IQ-Squared sponsored a debate last Sunday on a “universal basic income” proposal — the idea of giving every American adult $1,000 a month and instantly ending poverty. You can watch the debate here:

The four debaters were:
–Charles Murray (AEI scholar and a “libertarian”)
–Andrew Stern (former president of a service union and scholar at Economic Security Project)
–Jared Bernstein, chief economist for Joe Biden
–Jason Furman, former director of Council of Economic Advisors under Obama

Now, you would think that Bernstein and Furman, both social Democrats who worked under the Obama administration, would support a universal income policy and that Charles Murray, the libertarian who favors limited government, would oppose it.

But no! Murray supports it and Berstein and Furman strongly oppose it.

Is Universal Income Plan (UIP) a Good Idea?

If I had been on the debate, I would have sided with the social Democrats. The problem with the UIP is that it violates the A&W principles that I teach my students in economics. A stands for “accountability,” meaning the user pays. W stands for “welfare” — you help those who need help but you don’t help those who don’t need help. The problem with UIP is that it gives $1,000 a month to everyone, including the rich people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. What a waste of money — and it is needlessly costly to taxpayers. The tax bill would have to double each year to pay for this program’s cost of $1.7 trillion a year.

If you are going to have an automatic way to help the poor, why not adopt Milton Friedman’s idea of a negative income tax? That way, the public funds only go to the poor, and not to the wealthy.

Who won the debate? The audience was swayed strongly against the motion. It was a vote for liberty!

Upcoming Appearances

New Orleans Investment Conference, New Orleans Hilton, Oct. 25-28: I’ve spoken at this “granddaddy of hard-money conferences” since 1977! This year’s keynote speakers include Fox News host Tucker Carlson, contributor Charles Krauthammer, real estate mogul Robert Kiyosaki and commodity guru Dennis Gartman. For full information, go to or call toll-free 1-800-648-8411.

In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter from last week about how my gross output (GO) predicted a bounce back in the market.

You Blew It!

Exposing the Bankruptcy of Both Left and the Right

“He who controls the labels, wins!”

— Larry Abraham

“There is no left or right, only up or down.”

— Ronald Reagan (1964)

As mentioned in my Skousen CAFÉ article this week, a recent debate about whether to give taxpayer-funded universal income to all Americans showed two social Democrats opposing the idea, even though they normally are associated with the “left,” and Charles Murray, a libertarian who often is viewed as someone on the “right,“ favoring it.

This just goes to show you how outdated and misleading left and right political labels are, and why they should be discouraged if not eliminated from civil discourse. They are divisive and create more heat than light. Such labels often also are used to smear people.

It should be all about what is right, not who is right. The debate should be on the issues, not putting people in political boxes to demonize them like they do in the media (New York Times, Fox News, etc.). When you label someone, thinking stops and finger pointing begins.

At FreedomFest, we discourage speakers and attendees frobm using these schismatic “left-right” labels. We need to avoid prejudging speakers as much as possible and listen to what they have to say.

The problem with labeling people “left” and “right” is that you imply an equality. In economics, for example, Adam Smith and his laissez-faire policies are viewed as “extreme right” on the political spectrum and Karl Marx and Totalitarian Communism as the “extreme left.” The Aristotelian middle is John Maynard Keynes and Big Government/Welfare State. But is that the ideal?

I prefer the Totem Pole approach, where Adam Smith is at the top, Keynes is in the middle, and low man on the totem pole is Marx. See the accompanying Totem Pole in Economics that I commissioned several years ago.

I believe that Adam Smith offers the best system of government, Keynes the second best and Marx the worst. I side with Ronald Reagan, who said, “There is no left or right, only up or down.”