Income Security


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Friday, November 5th 2010


Income security for all will happen only after citizens demand it. Individuals who support the idea have to spread the word, organize, and work together as We the People.

History is instructive. Proposals for income security were quite popular in the 1890s, 1930s, and 1960s, and each time the idea came closer to being enacted. There were mass movements in the 1890s and 1930s, inspired and led by ordinary self-educated individuals. Though they did not win a guaranteed income, they were successful in provoking elected officials to enact other substantive reforms, including antitrust laws, direct election of senators, and Social Security. In the 1960s it was primarily economists and policy professionals who endorsed guaranteed income; with no supporting mass movement, the idea was blocked by politicians. The new movement will have to operate at both levels, in the streets and in the suites, directing and demanding that politicians, economists, and other policy professionals serve the interests of ordinary Americans.

The emerging campaign has to start with education. That will be the main focus of the Income Security Institute, and is the reason for launching it as a nonprofit organization. Other groups will, we hope and expect, assist with educating people about these ideas, and we are closely connected with USBIG, the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network, and BIEN, the Basic Income Earth Network. will provide links and coordinate those activities.

To educate ourselves and other people about the possibility of income security for all, it is best to make these ideas personal: What would it mean for you to have some guaranteed income, extra income in addition to what you earn? How might it affect your life, your choices and decisions, your sense of freedom and independence, to know that you will have an income for food and shelter even if you lose your job or become ill? What could a secure income mean for your parents, your adult children, and other family members?

As more and more of us learn about these ideas and possibilities, a significant stage in the campaign will be when advocates become candidates for local, state, and national offices. Running for office will, of course, be a great way to educate many more people. At some point, particularly after any advocates are elected, it will be useful and perhaps necessary to launch a new nonprofit organization to do lobbying and advocacy.

The new organization, the Campaign for Income Security, will be nonpartisan or transpartisan, supporting income security efforts by members of all political parties and groups. This web page will be its home.

Here are two similar quotes that can provide us with some guidance and inspiration:

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”