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James from Florida

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Idea: Earmark every citizen $100,000 in block entitlement funds with the option to waive in lieu of a reduced tax rate.

One of the most contentious debates we have in this country is the issue of how we should provide welfare assistance to our population. The idea of a social safety net is similar to that of public transportation. It is there for you to get on, get to where you need to go, and get OFF. Not to live on. We have now a situation in this country where citizens are not only allowed, but encouraged to live on the train of social welfare indefinitely. Here is my idea of how we provide social assistance in a responsible way:

Earmark every citizen of the United States 18 years or older $100,000 in block entitlement funds. These funds can be used for anything. Food, medical expenses, housing, what have you. Individuals will only be allowed to withdraw a maximum of $20,000 per year for general assistance, more in the event of an emergency. If an individual doesn't withdraw any of their block entitlement funds for ten years, the funds double to $200,000. If they don't touch it for 20 years, it increases to $300,000. So on and so forth. This will allot a specific, fair amount of general assistance to all citizens without encouraging dependence on the State. (No one will live comfortably on $20,000, especially since the funds will be finite). Those that waive their block funds will in exchange receive a flatter reduced effective tax rate for a ten year period.

Not only will it cost a mere 330 billion dollars for ten years, (which will be a dramatic cut in what we currently spend in the sum of entitlements), but it will encourage productivity and is, in my opinion, as responsible and fair as any entitlement system can get. I am open to feedback.

Topics: economics society
  • Nov 15 2012: Maybe the bulk of welfare goes to the rich. If only that guy with no legs and arms would get a job. Remember that this can get emotional very quickly. I realize that this question has involved considerable thought, but considder all options. Remember the human brain is klugy.
  • Nov 15 2012: I wouldn't go so far as to say it is "very hard" to survive off of welfare given the levels in which certain individuals are willing to survive for an indefinite period of time, not to mention a segment of that group's willingness to live off of money made in the black market in addition to government assistance. The requirements you are referring to pertain to unemployment benefits specifically. Various forms of subsidies are available to those that are deemed to be destitute. In any event, the point of my proposal is indeed to make it difficult to live off of welfare but to provide a clearly understood sum of assistance that is there for when someone is truly in need. Also, it provides fiscal clarity and an opportunity to actually save money since a large number of people will elect to opt out of the program in exchange for a tax rate deduction. We will begin to accumulate more money into the public coffers to be used through a self-targeting mechanism aimed at those that are truly in need and not simply choosing to be unproductive.
  • Nov 15 2012: "We have now a situation in this country where citizens are not only allowed, but encouraged to live on the train of social welfare indefinitely."

    Did you take that straight from right wing talking radio? Unless you are a single mother it's very hard to survive off of welfare in the United States (though it varies per state), there are also work requirements and you have to prove you are applying for jobs the whole time.