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Manitoba Basic Income Experiment in 1970s Boosted Health, Did Not Foster Dependency

When I've helped people do their income taxes, I've pointed to the total tax (Line 63 on this year's 1040) and said, "That's your price for being an American."

But what if taxes worked the other way? What if the IRS sent each of us money, just for being an American? Just for being human?

That's the idea of the guaranteed basic income. Newsweek published a useful article on the topic last month, an essay that got my crazy cousin Aaron and I wrassling about whether taxation is theft. Betsy Isaacson explains that writing every needy household a check, or even every household, could be cheaper than funding all of our current social assistance programs:

In 2012, the federal government spent $786 billion on Social Security and $94 billion on unemployment. Additionally, federal and state governments together spent $1 trillion on welfare of the food stamp variety. Adding those costs together, that's $1.88 trillion. This number shows no signs of falling—in fact, the number of people seeking social services each year is increasing, as is the rate of homelessness, and as the baby boomer generation ages, more and more will need the support of Social Security.

In switching over to a universal basic income, the books will not only stay balanced—they might even move into the black. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 115,227,000 households in the U.S. Split $1.88 trillion among all these households and each one gets $16,315.62. In other words, if you turned the welfare system into a $15,000 basic income payment, you’d end up saving over $150 billion (or $1,315.62 per American household).

The basic proposal can be tweaked, of course, so that the system makes a bit more sense. Households making over $100,000 per year probably get by just fine on their own. Cut them out of the equation, and you would end up with a $20,000 basic income check for the remaining households, while still netting the government some nice savings [Betsy Isaacson, "How to Fix Poverty: Write Every Family a Basic Income Check," Newsweek, 2014.12.26].

But if you just hand people money, won't they sit around doing nothing, lose their edge, and become dependent on the government?

That's not what happened in Dauphin, Manitoba, during a trial of a basic income program in the 1970s. Dauphin is a Madison SD-sized town four and a half hours from Winnipeg, on the edge of the northern big-lake wilderness. From 1974 to 1979, the lefty-provincial government and the Canadian federal government shared costs to provide monthly checks to poor folks in Dauphin, guaranteeing them a minimum living wage. "Mincome," they called it. The program kept a thousand families above the poverty line.

Zi-Ann Lum details the program in this December 30, 2014, Huffington Post article. She finds research showing Mincome recipients stayed healthier:

In 2011, [University of Manitoba reseracher Dr. Evelyn] Forget released a paper distilling how Mincome affected people’s health using census data. She found overall hospitalization rates (for accidents, injuries, and mental health diagnoses) dropped in the group who received basic income supplements.

By giving a community’s poorest residents enough to lift their incomes above the poverty line, there was a measurable impact on the health care system [Zi-Ann Lum, "This City Eliminated Poverty, and Nearly Everyone Forgot About It," Huffington Post, 2014.12.30].

Dr. Forget (this is Canada: I'll bet it's pronounced for-ZHAY) also offers anecdotal evidence that Mincome's no-strings payments did not cause lazy dependency; they actually supported self-improvement and independence:

One woman called to say she remembered the Mincome project. In the early 1970s, she was a single mother raising two girls on welfare – then calledMothers’ Allowance. She said she had always been treated respectfully, but there was one thing case workers said that bothered her.

“She said she wanted to get some job training. They told her to go home and take care of her kids and they would take care of her,” explained Forget.

When the opportunity to transfer from Mothers’ Allowance to Mincome came along, the woman took it. With no restrictions on how she could spend the money she was given, she signed up for training and got a part-time job at the local library which eventually became a full-time career.

“So when I talked to her, she was incredibly proud of having modelled a different kind of life for her daughters,” Forget said. The retired librarian invited Forget to visit her home. Inside, she was shown pictures from her two girls’ graduations, mother beaming with pride [Lum, 2014.12.30].

Basic income wins support from some conservatives as well as liberals. Isaacson's numbers show basic income could save the government money. Lum's story shows that a basic income guaranteed by the government can lead to better health without the dependence you might expect.

Governor Dennis Daugaard proposes spending $1.1 billion on Social Services this year, another $92 million on Health, $199 million on Human Services. Suppose we took half of that money, $696 million, and simply wrote checks to every household in the state in poverty. Census says about 323,000 households, 14.1% poverty rate... that's about 45,500 households. Divide up that money—$15,300 per household for the year.

That one paragraph far oversimplifies the heavy policy lifting we'd have to do to determine what programs we could cut, what federal dollars require we keep, how we identify and track income in the recipient households... but hey! Manitoba did it in the 1970s, and they didn't have smartphones and laptops to take into the field. Anyone up for a serious statewide experiment in social welfare?


  1. Tim 2015.01.02

    Daugaard and his ilk support this? No way, pulling oneself up by the f'ing bootstraps means on your own with no help, unless you are a corporation, farmer or rancher of course.

  2. JeniW 2015.01.02

    The Manitoba program appears to validate Maslow's Law of Hierarchy:

    It is hard for people to be very productive when they are focused on survival. Each one of us experience that when we are sick and just trying to make it through the day.

  3. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.02

    As a Liberal/Progressive/Socialist, I have just one thing to say:

    GO FOR IT!

  4. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.02

    Various social aid systems include an extensive array of requirements, restrictions, conditions, limitations, and more. The bureaucracy that weighs them down is necessary to enforce all that crapola.

    The people who staff those systems and the folks who benefit from them frequently become cynical and dispirited due to the nature of the system. Based on my experiences from both sides of it, few things would be more beneficial for all involved than abolishing the system entirely, while replacing it with a guaranteed mincome.

    *My sister and brother Madizens, while discussing this, remember what a tiny percentage of the recipients are undeserving - less than 5%.

  5. Ben Cerwinske 2015.01.02

    It's an interesting idea. But there's a big difference between doing this in a small town and a country. The next step would be to see if the whole province of Manitoba could pull this off. I'm guessing there would be a deeper sense of camaraderie and accountability in a small town which would help promote responsibility. This idea would be great though for all those individuals and families who would use the money well.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.02

    Maslow! Good point, JeniW. Wouldn't that thought fall along the same lines of how financial stress is one of the biggest causes of divorce? If you can't meet your basic needs—food, shelter, security—it's hard to keep love going. Not impossible, and poverty isn't an excuse for being unloving, but it's asking a lot of any human being. Why not use the vast wealth of our advanced society to ensure that everyone has those basic needs met so they can focus on their higher needs?

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.02

    Deb, the articles I looked at pertaining to basic income programs recognized what you point out: the bureaucracy necessary to check all those conditions for traditional welfare and enforce the rules is huge and perhaps not worth the effort compared to basic income. Imposing all those conditions burns up a lot of resources that could be used for other purposes.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.02

    Ben, I wonder: might it be easier to do basic income on a large scale? Is there some scale effect to be had in a program like this?

    Accountability—that is an interesting observation. Perhaps there are social pressures that would keep folks in rural, arguably isolated town the size of Madison or Spearfish from spending their government check profligately. Is there any way around that in larger communities that may not have such social pressures? Could we count on people to use their good sense, and accept that there will always be irresponsible use of such help in any program among that less than 5% that Deb mentions?

    As for scaling up, consider that Alaska does a small version of basic income with its oil-generated Permanent Fund. In 2014, it issued every full-time resident a check for $1,884. The Reuters article at that link says those annual payments keep thousands of Alaskans out of poverty and stimulate the economy.

  9. jerry 2015.01.02

    This is a brilliant idea and has been around for some time as you note. It is also international in a sense and here is what I know about it in Europe.

    This process is what will make the world a whole lot easier to find ways of peace and working relationships that are more meaningful. We would still have the productivity, as their would be jobs. Those jobs would be to work together to solve the issues that are destroying us.

  10. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.02

    Jerry, thanks for the link to attac. I haven't heard of it before. I like that the aim is to "alter" globalization, not stop it. attac wants to make globalization Fair. That's an extremely laudable goal, and necessary for the future of everyone on the planet, and the planet itself.

  11. Les 2015.01.02

    So it's not just about doing your duty, Jerry? About time. The war machine has profited off both sides for centuries.

  12. BIll DIthmer 2015.01.03

    Won't work

    The Blindman

  13. John Hess 2015.01.03

    It may not create dependence in the first generation of recipients since their value system has already been ingrained, but over time there will be a shift. If people learn they can sit on their butt and do almost nothing they'll do it!!! On more than one occasion I've seen this in a mirror.

    Then throw in a power element. Male Kuwaiti citizens get oil money and don't want to do any work. They become lazy lions who often abuse the foreign workers.

    A lot of nice ideas just don't pan out. Human nature isn't pretty.

  14. mike from iowa 2015.01.03

    The vast wealth of our advanced society sits untaxed in offshore bank accounts until wingnuts get enough votes to allow the gubmint's tax revenues to return untaxed.

  15. jerry 2015.01.03

    Of course you are correct Blindman, it won't But it will work in all other places of the industrialized world. Here you go, in Switzerland for another that will put it to there parliament this year. Switzerland, the country where everyone is armed, yup, that place. The place that makes the NRA all warm and fuzzy.

    "Despite tentative bipartisan support for basic income in the U.S, the concept has gained greatest traction outside America. Switzerland has become the first country to hold a referendum on basic income at a national level; in 2015, the Swiss Parliament will vote on whether to extend a basic income of 2,500 Swiss francs (about $2,600) per month to every Swiss resident. In India, meanwhile, after the success of a 20-village pilot program in Madhya Pradesh, a state in central India, the federal government of India announced in 2013 it was moving to replace 29 aid programs with direct cash transfers."

    It is clear that our current way out of poverty is a huge failure that is going to keep getting worse. Here is the solution.

  16. John Hess 2015.01.03

    Some days I feel I might be a closet-case Republican. Ah no, probably not, but it's just not all one way or the other. The gray is more meaningful.

    Better go off to work now. Then again it might be a nice day to loaf. Till it gets cold anyway. Where does one go for the free government money???

  17. Jenny 2015.01.03

    Why wouldn't it work here, Jerry and Dithmer? We all know that there would be a percentage of stupid people using it on drugs, alcohol and gambling and lord knows what else, but I could see many, many low income families feeling a whole new sense of financial security that they had never had before.
    The majority of people would probably pay off their bills, put it towards an education, and fix the car. Who wouldn't appreciate that? It mentioned in that Manitoba study that children's test scores went up also b/c more moms didn't work as many hours an had more time for their children and less psychiatric visits to the ER, less domestic violence cases. Amazing what a little financial security can do.

  18. Jenny 2015.01.03

    I could actually see a progressive state like MN trying this in one of its towns.
    Still the best way to get out of poverty is the birth control pill and a condom.

  19. Barry Smith 2015.01.03

    It will have to be tested and studied and shown to work in these more advanced nations for at least 50 years before it will even be considered here.

  20. Steve Sibson 2015.01.03

    "Wouldn't that thought fall along the same lines of how financial stress is one of the biggest causes of divorce?"

    Divorce increasing financial stress, not solve it, unless you are a woman with custody of the kids. The biggest cause of divorce is the New Age agenda.

  21. jerry 2015.01.03

    My tongue was planted firmly in my cheek when I said that. Of course it would work here and much better than we are right now.

  22. jerry 2015.01.03

    Be a military contractor and wave the flag John Hess. They will lavish you with hookers, drugs and moolah. The best part about it is that you only have to steal.

  23. Steve Sibson 2015.01.03

    "We would still have the productivity, as their would be jobs."

    Jerry, many would stop working if they get a pay check anyway. Instead there would be mass unemployment. This provides support that the idea is part of the New Age agenda:

    To weaken the moral fiber of the nation and to demoralize workers in the labor class by creating mass unemployment. As jobs dwindle due to the post industrial zero growth policies introduced by the Club of Rome, the report envisages demoralized and discouraged workers resorting to alcohol and drugs. The youth of the land will be encouraged by means of rock music and drugs to rebel against the status quo, thus undermining and eventually destroying the family unit. In this regard, the Committee commissioned Tavistock Institute to prepare a blueprint as to how this could be achieved. Tavistock directed Stanford Research to undertake the work under the direction of Professor Willis Harmon. This work later became known as the "Aquarian Conspiracy".

    Then comes population control. The target is 1 billion worldwide, with half being Asian and Chinese because they are used to doing what they are told. Where does that put most Americans? Six feet under.

  24. larry kurtz 2015.01.03

    You should have known this post was Sibby bait, Cory. Here is an additional take on charity done the right way.

    "If you were trying to compare giving cows and training with giving cash, you could take the same approach. Give people in one village cows and training; in the next village over, take the money you would have spent on cows and training and just give it to people."

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.03

    John, Alaska has made Permanent Fund payments for a generation, since 1982. I know we're talking just a fraction of the basic income amounts discussed above, but has this free money from state government made Alaskans noticeably lazier? (The door swings wide for Palin jokes.)

  26. Steve Sibson 2015.01.03

    This idea would not work in third world countries where there was little industrialization. Seems this discussion centers around the idea being implemented in industrialized countries. Could that mean the aim is to move past industrialization?

  27. larry kurtz 2015.01.03

    Sibby makes a good point: one result of such an initiative could mean slowing or even reversing global warming.

  28. Jenny 2015.01.03

    How do you do it living on $15,000/yr, Sib? Most people would not stop working, since it's not a living wage. To a lot of motivated people, it would actually be an incentive to get that education that is needed today for that living wage job.

  29. Jenny 2015.01.03

    Actually, there would probably be record numbers of Americans off their Prozac if they were given financial security like this.

  30. Jenny 2015.01.03

    The 1% give themselves bonuses all the time with OUR money, so it would just be reverse American capitalism to me.

  31. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.03

    I just looked at the weather in Dauphin. As I suspected it was chilly, a balmy -22 F.

    40 years ago people both here in this country and in Canada lived vastly different lives. They had much lower expectations from their everyday lives then people living in those areas do today. I can set hear, without worrying about contradiction, and tell you that what passed as basic services in 1973, would just piss most americans off today.

    If they had to be content with heat, food, and electricity, that leaves a big hole where all the important things, to them anyway, should be. Is internet basic? How about cable tv? Xboxes, Play Stations, and McDonald's? Human nature says that less will never be more when describing basic.

    Now for the main reason it wont work. In 1973 Canada experienced roughly the same type of economy as we did here. Of course their dollar was weaker then was ours, but they kept pace. At that time a dollar in either country bought roughly seven times as much as it does today. Thats right it takes seven dollars today to equal the buying power of just one then. Canadas population went from 3,000,000 in 1967, to over 37,000,000 today. Our own population rose from 203,000,000 to 320,000,000 in that same period.

    Most crazy conservatives dont understand that our populations have grown this much and continue to legislate like they did back then. More people means more cars, more trucks, fewer trains, worse infrastructure, and a bigger strain and drain on the environment then ever before. And yet engineers continue to under engineer everything from roads to water systems in the hope that, I dont know what the hell their hoping.

    People need a job guarantee, not a money guarantee. Pride in ownership can only be developed when the money is earned.

    I have known a few rich kids in my life. Not one of them appreciated the material things that they were given. But when their folks made them start to earn their own money, they started to understand what it took to get the things they had been given all those years.

    Lets see how this would really work. Lets take, oh lets see here, 535 people. Now lets give them x amount of money and pirks, and tell them that they have a job if they want it, but that they dont have to do anything if they dont want to.

    I'm sorry that would be our congress, "never mind."

    If you really want to help people start with single payer health and a positive jobs program. Thats all they need.

    The Blindman

  32. John Hess 2015.01.03

    People tend to be their worst enemy: Buying an expensive car or having another child etc they can't afford. Popping a pill is the "easy" answer for the anxiety they bring to their life rather than making good decisions.

    What's happened to accountability???

  33. bearcreekbat 2015.01.03

    Whether one thinks this will work appears to depend on his or her view of human nature. I am with Jenny on that point. I also feel sorry for those who have so little faith in our fellow human beings.

  34. bearcreekbat 2015.01.03

    Another thought - how we see others might be a reflection of how we view ourselves.

  35. mike from iowa 2015.01.03

    If you want "free" gubmint money you better be born filthy rich.

  36. mike from iowa 2015.01.03

    Cory-Alaskans get a small PF check each year,ususally less than a thousand bucks. Big Awl receives PF checks of close to 2 billion from whitey wingnuts in Alaska each year.

  37. Steve Sibson 2015.01.03

    "Most people would not stop working, since it's not a living wage."

    "Actually, there would probably be record numbers of Americans off their Prozac if they were given financial security like this."

    Jenny, pick a lane.

    Larry, you are right the environmentalism movement is part of the post-industrial movement.

  38. John Hess 2015.01.03

    If Sarah Palin is any reflection of Alaska policies nuff said. I wouldn't trust that woman with my dog.

  39. Steve Sibson 2015.01.03

    "so it would just be reverse American capitalism to me"

    The capitalists are behind this movement Jenny. It is called "technocracy". We move from industrialism to technological advances where the robots do much of the work. Once the system is in place, then the free lunches become a problem and the population control phase begins.

  40. larry kurtz 2015.01.03

    Controlling the white population makes sense.

  41. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.03

    " has this free money from state government made Alaskans noticeably lazier?"

    Cory, that money was never free and you know it. The amount changes every year and I've seen it as high as $3000. That money comes from the agreement the oil companies made with the state in exchange for the damage the pipelines caused, and drilling rights to millions of acres. Hardly a government funded program, just good old money for products.

    You would be surprised how many people from "the lower 48," own commerical fishing sites, and spend just enough time while fishing and making money to stay legal resedents os Alaska so they can collect their money. Some of these people make over $200,000 during fishing season so whats a few cold days before or after fishing season?

    The Blindman

  42. Jenny 2015.01.03

    Sibby, do you really know and understand what it means to live a life with dignity? As a Christian, you sound like you don't give people the benefit of the doubt. You see the worst in people. As an agnostic, I strive to see the best in people. At times it has been very hard to do this, but I still try to do that.

  43. leslie 2015.01.03

    hess, "accountability" is possible with perfect health, other than that , it is about as reliable as "fairness" for everyone, is.

  44. Steve Sibson 2015.01.03

    " do you really know and understand what it means to live a life with dignity?"

    Jenny, it does not include having a free lunch so I can spend all day practicing hedonism that includes sexual immorality and drug abuse. I suppose agnostics would be OK with that, but not Christians.

  45. larry kurtz 2015.01.03

    Sibby describes Paul of Tarsus to a tee!

  46. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.03

    BCB, my view of human nature comes directly from my experiences with humans and the nature of their spending habits.

    Until six months ago we spent ten years paying off a loan. During that time we had about $1100 a month for basics. We didnt buy anything but food, insurance, electricity, gas for cooking and the jeep. We also made the decision to stay at home.

    While we were staying home everyone around us, without regard to wealth, race, or employment, had to be on the move at all times. We didnt spend the night in Rapid after shopping, we didnt make it to The Central States Fair, the Calf Show, The LNI, or even to a movie during those ten years. We lived basic, for now days, and nobody else seemed to be trying to stay within their money making capabilities, nobody.

    Face it, human nature has always been about wanting more for less, or there wouldnt be any reason to put anything on sale. Human nature means pushing the envelope when it comes to how much you want as compared to how much you get. And human nature, no matter how much you want to deny it, means looking out for number one, and your family.

    That is the difference between normal and living in a commune. Sharing cheap whiskey and ditch weed is ok, but you dont want everyone drinking your $250 bottle or Crown or helping themselves to your $100 a quarter oz of medical grade.

    Heres my point. Economy's are driven not set on. The economy grows because people want to better their lives. Unfortunately, it has been proven many times in the past, that they want those things way before they can afford them. That is human nature.

    The Blindman

  47. Jenny 2015.01.03

    Sibby, you are already giving free lunches to the 1% and have been for years. Actually it's even less than than 1/2 of the one percenters that own 90% of America's wealth now. That Obama that you and all the 'Pubs claim is a liberal socialist has been very good to the ruling class.
    Those startling statistics I mentioned above are true and if you don't believe I can some reputable studies that prove that.

  48. John Hess 2015.01.03

    We use words like moderate, balanced, but after a while they're just words. The people that are, are, but those who aren't delude themselves they are too yet all their money is gone. Sure, there are medical problems and things truly beyond one's control, but beyond that studies show time and again money doesn't bring happiness. It could bring stability but that means using restraint. Sorry but I see this time and again. People need their stupid SUV or whatever it is. Do a little reading on how little people have saved. Those that take pride in living within their means aren't held up as a standard any more but chided for their old car or whatever they lack. In our disposable world we buy not for quality or to take care of what we have. Ask the people who work in stores. They'll tell you parents buy all this cheap China crap to get their kids to shut up. It's probably in the trash the following week.

  49. Bill Fleming 2015.01.03

    Philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote an essay 'In Praise of Idleness' in 1932 that strikes me as being a good companion to this discussion. Here are the last two paragraphs. The whole essay is quite good and the pdf can be found on the google intertubes, but I'm going to make you work for it, dammit. ;-)

    "In a world where no one is compelled to work more than four hours a day, every person possessed of scientific curiosity will be able to indulge it, and every painter will be able to paint without starving, however excellent his pictures may be. Young writers will not be obliged to draw attention to themselves by sensational pot-boilers, with a view to acquiring the economic independence needed for monumental works, for which, when the time at last comes, they will have lost the taste and capacity. Men who, in their professional work, have become interested in some phase of economics or government, will be able to develop their ideas without the academic detachment that makes the work of university economists often seem lacking in reality. Medical men will have the time to learn about the progress of medicine, teachers will not be exasperatedly struggling to teach by routine methods things which they learnt in their youth, which may, in the interval, have been proved to be untrue.

    Above all, there will be happiness and joy of life, instead of frayed nerves, weariness, and dyspepsia. The work exacted will be enough to make leisure delightful, but not enough to produce exhaustion. Since men will not be tired in their spare time, they will not demand only such amusements as are passive and vapid. At least one per cent will probably devote the time not spent in professional work to pursuits of some public importance, and, since they will not depend upon these pursuits for their livelihood, their originality will be unhampered, and there will be no need to conform to the standards set by elderly pundits. But it is not only in these exceptional cases that the advantages of leisure will appear. Ordinary men and women, having the opportunity of a happy life, will become more kindly and less persecuting and less inclined to view others with suspicion. The taste for war will die out, partly for this reason, and partly because it will involve long and severe work for all. Good nature is, of all moral qualities, the one that the world needs most, and good nature is the result of ease and security, not of a life of arduous struggle. Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for others. Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish forever."

  50. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.03

    The chief cause of divorce is not economic stress, the chief cause of divorce is marriage.

  51. JeniW 2015.01.03

    The main cause of divorce and unhappy marriages is due to couple who cannot stand each other anymore, regardless of the reason.

  52. John Hess 2015.01.03

    If you read about work and productivity you'll find people are only working about 4 hours a day. The achievers on top work much more on down as those toward the bottom twiddle their thumbs while those at the very bottom actively try to sabotage the work environment.

    The point is well taken however Bill that we could use our time much more effectively. That said, back down to the basement.

  53. Bill Dithmer 2015.01.03

    BF, Russell could afford to talk that way, he grew up in a privelaged family and lived his life not having to worry about where his next meal was coming from. He did do good work in trying to develop "Logical mathematics," and got attention for forming the Russell Tribunal.

    I'm thinking his best quote would be this.

    " If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

    I had a lit prof in college that would assign a reading project like this. Read Bertrand Russels "The Problems of Philosophy," and "Sometimes a great notion," and then write a review comparing the two. Then he would laugh and head for the inner sanctum of his office where he would stop and rub the leaves of a stinky plant and sniff the residue from his fingers. Years later we decided that big bushy plant was marjuana.

    The Blindman

  54. Steve Sibson 2015.01.03

    "Sibby, you are already giving free lunches to the 1% and have been for years."

    False accusation Jenny. It is the big government that provides corporate welfare. And the corporatists also support social welfare as that increases consumption of the goods and services that fills their pockets with money.

  55. Jenny 2015.01.03

    Where do you think they are getting the money from, Sibster? Any progressive/liberal I know is against corporate welfare.

  56. jerry 2015.01.03

    What happens then if everyone stays right where we are here? What happens? Who is going to pay for your nursing home stay when all of your assets have been dried up? How will that work?

    You speak of living on $1,100.00 a month Blindman. That was after you spent a huge wad on your loans and living expenses that had nothing to do with putting money aside for your later years. How much do you think it costs to go to assisted living or nursing home stays? Which brings me to the point of care. If a family member is being paid a per capita, they then would be able to maybe consider taking care of a loved one. Would it not be cheaper to pay $2,500.00 a month for a mother to take care of her mother or a father to take care of his mother than $400.00 a day for the same payment through welfare? This seems like a better way to do it than warehousing folks until we squeeze their last bit of dignity and their last bit of monetary value.

  57. John Hess 2015.01.03

    I think nursing home care is about 50 to 60k a year. That's $135 to $165 a day private pay. The state pays less per person. Still a huge burden but nothing near $400 a day.

    The government can't pay for everything without a huge overhaul of the tax system which ain't gonna happen. If you want cradle to grave you're living in the wrong place.

    We're a middle right country. That means Republican Lite is the most realistic future (and not a bad one). Things always seem greener but these more socialist countries have a long list of problems. For one the Euro is probably toast.

  58. jerry 2015.01.03

    Try the dementia ward John Hess, they wish for 60k a year. How long will 60K a year in outlay last you? Remember, we have stopped building nursing homes here. The last one was a special one one the reservation.

    It will not matter what you think John Hess, it is the reality of it all. The numbers speak for themselves and they ain't purdy.

    Why would the Euro be toast? The Greek loss has already been factored in. If they go, they go, that will not be the end. A middle right state is what South Dakota is. A middle right state is dependent on government to keep it afloat so I agree. What we will see here in South Dakota, is a complete breakdown of social programs that will spell the bankruptcy of this state. That rainy day fund will be needed to try to stop the hemorrhaging that will be happening for the huge losses that are coming with age. By age, I mean me and the rest of the old farts that will be changing the way we conduct business here in the future. Start looking at the numbers of folks that have already started to turn 65. The baby boomers are exploding and have already made a big dent in how things are being done. Take a look at the assisted living palaces that are being built and occupied. It will only be utilized more and more. Nothing has been said about that in the budgets about that huge old fart sucking of resources. Gives me gas thinking about it.

  59. larry kurtz 2015.01.03

    John Hess, you are a fascinating study: we have friends who are a Obama-hating, gun-loving Lesbian couple living out here in the high New Mexico desert surrounded by rabid Democratic hippies. Life sure is a weird sandwich, init?

  60. Jenny 2015.01.03

    The cost of nursing home care is a huge issue. I don't know how much nursing home insurance is but I've heard it's right up there also, and most folks can't afford it.
    In some cultures the elderly are taken care of by their family members and even considering a nursing home would be in poor taste.

  61. jerry 2015.01.03

    Correct Jenny and one more reason that the welfare system in America needs to be rethought. One way would be the topic of this thread, that would give family caregivers a lifeline to care for their loved ones. How can one impoverished person care for another impoverished person? The elderly care is a huge Medicaid expense for the taxpayers and it is largely on a list that is never discussed as if we are ashamed of getting old and frail. That does not fit into cowboy lingo so we move past that and beat hell out of Natives and others who are on Medicaid.

  62. Don Coyote 2015.01.03

    This is an old idea fraught with many problems. Ironically it was first suggested in the United States by uber capitalist Milton Friedman and actually first saw the light of day in Nixon's Family Assistance Program when after enactment

    "...quickly encountered a host of problems, both conceptual and administrative. These continue to haunt negative tax advocates to this day.

    The first and most basic problem is that it is currently fiscally—and perhaps administratively—impossible to construct an NIT that simultaneously

    1. provides an income guarantee as generous as the cash and in-kind benefits already available to many welfare recipients in the United States,

    2. provides an ostensible incentive to work (a far greater concern when benefits are to be extended beyond the traditional welfare population dominated by female-headed families), and

    3. restricts coverage to any manageable proportion of the population—the so-called "break-even" problem.

    These constraints are, in fact, irreconcilable as long as the median income remains within striking distance of the poverty line—a situation that has barely improved over the last two decades of slow average economic growth."

    We actually have a hybrid of the negative income tax in the Earned Income Credit which was signed into law by Gerald Ford in 1975 and was greatly expanded under Reagan in the Tax Reform Act in 1986.

    Good article on the NIT:

    I have to chuckle because a friend of mine who verges on being a full blown Socialist, always complains when a step-daughter of his gets her tax return, which the EIC usually adds another $5K or so to it, and she blows it all on clothes, electronics and assorted crap and then she's back to begging him to help pay her bills. You could give her $20K - $30K a year and she'd still be broke.

  63. larry kurtz 2015.01.03

    Cowards use pseudonyms and capitalize socialist.

  64. jerry 2015.01.03

    Funny stuff Don Coyote. How many children does she have now? Does she get the debit card to work with?

  65. Les 2015.01.03

    Ya, Jerry. How many fathers of how many children does she have that are non contributing?

  66. larry kurtz 2015.01.03

    Welcome to South Dakota where non-white fathers are non-contributing and white rapists who father welfare children are patriots.

  67. jerry 2015.01.03

    Here is a big reason why Daugaard and the republicans are gonna get their arses burned on this. I could not believe that Wismer didn't bring this up or is she did, she was very coy about it. If legislators are clueless on this issue, how can voters be expected to sort it out.

    We have been talking about the working poor along with other folks in need like some veterans, as an example. Here is the need for the Medicaid Expansion to help cover our elderly and disabled in nursing and home care so they can continue an end of life dignity. A state and country is gauged on how well it cares for its children, its indigent and its elderly. Republicans fail on all of these and it will come back to bite taxpayers for their ignorance.

  68. jerry 2015.01.03

    Les, are you Don Coyote in disguise? I'll bet you are you rascal.

  69. Les 2015.01.03

    Welcome to South Dakota where non-white fathers are non-contributing and white rapists who father welfare children are patriots."""". Sounds like the voice of experience, Larryyyy. You still hangin with the pot smokin neolibtards hatin Obama? Pick a lane.

  70. Les 2015.01.03

    I'm not that smart, Jerry.

  71. larry kurtz 2015.01.03

    Jerry, my guess is Don is a Haggar and Les is just haggard.

  72. Les 2015.01.03

    The Hag would be good, Larryyyy. Merle has always been a fav.

  73. jerry 2015.01.03

    Did you ever think that about 40% of the nursing home residents are under the age of 65? Pretty astounding that younger people have strokes and they have accidents just like us old guys. Medicaid Expansion would help them as well, or are we gonna just keep doing the same way?

    The way around all of this is the Manitoba income or the Swiss income or any number of ways to curb the outlay of tax dollars in a failed system. If taxpayers would provide this type of funding, it would basically eliminate food stamps or curb them drastically. It would change the way Medicaid is delivered as well. Of course there will still be disabled people that will need critical care, but for everyday healthcare, the current recipients would find they now qualify for taking a more hands on approach to their own needs. Preventive services alone would eliminate a significant bite out of the outlay taxpayers currently pay. It would also eliminate the EIC. If we continue to treat them like children they will respond in a like manner.

  74. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.03

    As we age our needs are less, I would not expect younger people to live in the same economic constraints that I do as a senior citizen.
    Younger people, if they are sane, need and want stuff that seniors don't care about.
    In fact in the Lakota culture and most Native cultures you will find that the elders generally downsize what little they do own.
    Most of us no longer need a 3 or 4 bedroom home, we've paid off the mortgage and concern ourselves with paying for basics needs and hope to hell heating prices, insurance, and other basics don't rise in cost.

  75. Shirley Moore 2015.01.03

    heard on talk radio the reason most lower income people don't marry is they can't afford to. Women want babies and men don't make enough to support a family. When the lower income people 'disappear', who will be the working class? A basic income check can be a good thing. Thank you, Cory, for bringing the topic to Madville Times.

  76. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.03

    Jeez, what kind of people do some of you hang around with? Here in the Twin Cities there are thousands of people working multiple jobs, sometimes more than one full-time. They have no quality of life. They don't have the leisure time or options Blindman mentioned to decide to not go to a movie. Things like an Xbox are simply ludicrous to consider.

    I don't understand why some Madizens have such a lousy opinion of the human race. Is it the media? The right wing sound bites? Are you still hearing echoes of Reagan's fictious 'welfare queens'? Of course that means minority women.

    I am aware that there is a small percentage of people who are minus work ethic and self-responsibility. Don't generalize them to large numbers of the population.

    BTW, I wouldn't call SD "middle right." On a scale of 1 - 10, one being Larry Kurtz and ten being far, far right, I give SD a 7. Anyone else?

  77. jerry 2015.01.03

    The sound bites don't grate their ears Deb. It is easy to complain about those other voters and how they did the poor democrats in, but in the end, they provided the knife for the stabbing. Until folks get educated on what is going on around them, this is as good as it gets. A failed system that is like the big banks like to think of themselves as, to big to fail. Well gang, we are dropping like an anvil hooked around Wile e coyote's neck. To ignore this is to see the poof that happens upon impact. To save ourselves from ourselves, we need some serious government intervention.

  78. Kurt Evans 2015.01.03

    Great post. Great comments. Madville at its best.

    I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned how easy it would be for government to coerce us by increasing or decreasing the payments. For example, a President Santorum might believe it's in the nation's best interest to promote traditional marriage by making larger payments to its practitioners.

    (Regardless of whether traditional marriage is good for society, I'd hope we could agree that coercing it with other people's tax dollars isn't.)

  79. mike from iowa 2015.01.04

    Wingnut ears are tuned in to Rust Limpaw and rw hate talk radio.

  80. John Hess 2015.01.04

    Larry I've only met two gay Republicans. One was a closet case and the other simply loathsome. Being liberal or progressive doesn't mean it should be The Party of the Irresponsible even if they would like to make it their home. I've been around enough lazy people who spend much of their time conjuring clever ways to justify being so. No one deserves basic income for doing nothing. Listen to Rupaul one more time!

  81. mike from iowa 2015.01.04

    Sure has been a lot of stories in the news lately about "responsible" gun owners.

  82. JeniW 2015.01.04

    You missed the point John, when people have their basic needs met they can think about being more productive.

    It is hard to put much energy in pushing snow when you are cold and hungry. Someone who is dressed for the weather, and is not hungry will be more effective in clearing snow more thoroughly and faster.

  83. Bill Fleming 2015.01.04

    If you can talk him into doing it, Cory, Don Frankenfeld has a rough concept on how to tackle the Health Care problem that works along the similar lines except it's based on the (hypothetical) average health care need and receiving an annual check for that amount (say it's around $15 k or so). The funds are used exclusively for health care needs up to a certain age. (Don will explain this better than I can.) In essence it takes the buying power of health care services out of the insurance companies' hands and goves them to the consumer. Any unspent funds become part of the person's estate. Imagine if you had all the money you've paid into your health policy still in the bank. (If I recall, everybody has some kind of mandatory catastrophic high deductable policy with a high deductable... Something around the annual amount received.)

    p.s. Jerry, your Oliver link is great. Wouldn't it be ironic if, via the Frankenfeld plan, people could end up 'winning that lottery' just by staying healthy? Might keep the pitchforks in the barn for anouther couple of decades or so. ;-)

  84. Jaka 2015.01.04

    Madville----you ROCK!!!!! It's so much fun to interact with great minds ain't it??????!!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of us and keep thinkin' in the year ta come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  85. John Hess 2015.01.04

    Chicken or egg JeniW. Give people money so they can become responsible? It's absurd. Did you read the article? They don't have money because they're not responsible. Some black leaders think Welfare was the worst trap for "their" people. Fringe policies like this push people toward the middle. Maybe that's a good thing.

  86. Bill Fleming 2015.01.04

    John Hess, yes, it's hard to know how to be responsible with money if you've have any. :-)

  87. jerry 2015.01.04

    John McCain, David Petraeus and the rest of the republican hierarchy proved to rank and file republicans that paying a monthly dividend or surge, to citizens of one of our client states would work. Petraeus paid billions of dollars to provide a living wage to Sunni Arabs. It worked and the economy surged until we stopped the program. What Americans can clearly see is that the programs that we say do not work here, works to rebuild foreign places with taxpayer money. Why is it that we can toss trillions around without receipts, but we fail our own citizenry here?

    Instead of calling this the basic income experiment, I propose to rename it and call it the SURGE as an acronym for States of the Union for Responsible Gratitude of Enlightenment. It has such a forward name that republicans will fawn over with giggling delight.

  88. Bill Fleming 2015.01.04

    Jerry, I like it. I worry about it being a good Republican thing if you keep the word "union" in there, though. And that "enlightenment" thing won't fly with the Sibby/Ellis evengelical contingent. How about just go all full-monty with S.A.R.G.E. (Structured Arrangement for a Republican Grounded Economy) and get the dang thing passed. :-)

  89. jerry 2015.01.04

    Thanks Bill Fleming, Don Frankenfeld is on track with his idea and that basically is what insurance companies do at present. The insurance companies have a reinsurance company that takes the high risk out of catastrophic claims. This may be of interest to him on how the whole process works

    At present, if you have health insurance through any company, you pay a tax and you pay a fee that is added to the premium for the prevention of losses that an insurance company may have for adverse utilization. Win win for these guys, as another fat cushion to pad their golden parachute, of course. As you can see, the system is as rigged as John Oliver suggests, for a gain for their bottom line. In order to have healthcare work, the private health insurance must be neutered from the power that it has now, to a position of administration of proper claim determination and disbursement. Medicare takes that into consideration and does so presently with a clearing house for the bills to be processed. So Medicare for all is the answer for healthcare.

  90. John Hess 2015.01.04

    It's true Bill. If you haven't done something before you're not good at it. Football players, lottery winners, etc are notorious for blowing all their money, but Dithmer made the points nicely. Education and employment are key. So many jobs have been lost people are underemployed or given up entirely (so the employment numbers are misleading) but everyone must work to figure out why they're valuable (in an employment sense). You can't give someone pride or self respect from a stipend they haven't earned.

  91. JeniW 2015.01.04

    Not to sweat it John, it is not going to happen.

    You will agree though that someone who is physically able and dressed warmly, and is not hungry will do a better job at shoveling snow than someone is physically able and not dressed warmly and has not had a meal in two days, yes?

  92. John Hess 2015.01.04

    Can't argue with that JeniW. I'm ready for a walk with a coat from the thrift store and a dog from the humane society. With the money I saved I had a big healthy breakfast of non-processed food. See how that works???

  93. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.04

    Barry, you think tests and studies, actual scientific research, would get a plan considered here in America? If that were the case, we'd have adopted Canada's single-payer system by now! :-)

  94. jerry 2015.01.04

    So, why did the Manitoba experiment work then? If it was so flawed, why did the results come out so promising? It fostered health, it fostered good will and it did not foster dependency. America proved the same could work in a war zone in Iraq.

  95. JeniW 2015.01.04

    Thank you John H. for proofing my point. Get basic needs taken care of, then can do productive things such as buying a coat, and taking a dog for a walk. Fortunately, you had enough money to take care of your basic needs.

    Someone gave you the opportunity to work for a business/organization to earn enough money. If that employer had not given you that opportunity, you would have not been able to buy a coat at the thrift store, taken the dog out for a walk, or had a meal. Now if we can just get everyone employed earning at least the same amount as you, then we would be in great shape.

  96. jerry 2015.01.04

    Here is another reason for the stipend or pension. The current system for 401's are expensive for investors and bring little if anything at the end. If you loose your job, you don't loose the expenses charged to maintain your so called nest egg. When the market falls, you do as well. Why not think of this as a pension plan for those whose earnings are less than $100,000.00 per year?

    When will we stop supporting Wall Street and pay attention to Main Street. Those pension funds or stipends would go directly back into the economic system for goods and services that would pay sales and use taxes to bring main street back to life.

  97. John Hess 2015.01.04

    That article is very good news. Being responsible pays off. Not just connections. Not just the smartypants or the most skilled, and it means we can rightfully expect people, rather than be dependent, be interdependent. No reward till you get the behavior.

    If they want to beg for a living, that's their choice. Where I worked in Denver I watched a group do shifts. They shared the same sign!

    Kind of what I see here.

  98. bearcreekbat 2015.01.04

    Deb makes a valid, but distressing point: "I don't understand why some Madizens have such a lousy opinion of the human race."

    As I suggested earlier, Deb, perhaps it is because we tend to see others as we see ourselves.

  99. jerry 2015.01.04

    Yep, it certainly does pay Wall Street. They thank the chumps each and every trade. Now take your 60 thousand that you paid triple for and be like Elvis, just leave the building. A business plan like that will not get you very far at the bank.

  100. jerry 2015.01.04

    Ooppps, my mistake John Hess, I did not know you meant the one about Fallujah, capital city of one of our client states.

  101. Les 2015.01.04

    """As I suggested earlier, Deb, perhaps it is because we tend to see others as we see ourselves.""" Yes bcb, what often bothers us most, is that inner reflection of similar problems. Maddizens, look deep.

  102. larry kurtz 2015.01.04

    thank you doktor psychology.

  103. Les 2015.01.04

    Actually, Kurse, a proctologist. Im used to dealing with Folks like yournself.

  104. jerry 2015.01.04

    Doktor Les, heal thyself.

  105. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.04

    Good thought BCB, and probably some validity to it. I want to add something:

    There are people who've done everything right. They've become educated on their own dime, worked hard, saved money, been law-abiding and diligent. They've planned for the future, made wise and careful investments, and gotten sick.

    At the same time his investments tanked. Even though his medical insurance was very good, there were still co-pays, medications, transportation, therapy, assistive devices, plus all the usual living expenses.

    He recovered enough to use outpatient services, but was never able to work full-time again. He used all his financial resources until they were gone, filed for bankruptcy, and tried to get into public housing, but due to budget cuts aimed at cheaters, no space was available. He would have lived in his car, but he sold that long ago to pay for medications essential to his health. So he has choices he never imagined. He can starve and freeze, or he can try to find space in a homeless shelter and hope to find a corner he can use or share for panhandling during the day.

    Mr. Hess, this is not a made up scenario. The majority of bankruptcies are due to catastrophic medical expenses. An overwhelming percentage of homeless people are not begging in public because they enjoy it, or would rather do that than work, live in their own home, not be hungry, wear clean clothing, and sleep in a warm, cozy and comfortable bed at night.

    Think about this. It's not brain surgery. It's simple common sense.

    If it is true that some devastating misfortunes can befall anyone, regardless of wise preparation, then we are all less safe than we think. Mr. Hess and others don't want to admit their own vulnerability, so "Denial and Blame" are their best friends.

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