United States: The Social Wealth Fund plan already exists
There is a plan for distributing dividends, unconditionally, for all Americans. It has been coined as the Social Wealth Fund (SWF), an idea developed and pushed by the People’s Policy Project (3P) founder Matt Bruenig, a known lawyer, blogger and policy analyst in the United States. 3P is a think tank founded in 2017, focused on studying policies benefiting citizens at large.
This plan, described in greater detail in a booklet, rests on the idea of turning national a kind of wealth fund such as the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF). However, unlike the APF, the SWF would have to rely on other sources of revenue (other than oil). Bruenig’s suggestions range from voluntary contributions, managing state-owned physical assets through the fund, various kinds of taxes (including eliminating tax breaks for the rich), leveraged purchases, to monetary seigniorage. This income is supposed to come from the highest earners in society (ex.: corporate taxes, financial taxes, philanthropy, stock exchanging), distributing it by all people.
Peter Barnes, an advisor to the Economic Security Project, has written about the SWF. According to him, the SWF is “refreshing”, because apparently none of the past policies have solved or even reduced inequality, such as “greater funding for education, infrastructure investment, low interest rates, a higher minimum wage, trade wars, tax cuts, or even a federally guaranteed job”. The inequality problem runs deep in society, and that’s where an unconditional dividend distribution of commonly owned assets could really be effective.
As for distributing dividends, Bruenig’s idea is to set this as a percentage of a five-year moving average of the fund’s market value. This could equate to a withdrawal rate of, say, four or five percent. If, at a given moment, the total fund value is $10 trillion, then the available dividends for distribution are $400 billion (Note 1).
On an article published by Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya, on wealth funds and racial inequality, the concept is summed up nicely:
“Often referred to as a Social Wealth Fund, Citizens Wealth Fund or Sovereign Wealth Fund, this concept rests on the principle of shared ownership, and builds from the foundational vision that all Americans have a right to reap benefits from wealth that we all created together.”
Note 1 – billion = 1 thousand millions
More information at:
Matt Bruenig, “Social Wealth Fund for America”, People’s Policy Project, 2018
Peter Barnes, “Opinion: All Americans would get an income boost under this new plan to share the country’s riches”, Market Watch, September 10th 2018
Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya, “Why a Social Wealth Fund Must Account for Racial Inequity”, Medium, September 19th 2018