For Bram Zeigler, an economist and unapologetic capitalist, changing the narrative on poverty starts with dignity and self-determination. In 2021, Bram founded Capitalists for Shared Income (C4si). Inspired by the work of Milton Friedman who advocated for a negative income tax in the late 1960s, C4si offers an innovative approach to address poverty and income inequality. Through one-time debit card cash payments of $58, C4si partners with existing nonprofit organizations who work with the disenfranchised to lift them out of poverty. While $58 may not seem like a lot to many listeners, it can make a lasting difference to someone in need of groceries, a tank of gas, or an oil change. Bram intentionally chose $58, which is “a day’s pay” for anyone working a job at today’s federal minimum wage. That’s a full day’s pay. $58.
While he sees a role for the government in addressing income inequality, Bram’s focus is on the private sector. Despite its imperfections, Bram believes that capitalism is the best economic system we have devised to efficiently allocate resources and reward individual effort. For the system to work for everyone, however, Bram believes that the individuals and organizations who reap the benefits of a free market economy also bear the responsibility to self-regulate and address the widening income disparities between rich and poor. Working with his board, partner organizations, and investors, Bram is applying his expertise in Asset Management to raise an endowment to fund C4si’s cash distributions.
Through C4si, Bram has created a life with social impact, one debit card at a time.
Episode Links and Resources
A New Year’s Resolution For Capitalism, Kevin Coldiron, Forbes, January 6, 2022
Milton Friedman – The Negative Income Tax, interview on “The Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr.”, 1968, YouTube
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, Stephanie Land, 2019.
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