martin luther king inequality class conflict romney subsidies

MLK, Celebrated Again, His Big Idea Ignored Again
liberals rent seek lohan the rich guaranteed income commonwealth

Conflict Between Rich, Poor Strongest in 24 Years

Martin Luther King, Jr., born in 1929 on January 15, proposed a fundamental reform that his admirers today overlook to their own detriment. We trim, blend, and append seven 2012 articles from: (1) AP, Jan 11, on class by H. Yen; (2) Dirt Diggers Digest, Jan 12, on Romney by P. Mattera; (3) New York Times, Jan 9, on liberals by D. Brooks; (4) CounterPunch, Jan 5, on secession by Mike Lofgren; (5) Associated Press, Jan 11, on Lohan; (6) Where Do We Go From Here?, 1967, by MLK; and (7) an op-ed sent to The Oregonian, Jan 16, on commonwealth by J. Strang.

by Hope Yen, by Phil Mattera, by Associated Press, by Mike Lofgren, by David Brooks, by Martin Luther King, Jr., and by Jeff Strang

JJS: Rev. King advanced a basic economic right that present advocates for equality must likewise promote … if the yawning income gap is ever to close. The public seems more than ready.

Americans now see more tension over wealth inequality than over immigration, race relations, and age. In the poll by the Pew Research Center, 3 in 10 Americans said there are "very strong" conflicts between the rich and poor. That is double the share that believed so in 2009 July and the largest proportion in 24 years. Two thirds say there are "very strong" or "strong" conflicts between the top and bottom income groups.

To see the whole article, click here .

JJS: Yet if the rich are the problem, why do we let wealth concentrate in the first place? It’s not so much the quantity of wealth that hurts, but mainly the quality, that is, how the wealth was amassed. Take this typical politician.

Romney’s record at Bain shows him taking state and local economic development subsidies; e.g., their Steel Dynamics got a $77 million subsidy package, including grants, property tax abatements, tax credits, and reimbursement.

After leaving Bain, Romney still shares in its profits:
* Alliance Laundry Systems received $1.25 million in assistance from Wisconsin.
* Stream International got $4 million in grants and tax breaks.
* Staples got a $4.2 million subsidy package from Maryland.
* Burger King received a $9 million subsidy package to stay in Miami.
* Quintiles Transnational had a $25 million subsidy package from North Carolina.
* AMC Entertainment got more than $40 million in subsidies from Kansas.

While Romney spouts free-market rhetoric, his ascent -- and that of the rest of the 1% -- has been propelled by public money.

To see the whole article, click here .

JJS: This fashion of fortune -- slurp up society’s values, slough off one’s costs -- is much more widespread than just one candidate.

The percentage of Americans who call themselves liberals is either flat or in decline. There are now two conservatives in this country for every liberal.

Roughly 10 percent of Americans trust government to do the right thing most of the time. The rest think the whole system is rigged. They believe government has been captured by rent-seekers.

This is the disease that corrodes government at all times and in all places. As government grows, interest groups accumulate, seeking to capture its power and money. The tax code has been tweaked 4,428 times in the past 10 years, to the benefit of various interests.

Some of these rent-seeking groups are corporate types. The federal government delivers sugar subsidies that benefit a few rich providers while imposing costs on millions of consumers.

You would think that liberals would have a special incentive to root out rent-seeking. Yet no figure in American liberalism insists that government be simple, elegant, and user-friendly. Liberalism has no Martin Luther, a leader committed to stripping away the corruptions, complexities, and indulgences that have grown up over the years.

To see the whole article, click here .

JJS: Unfortunately, rather than finger rent-seeking and how fortunes were unduly amassed, the Left decries the Rich and their amassing -- but makes sure to demand a cut.

The rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their own fellow American citizens.

I do not mean secession in terms of physical withdrawal from the territory of the state, although that happens, but a withdrawal into enclaves, a sort of internal immigration.

The rich have always secluded themselves from the gaze of the common herd; for example, their habit for centuries has been to send their offspring to private schools.

To see the whole article, click here .

JJS: If take from the rich, give to the poor, is a solution, then the IRS is doing its part -- randomly.

Lindsay Lohan, the actress serving morgue duty to comply with her probation for two misdemeanors, now faces a $94,000 lien that the federal government says she owes in unpaid taxes for the 2009 tax year.

To see the whole article, click here .

JJS: If we don’t want the rich to have so much money, why give it to them in the first place? Nobody puts a gun to our heads and says we must do everything from adore celebrities to pay corporate welfare. Like the weather, people complain about the rich but don’t do much about it -- except this major thinker.

While vacationing in the Caribbean in January and February 1967, King wrote the first draft of his final book. Accompanied by Coretta Scott King, Bernard Lee, and Dora McDonald, King rented a secluded house in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, with no telephone. This was one of the very few times in King’s adult life that he was completely isolated from the demands of the movement and could focus entirely on his writing. He labored on the initial manuscript for a month, sending chapters to Stanley Levison in New York for his revisions. On August 16 in Atlanta GA, he delivered a version of his thoughts to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In 1879 Henry George anticipated this state of affairs [need for nontraditional jobs] when he wrote, in Progress and Poverty [quotes George on work best not done for money]. (p 615) … The guaranteed income must be dynamic; it must automatically increase as the total social income grows. (p 616)

To see the whole speech, click here .

JJS: Martin Luther King is a hero to many but few know his references above. Who was Henry George? About that venerable reformer, famed for urging society to levy a single tax on land (including things like resources, pollution permits, etc), Rev. John Haynes Holmes (1879-1964), co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, wrote that George’s magnus opus, "Progress and Poverty was the most closely knit, fascinating, and convincing specimen of argumentation that, I believe, ever sprang from the mind of man."

What qualifies as “social income”? How about a certain individual outgo? In particular, all the money we spend on all the nature we use. None of us made land and resources, and all of us need to use sites, resources, the EM spectrum, and ecosystem services, and it’s all of us together who make these parts of Earth valuable. Hence these “rents” (in economese) make a perfect common wealth. Plus, this social surplus is dynamic, it does grow as society grows -- an ideal source for a guaranteed social salary.

Who else raised the issue of an extra income for everyone back in the 60s? The TV show, All in the Family, discussed equality as a true soul food and paying citizens a dividend; to see the episode, click here . Who else raises the issue today?

Here's a simple yet profound economic proposal: let's think of the land inside Oregon’s borders as a commonwealth. Land would not be bought, but rather leased from the state (all of us), with the proceeds divided up equally among our residents of 1 year or more.

We'd buy houses, but not the land. Speculators wouldn't hold on to land hoping for a better price, freeing up lots of land. That’d bring the price down to an affordable range, and residential rents would come down.

For accountability, we could put half of children’s dividends in an Oregon College Savings Plan account and issue each resident an Oregon Trail Card to control purchases.

JJS: Our failure to share our surplus wreaks havoc. We not only lead more petty lives than we should, grasping and depriving one another. We also miss out on living the miracle that is life. That’s the goal of King’s dream. We need only to take his ideas and reforms seriously.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

Get real about language, but get real about people, too

US rich see taxes drop dramatically yet …

Economism and the Night Sky

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