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Tom Toles
Posted at 07:20 AM ET, 11/18/2013

We value you just for being you! In dollars!

A commenter posted this link last week and beat me to it. I was all tangled up in that Obamacare debate, but this is potentially more interesting even than the Washington posture-fest over health plans. A government program that pays people just for being alive! Gets at least one of the incentives right!

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/magazine/switzerlands-proposal-to-pay-people-for-being-alive.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=general&src=me&

This is a good idea in many ways. Superficially, it’s as appealing as free money! But even after you bring up the obvious problems with that, it’s STILL INTERESTING! Here’s what to like about it. We don’t have to go first! Let others try it out and we can see what happens. If it’s a flop, we won’t do it! The problem for the US is: even if it’s a wild success, we still won’t do it! Americans are too exceptional to learn from anybody else, so we will wait for any good idea to fail, even if it takes centuries.

Seriously, though, or at least as serious as I ever get, some form of this idea is going to keep coming back as the new global economy continues to resemble a typhoon. Throw in the coming (already here) robot revolution, and economic uncertainty is going to menace nearly everyone, nearly all of the time. Some stability in life will be required, and demanded. The big fear, of course, will be a mushrooming population of the indolent. My solution to that would be to pay adults extra for each kid they DON’T have, but that’s just me. My own opinion is that a shrinking population will solve nearly all problems, but that’s a different debate for a different day (never).

By  |  07:20 AM ET, 11/18/2013

 
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