Calls for a Universal Basic Income have been increasing, most recently as part of the Green New Deal introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and supported in the last month by at least 40 members of Congress. A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a monthly payment to all adults with no strings attached, similar to Social Security. Critics say the Green New Deal asks too much of the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it, but taxing the rich is not what the resolution proposes. It says funding would primarily come from the federal government, “using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks,” and other vehicles.
The Federal Reserve alone could do the job. It could buy “Green” federal bonds with money created on its balance sheet, just as the Fed funded the purchase of $3.7 trillion in bonds in its “quantitative easing” program to save the banks. The Treasury could also do it. The Treasury has the constitutional power to issue coins in any denomination, even trillion dollar coins. What prevents legislators from pursuing those options is the fear of hyperinflation from excess “demand” (spendable income) driving prices up. But in fact the consumer economy is chronically short of spendable income, due to the way money enters the consumer economy. We actually need regular injections of money to avoid a “balance sheet recession” and allow for growth, and a UBI is one way to do it.
The pros and cons of a UBI are hotly debated and have been discussed elsewhere. The point here is to show that it could actually be funded year after year without driving up taxes or prices. New money is continually being added to the money supply, but it is added as debt created privately by banks. (How banks rather than the government create most of the money supply today is explained on the Bank of England website here.) A UBI would replace money-created-as-debt with debt-free money – a “debt jubilee” for consumers – while leaving the money supply for the most part unchanged; and to the extent that new money was added, it could help create the demand needed to fill the gap between actual and potential productivity.
The Debt Overhang Crippling Economies
The “bank money” composing most of the money in circulation is created only when someone borrows, and today businesses and consumers are burdened with debts that are higher than ever before. In 2018, credit card debt alone exceeded $1 trillion, student debt exceeded $1.5 trillion, auto loan debt exceeded $1.1 trillion, and non-financial corporate debt hit $5.7 trillion. When businesses and individuals pay down old loans rather than taking out new loans, the money supply shrinks, causing a “balance sheet recession.” In that situation, the central bank, rather than removing money from the economy (as the Fed is doing now), needs to add money to fill the gap between debt and the spendable income available to repay it.
Debt always grows faster than the money available to repay it. One problem is the interest, which is not created along with the principal, so more money is always owed back than was created in the original loan. Beyond that, some of the money created as debt is held off the consumer market by “savers” and investors who place it elsewhere, making it unavailable to companies selling their wares and the wage-earners they employ. The result is a debt bubble that continues to grow until it is not sustainable and the system collapses, in the familiar death spiral euphemistically called the “business cycle.” As economist Michael Hudson shows in his 2018 book And Forgive Them Their Debts, this inevitable debt overhang was corrected historically with periodic “debt jubilees” – debt forgiveness – something he argues we need to do again today.
For governments, a debt jubilee could be effected by allowing the central bank to buy government securities and hold them on its books. For individuals, one way to do it fairly across the board would be with a UBI.
Why a UBI Need Not Be Inflationary
In a 2018 book called The Road to Debt Bondage: How Banks Create Unpayable Debt, political economist Derryl Hermanutz proposes a central-bank-issued UBI of one thousand dollars per month, credited directly to people’s bank accounts. Assuming this payment went to all US residents over 18, or about 241 million people, the outlay would be close to $3 trillion annually. For people with overdue debt, Hermanutz proposes that it automatically go to pay down those debts. Since money is created as loans and extinguished when they are repaid, that portion of a UBI disbursement would be extinguished along with the debt.
People who were current on their debts could choose whether or not to pay them down, but many would also no doubt go for that option. Hermanutz estimates that roughly half of a UBI payout could be extinguished in this way through mandatory and voluntary loan repayments. That money would not increase the money supply or demand. It would just allow debtors to spend on necessities with debt-free money rather than hocking their futures with unrepayable debt.
He estimates that another third of a UBI disbursement would go to “savers” who did not need the money for expenditures. This money, too, would not be likely to drive up consumer prices, since it would go into investment and savings vehicles rather than circulating in the consumer economy. That leaves only about one-sixth of payouts, or $500 billion, that would actually be competing for goods and services; and that sum could easily be absorbed by the “output gap” between actual and forecasted productivity.
According to a July 2017 paper from the Roosevelt Institute called “What Recovery? The Case for Continued Expansionary Policy at the Fed”:
GDP remains well below both the long-run trend and the level predicted by forecasters a decade ago. In 2016, real per capita GDP was 10% below the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) 2006 forecast, and shows no signs of returning to the predicted level.
The report showed that the most likely explanation for this lackluster growth was inadequate demand. Wages have remained stagnant; and before producers will produce, they need customers knocking on their doors.
In 2017, the US Gross Domestic Product was $19.4 trillion. If the economy is running at 10% below full capacity, $2 trillion could be injected into the economy every year without creating price inflation. It would just generate the demand needed to stimulate an additional $2 trillion in GDP. In fact a UBI might pay for itself, just as the G.I. Bill produced a sevenfold return from increased productivity after World War II.
[Ron: ANY assumption that GDP should be increased needs to consider WHAT is to be produced and WHY. The real issues are: first, is an increase in production needed? Second, what physical planetary resources will be equired for that increase and are they reasonably available? Third, what will be the effects of the increase on the planet's resources and environment ?
The answer to the questions of what production needs to be increased and why, gets to the nub of the socio-economic and environmental problems in our world today. Why? Because currently much production is unnecessary and wasteful and even counterproductive and harmful for human life AND the planet. For instance NONE of the current production of war making materials and war making activities are beneficial for humanity or the planet and hence action needs to be taken to cease such production and activity. That would not only be desireable and beneficial for the global population and the planet but it would also reduce GDP. There are also many other unnecessaru and counter productive human activities that currently require funding and use of material resources. Rather than blindly funding those activities humans on this planet need to consider ceasing or at least reducing the production needed for inappropriate activities rather than seeking ways to fund them.
The core idea in this discussion is that efforts should be made to finance any activity that increases use of spare production capacity in human society without due or any regard to the use and societal or environmental efficacy of those activities. Arguably that is the cause of the dystopia in which we now live. Apart from the obvious misallocation of resources and environmental degradation already grossly apparent almost everywhere, the idea that everyone be funded to encourage continuation of the current dysfunctional consumer society and money meme oriented global societal intercourse, can only increase the existing abuse of the planet and most of her inhabitants.
We live on a finite planet that has finite physical resources. It is simply not possible to continually increase GDP in the US or anywhere else on this planet. Human exploitation of planetary resources has already seriously damaged and degraded much of the planet and our environment without improving the health and welfare of most of her inhabitants. Planning to significantly increase US GDP without attempting to radically reassess the nature of the production involved or the proper and equitably redistribution of the benefits of that production within the US and with other countries from which resources are obtained for that purpose, is unsustainable.It is not possible to solve human problems on this planet using the same thinking that created those problems. Greater awareness and hence a higher level of consciousness is needed to address these issues. The core problem we face is ego-centricity caused by FEAR created by the alientation and seperation inherent in the adoption of the money meme as the mechanism for societal interaction. The money meme was created as an enslavement mechanism by demonic individuals thousands of years ago. We need to revisit the causes of our need for the money meme and change our perspective on it. Failure to do that will not change anything anymore than adjusting deckchairs could have prevented the sinking of the Olympic. See eg: TITANIC IS THE OLYMPIC..! Why They Sunk The Titanic Parts 1-6 - http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/TITANIC-IS-THE-OLYMPIC-Why-They-Sunk-The-Titanic-Parts-1-6.shtml And: Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank? - http://abundanthope.net/pages/Environment_Science_69/Titanic-The-Ship-That-Never-Sank.shtml ].
The Evidence of China
That new money can be injected year after year without triggering price inflation is evident from a look at China. In the last 20 years, its M2 money supply has grown from just over 10 trillion yuan to 80 trillion yuan ($11.6T), a nearly 800% increase. Yet the inflation rate of its Consumer Price Index (CPI) remains a modest 2.2%.
[Ron: China is a special case in that it has an enormous population most of whom lived in great poverty until recently. The expansion of the money supply has been used to grow real and useful economic development in order to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and to provide them with reasonable living conditions and modern infrastructure. Once that task has been completed there will be no justification for attempting to contiue growing China's GDP beyond what is reasonably necessary to maintain and sustain abundant, environmentally sustainable, societal conditions.].
Why has all that excess money not driven prices up? The answer is that China’s Gross Domestic Product has grown at the same fast clip as its money supply. When supply (GDP) and demand (money) increase together, prices remain stable.
Whether or not the Chinese government would approve of a UBI, it does recognize that to stimulate productivity, the money must get out there first; and since the government owns 80% of China’s banks, it is in a position to borrow money into existence as needed. For “self-funding” loans – those that generate income (fees for rail travel and electricity, rents for real estate) – repayment extinguishes the debt along with the money it created, leaving the net money supply unchanged. When loans are not repaid, the money they created is not extinguished; but if it goes to consumers and businesses that then buy goods and services with it, demand will still stimulate the production of supply, so that supply and demand rise together and prices remain stable.
Without demand, producers will not produce and workers will not get hired, leaving them without the funds to generate supply, in a vicious cycle that leads to recession and depression. And that cycle is what our own central bank is triggering now.
[Ron: This occurs because Central Banks are privately owned by banksters who use the money meme and usurious banking to control governments and enslave the general population.].
The Fed Tightens the Screws
Rather than stimulating the economy with new demand, the Fed has been engaging in “quantitative tightening.” On December 19, 2018, it raised the fed funds rate for the ninth time in 3 years, despite a “brutal” stock market in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average had already lost 3,000 points in 2-½ months. The Fed is still struggling to reach even its modest 2% inflation target, and GDP growth is trending down, with estimates at only 2-2.7% for 2019. So why did it again raise rates, over the protests of commentators including the president himself?
For its barometer, the Fed looks at whether the economy has hit “full employment,” which it considers to be 4.7% unemployment, taking into account the “natural rate of unemployment” of people between jobs or voluntarily out of work. At full employment, workers are expected to demand more wages, causing prices to rise. But unemployment is now officially at 3.7% – beyond technical full employment – and neither wages nor consumer prices have shot up. There is obviously something wrong with the theory, as is evident from a look at Japan, where prices have long refused to rise despite a serious lack of workers.
The official unemployment figures are actually misleading. Including short-term discouraged workers, the rate of US unemployed or underemployed workers as of May 2018 was 7.6%, double the widely reported rate. When long-term discouraged workers are included, the real unemployment figure was 21.5%. Beyond that large untapped pool of workers, there is the seemingly endless supply of cheap labor from abroad and the expanding labor potential of robots, computers and machines. In fact the economy’s ability to generate supply in response to demand is far from reaching full capacity today.
Our central bank is driving us into another recession based on bad economic theory.
[Ron: This the conventional LIE used by the Talmudic banksters and their bought and paid for minions in government, the MSM, academia and the commentariat. The TRUTH is that Jews control the global monetary system via banks, and through banks they control most of the rest of our world; and their Talmudic objective is to destabilise and destroy ALL gentile nations but especially the truly sucessful nations like the Anglo-US, EU and European nations. Historically global Jewry has already destroyed and dominated Germany. Japan, Korea, indonesia, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, South Africa and most other nations that tried to develop independant national goals. This is the reason that the Jew controlled Deep State is desperately trying to eliminat Presidents Trump and Putin because those presidents are actively seeking to dismantle the global monetary system controlled by global Jewry. The Jews hope that crashing the global financial system will destroy the US and cause President Trump to be removed from the US presidency.].
Adding money to the economy for productive, non-speculative purposes will not drive up prices so long as materials and workers (human or mechanical) are available to create the supply necessary to meet demand; and they are available now. There will always be price increases in particular markets when there are shortages, bottlenecks, monopolies or patents limiting competition, but these increases are not due to an economy awash with money. Housing, healthcare, education and gas have all gone up, but it is not because people have too much money to spend. In fact it is those necessary expenses that are driving people into unrepayable debt, and it is this massive debt overhang that is preventing economic growth.
[Ron: The prices of housing, healthcare, education and gas and many other things like food, have increased because Jews control most national and trans-national corporations as well as the banks and they increase prices to squeeze more profits out of their gentile slave populations. See eg: How Interlinked Corporations Rule The World. - http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/How-Interlinked-Corporations-Rule-The-World.shtml
'Winter is coming’: Subservience to Bankers & Failure to Reform is Leading Us Into Another Crash - http://abundanthope.net/pages/True_US_History_108/Winter-is-coming-Subservience-to-Bankers-Failure-to-Reform-is-Leading-Us-Into-Another-Crash.shtml
When Financial Fascism Rules the World - http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/When-Financial-Fascism-Rules-the-World.shtml
Corporations Masquerading as Government in Australia & World Wide. See: http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/Corporations-Masquerading-as-Government-in-Australia-World-Wide.shtml
Collusion for Illusion: Australia’s “Big 4″ Banks are All Owned by the Same Financial Interest. See: http://abundanthope.net/pages/Political_Information_43/Collusion-for-Illusion-Australia-s-Big-4-Banks-are-All-Owned-by-the-Same-Financial-Interest.shtml
In addition, the combination of growing real unemployment and increasing prices and taxes is impoverishing and destroying gentile nations so that the Jews can introduce their New World Order, One World Government controlled exclusively by them.].
Without some form of debt jubilee, the debt bubble will continue to grow until it can again no longer be sustained. A UBI can help correct that problem without fear of “overheating” the economy, so long as the new money is limited to filling the gap between real and potential productivity and goes into generating jobs, building infrastructure and providing for the needs of the people, rather than being diverted into the speculative, parasitic economy that feeds off them.
[Ron: The introduction of Universal Basic Income (UBI) would be like fiddling while Rome burns. The core problem is humanity's fixation upon the money meme and the need for fraudulent Talmudic mechanisms, notably the granting of exclusive free licences for the private, unaudited and unsupervised control of the creation and usurious distribution of fiat debt notes fraudulently called "money". A UBI would be a giant government dole that more and more people would have to rely on as corporate controlled production of almost eveything increasingly uses electronics, automation and robots to replace human labour. That will make most humans and their labour redundant in the eyes of the Talmudic global matrix controllers.
A UBI would become welfare for capitalists as people could drive for Uber and work for Task Rabbit and Amazon et al for even lower wages than currently because UBI would subsidise the meager pay cheques of everyone especially those in the the sharing economy. The Tech companies and mega corporations generally could keep increasing their profits while facing even less pressure to pay living wages to what will increasingly become non employee employees.
A UBI would give everyone the same dole, ostensibly to destigmitise government assistance. That would mean that wealthy people including banksters and corporatists would get the same stipend as everyone else. The result would be that the wealth gap and inequality would increase at the same time as the burgeoning and increasingly underpaid slave class expands. Moreover, criticism of the true exploiters, the banksters and their favoured corporatists, would decline as the UBI dependant masses will increasingly blame governments for their penury and misery.
A Universal Income could be calibrated so that it is just enough for people to survive. That will institutionalise poverty and dependance. As machines take over more and more jobs the life prospects for the ever growing unemployed and underemployed masses will disappear and they will become people without a purpose living from government pay cheque to pay cheque. Easy cannon fodder for New World Order politics.].
[Colour fonts, bolding and comments in square brackets added.].
This article was first published on Truthdig.com. Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution. A 13th book titled Banking on the People: Democratizing Finance in the Digital Age is due out early next year. She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.” Her 300+ blog articles are posted at EllenBrown.com.