Democratic National Committee Deputy Chairman Keith Ellison is a big fan of universal basic income, and he has some interesting ideas about how to move the country toward a more socialist system.
The U.S. representative from Minnesota recently outlined his thoughts about the government stepping in to take control of people’s financial lives during a forum in Minneapolis, where he rejected the notion that the government giveaways would leave folks with little motivation to contribute to society.
“Let me just say this about the issue of advancing technology, displacement of workers, and what we’re going to do about it,” Ellison said.
“I personally do think that universal basic income is an idea that has a lot of merit,” he said. “There are some pilot programs going on right now in the United States. Stockton, California is working with a program and there’s some different ways to work with it.
“As people are displaced, the truth is there’s still plenty of stuff for people to do,” Ellison continued. “I don’t think that universal basic income means people sit around. I think it means doing other things that are necessary.”
Ellison thinks people will volunteer to work in schools, document history, and contribute to other worthy causes if the government pays their way.
“There are things that are valuable and important that don’t necessarily have a ‘market value,’ that we should have people doing,” Ellison said. “Like in the 1930s, we paid artists to basically document the depression. We went out and had … writers document rural life in America. There were people who had been in slavery who were still living. During the depression, we paid people to go interview them so we could keep that knowledge and you can go to the Library of Congress and listen to them today because of this.”
“So I think it’s a very important idea,” he said of government provided income. “I’ve written on it and I’ve actually thought about having a community meeting on universal basic income because … for folks who don’t know anything about it there’s a lot of unanswered questions.”
One of the most pressing, no doubt, is how the government would collect enough taxes to cover the program if people aren’t working or contributing to the system.
Ellison provided some insight into that earlier this month when he offer the idea of a “maximum wage” – a concept that would levy heavy taxes on employers who earn much more than their employees.
“What I’m saying is, if you were to say, ‘Look, if you make more than 20 times more than people who actually make the products and do the services of your company, then we’re going to tax you more,’” he said.
“This idea that you can lead people in poverty as you are stacking up dead presidents like nobody’s business has got to come to an end,” Ellison said. “I mean, the CEO of McDonalds makes $9,000 an hour and there’s fighting for people to get $15 an hour.”
And not only are big business leaders greedy, they’re also trashing America, according to Ellison.
“These people, not only are they just screwing over workers, they’re screwing over the environment,” he claimed. “They’re like clear-cutting forests so that they can graze more cattle, and we all know beef production is extremely abusive on the environment.
“They’re like bad actors, you know, so I wasn’t joking about having a maximum wage.”