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Monday, May 25th 2009

Anti-government reasons to demand income security for all

Anti-government reasons to demand income security for all.

Here’s the opening paragraph of an op-ed piece in today’s Washington Post:

Americans should look carefully at the anti-politician, anti-government mood exhibited in California this week. Just as Proposition 13 and the anti-tax movement of 1978 were the forerunners of the Reagan presidential victory, so the results of Tuesday’s vote are a harbinger of things to come.

The complete piece is here. The author is Newt Gingrich.

The column ends on a note I consider extremely hopeful, though it fails completely in a most important way.  The future cannot be built on a platform of “anti”. We have to get past the anti-tax, anti-government, anti-politician sentiments of the moment. Anger motivates, but is not enough to build a movement and bring real change.

If people are serious about shrinking government, disciplining elected officials, and taking our government back from the special interests - the stated goals of Gingrich and so many others - they ought to endorse income security for all.

A few sentences from Gingrich’s column illustrate the anger:

“The states with huge government machines … have become castles of corruption, favoritism and wastefulness.”

“Elections have become so rigged by big money and clever incumbents that the process of self-government is threatened.”

“The special interests that own the legislators in both parties have been exploiting New York for two generations.”

“Watch the arrogance of the elites in Washington as they impose their costs and special deals on the American people.”

And here’s the final paragraph:

In the great tradition of political movements rising against arrogant, corrupt elites, there will soon be a party of people rooting out the party of government. This party may be Republican; it may be Democratic; in some states it may be a third party. The politicians have been warned.

That new or renewed party will be built on a promise of income security for all. That’s the only platform sturdy enough. The basic ideas are on the home page of this web site,

The complete proposal, the benefits, and the plan to make it happen is in my book, Peaceful, Positive Revolution,.

Think about it: We can give every adult citizen a basic income of, say, $1,000 a month.

The amount should be enough so the poor and unemployed can afford food and shelter, at least. But we give it everyone, even Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey, to create a baseline of economic justice and economic equality.

We pay for it by ending the bailouts and subsidies, and cutting government programs that become superfluous. With this basic income, which I call Citizen Dividends, there will no longer be any rationale for individual welfare or corporate welfare. We’ll be able to cut or eliminate hundreds of federal, state, and local government programs. Every citizen will have an income independent of those programs and independent of any job.

This is a platform that can appeal to Democrats and Republicans who sincerely want to take their parties back from the special interests. It can also appeal to Greens, Libertarians, and independent candidates who seek to overthrow the Democrats and Republicans.

This is actually not such a radical idea. Earlier versions of guaranteed income were mainstream ideas in the 1960s, supported by moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans, Martin Luther King Jr., and more than 1,200 economists from across the political spectrum. Earlier proposals for income security go back to Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.

Please explore the web site, read the book, and help spread the word.

This will happen when enough of us demand it, when We the People demand it.

Steven Shafarman

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