Wednesday, December 03, 2014

O "Rendimento Básico Incondicional" não é um exercício teórico

One State Already Has a Basic Income Plan, por Jesse Walker (no blog da Reason):

I made a brief reference yesterday to the idea of a negative income tax or universal basic income: a single, unconditional cash payment aimed at keeping people out of poverty. (...) One way to sort those ideas is to separate the proposals in which the payments would supplant the existing welfare state from the ones that would just add one more program to the mix. (That's why Milton Friedman ended up opposing Richard Nixon's Family Assistance Plan, even though it had been inspired by Friedman's negative-income-tax proposal: Nixon's version would have been an add-on to the existing welfare state rather than a replacement for it.) Another notable distinction is between the people who would means-test the program and the ones who would just send a check to everyone. (That second division isn't a right/left split, by the way -- Friedman was a means-tester, while Charles Murray is in the checks-for-all camp.)


But I don't want to get into the weeds of weighing the competing proposals right now. I just want to note a fact that's oddly missing from a lot of these discussions: One state of the union has something similar to a basic income program already. (...)

That seems relevant to the policy discussion about income grants, doesn't it? Yet while the full-time campaigners for a guaranteed income are well aware of Alaska's system, the people who write about the idea elsewhere tend to ignore it. The liberal site Remapping Debate, to give an especially egregious example, did a big story on the push for a basic income in the '60s and '70s that concluded that those old proposals faded because "market devotees drowned out those who continued to believe that government has a vital role to play....By Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, the country in which [a basic income] had seemed mainstream a decade earlier looked considerably different." All of which is hard to square with the fact that such a program was adopted during the Reagan years, in a state with a Republican governor, as part of a political moment that saw the same state eliminate its personal income tax, and with an important assist from the Libertarian Party, which was a substantial political force in Alaska at the time. (There were Libertarian legislators in Juneau in those days, and the party was capable of drawing 15 percent of the vote in a gubernatorial election. The party supported the dividends on the grounds that sending the money to individual citizens was preferable to letting elected officials spend it.)

Three decades later, several states have established sovereign wealth funds like Alaska's, and with the fracking boom their number may soon grow. As of yet, no state has followed Alaska in distributing dividends to its citizens. But you shouldn't be surprised if you see a strong push in some of those jurisdictions for a system like the one adopted in Juneau. And if that happens, you shouldn't be surprised if the conversation about income grants in Washington continues to treat the idea as an esoteric intellectual exercise

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