The Lumberjack student newspaper
Illustration by Dakota Cox

A redistribution of wealth is in order

It’s time to seriously consider a universal basic income

Since the dawn of mankind there have been the rich and the poor – in order for a few to thrive, many must suffer, or so it goes.

March 16 has marked the anniversary of the first shelter in place orders being put into effect in the United States. Millions of breadwinners remain out of work as different regions of the country continue to loosen and tighten restrictions on businesses according to their COVID-19 threat level tier.

This month’s stimulus distribution brings the total up to only $3200 of support the government has provided each qualifying non-dependant since COVID-19 first spread to the States, with an additional $2500 for each dependent of their own.

With the median American household annually earning $68,000 and the 29% of Americans that make up the lower class earning $25,000 a year, it’s clear that the compensation offered by the American government is both inadequate and unsustainable. The solution to so much of the suffering that exists in the world today is excruciatingly simple, if only we made it a top priority: We need a universal basic income.

Nearly one third of the wealth in America is currently concentrated among the top 1% of the population, with the majority of that existing in the top .01%. The bottom 50% of America’s population, meanwhile, lives almost exclusively paycheck to paycheck, owning only 2% of the country’s collective wealth.

The income inequality gap in American is undeniably disgusting with billionaires collecting fortunes in interest they’ll never spend while millions of Americans walk around hungry and hundreds of thousands go to sleep without a roof over their head. The reality outside of our cushy first world existence, however, is even more disturbing. As of 2017, 1% of the human population officially owns over half the wealth in the entire world.

The problem with economic systems is that it’s impossible to create a separation of money and power. Those who have one have the other and almost without exception, they have no intentions of letting them go. This creates a litany of problems, as it becomes impossible to make objective decisions when you have a personal investment in the outcome. In the same vein of thought, it’s much easier to ignore issues when they don’t pertain directly to your life. This results in our world’s leaders sweeping many of our most pressing issues under the rug while contributions from corrupt corporations to political campaigns all but ensure a system that operates to serve the rich and ignore the poor.

Instituting an aggressive tax strategy on high income earners to establish a universal basic income would go beyond mitigating much of the suffering experienced by low-income individuals, potentially restoring some balance to the powers at be. By stripping the rich of some of their wealth and redistributing it to those in need, more people will have reasonable access to the opportunities this country claims to offer, creating a greater potential to achieve the “right” kind of progress. Unfortunately, in America especially, progress is sought out for the mere sake of progress, or more likely, motivated by monetary gains. Too often, people are blinded in the pursuit of power and lead away from their intended paths. By limiting returns on investments in the highest tax bracket, millionaires and billionaires would become encouraged to seek progress in other areas of their lives, potentially creating a more well-rounded and generally happier population.

Humankind is doomed to exist in a perpetual state of inequality. There will always be a rich population among us, however, that doesn’t mean millions must continue to suffer as a result. The time has come to abandon the every man for himself attitude that plagues our world. Every human being deserves an opportunity to pursue the life that makes them happy and no one man hoarding a fortune should stand in their path.

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