In this article, you wrote...
"You'd end up with a whole mass of people on the low end ceasing to be productive workers and instead just living off the dole. ... Ideally, welfare should exist to be a security net ... But one thing it should not be is a permanent way of life for people who could be working otherwise."
Perhaps the (overly) simple solution, that keeps a VAT / "negative income tax" viable, would be a system to track anyone who received, say, 60% or more of their income from this for a year. Those people would continue to receive that minimum check but be drafted / conscripted into some sort of civil service and/or the military for a year.
Lots of public works projects and pocket wars could be accomplished thataway. A certain segment of the population would be rather motivated to find sufficient work, and count their pennies, to make damn-sure they hit that magic 41%. Another certain segment of the population would see this as not objectionable at all, and work the civil service / semi-volunteer army system to skate as much as possible also. And while there'd be a bit of bureaucracy around tracking, finding and employing folks in this system, it likely wouldn't be nearly as byzantine as the I.R.S. and may attract the sorts of people who are less inclined to play numbers games and more inclined to be the kind of self-starters you see on say, Dog The Bounty Hunter.
I leave it as an exercise for the reader as to whether I'm proposing this in the spirit of "A Modest Proposal". Mostly because I honestly don't know if I am or not.
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