Social Insurance Based on the Commons

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Discussion

Peter Barnes:

"The present financial base of social insurance — payroll contributions by workers and employers — has essentially maxed out. Nor is it possible to supplement existing labor income by taxing it. So a 21st century system of economic security will have to be built on a new financing model, which I have proposed to be income from common wealth, in the manner of Thomas Paine and the Alaska Permanent Fund (see With Liberty and Dividends For All).

Picture, then, a giant “common pot” into which flows money from multiple forms of common wealth and out of which flow monthly dividends to every American with a Social Security account. Such a pot could begin, as Social Security did, with a relatively small inflow and outflow, and grow over time as Americans become comfortable with it. Its funding sources could include fees on pollution of shared ecosystems and use of socially constructed financial infrastructure, as well as new money created in the manner Mellor proposes.

This system, anchored by the common pot, would serve three functions simultaneously. First, it would address the pressing need for lifetime economic security, a need that will only increase as automation and artificial intelligence replace more jobs. Second, it would create demand for more revenue sources which, if properly designed, would advance one of the key goals of the Great Transformation: internalizing the costs of destabilizing nature. Third and perhaps most importantly, it would supply the political juice for the first two functions. To paraphrase Mary Poppins, rising dividends from the common pot would become the sugar that helps the less palatable transformational pills go down." (comments to: http://www.greattransition.org/publication/money-for-the-people)