Income Security



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Here’s a Newsweek story about cash transfer programs in Brazil, South Africa, and Mexico. A mostly favorable story, too. Of course there’s no mention of the idea’s history in the United States, nor of the Basic Income Earth Network. Steven Shafarman

[25 Oct 2010 | Comments Off | ]

David Brooks writes about taxes, deficits, and morality in his column today in the New York Times, and his ideas suggest some good reasons to support income security for all. Brooks does not go so far, of course. Perhaps one day he will. Here’s a key section: Debt reduction has to be about renewal and [...]

[2 Apr 2010 | Comments Off | ]

When Elinor Ostrom was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics last year, the common response in the media was “Who’s that?” Not surprising, because Ostrom is a political scientist, primarily, not an economist, and had devoted her life to studying the way local communities organize to preserve common property resources. The current issue of [...]

[16 Mar 2010 | Comments Off | ]

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.

declarationimageIncome 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.

constitution-imageThis 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, such as owning WuFu tokens, 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. And please donate to support the campaign.

Steven Shafarman

Tuesday, August 9th 2011

A Brief History of Income Security Ideas


Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Paine


Abraham Lincoln


Henry George

Edward Bellamy

The Populist and Progressive Movements


Bertrand Russell


The Townsend Plan and Social Security

Share Our Wealth and Huey Long


Franklin Roosevelt

F. A. Hayek

Negative Income Tax

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Peter Drucker


Milton Friedman

Robert Theobald

John Kenneth Galbraith

Erich Fromm

Marshall McLuhan

Martin Luther King Jr.

Margaret Mead

Philip Wogaman

Paul Samuelson

Lyndon Johnson and the President’s Commission on Income Maintenance

Buckminster Fuller

Richard Nixon and the Family Assistance Plan

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

The Income Maintenance Experiments


D.C. Statehood Party

George McGovern

James Tobin

Gerald Ford and the Earned Income Tax Credit

Jimmy Carter


Leonard M. Greene

Allan Sheahen

Alaska — the Permanent Fund Dividend

Alfred F. Andersen

BIEN, the Basic Income Earth Network


Jeffrey Smith and Gary Flo, the Geonomy Society

Philippe Van Parijs

Theresa Funiciello

Jeremy Rifkin

Hazel Henderson

Robert Schutz

Michael L. Murray

Steven Shafarman

Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott

2000 on

USBIG, the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network

“American People’s Dividend,” the Congressional Progressive Caucus

Citizen Policies Institute

Guy Standing

Robley E. George

Eduardo Suplicy

Green Party of the United States

Stakeholder Accounts

Stanley Aronowitz

The Tax Cut for the Rest of Us Act of 2006

Charles Murray

Basic Income Studies

Marshall Brain

The 2008 presidential primaries

Richard C. Cook

Joseph V. Kennedy