One of the biggest limitations with the US government is that, although the population has grown, the number of people making decisions has been roughly the same since the get go. Since the original population of 2 million in this country has grown to over 328 million, the number of legislators increased from 87 to 535 people, changing the percentage of our representation from .0045% of the population to .00016% of the population. While it may seem impressive that the size of Congress has increased by 515%, it doesn’t seem to be quite an adequate representation for the 16,300% growth in the population.
I realize that there are only so many seats in the Capitol building, but that seems like very few people to make decisions for so many. And since the imbalanced nature of the two-party game we’ve thus far settled for only contributes to the wobbliness of the already insecure three-branched government, perhaps we should discuss integrating a fourth branch to balance our government out. If this country wants to continue building a more perfect union based on We the People, a fourth branch of government would continue to perfect our union by eradicating poverty for our people so that we can empower them to participate.
At it’s best, a government is supposed to provide safety, security, and stability. Have you ever sat in a 3-legged chair? They’re not a very good example of balanced support and security. Just like chairs, tables, and barnyard animals, government would probably benefit greatly from a fourth leg.
I suggest calling the fourth branch the Department of Peace, but I’m also open to calling it the Branch of Common Sense, or just the Commons. Building on open source technology, and the communicative, collaborative, crowd-sourcing, and up-voting abilities that were not available in 1776, a fourth branch of government could be established by building a platform where every voter registered at birth gets to weigh in on the issues of greatest importance that the legislative and executive branches need to work on. Since we’re now discussing Universal Basic Income, what if every American is given an annual 12,000$ salary as a member of the Department of Peace, receiving 1,000$ a month to be secure, build relationships, get informed, and participate in the democracy we’re trying to build?
By eradicating the poverty of every citizen who needs it, we offer them the peace of having their primary needs covered so that survival is no longer a daily concern. We then empower them to serve where they can, learn what they need to, and contribute to our union as they are called, and capitalism can have another opportunity to prove itself. If We the People will concede that selfishness is not a very high water mark for human development, we can put an end to the business of breeding billionaires and invest in a more resilient economic system that doesn’t crash down on us as much.
Consider that the 2,153 billionaires our economic system has created have siphoned up more money than 4.6 billion people, which means that .0006% of the population is hoarding more wealth than is shared by 60% of the population. Also consider that during this pandemic, as the majority of Americans suffered financial devastation, the wealth of the billionaire class increased by 27% to roughly another trillion dollars. It would benefit us to realize that humanity is just making up the art of economics as we go, and a more collaborative use of currency would allow us to thrive as a people, but redistribution is going to be required.
Although many have been trained to be as frightened of the word “redistribution” as Pavlov’s dogs were to salivate at the sound of a bell, we would be wise to remember that money is supposed to be distributed because healthy currencies are supposed to flow. When the social disease of greed festers and those afflicted become consumed by narcissism, the currency no longer flows because the hoarders get out of touch with the rest of reality and the economy gets dammed. So in order to keep their egos in check and minimize the damage of their sociopathy, the government that is supposed to support We the People is going to need to intervine, to tax those fortunes, distribute the currency, and have another try at building a stable economy.
Consider that if we were to evenly distribute all of the 90 trillion dollars that humanity has created to the 7.5 billion people currently on the planet, we would each have roughly 12,000$. What if we were to celebrate one year with such a redistribution of wealth, where everyone gets 1000$ a month to be the artists of their lives. Can you imagine what a year that would be?
Some economists would say that within fifty years, the money would probably end up in exactly the same accounts, but what a fifty years that would be! Would as much of that money be spent on consumable, disposable development as our current economy or would our species invest in a more resilient and sustainable infrastructure? Obviously, the US is not in the place to distribute all of the wealth to all of the people of the world, however, it could lead the rest of the world in showing how an empowered citizenry can create a more resilient economy.
A Universal Basic Income need not be about paying people to do nothing when we can pay them to get involved in the Department of Peace. What if a UBI is about empowering people to find their purpose in life beyond merely making a profit? We can all still make profits, but we needn’t do it off of other people’s poverty as we continue to progress.