income security for all, the economy, Citizen Dividends, guaranteed income, Peaceful Positive Revolution, Obama, Martin Luther King, Nobel Prize, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, Tendril Press
Income Security
Saturday, May 9th 2009

More than a job

When you were a child, what did you want to be or do when you grew up?

Recall those dreams or goals, please, for a moment at least. What did you want to do or be?

Did you dream of getting a job and working eight or ten hours a day at, say, Wal-Mart or some other big company? Were you eager to have a boss who told you what to do and when to do it? Probably not.

That’s how most of us live. With current economic conditions, moreover, many of us are pleased to have any job - even if the job provides barely enough money or not even enough to pay our bills.

Our whole society is organized around jobs. Our government and political system are focused on creating jobs and saving jobs. Jobs are good, jobs are necessary, jobs are the goal of public policy. With the stated rationale of creating or saving jobs, our government has given billions or tens of billions to Wall Street, GM, Chrysler, AIG, and other big corporations.

Whatever happened to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Suppose you had an income of, say, $1,000 a month, guaranteed - an unconditional income in addition to whatever you earn or get from other sources. Call it Citizen Dividends.

We can have that. And we should. Bailout the people, all the people, not Wall Street or GM. Our government can and should give every American citizen an income sufficient for food and shelter. The same amount for everyone, to create a baseline of economic justice and economic equality. Everyone will have some income, some economic security, which will allow us to participate as citizens and in the market. Each of us will be more free to pursue our dreams.

This is a serious policy proposal. 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 significant political reforms in the 1890s and early 1900s. Previous proponents of some form of income security included Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Abraham Lincoln.

Why don’t we have that? Because we’re not demanding it. Because we’ve settled for jobs instead.

To learn more about these ideas, visit the home page and other material on 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.

I hope you’ll also comment on this blog. And please help spread the word.

Steven Shafarman

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