MLK and Basic Income

I’ve been following up on insights gleaned from Toru Yamamori’s introduction to Basic Income 101 (Nyumon).I had no idea that Martin Luther KIng had been proposing a ‘Guaranteed Income’ after learning from single mothers. Wikipedia brings you up to date on MLK, and also supports Yamamori’s statement that the Basic Income idea has been around for 200 years. The Wikipedia article goes on to mention that James Tobin, Paul Samuelson, John Kenneth Galbraith and another 1,200 economists signed a document calling for the US Congress to introduce […] a system of income guarantees and supplements in 1968. Even Patrick Moynihan that Noam Chomsky points out evilly boasts of making the UN ineffective, wrote The Politics of a Guaranteed Income in which he advocated for the Guaranteed Minimum Income and discussed Richard Nixon‘s GAI proposal (Chomsky praises(?) Moynihan as being one of the few people to read socioligical studies and recognized that the (drug?) laws were criminalizing poverty. So he’s not all bad.

American revolutionary Thomas Paine advocated for a basic Income Guarantee to all US citizens as compensation for "loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property" (Agrarian Justice, 1795).

In his final book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1967) Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.

from the chapter entitled "Where We Are Going"

I’m excited to work my way farther into Yamamori’s book as he explores how Japan’s Disabled People’s movement has moved along the debate over re-examining labor. The first chapter promises to discuss how Basic Income will change how the States relates to labor and family relations. He uses the Irish Government’s 2002 report to provide a balanced overview of Basic Income discussions in developed countries.

Basic Income in Ireland

Dr Sean Healy CORI Justice Commission Ireland Liege, January 5th, 2002

What is Basic Income?

In our understanding, basic income is defined as an income paid unconditionally to everyone on an individual basis, without any means test or work requirement. In a basic income system every person would receive a weekly tax-free payment from the Exchequer and all other personal income is taxed, usually at a single rate. For a person who is unemployed, the basic income payment would replace income from social welfare/social security. For a person who is employed, the basic income payment would replace the tax-free allowance or tax-credit in the income tax system.

Why a Basic Income?

There has been a wide range of arguments provided to support the introduction of a basic income system. Among these are:

  • Liberty and equality,
  • Efficiency and community,
  • Common ownership of the earth.
  • Equal sharing in the benefits of technical progress,
  • Flexibility of the labour market
  • The dignity of the poor,
  • The fight against unemployment and inhumane working conditions,
  • The need to reverse the desertification of the countryside
  • Interregional inequalities,
  • The viability of co-operatives.
  • The promotion of adult education,
  • Autonomy from bosses, husbands and bureaucrats

All of these reasons, and more, have been invoked in favour of introducing a basic income system

I took advantage of the opportunity to help a citizen’s nature research attempt yesterday. There are a lot of initiatives where people start researching their watershed, or local forests it’s a great way to involve the community, you can make unique findings and most probably promote preservation efforts. Yesterday, we examined a thousand cherry blossoms each from two trees looking for damaged flowers. Apparently certain variation show up more often around nuclear plants, flowers with too many petals, or petals that develop into something else. Like many apples trees, park cherry blossom trees tend to be genetically identical so it’s a way to gauge genetic damage. It was fun and then you have conversations about local pork barrel politics, the need for political change and I got to introduce Food Not Bombs and Basic Income. One of the ladies was a great cook and interested in this ‘anarchist’ ‘food bank’ approximation and another guy knew a young prefecture council person and feels inspired to ask the local politicians what they think about Basic Income. The sponsor free weekly Syukan Kinyoubi article was the model for the inspiration. You never know what’s going to hapen, it’s great to get out and work with people.


A lot of the younger activists I’ve been meeting here in Japan are into ‘healing.’ I had never really hear about it before but ‘Healing Politics’ and some guy’s method popped up in an Amazon review during a search for ‘Martin Luther King’ and ‘Guaranteed Income’. When you first hear of it you expect all the ‘hippy dippy’ manufactures stereotypes of the sixties but it’s been my experience you can have tough minded political discussions with them. (I don’t know anything about the auther of the book description below)

Healing Politics: Citizen Policies and the Pursuit of Happiness Steven Shafarman

It’s easy to see the ills or afflictions of our political system. Special interests — global corporations, particularly — and partisan disputes prevent electoral reforms and progress on racism, pollution, education, urban sprawl, health care, and other issues or problems. Empowering ordinary Americans politically and economically is the key to Healing Politics. "Citizen Policies" updates proposals or plans that were presented by Tom Paine and others among America’s founders; that helped inspire the Progressive and Populist movements of the 1890s and 1900s; that sparked the enactment of Social Security during the Great Depression; and that passed the House of Representatives on April 16, 1970, by almost two to one, only to be defeated in the Senate Finance Committee. Advocates in the 1960s included Martin Luther King Jr., politicians from Richard Nixon to Daniel Patrick Moynihan to George McGovern, and economists Milton Friedman, James Tobin, Paul Samuelson, and John Kenneth Galbraith. Earlier versions were called ‘guaranteed income,’ ‘basic economic security,’ and ‘negative income tax.’

We the People can heal our political system, and must make government and global corporations serve our needs and interests. As individuals and together, We the People can solve our problems. Healing Politics shows how.

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