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Income Security


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Friday, July 3rd 2009

Ending the Recession

There is a rapid, reliable, responsible way to end the recession. We can achieve that by enacting Citizen Dividends, a guaranteed basic income for every American.

Moderate Democrats and Republicans supported guaranteed income in the 1960s — so did leading economists, liberals and conservatives — and a plan to provide it passed in the House by two-to-one, but was blocked in the Senate. Before that, in the 1890s and 1930s, there were mass movements for income security, and those movements succeeded in winning major reforms. Today, however, almost no one is talking about any form of guaranteed income.

Getting these ideas into public discourse will require lots of us posting material and links on the web, phoning talk radio and TV, writing articles and letters to the editor, talking to our family members, friends, and neighbors. You can make a real contribution. IncomeSecurityForAll.org is designed to assist those conversations and writings, and we can cite the history of serious people who endorsed earlier income security proposals to add credibility. It’ll help if we can find some prominent individuals who are willing to invest their money and reputations.

Here, from the home page of IncomeSecurityForAll.org, is the updated idea:

·   Set some amount and provide it to every adult citizen; enough for food and shelter, but just enough, so there will still be lots of incentives to work and earn.

·   Cash payments, monthly, for the very poor; tax deductions for everyone else.

·   Periodic adjustments to offset changes in the cost of living.

·   Possible supplements from local revenues where living costs are high.

·   The same amount for every citizen, to promote justice and equality while minimizing government intrusiveness and bureaucracy.

Everyone will have some income, guaranteed, in addition to what we earn or get from other sources. You and the rest of us will have more money to spend. We’ll spend, stimulating economic activity and creating jobs. You and the rest of us will have more money to save and invest. We’ll save, and our savings will help recapitalize banks. People will have money to make mortgage payments, reducing home foreclosures.

You and the rest of us will have some secure income even if we lose our jobs. Everyone who’s unemployed will have some secure income, and therefore the ability to manage while they look for work or create jobs for themselves, perhaps starting their own businesses.

Ordinary Americans will have the money we need to solve most of our personal financial problems. Our spending, saving, investing, job-seeking, and job-creating activities will solve our national economic problems.

We pay for it by stopping the bailouts and handouts to banks, Wall Street, and big corporations. And by cutting other government programs that become superfluous, individual welfare and corporate welfare.

Our government will promote the general welfare only, and will do so directly, efficiently. That’s what our government is supposed to do, according to the Constitution: promote the general welfare. Everyone’s basic welfare will be guaranteed. Everyone’s basic welfare, moreover, will be guaranteed equally, with every citizen receiving the same amount. That equality will make it easier for us to unite, organize, and work together as We the People, cutting and eliminating special welfare programs, outvoting and overpowering special interest groups.

America’s free market economic system will be more free and more fair. Markets serve only those who have money, after all, and this universal income will ensure that everyone can participate in the market. Markets will be more free and more fair, also, because bailouts and special interest programs distort markets and we’ll be eliminating many such programs.

This ought to appeal to liberal Democrats, conservative Republicans, and the rest of us as well. Liberals can cheer the way Citizen Dividends will create a baseline of economic justice and economic equality. Conservatives might embrace the prospects for cutting government programs that become superfluous. All of us can rejoice in transcending the old partisan divides, liberal vs. conservative, left vs. right, Democrats vs. Republicans. The new politics will be We the People vs. the status quo and the special interests that have been profiting from the status quo.

Income security for all will be a peaceful, positive revolution. Let’s enact it and make history.

Steven Shafarman

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