Open letter to President Obama <here>
The dream, vision, and promise of America includes income security for all.
That’s clear when we think about “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Life requires food and shelter, and therefore the income to pay for food and shelter. Liberty is denied, at least partly, to people who cannot afford basic living expenses. The pursuit of happiness is more than money, but money is a means to happiness and part of the pursuit. For these inalienable rights, thus, some secure income must also be a right.
Income security for all, in addition, is vital for society. Whenever some people are desperately poor, while others have plenty of money to hire lawyers, lobbyists, and publicists, democracy is impaired and individual liberty is imperiled. For a strong, healthy democratic society, every citizen must be able to participate in “We the People” with equal rights and equal opportunities.
Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, and Martin Luther King Jr. are among the many eminent Americans who endorsed the idea of income security. It was a mainstream idea in the 1880s, 1930s, and 1960s, when there was widespread support for “guaranteed income” or a “negative income tax.” The House of Representatives passed a guaranteed income plan in 1970 by a two-to-one margin, but the Senate blocked it.
The idea, updated, is this:
· Set some amount and provide it to every adult citizen; enough for food and shelter, but just enough, so there will be still be lots of incentives to work and earn.
· Cash payments, monthly, for the very poor; tax deductions for everyone else.
· Periodic adjustments to offset changes in the cost of living.
· Possible supplements from local revenues where living costs are high.
· The same amount for every citizen, to promote justice and equality while minimizing government intrusiveness and bureaucracy.
This can replace most individual welfare programs, federal, state, and local. Replace corporate welfare, too. That’s how we pay for it — by getting serious about cutting government. Our government will “promote the general welfare” only, not the special welfare of any specific individual, group, business, industry, or region. America’s free market economic system will be more fair and more free.
We ordinary citizens, when we have income security, will be more empowered to realize our goals and dreams. It will be easier to stay in school or go back to school. To start businesses. To be full-time parents. To volunteer and serve our communities. It will also be easier for us to work together, We the People, to take back our government from the special interests.
Does this make sense to you? Would you like to have a public debate, at least, about income security for all? Would you like a secure income – extra income, in addition to what you earn or get from other sources – for every adult citizen, you, your spouse, your parents, your adult children?
You can play a key role in deciding the details and making it happen.
Advocates of income security for all are conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, Greens and Libertarians and members of other “third” parties, independent voters and people who rarely or never vote, united by our discontent with the status quo. United by our desire for real change, meaningful reform, and rapid progress. United by hope.
Current economic instability – job losses, home foreclosures, and so on – make these ideas timely, even urgent.
Join us. Help spread the word.