Distinguished author and commentator Charles Murray, who is the author of the book, "In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State," said in an interview on C-SPAN today that the current scheme of income transfer from the government is “crazy.” He is proposing that the governnment should instead provide an annual subsidy of $10,000 per year in lieu of other benefits such as welfare and Social Security to every American aged 21 years or older. Murray is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
“It is crazy. We have $2 trillion a year we spent on transfer. We still have 11,12, 13% poverty, depending on what year you’re talking about. We still have millions of elderly without the means to have a decent existence. It’s crazy that you can spend that much money and still have poverty be a serious problem,” said Murray.
Charles Murray has often been labeled a paleo-conservative or libertarian, and is known for several notable books. They include: “Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980”, which discussed the American welfare system, “The Bell Curve”, which argues that intelligence is a better predictor than parental socio-economic status or education level of many individual outcomes such as: income, job performance, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and crime. Other works include: “In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government,” “What It Means to be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation,” as well as “Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality.”
Murray denounced the current system for "paying thousands of bureaucrats" who give out "bits and pieces, a lot of it in kind, a lot of it gets lost in the pipeline." This "patchwork of assistance," said Murray, does not do a good job of targeting individuals’ needs. “If we just gave people cash resources to make their own decisions about how to deal with their needs, I think you give a way for us to get rid of what I call involuntary poverty. Under guaranteed income, will be still have people who waste their money? Yeah. Are we providing a way in which they have a clear path to a decent existence? Yes.”
Murray, who has long been an advocate of small government, said that the scheme he is offering would cost $200 million less than the current system of wealth transfer.
In response to a caller who objected to Murray’s proposal to eliminate Social Security payouts, Murray said that eliminating the program would actually be better for elderly Americans. “Social Security is not universal,” he said. “There are a lot of elderly people that are desperately poor, that have no income from Social Security. If you have a couple that are of retirement age, they’re getting $20,000 a year. For a lot of people receiving Social Security,” Murray said, “That works fine.” He noted that he receives $33,000 in Social Security annually himself.
Under Murray’s proposal, Americans could choose between guaranteed income or Social Security. “You could go into either system,” Murray said, who argued that those aged in their mid-40s or even older might want to choose to switch “because Social Security is not a very good deals in terms of the return you get. This plans that gets rid of Social Security does not leave you destitute at age 65. You still have the same roads of putting together a decent existence, and unlike the current Social Security system, everybody is getting this money at 65.”