Perry Willis’ recent post distinguishes two alternative ways in which the state might transfer wealth to ordinary citizens:
- Dragnets, in which everyone receives the wealth, regardless of need
- Safety nets, in which only those who are in difficulty receive the wealth.
He characterizes Social Security and Medicare as dragnets, since virtually everyone is covered regardless of need. Costing 15% of wage and salary for typical workers, these are very expensive programs which might be cheaper if the affluent were excluded from receiving benefits. He also claims that “Dragnet programs usually have one other feature — fraud.”
He does not cite any example of a government-funded safety net, tho it seems that Medicaid, which is offered only to those who can meet some need-related criteria, would be a good example. Like any “need-based” government program, it presupposes an apparatus for monitoring everyone’s income from all sources. And does it have fraud? Take a look.
Perhaps the safety net isn’t much superior than the drag net. Is there a better approach? Of course. The citizens dividend does not take anything from wages and salaries, does not require an income-monitoring apparatus (altho it might require some kind of citizenship certification), and gives each of us a fair share of what belongs to all of us.