welfare, income security for all, Wall Street Journal, food stamps, Citizen Dividends, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, justice, equality, Martin Luther King Social Security, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Peaceful Positive Revolution, Steven Shafarman
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Thursday, July 2nd 2009

Ending welfare, providing income security for all

Ending welfare, providing income security for all.

Welfare rolls are increasing, according to the Wall Street Journal, and food stamp use is increasing even faster. The facts are only part of the story.

A few key sentences from the Journal article:

Twenty-three of the 30 largest states, which account for more than 88% of the nation’s total population, see welfare caseloads above year-ago levels.

The number of food-stamp recipients has risen in every state and was 19% higher in March than a year ago, a much bigger increase than the number of welfare cases.

In general, a family of four must have a monthly income of less than $2,297 to qualify for food stamps. Welfare, on the other hand, is designed as a last resort.

The average monthly welfare benefit in 2006, which reflects the most current data collected by the government, was $372.

The complete article is here.

Can anyone live on $372?

Suppose every adult citizen is getting $1,000 a month, Citizen Dividends. That’s unconditional. It would go to the homeless and unemployed, members of the middle class, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey. And its independent of earnings, unlike welfare and food stamps. The unemployed will have strong incentives to work and earn.

For a poor couple, even one adult working part time would put them above the limit for food stamps. Thus, we could eliminate welfare and nearly eliminate food stamps, using that money to help pay for Citizen Dividends.

Giving it to everyone will end the stigma, coercion, and degradation, including the moral and spiritual degradation, that comes with welfare and extreme poverty. That will also make it simple to administer, with no means-testing or welfare bureaucracy. We won’t have to endure continuing political conflicts about who’s included, how much they get, where and how to draw the lines. Plus, there will be a baseline of economic justice and economic equality, constant reminders that each of us is a member of We the People, that we’re all in this together with mutual interests in making your government more just, efficient, accountable, and responsive.

Here’s the final paragraph from the Wall Street Journal article:

A further explanation is that income limits for welfare eligibility are set so low, and haven’t been adjusted for so long, that having a low-wage part-time job can disqualify an applicant. In New Jersey, a family of three earning more than $636 a month is ineligible. “These are the people who really will fall through the cracks because they’re not eligible for any help,” says Donna Gapas, who oversees the welfare program in Hunterdon County, N.J.

Can anyone live on $636?

It’ll be hard for people to live on $1,000 a month, of course, though for a couple that’s $24,000 a year, which is more than the current federally-defined poverty level for a family of four. People will have strong incentives to work and earn more, because unlike with welfare and food stamps they won’t be penalized for working and earning.

Cutting welfare is just one way to pay for Citizen Dividends. We can also cut, and perhaps eliminate, corporate welfare. No more bailouts or subsidies. No more need for government spending with the specified purpose of “creating jobs.” Everyone who’s unemployed or underemployed will have a basic income for food and shelter while they find or create their own jobs.

Cutting individual welfare and corporate welfare won’t be at the federal government level only. We’ll also be able to cut a lot of state and local programs. That’s how we pay for Citizen Dividends, by cutting or eliminating the programs that become superfluous.

Guaranteed income was a mainstream, moderate idea in the 1960s. Martin Luther King called for it 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.

Early ideas about income security helped power the progressive and populist movements of the 1890s and go back to the Founders, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. A summary history is elsewhere on this web site, here.

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 and help spread the word.

Steven Shafarman

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2 Responses to “Ending welfare, providing income security for all”

  1. How I Make $300 a Day Posting Links Online Says:

    Cool post, just subscribed.

  2. admin Says:

    Thanks for subscribing. Glad you think it’s “cool.” Please help spread the word so we can have a real national debate about these ideas.

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