- In this paper, I propose that the US government tackle the problem of wealth inequality by creating a social wealth fund (SWF) and issuing one share of ownership in the fund to every American. After the fund is created, the government will gradually accumulate assets for the fund to manage, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate. As the assets under management increase, the value of the shares held by the citizen-owners will increase, causing wealth inequality to fall. Although the citizen-owners will not be permitted to sell their shares, they will be paid a universal basic dividend (UBD) each year from the investment income earned by the fund.
Section One of the paper provides a basic background on social wealth funds. Section Two discusses the Alaska Permanent Fund, a social wealth fund created by the state of Alaska in 1976. Section Three contains a detailed proposal that federal policymakers could use to create an American social wealth fund along the lines explained above.
Our current policy discussion around wealth inequality is inadequate for the task at hand. This discussion features mostly small bore proposals—often going under the heading of “low-income asset building”—that, if implemented, would have virtually no effect on the overall level of wealth inequality in the country. The goal of this paper is to go beyond these conventional proposals and provide a solution to wealth concentration that is designed to confront the monumental scale of the problem we face.