There are many approaches to UBI, many of which would be preferable to not having it at all. To get started, here is one approach.
The federal government shall pay each eligible citizen of the United States a tax-free weekly payment from collections of one or more specified consumption taxes or specific savings from the elimination of federal government programs. The payment shall be termed a “Universal Basic Income Payment, or UBI Payment.” To be eligible, the citizen must have been a citizen of the United States (and also not a citizen of any other country) for at least 17 years and have been physically in the United States for a cumulative total of 17 years, all of which shall be subsequent to the most recent absence of 180 days or longer, except that active duty military or other government service, or overseas employment by a U.S corporation, shall not count as physical absence for this purpose.
Recipients must physically be in the United States or its territories or similar entities whose residents pay the full amount of U.S. taxes, with the payment amount reduced pro-rata for days of absence. This payment should be irrespective of earnings or other means testing, but may be preempted (meaning redirected to other individuals or government agencies) under certain conditions. If a citizen is adjudicated not capable of self-care or caring for children, or is sent to prison, all or a portion of the UBI payment shall be redirected to the government agency providing subsistence or care. If the citizen is a non-custodial parent, the UBI payment shall be shared between the custodial parent(s) and the citizen.
UBI should start small, and be phased in over many years. It should ultimately be equal to the federal poverty level so that there will be no mass poverty. There will be individual special cases, which should be the purview of state and local government, not the federal government. When UBI is fully phased in, federal welfare payments, federally subsidized medical insurance, and unemployment compensation will all be eliminated. During the phase-in period, these payments and subsidized housing rents shall be adjusted to prevent a windfall to the recipients of existing subsidies.
As with UBI, there are many approaches to creating a national registry, but here is a start.
The federal government should maintain a computerized registry listing all persons physically in the United States or its territories or possessions. For each person, the registry should include certain basic information, all of which should be factual and extracted or extractable from public records. This information should minimally include whether or not the person is a citizen and dates of any changes in citizenship or immigration status, outlaw or “wanted” status, and dates and places of all border crossings to or from the United States and its possessions.
The National Registry might usefully include a wide range of other information such as status of driving or aircraft piloting privileges. A discrete alphanumeric identification number should be assigned. Personal identification data including a digitized photograph and other identifying information, possibly including DNA characteristics, should be included. Categories of information should be expressly limited to those established by federal legislation, and access should be strictly controlled. Individuals, after proper identification, should have access to all information in their own record (except possibly certain security information, the existence of which and not the actual content would be disclosed) and the right to seek correction of information deemed erroneous. Certain information, such as medical history and marriage status, would be maintained only with the individual’s permission and would be accessible only with the individual’s permission; even then, it would be accessible only to approved requestors such as medical providers.
Establishing effective controls and procedures is more feasible than one might expect, because the federal government already has enormous lists of procedures and services with approved prices for each. Such lists are now the basis for payments to doctors and other providers of services to patients on Medicare and Medicaid. Other providers include pharmacies, ambulances, prosthetic manufacturers, and vendors.
As always, the best way to control prices is via free enterprise. However, there are some difficulties with medical goods and services, because consumers (patients) often do not know what they will require, and pricing is so complicated that it must be simplified to permit meaningful competition. Moreover, services are often provided on an emergency basis, and the patient typically has no choice of providers. Natural governance addresses these issues.
As a first step, each provider would have to decide whether to participate in the federal program or to opt out. Those that elect to opt out are free to charge whatever they wish, and their relationship with patients would be whatever the parties agree. Federal, state, or local government can still establish and enforce standards of care and sanitation but cannot affect pricing. Each provider would have the right to opt out at its sole discretion.
Providers that elect to participate, which will probably be most or almost all providers, will be subject to these guidelines:
1 For more discussion on adverse selection, see the following section, Analysis of the ACA.
The federal government should purchase or prepay all first mortgages on Section 8 housing if the interest exceeds the federal borrowing rate. It should then eliminate debt service and reduce housing assistance payments (HAPs) by the amount saved. Housing choice vouchers should be phased out over a short number of years. In apartments where the tenant pays utilities, utility allowances should be phased out. For apartments with utilities provided, rent should be increased by the reasonable value of utilities. When individual UBI reaches the federal poverty level (that is, it meets the poverty level for a household of two, divided by two), rents should increase to at least the operating costs of the property without financial expenses. As UBI is phased in, rents should be increased proportionately. There should be no new construction of subsidized housing, as older housing declining in value can fulfill that need more efficiently. If the federal government does subsidize new construction of subsidized units, which it should not, it should pay the cost with federal appropriations and not rely on tax credits or other tax stratagems to pay or hide part of the cost.
The term “Alien Visitor” would include immigrant students, guest workers, recreational tourists, and medical tourists. Visitors would not have state their intention in advance, and could change their intention at any time. Thus, a student could decide to get a job, and actually get one, without reporting the change in intention.
Any immigrant without flags on his or her national registry file would be free to enter the United States as a visitor at any time. Procedures to establish flags would be created by national laws enacted pursuant to the Constitution, with legal review and all other safeguards in place. They could be specific to the person, such as a criminal record or outstanding judgment; or they could be generic, such as country of origin, sex, or age range. The effect of any particular flag could range from a minor additional level of inspection to an outright prohibition against entry. First-time visitors would have to provide 30 days’ notice of their intention, but if the government did not create a flag during that period, permission to enter would be automatic.
Visitors and citizens alike would have to cross borders at designated checkpoints. Any undocumented or unreported crossing (in either direction) would be cause for permanent denial of right to enter and/or criminal prosecution.
All non-citizens would be required to provide their own health insurance and to fund the education of any school-age children present during the school year. Obtaining health insurance would ensure that immigrant visitors would not become a medical expense to U.S. citizens, but insurers would have no obligation to insure those with high-cost medical conditions. Their decision to insure, and the price charged, should be strictly between the insurer and the insured. Neither an inability to obtain insurance because of high-cost medical conditions nor family ties to U.S. citizens would excuse potential visitors from compliance with these requirements. Immigrants who are physically within the United States but who fail to comply should be deported.
Citizenship should not be granted automatically upon birth within borders of the United States. It should be limited to people born of a mother who was a U.S. citizen at the time she gave birth, whether or not she was in the United States at the time. This would require an amendment to the Constitution, but in the meantime, pregnant women could be prohibited from entering or required to leave the United States.
At the discretion of the president and Congress, Alien Visitors could be required to leave after a certain period of time and remain outside the country for another specified period. For example, they might have to leave after a year and remain outside the United States for six months before returning. Alternatively, they could be required to leave after any period not exceeding a year and remain outside for a length of time equal to at least half the time they were physically present in the United States. Natural governance makes no recommendation as to any requirement for maximum stays or lengths of absence after a visit.
Alien visitation and citizenship should be on an entirely separate track and have nothing to do with each other. No amount of time spent in the United States as a guest visitor should entitle a person to a preferential path to citizenship. That said, a person’s wrongful actions as an Alien Visitor could serve as a basis for denial of a citizenship application. After a reasonable time to cure, any person’s undocumented presence in the United States should be a permanent and irrevocable bar to citizenship.