The News We’ve Been Waiting For
|March 8, 2008||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
The News We’ve Been Waiting For
Finally: Economic Sanity Returns to America
This 2008 article was posted on Dissident Voice (Feb 28). Also, Susan Boskey, publisher of Win-Win Economics, made this article her March Feature, saying: Months ago, the Fed began to print billions of dollars to bail out banks; wholesale inflation over the past 12 months was 7.4%. The American people already pay 40% of their income for federal, state, and local taxes. So I am publicizing the new book, We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform by Richard Cook. A National Dividend could become policy if We the People demand it. To highlight people winning it, we extract from the Winter newsletter of US BIG (Basic Income Grant), which holds its annual conference within that of the Eastern Economic Assoc. (which often has Nobel laureates as its president), and from where this article is sent.
by Richard C. Cook
It started with the crash and depression of 2008-2009. Consumers had finally lost the ability to float global business with their credit cards and home equity loans.
Finally even the politicians had to face the facts. Ever since the 1980s, when the economy was handed over for plundering to the banks and the Wall Street plutocrats, ordinary people had struggled just to survive.
Except for a handful of fabulously wealthy oligarchs, almost everyone else was drowning in debt. Prices of gasoline, food, and health care had continued to skyrocket. The housing bubble collapse had left whole cities of foreclosed homes only providing shelter to homeless people.
Overseas the US had become a mockery, with the military fighting wars on every continent in a futile attempt to retain the hegemony of a US dollar whose value had evaporated. The twilight of the American empire had arrived as the alliance of Russia, China, and India flexed its muscles.
Finally the American people had enough and elected a President with the guts to challenge the fundamental problem — a debt-based currency which subjected the population to slavery at the hands of the financial magnates who had ruled since the passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913.
The first thing the President did was declare a National Dividend — an immediate cash stipend to all citizens averaging $15,000 per person per year. It was like the Alaska Permanent Fund but much larger.
The Dividend was granted to everyone regardless of whether they were working or not. It was the rightful share of the entire population in the producing bounty of an industrial economy. It was the share the banks had been stealing for so long by putting everyone in debt just for the necessities of life.
Of course many who had been living in starvation conditions were happy to use their Dividend to live without working. This was to be expected. But for most, the Dividend provided a new lease on life.
People could finally begin to pay off their loans and start anew. Students could attend college again without being shackled to decades of debt. Families were no longer one illness away from financial ruin.
In rural areas, the family farms which had been wiped off the map by agribusiness made a comeback. The inner cities whose economies had been devastated once again saw small businesses flourish.
And along with financial security, joy and well-being were returning to a land that had been haunted for so long by greed and fear.
The National Dividend had saved America.
JJS: The world is inching that way, at least outside America, and more are realizing what the source of that dividend must be. From the US BIG Newsletter:
Bolivian president Evo Morales proposed a Universal Lifetime Basic Income for Dignified Aging of around 26 US$ for all people aged 60 and above. Should it not be approved by parliament Morales will decree it. The Bolivian proposal reinforces the universal citizen’s pension of Mexico City, active since 2001; each month 420,000 persons get it, around US$70.
Residents of the village of Omitara, Namibia received their first supplements of 100 Namibian dollars this January. More than 900 residents will receive the grants (worth about US$13.32) each month for the next two years. The payments are from private donations.
The Spanish Parliament on October 2 debated a Basic Income, which had many repercussions in the press.
The Government of “Regione Lazio” (which includes the province of Rome) approved a social income of 450 Euros per month for individuals earning below 7,500 Euros per year. This proposal will be discussed in a Regional Commission and in the Regional General Council.
The French Secretary of State for Prospective Studies and the Evaluation of Public Policies, Eric Besson, has been asked by Prime Minister Francois Fillon to explore a Universal Dividend. In 2002, Christine Boutin, currently Minister for Housing and City Planning, advocated an income by right for all French citizens.
BIG activist Roland Duchtelet, the founder and President of Vivant, was appointed to the Belgian Senate. The program of Vivant also includes direct democracy and a tax shift from labor taxes toward consumption tax.
Germanys PSG (Party for Socialist Equality) endorsed a BIG of 1500 Euros per month in its platform for regional elections held January 27.
The European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) kicked off its EU-wide campaign for Adequate Minimum Income.
Mike Huckabee proposes replacing the income tax with a sales tax and providing everyone with a monthly tax rebate.
In Canada, Reginald Stackhouse, a former Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament endorsed BIG in an editorial in the Toronto Star on February 17. In the Whig-Standard, Conservative Senator Hugh Segal called for a feasibility study on a negative income tax.
Several faith leaders from Greater Victoria called for a livable income for all Canadians. In British Columbia, where the economy is booming, the gap between the rich and the poor has never been larger. Homeless shelters and food banks do not end poverty but perpetuate it.
Karl Widerquist, US BIG leader: Inheritance taxes and capital gains taxes don’t actually do their job very well, but there are two taxes that could, a tax on land value or a tax directly on wealth holdings.
JJS: The income gap always widens when rising land values are not recovered and shared by the public, as noted in the classic, Progress and Poverty, by Henry George over a century ago. A few years ago, BC activists had yours truly up to give a public talk and meet academics, the media, and government officials. Probably not more than three people remember those efforts, but this winter BC passed a small green dividend, $100 to everyone, funded from a new tax on carbon emissions.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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