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Income Security


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Friday, July 3rd 2009

Ending hunger requires income security for all

Ending hunger requires income security for all

A new book reports that 35 million Americans go hungry every day. It’s Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It.

Here’s a quote from the author, Sasha Abramsky:

“The failures of our policies that led to this epidemic of hunger and poverty are evident across the country. Unemployment, lack of benefits, and wage cutbacks by major employers are forcing families to the food pantries.”

Though I haven’t read it yet, that quote and subtitle are certainly promising. Does he talk about guaranteed income, basic income, Citizen Dividends, or anything of the sort? I hope so, though there’s no sign of that in any of the reviews or articles I’ve seen.

Here’s a bit more from one article:


  • In 2008, the official poverty line was $ 10,590 for a single person and $21,203 for a family of four. Census data shows 37 million Americans at or below these numbers.
  • From 2000 through 2007, as corporate profits grew 2.5% per year, median income for working-age households fell by 0.6 %–with African Americans and Latinos experiencing greater losses.
  • In 2008, 28.4 million Americans were receiving food stamps. In New York City, 1.1 million residents were on food stamps; 700,000 more were eligible but not enrolled.
  • A single person on food stamps in mid-2008 received an average of $26 per week and a maximum of $40 in vouchers.
  • From 2002 to 2007, the USDA cut its food contribution to the state of California from 97 million pounds to 39 millions pounds.
  • In the 1950’s, one in three Americans worked a manufacturing job with fair wages, benefits and secure pensions. By 2007, that number declined to one in 10.
  • By 2008, America’s 499 billionaires owned over $1.5 trillion in assets, equivalent to the average annual salaries of approximately 30 million of the country’s workers.

The complete article is here.

We can end hunger by providing income security for all. I believe, moreover, that there is no other way to achieve that goal, and I will be happy to debate that assertion with anyone.

Income security for all, as I’ve written elsewhere on this blog and web site, updates ideas that were mainstream and moderate in the 1960s. Martin Luther King called for guaranteed income in his last book, and a plan to provide it passed the House of Representatives by two-to-one, but was blocked in the Senate. Proponents including leading economists from the left and the right.

In the 1930s, mass movements for guaranteed income security generated the political will for Social Security, and that history is document on the official web site of the Social Security administration. Mass demands for economic justice also helped power the Populist and Progressive movements of the 1890s, which resulted in many political reforms.

The updated idea is to set some amount, say $1,000 a month, and provide that to every adult citizen. It should be enough for food and shelter, but just enough, so people still have strong incentives to work and earn.

Give it to everyone – the hungry and homeless, you and other readers of this blog and our families, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey – because that will minimize the administrative costs and bureaucracy, while preventing political fights about where and how to draw the lines over who’s included. That will also create a baseline of economic justice and economic equality, thus making it easier for us to work together to solve our social, cultural, political economic, and environmental problems.

We will achieve this if we individuals and We the People demand it.

The complete plan, the idea, the benefits, and how we can make it happen, is in Peaceful, Positive Revolution,.

Additional information is on the home page and elsewhere on this web site.

Please comment on this blog, especially if you’ve read Abramsky’s book. And please help spread the word.

Steven Shafarman

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2 Responses to “Ending hunger requires income security for all”

  1. JaneRadriges Says:

    The article is ver good. Write please more

  2. Joni Podschun Says:

    I’m surprised I haven’t heard of this idea sooner. One question is how to find the sweet spot that encourages work and mobility. And how to take into account family size, cost of living differences, etc, if at all. Hm. Thanks for the food for thought.