It costs more to keep poverty than it would cost to eliminate it, says author and Occupy Wall Street organizer David DeGraw.
The writer told Acronym TV in a recent interview that his own research had convinced him that guaranteed income was the most effective way to fix wealth inequality.
DeGraw told host Dennis Trainor Jr. that it would cost just 0.5 percent of the wealth currently held by the top 1 percent “to eliminate poverty nationwide.”
“If people would just wrap their head around the fact that we have $94 trillion of wealth in this country, I think we would have a revolution overnight,” DeGraw said.
At least 40 percent of the wealth held by the 1 percent is sitting idle, he said – so there is “an astonishing $13 trillion in wealth hoarded away, unused.”
“Having that much wealth consolidated within a mere 1 percent of the population, while a record number of people toil in poverty and debt, is a crime against humanity,” he said.
DeGraw said negative effects of poverty, such as increased health care costs and costs associated with crime, already cost more than it would to simply pay $40,000 a year to every non-millionaire household or $35,000 to every working-age person.
“The cost of poverty is more than the cost of eliminating poverty,” he said.
He admitted that guaranteed income was highly unlikely to gain much political support, but he said it’s not as crazy as the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program.
“Quantitative easing created $4 trillion out of thin air, OK, and they created it under the guise of stimulating job growth,” DeGraw said. “Since they started QE, we have lost over 12 million full-time jobs. Almost all of that money went into the pockets of the 0.01 percent, so they gave $4 trillion to people who already had $21 trillion sitting in the bank. That is not the way to stimulate the economy. We could have taken that $4 trillion, and we could provide $40,000 to every non-millionaire household, and that would be a much better stimulus for the economy.”
DeGraw — who coined the Occupy movement’s rallying cry – “We Are the 99 Percent” – said his background made him somewhat reluctant to call for guaranteed income, but it simply made too much economic and moral sense.
“I looked at all the data and the evidence, and you can provide a guaranteed income to people, and it would cost society less,” he said. “We have a $2 trillion social safety net in this country right now. With that $2 trillion, you could give $20,000 to every non-millionaire household. So the money’s already out there, and once again – and I cannot stress this enough – we have $94 trillion of wealth in this country.”
Watch the entire interview posted online by Dennis Trainor Jr: