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  • There is a narrative,

  • an idea that with resilience, grit and personal responsibility

  • people can pull themselves up and achieve economic success.

  • In the United States we call it the American dream.

  • A similar narrative exists all over the world.

  • But the truth is that the challenges of making this happen

  • have less to do with what we do

  • and more to do with the wealth position in which we are born.

  • So I'm going to make the case that the United States government,

  • actually that any government,

  • should create a trust account for every newborn

  • of up to 60,000 dollars,

  • calibrated to the wealth of the family in which they are born.

  • I'm talking about an endowment.

  • Personal seed capital, a publicly established baby trust,

  • what my colleague William Darity at Duke University and I

  • have referred to as baby bonds,

  • a term that was coined by the late historian from Columbia University,

  • Manning Marable.

  • The reason why we should create these trusts is simple.

  • Wealth is the paramount indicator of economic security and well-being.

  • It provides financial agency, economic security to take risk

  • and shield against loss.

  • Without capital, inequality is locked in.

  • We use words like choice, freedom to describe the benefits of the market,

  • but it is literally wealth that gives us choice, freedom and optionality.

  • Wealthier families are better positioned to finance an elite, independent school

  • and college education,

  • access capital to start a business,

  • finance expensive medical procedures,

  • reside in neighborhoods with higher amenities,

  • exert political influence through campaign finance,

  • purchase better legal counsel

  • if confronted with an expensive criminal justice system,

  • leave a bequest

  • and/or withstand financial hardship resulting from any number of emergencies.

  • Basically, when it comes to economic security,

  • wealth is both the beginning and the end.

  • I will frame this conversation in the context of the United States,

  • but this discussion applies virtually to any country

  • facing increasing inequality.

  • In the US, the top 10 percent of households

  • hold about 80 percent of the nation's wealth

  • while the bottom 60 percent owns only about one percent.

  • But when it comes to wealth,

  • race is an even stronger predictor than class itself.

  • Blacks and Latinos collectively make up 30 percent

  • of the United States population,

  • but collectively own about seven percent of the nation's wealth.

  • The 2016 survey of consumer finance

  • indicates that the typical black family has about 17,000 dollars in wealth,

  • and that's inclusive of home equity,

  • while the typical white family has about 170,000.

  • That is indicative of an absolute racial wealth gap

  • where the typical black household has about 10 cents for every dollar

  • held by the typical white family.

  • But regardless of race,

  • the market alone has been inadequate to address these inequalities.

  • Even in times of economic expansion, inequality grows.

  • Over the last 45 years,

  • wealth disparity has increased dramatically,

  • and essentially, all the economic gains from America's increase in productivity

  • have gone to the elite or the upper middle class.

  • Yet, much of the framing around economic disparity

  • focuses on the poor choices

  • of black, Latino and poor borrowers.

  • This framing is wrong.

  • The directional emphasis is wrong.

  • It is more likely that meager economic circumstance,

  • not poor decision making or deficient knowledge,

  • constrains choice itself and leaves people with no options

  • but to turn to predatory finance.

  • In essence, education is not the magic antidote

  • for the enormous inherited disparities

  • that result from laws, policies and economic arrangement.

  • This does not diminish the value of education.

  • Indeed, I'm a university professor.

  • There are clear intrinsic values to education,

  • along with a public responsibility

  • to expose everyone to a high-quality education,

  • from grade school all the way through college.

  • But education is not the panacea.

  • In fact, blacks who live in families where the head graduated from college

  • typically have less wealth

  • than white families where the head dropped out of high school.

  • Perhaps we overstate the functional role of education

  • at the detriment of understanding the functional role of wealth.

  • Basically, it is wealth that begets more wealth.

  • That's why we advocate for baby trust.

  • An economic birthright to capital for everyone.

  • These accounts would be held in public trust

  • to be used as a foundation to an economically secure life.

  • The concept of economic rights is not new nor is it radical.

  • In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt

  • introduced the idea of an economic Bill of Rights.

  • Roosevelt called for physical security,

  • economic security, social security and moral security.

  • Unfortunately, since the Nixon administration,

  • the political sentiment regarding social mobility

  • has radically shifted away from government mandates to economic security

  • to a neoliberal approach

  • in which the market is presumed to be the solution for all our problems,

  • economic or otherwise.

  • As a result, the onus of social mobility has shifted on to the individual.

  • The pervasive narrative is that even if your lot in life is subpar,

  • with perseverance and hard work and the virtues of the free market,

  • you can turn your proverbial rags into riches.

  • Of course, the flip side is that the virtues of the market

  • will likewise sanction those that are not astute,

  • those that lack motivation or those that are simply lazy.

  • In other words, the deserving poor will receive their just rewards.

  • What is glaringly missing from this narrative

  • is the role of power and capital,

  • and how that power and capital

  • can be used to alter the rules and structure of transactions and markets

  • in the first place.

  • Power and capital become self-reinforcing.

  • And without government intervention,

  • they generate an iterative cycle of both stratification and inequality.

  • The capital finance provided by baby trust

  • is intended to deliver a more egalitarian and an authentic pathway

  • to economic security,

  • independent of the family financial position

  • in which individuals are born.

  • The program would complement the economic rights to old-age pensions

  • and provide a more comprehensive social security program,

  • designed to provide capital finance from cradle all the way through grave.

  • We envision endowing American newborns with an average account of 25,000 dollars

  • that gradually rises upwards to 60,000 dollars

  • for babies born into the poorest families.

  • Babies born into the wealthiest families

  • would be included as well in the social contract,

  • but they would receive a more nominal account of about 500 dollars.

  • The accounts would be federally managed,

  • and they would grow at a guaranteed annual interest rate

  • of about two percent per year in order to curtail inflation cost,

  • and be used when the child reaches adulthood

  • for some asset-enhancing activity,

  • like financing a debt-free university education,

  • a down payment to purchase a home,

  • or some seed capital to start a business.

  • With approximately four million babies born each year in the US,

  • if the average endowment of a baby trust is set at 25,000 dollars,

  • the program would crudely cost about 100 billion dollars a year.

  • This would constitute

  • only about two percent of current federal expenditures

  • and be far less than the 500-plus billion dollars

  • that's already being spent by the federal government

  • on asset promotion through tax credits and subsidies.

  • At issue is not the amount of that allocation

  • but to whom it's distributed.

  • Currently, the top one percent of households,

  • those earning above 100 million dollars,

  • receive only about one third of this entire allocation,

  • while the bottom 60 percent receive only five percent.

  • If the federal asset-promoting budget

  • were allocated in a more progressive manner,

  • federal policies could be transformative for all Americans.

  • This is a work in progress.

  • There are obviously many details to be worked out,

  • but it is a policy proposal grounded in the functional roles

  • and the inherited advantages of wealth

  • that moves us away from the reinforcing status quo

  • behavioral explanations for inequality

  • towards more structural solutions.

  • Our existing tax policy that privileges existing wealth

  • rather than establishing new wealth is a choice.

  • The extent of our dramatic inequality is at least as much a problem of politics

  • as it is a problem of economics.

  • It is time to get beyond the false narratives

  • that attribute inequality to individual personal deficits

  • while largely ignoring the advantages of wealth.

  • Instead, public provisions of a baby trust

  • could go a long way towards eliminating

  • the transmission of economic advantage or disadvantage across generations

  • and establishing a more moral and decent economy

  • that facilitates assets, economic security

  • and social mobility for all its citizens.

  • Regardless of the race

  • and the family positions in which they are born.

  • Thank you very much.

  • (Applause)

  • Chris Anderson: Darrick.

  • I mean, there's so much to like in this idea.

  • There's one piece of branding around it that I worry about,

  • which is just that right now, trust-fund kids have a really bad rap.

  • You know, they're the sort of eyeball-rolling poster children

  • for how money, kind of, takes away motivation.

  • So, these trusts are different.

  • So how do you show people in this proposal that it's not going to do that?

  • Darrick Hamilton: If you know you have limited resources

  • or you're going to face discrimination,

  • there's a narrative that, well,

  • the economic returns to investing in myself

  • are lower than that of someone else,

  • so I might as well enjoy my leisure.

  • Of course, there's another narrative as well,

  • so we shouldn't get caught up on that,

  • you know, somebody who's poor and going to face discrimination,

  • they also might pursue a resume-building strategy.

  • The old adage, "I have to be twice as good as someone else."

  • Now, when we say that, we never ask at what cost,

  • are there health costs associated with that.

  • I haven't answered your question, but coming back to you question,

  • if you know you're going to receive a transfer at a later point in life,

  • that only increases the incentive for you to invest in yourself

  • so that you can better use that trust.

  • CA: You're giving people possibilities of life

  • they currently cannot imagine having.

  • And therefore the motivation to do that.

  • I could talk with you for hours about this.

  • I'm really glad you're working on this.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

There is a narrative,

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【TED】How "baby bonds" could help close the wealth gap | Darrick Hamilton

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    林宜悉   に公開 2019 年 01 月 15 日
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