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Income Security


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Tuesday, May 26th 2009

Ending hunger with income security for all

Income security for all will end hunger rapidly and directly.

Are you concerned about hunger? Do you want to end homelessness?

We can end hunger in America, rapidly, completely, by enacting Citizen Dividends. The same approach, modified, can end hunger around the world. More about how we’ll achieve that in a moment.

An organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger is Share Our Strength, and they appear to be doing great work. From their web site, here are some facts about hunger:

36.2 million Americans - including 12.4 million children - don’t have access to enough healthy food to thrive. They are food insecure and at risk of hunger.

  • 11.1% of all U.S. households,
  • 30.2% of all single-mom households,
  • 37.7% of all households at or below the poverty line,

Food insecure families (13.0 million households):

  • 50.0 % of all food-insecure households are white
  • 47.6% - 6.2 million - have kids under 18; 53.4% of these are single-parent households
  • 39.2 % of food insecure households live in the South
  • 33.8% live in major cities
  • 33.3% live at or below the poverty line
  • 23.1 % - nearly one-quarter - of food insecure households have kids under 6

Source:”Household Food Security in the United States, 2007; U.S.D.A. Economic Research Service, November 2008;

I have great respect and affection for Share Our Strength, the Hunger Project, Results, FLOW, and other groups I know of that are working to end hunger and homelessness. When I talk to people in these and other groups, and to unaffiliated activists, I’m almost always impressed with their passion, dedication, and commitment. If such people had more political and economic power, this would be a much different and better world.

Here are some more general facts about poverty, also from the Share Our Strength web site:

  • $21,203 annual income is the poverty threshold for a family of four, or $407.75 per week (2007).
  • 37.3 million Americans live in poverty; 13.1 million of them are children (2007).
  • 500,000 more children live in poverty now than a year ago; 300,000 of them are under 6 years of age.
  • 18% of American children live in poverty, a higher percentage than any other age group.

Source: “Income, Poverty and Health Coverage in the United States:2007; U.S. Dept. of Commerce U.S. Census Bureau, August 2008; (PDF).

Now for Citizen Dividends:

Suppose every adult citizen gets a basic income independent of his or her job, say, $1,000 a month. That would be $24,000 a year for a couple, which is more than the poverty threshold for a family of four. (Though many economists and analysts say the conventional poverty threshold is long out of date and absurdly low.) That $24,000 a year would nearly eliminate hunger and debilitating poverty.

We can pay for the basic income by cutting or eliminating programs that would become superfluous, starting with individual welfare and corporate welfare.

Guaranteed income was a mainstream idea in the 1960s, 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, and Martin Luther King called for it in his last book. Millions of Americans joined mass movements for income security in the 1930s, and similar ideas inspired the political reforms of the 1890s. Earlier proponents included Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Abraham Lincoln. More detailed history is on the home page of this home page of this web site,

You can read the complete plan, the idea and how we can implement it, in Peaceful, Positive Revolution, which is available from Tendril Press.

We can end hunger in the United States. We can help other countries enact their own versions of this plan. You can make a real contribution. Please comment on this blog and help spread the word.

Steven Shafarman

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