Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - May 11, 2014

Brian Gongol

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A modest proposal

Inequality is back in the news, thanks to the Vice President of the United States and Pope Francis. That's fine; it's a legitimate topic for public debate and discussion, assuming it's done thoughtfully. So here is a proposal to remedy inequality -- or at least to level the playing field sufficiently to give everyone an equal opportunity at success. Rather than waiting for old age to pay out lots of money in Social Security and Medicare benefits (estimated to have a lifetime value of about $600,000), why not give every American an endowment of $250,000 upon reaching their 20th birthday? Seriously.

The reasons are many: The arguments against each have their own flaws: Sure, this is more of a thought experiment now than a real policy proposal. But it's worth asking ourselves why we don't have a policy like this, or if not this particular policy, perhaps one that would answer some of the questions it raises. There are plenty of reasons why a one-time windfall early in life might be a far superior alternative to a more complex and expensive set of safety-net programs later in life.

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