My wife is an accountant and she refused to listen to my stupid idea. Before I go and ask economists, I would like to ask Worldbuilding :)
As we hopefully are aware, increasing automation is going to make much of human labor obsolete, probably very soon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU). The solution to this is to make work optional, and to provide everybody with the things they need to be healthy and entertained. One such solution is Universal Basic Income, which has been tried a few places and generally, gets rejected by policymakers or citizens because they don't like the idea (Urecht, Finland, Switzerland et al.).
Allow people to enjoy life, with no job
Allow employable people to continue working, if they enjoy doing so
So here is my imaginary solution: What if, let's say only in the USA, it is announced: "On October 1st, everybody aged 18 and over will receive one billion dollars." And the US government creates the money and deposits into people's accounts on the day. The broad effect being, the reduction in the value of money and thereby, flattening the distribution of cash wealth in the USA.
Note, I can't easily extend the concept to the entire world because of the numerous currencies, but the US is fairly isolated so the thought experiment starts there.
My imaginary short term outcomes include, in no particular order:
- In the run-up to this distribution event, existing billionaires would clearly try to convince the populus to vote down the proposal. But this would never succeed. The unwashed masses would never be able to turn down a billion dollars when it came down to it.
- Everybody will immediately pay off their mortgages and school loans. Anybody who was in debt in dollars will essentially no longer be. On the other hand, creditors and anyone who relied on debt income would be ruined overnight. For our purposes, that simply means that bankers are no longer needed and will not have to go to work.
- Anybody who was already a billionaire is now only going to be only TWICE as rich as a poor person, rather than ten million times as rich.
- The price of a loaf of bread may rise to \$10K, and small luxuries like a yearly iPhone subscription may rise to \$20M, but still, literally everyone would be able to afford either.
- Consider our out-of-work banker in Manhattan with the \$4M mortgage on his apartment. Mortgage now paid off, he can now spend his days playing video games or making artwork.
- All other citizens also have about the same spending power as our banker. So a truck driver in Abilene with a house worth \$40K in today's money could trade homes with him if they both agreed to it. In any event, neither one of these people needs to live close to work because neither of them have jobs.
- Educated people would have no immediate advantage over the non-educated. Except there would probably be an underclass of people not so good with numbers, who might lose all their money in the first few weeks.
- Obviously, somebody would still work in the ice cream shop; but they would be people passionate about ice cream and not simply people who needed the money. Salary there would still be the token $10/hour. Every remaining job would be reduced to something like a hobby or an artistic mission. Even today, look at the people who pick up trash for free. Even dirty jobs would get done and the workers would be respected for their passion.
The program will essentially be a combination of wealth redistribution (without ever taking anything away from the rich) and universal basic income (without having to identify any source of the funds).
Presumably, each subsequent October 1st, everyone would again receive another $1B. So everyone will know, money is going out of style.
My big question is: Would this program actually succeed in transitioning people to a non work based life?