We need a basic income for all ages of Americans because there is no age limit on poverty and income inequality.
For example, 41% of American children; or 29.8 million kids, were on the brink of poverty in 2016, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health claims. Disturbingly, the younger a child is the more likely he or she is to be poor.
Moreover, work is not helping families escape poverty. In fact, the Mailman School estimates 53.5% of low-income children and 32% of poor children have working parents.
Frighteningly, just having kids puts a family at a higher risk for poverty. Tellingly, women’s salaries fall by 7% for each child they have, University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Michelle Budig calculates.1
Nor are just children at risk for poverty. Frighteningly, 7.2 million American seniors were living in poverty in 2017, The Kaiser Family Foundation calculates.
A Basic Income for All ages could fight poverty
An obvious solution to this dilemma is a basic income for all ages. However, most basic income proposals begin at age 18 and end at 65.
Thus, these proposals leave both senior citizens and families with children out of the basic income. Hence, those who need the basic income most will not receive it.
Consequently, my suggestion is to pay every citizen; and legal resident, of the United States $500 a month in basic income. I chose the $500 number because it is enough to help, but not enough to deter people from working. Importantly, the basic income will feature a yearly cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) so it will grow with prices.
The only criteria will be that the person’s income is under $62,175 a year. To explain, that figure was the median household income in the United States in June 2018 according to Sentier Research.
A Universal Basic Income for all Ages
Age, employment, and marital status will have no bearing on the basic income. Thus, it will be close to a Universal Basic Income; or UBI, because most people will receive it.
Moreover, we can avoid creating additional bureaucracy by paying the basic income as a monthly tax credit or distributing it with Social Security payments. Hence, most people will sign up for basic income when they file their tax return or apply for Social Security.
Families with kids will receive the basic income as a tax credit for each parent, adult, guardian, or child. Meanwhile, Seniors will receive the basic income with their Social Security.
Thus the basic income will have no stigma attached to it. Therefore, middle-class families will eagerly sign up for basic income and happily receive it.
A Basic Income for All Ages will help the Middle Class
The basic income will fight poverty and encourage people to have children by easing the income loss from having kids.
For instance, a couple with two kids could receive $2,000 a month, or $24,000 a year. Thus that family’s income will increase to $86,175 a year, if it makes the median household income.
Moreover, the basic income will help many families rise out of poverty and others avoid falling out of the middle class. Groups this arrangement can help include teachers, gig economy workers, entrepreneurs, families, stay-at-home moms, artists, single parents, and small business owners.
American poverty is Getting Worse
America needs a basic income for all ages because income inequality and poverty are getting worse.
Disturbingly, many groups that were formerly middle; or even upper class, are now falling into poverty. In fact, author Alissa Quart discovered college professors, teachers, nurses, journalists, college graduates, and even lawyers among America’s new poor.
In detail, Quart blames income inequality, government policies, technology, and wage stagnation for the trend in her book, Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America. Frighteningly, Quart believes the present American economy can no longer support a traditional middle class.
A Basic Income can Help America Survive
Thus we need to consider radical solutions like a basic income for all ages. Moreover, I believe poverty will rip America part without such radical solutions.
Historically, no country could sustain capitalism and democracy with high levels of poverty. Past countries like the Kingdom of France, the Roman Republic, and Czarist Russia collapsed into revolution and dictatorship because of poverty.
America will repeat the same pattern if we do not address poverty. A basic income for all ages could help America avoid those countries’ fate.