In my article earlier this month I discussed the concept of a guaranteed basic income to having a major impact on poverty. Did you know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a strong supporter of a basic income? In fact, Dr. King was planning a new march on Washington in the months before his assassination. He used the term Poor People’s Campaign with a goal of erecting a tent city on the National Mall to dramatize the reality of joblessness and deprivation by bringing those excluded from the economy to the doorstep of the nation’s leaders. Dr. King discussed basic income in his 1967 book titled Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? Rev. King believed a guaranteed basic income had the ability to greatly reduce poverty for all people, regardless of race.
There are of course opponents of a basic income who would have you believe recipients would simply take the extra money and relax on their couch watching TV. There is no doubt in my mind and those of many others that this is simply not true. If our nations can address poverty through a basic income program, we can give those living in poverty some real hope for a better and sustainable future. Our own Catholic social teachings emphasize the right of every human being able to fully enjoy the human dignity God gave them at birth as well as the opportunity to fully participate in society.
There was a basic income project in Manitoba, Canada in the early 1970’s which has provided us with some valuable insight into the effect of receiving a basic income. The project was named Mincome and the data we have been able to access shows us that enrolees enjoyed better health and a higher level of education. There are many stories of how people used the extra money they received to improve their lives. The basic income project currently underway in Ontario, Canada has provided data that shows many enrolees are already working, but at low paying jobs with little future. Just imagine how someone is now able to stop work and perhaps return to school for a better education and future employment! You can help by educating yourself and others about a guaranteed basic income in your state or province. Our voices in support of a basic income can have a very positive effect.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.