone even if it a person with 1 billion dollars.

Added to that it should not have restrictions as in "You must take drug tests to receive this " or "If you have a criminal record you lose this income".


That is a really good idea. Similarly, I suggest that we replace the word "elite" when discussing the super-wealthy.

There are positive connotations among the meanings associated with "elite" that are misleading in a discussion of a bunch of greedy bastards, IMHO.

Yep, I am proposing that the word "elite" exemplifies a rhetorical "frame" that does not suit our purposes well. (With a tip of the hat to SiouxRose, who has been known to point out a frame or two hereabouts.)

There are many words that more appropriately represent what I think most of us mean when addressing the topic at hand. Examples include: "hoarder," "scrooge," "skinflint," "piker," "miser," "parasite," "pig," "cresomaniac," "plutomaniac," and "moneymaniac." (I made that last one up, I think.) My personal favorite is "mammonist." Other suggestions welcome...

Here's an example from the article:

The Tax Justice Network estimates the global elite are sitting on $21–32tn of untaxed assets.

(Damn, those are BIG numbers!) To me, the predatory humanoids that accumulated a stash that size, hid it from the appropriate taxing authorities, and begrudge the rest us a decent life, are anything but "elite." So a better way to phrase that sentence might be:

The Tax Justice Network estimates the global parasitic spawn-of-Satan super-rich are sitting on $21–32tn of untaxed assets."

OK, that might be a little "over the top," but you get the drift...

Also, while I'm on this rant: Same thing about the word "earn." Nothing burns my biscuits like hearing or reading that some corporate CEO earned $45 million last year. "Earned," my ass. "Skimmed," "scammed," "swiped," "made off with," etc., but nobody has ever "earned" that kind of money.



i've taken to saying "looted." i think it captures the essence pretty well.


... and precisely WHO determines those financial priorities.

If there were a small guaranteed income, it would likely reduce crime, the black market in drugs, prostitution and all of the ways desperate people behave in order to eke out their survival needs.

Similarly, if there WERE a truly universal single-payer health care delivery system, home insurance (with insurance against harm to persons on a particular property), car insurance (with insurance to cover the medical costs of the vehicle owner and anyone else involved in an accident), and employer insurance (for accidents on the job and such) would all fall under this umbrella and become unnecessary... but for those who insist upon "Cadillac" plans.

(Raydelcamino was first to point out these overlaps in a comment he made some time ago. However, it remains valid and shows how the costs in the existing system are over-inflated and completely inefficient but to the singular purpose of fattening the coffers of the already obscenely wealthy.)


Most countries today are what I refer to as lootacracies.


30 or so trillion in personal wealth, many times more than that in corporate. Pfizer damn near got away with 35 billion alone. But what we should really do is give everyone 100,000 a year basic income, and then tax the hell out of every one (including corporations) that makes more than 10X that. And end the "limited liability" scam for once and for all, thereby ensuring that small cooperatives own the means of production. Bernie is a conservative!


We could have America the Beautiful if we worked at it from both sides. The top U.S. tax bracket should be 75 per cent; in 1953 during the Eisenhower presidency it was 91 per cent. We ought to decrease the military budget to what is necessary to defend the country. In other words, dismantle the military empire-- the nearly 1000 military facilities in 150 countries, in addition to the occupations of middle eastern states. Finally, a medical care system analogous to Medicare for everyone. Bernie Sanders is showing us that the peoples' political will is there. Go for it, America!!


The argument against a higher income tax is that it would "discourage working" by those taxed at that rate.
Recognize that as a nonsensical argument. Canada has a marginal tax rate over 45% and even higher in some provinces and has had this rate since the World War II. The U.S. had a much higher rate and the same goes in many countries.

The other argument is that the 'job creators' will create jobs if you let them get rich. The counter to that nonsense is that the poor will create jobs for the makers of houses and apartments and hamburgers and socks and shoes and consumer goods of all kinds and pay taxes and debts if they are able to have the money to do so. They do not need to have the rich gobble the money in the way that the horses eat lots of oats so that some pass through and trickle and plop down for the sparrows.