Sunday, June 19, 2016

Five hour headstart: an outrageous thought experiment

As I read and the comments there, I am thinking of what would be a good way to help people. One outrageous idea in my mind is to give every adult a head start --  every adult gets a paycheck at minimum wage worth n hours of work each week, exempt from any income tax (federal, state, local, or otherwise) by law. I think a sweet spot would be n = 5. At fifteen dollars per hour, this translates to under $10.72 a day. Needless to say, such a program would be extremely expensive. If we extend it to every person in the United States, which we shall assume is about 320 million. It would cost almost $1.25 TRILLION DOLLARS at the above rate. Just to show how big this number is, the US Federal Tax Revenue for 2015 was $3.25 trillion.
By Farcaster at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Farcaster at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Even as a thought experiment, this is a little too expensive. Let us try to constrain ourselves a little here. According to Wikipedia, 19.4% of the population is fourteen years old or younger. Lets be conservative and estimate that 80% of the population is eighteen years old or older. If we only pay adults eighteen or over, we have limited ourselves under the one trillion dollar mark.

The key here is to make this available to everyone without any means testing at all. Of course, we can expect that there will be significant resistance from everywhere against this plan, even though it is just a thought experiment. If you have any thoughts, please feel free to write a comment.

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