Income Security


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Saturday, December 4th 2010

Open letter to President Obama

Eighth Congress of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network, New York

March 1, 2009

Income Security Institute
PO Box 53050
Washington, DC 20009

Dear President Barack Obama:

We urge you to consider establishing a basic income for all Americans as the most effective way to stop the contraction of the economy and begin a new era of economic prosperity for all.

This bold step would provide every American with a monthly income sufficient for their basic needs. It would truly stimulate the economy, bring customers to struggling businesses, restore consumer confidence, and provide freedom and dignity to all. And as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1967), “the most effective solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

As our economy continues to shed well over half a million jobs each month, there are millions of Americans in dire financial straits. We should acknowledge that the economic system that we all depend upon is inherently risky and susceptible to wild swings. It is now time to ensure a basic level of income security for all in a way that is independent of the ever-changing nature of business cycles.

A full basic income for all Americans would cost approximately $1.8 trillion according to some estimates, or we could start with a more modest proposal that costs less. The U.S. has committed to funding a host of economic stimulus programs over the past year that adds up to about $9.7 trillion, according to More than $3 trillion has already been spent or lent thus far, mostly in the financial sector, yet there is no end in sight to the ever-deepening recession. Spending $1.8 trillion to deliver much-needed income directly to the American people is a relatively small price to pay for turning our economy around.

The state of Alaska has had a successful experience for 26 years providing an equal dividend from its oil revenues to all residents living there for a year or more. It has helped make Alaska the state with the most economic equality in the nation. There they have applied a key idea of one of the intellectual leaders of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine: the right of everyone to participate in the wealth of the nation. The basic income is also gaining support in many nations around the world, including Germany, Brazil, South Africa, Namibia, Ireland and Canada.

The members of the US Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG) and the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) are available to meet with your economic team to discuss this important issue. Thank you for your consideration.


Stanley Aronowitz, City University of New York
Karl Widerquist, US Basic Income Guarantee Network
Steven Shafarman, Income Security Institute
Michael Howard, University of Maine
Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy, Brazilian Senator
Frances Fox Piven, City University of New York
Nicolaus Tideman, Virginia Tech
Jason Burke Murphy, Educators for Social Justice, St. Louis University
Richard K. Caputo, Yeshiva University
Eri Noguchi, Columbia University
Jesse Johnson, Mountain Party of West Virginia
Almaz Zelleke, The New School
Michael Lewis, Hunter College School of Social Work
Harry F. Dahms, University of Tennessee
Doug Cresson, Monmouth University
Eron Lloyd, Henry George Foundation of America
Chandra Pasma, Citizens for Public Justice
Jeffery J. Smith,
Al Sheahen, writer
Dan O’Sullivan,
Buford Farris, retired sociologist
Sean Healy, Cori Justice
Brigid Reynolds, Cori Justice
Alanna Hartzok, Earth Rights
Stephen C. Clark,
David London, independent researcher, post-scarcity economics
Fabrizio Patriares, University of Rome, Democratic Party Italy
Reimund Acker, Netzwerk Grundeinkommen, Germany
Dorothee Schulte-Basta, Netzwerk Grundeinkommen, Germany