It was almost precisely two years ago that I wrote a blog entry entitled "ASPIRE Act Doesn't Inspire Me Much"
Somehow I lost track of the ASPIRE Act after that. Can't imagine why, given the economic events that got rolling around that time. [/snark]
Guess what? Looks like the idea hasn't died:US News: Coming Soon: $500 for Every Newborn?
I didn't like
the idea two years ago.
I don't like
You know what such an idea screams to me? It says, Let the government "care" for you — cradle to grave. After all, we know what's best.
Or maybe I'm just imagining things.
The purpose of the accounts, says Reid Cramer, director of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, is to get people invested in their future.
Handing someone $500 (or more) at birth, when they've done precisely ZERO to earn it. Sounds positively ... redistributive.
"Having an asset has the potential to change the way people think and plan for their future, and sometimes those effects can be generated just from small asset holdings," Cramer says, adding that it's possible for people to build up significant savings over time. The ASPIRE Act also pairs the creation of the accounts with financial literacy programs in schools.
Financial literacy programs, I'm all for. The rest of Cramer's spiel, though, is trash. There are other motives at play here. I just can't put my finger on them.
"The important thing is that everybody gets an account," says Cramer, and that it's opened automatically so families don't need to take much action. It would still be a progressive program, he adds, because as the ASPIRE Act is currently written, poorer families would receive additional funding.
Kind of like cancer is "progressive."
Lawmakers are expected to reintroduce the ASPIRE Act before the end of the year, and it already enjoys bipartisan support.
Now there's a surprise. NOT.
The main challenge for supporters will most likely be over how to justify the cost at a time of great budget deficits and competing demands for federal dollars.
Cost? What cost? A few clicks on the FedRes mainframes, and WHAMMO you've got brand new cashola, ready to be spread hither and yon. We've established this.
Critics argue that the program would simply create another costly entitlement program.
That'd be a fine argument — except that creating costly entitlement programs is usually the unspoken goal of vote-buying politicians.
Am I alone in my displeasure on this?