Thursday's HOT MIC
I'll have an opinion-piece angle on this subject later today at Instapundit, but for now here's the straight news.
A California city plagued by financial woes is testing a new welfare plan to give families a “universal basic income” of $500 every month.
While critics question whether this is the best move in post-bankruptcy Stockton, for now the program is being funded with private money -- as a possible first step toward expanding a concept touted by tech CEOs.
“I think it will make people work better and smarter and harder and also be able to do things like spend time with their families because we're not robots. We're not just designed just to work all day and run a rat race,” Mayor Michael Tubbs told NPR.
I'm intrigued by two notions in reform politics. The first is the Fair Tax. If you haven't heard of it, I'll give you the short version. The Fair Tax would replace all payroll and income taxes with a national sales tax on new goods and services. A monthly "prebate" check, which "gives every legal resident household an 'advance refund' at the beginning of each month so that purchases made up to the poverty level are tax-free." In other words, you choose your own tax rate based on your spending, not on your income. Live like a pauper and your effective tax rate is zero. Spend like a Hilton heiress and your effective tax rate can zoom all the way to 23% on every single one of your purchases.
The Fair Tax would require a much smaller IRS than we have today, without the power to audit or spy or anything else. For that reason alone, it's probably worth trying.
The second notion is the Universal Basic Income. That would replace all welfare, unemployment, and retirement programs with a subsistence-level check paid out to everyone -- regardless of income. I've been slower to come around to UBI, mostly just because it feels wrong somehow to support even the able-bodied, even at mere subsistence levels. Although I'm beginning to embrace the idea because it would radically reduce administrative overhead and all the soul-killing, bureaucratic hoop-jumping welfare recipients are subject to. And, at least in theory, it doesn't seem any more ripe for abuse than the current system. Certainly it's worth trying in at least a few of our many laboratories of democracy.
But I'm not sure that Stockton is the place to start. Here's why:
The plan is mostly funded by The Economic Security Project, which is contributing $1 million to the yearlong pilot. Several-dozen families will be given $500 a month, and monitored to see what they do with the money and how it affects self-esteem and identity.
Whenever you hear phrases like "self-esteem and identity" come out of the mouths of well-meaning progressives -- RUN! That's pretty good tell that they're not looking for measurable results, but just in spending more of other people's money. Yours, mine, whoever's.
That concern aside, who knows? Maybe UBI is such a great idea that even Stockton can make it work. And if not, maybe the rest of the country can learn from Stockton's mistakes.
I'll be watching this one with great interest over the next year.
Now if we could just repeal the 16th Amendment and get that Fair Tax up and running...
Buying a giant inflatable ball for fun on the beach may seem tempting -- but don't do it folks!
A cautionary tale:
After all that, he still gave it two stars, LOL. Read more here:
Your Meme of the Day -- and as a devoted Bowie fan and Tesla (the scientist) fan and space fan, I can't begin to tell you how much this tickled me.
David Laufman, who leads the Justice Department’s counterintelligence division, announced his resignation for “personal reasons” on Wednesday, The Daily Caller reported.
Laufman worked with FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok on both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the Russia investigation. He and Strzok interviewed Clinton as part of the investigation into her emails.
In addition to working on the investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified information, Laufman has also worked on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
On the Clinton investigation, he sat in on interviews with the former secretary of state and several of her aides, including Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan.
So Salon tried to get away with this (HT Twitchy):
Then this happened:
You can't read it online anymore because it appears Salon pulled it down. But here's an excerpt:
Millions of evangelicals and other Christian fundamentalists believe that the Bible was dictated by God to men who acted essentially as human transcriptionists. If that were the case, one would have to conclude that God is a terrible writer. Many passages in the Bible would get kicked back by any competent editor or writing professor, kicked back with a lot of red ink — often more red than black.
Mixed messages, repetition, bad fact-checking, awkward constructions, inconsistent voice, weak character development, boring tangents, contradictions, passages where nobody can tell what the heck the writer meant to convey. This doesn’t sound like a book that was dictated by a deity.
Parting shot — and it's a stinger:
UPDATE: Alert reader Joseph noted in the comments that the article is available for consumption at AlterNet. You can read the wretched thing in all its glory here. Also, while we're on the subject, Dr. Jeff Sanders, PJM's resident pastor, has a good summary of how we got the New Testament: