Then there is minimum income. We do have the ability to give every adult a certain minimum income, I think. Or at least we did before we ran the presses at melting speed. Heinlein in his Fabian socialist days envisioned this as a way to get the economy going. If every adult has some tiny income, enough to live on if you have three roommates and live on Ramen noodles – say 10k a year – then everything you make above that is in a way disposable. Not only is there no need, but there is more disposable income to stimulate the economy. (To understand the appeal of this to Heinlein you have to understand that his most frequent contention with his sister was that they only had a pillow between the two of them. It’s poverty we now can’t begin to imagine.) Also, one presumes, since breathing and over eighteen was the criteria, we might spend less on that that on our current welfare system.
And maybe it would be. Except we hit up on the snag of human nature. A wise man said “The poor, you shall always have” and He seems likely to be right. First of all, poverty is relative. When that man walked in Galilee being poor was usually a fatal condition. You simply didn’t make enough to eat, or to keep off the cold. You might not be able to reproduce because you couldn’t support children. It was a condition of terminal failure. Unless you somehow clawed up, you’d die of it.
“It’s a lovely idea, the only problem is it wouldn’t work.” Basically.