Martin Luther King Understood Why UBI Is Important
Matt Orfalea | Apr 24, 2019
Topic category: Income inequality
FROM: You Tube

Martin Luther King supported a Guaranteed Income aka Universal Basic Income back in 1960. Here are his top five reasons why UBI is so important.

Tags: Martin Luther King MLK
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Read more about MLK, Reverend Dr. William Barber, civil rights, morality and UBI. Brought to you by The Fund for Humanity.
READ ABOUT: MLK on Guaranteed Income In his own words…

Up to recently we have proceeded from a premise that poverty is a consequence of multiple evils: lack of education restricting job opportunities; poor housing which stultified home life and suppress initiative; fragile family relationships which distorted personality development. The logic of this approach suggested that each of these causes be attack one by one. Hence a housing program to transform living conditions, improved educational facilities to furnish tools for better job opportunities, and family counseling to create better personal adjustments were designed. In combination these measures were intended to remove the causes of poverty.

While none of these remedies in itself is unsound, all have a fatal disadvantage. The programs have never proceeded on a coordinated basis or similar rates of development. Housing measures have fluctuated at the whims of legislative bodies. They have been piecemeal and pygmy. Educational reforms have been even more sluggish and entangled in bureaucratic stalling and economy-dominated decisions. Family assistance stagnated in neglect and then suddenly was discovered to be the central issue on the basis of hasty and superficial studies. At no time has a total, coordinated and fully adequate program been conceived. As a consequence, fragmentary and spasmodic reforms have failed to reach down to the profoundest needs of the poor.

In addition to the absence of coordination and sufficiency, the programs of the past all have another common failing — they are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.

I’m 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.

Earlier in the century this proposal would have been greeted with ridicule and denunciation as destructive of initiative and responsibility. At that time economic status was considered the measure of the individual’s ability and talents. In the simplistic thinking of that day the absence of worldly goods indicated a want of industrious habits and moral fiber.

We have come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people to idleness and bind them into constant or frequent unemployment against their will. The poor are less often dismissed from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent. We also never know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands it does not eliminate all poverty.

We have come to the point where we must make the non-producer a consumer or we will find ourselves else drowning in a sea of consumer goods. We have so energetically mastered production that we now must give attention to distribution. Though there have been increases in purchasing power they have lagged behind increases in production. Those at the lowest economic level, the poor white and Negro, the aged and chronically ill, are traditionally unorganized and therefore have little ability to force the necessary growth in their in their income. They stagnate or become even poor poorer in relation to the larger society.

The problem indicates that our emphasis must be twofold. We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for him traditional jobs are not available.

An excerpt from King’s book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community” — Part 5 of chapter 5 titled “Where Do We Go”
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US: Reverend Dr William Barber revives Dr King’s concept of “guaranteed income” as part of new Civil Rights movement

Reverend Dr William Barber of Birmingham, Alabama, has spoken of the need for a “breakthrough” in the civil rights movement in the US, citing an acceptable development being a point where “every poor person has a guaranteed income”. During his tour across 14 states, Rev Barber talked of the need for a “moral revival across the US”, and hoped that the content of his talks would lay the foundation for a new ‘Poor People’s Campaign’ – a 1968 campaign which attempted to push Congress into passing an economic bill of rights including a package of equitable funding, funds for poor communities and a guaranteed income.

Though one’s interpretation of a “guaranteed income” can differ significantly from a Universal Basic Income (UBI), given the context of Rev Barber’s comments in referring to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and therefore to Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Junior’s repeated reference to “guaranteed income” in speeches and writings at the time, the form of “guaranteed income” being referred to would seem to share many qualities with the standard conceptions of a UBI. In his book published in 1967, ‘Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community’, Dr King dedicated a whole section in Chapter 5 (titled ‘Where Do We Go’) to his idea of why a “guaranteed income” was necessary, and what it would look like.

The premise of his discussion was based on the need, as he saw it, to abolish poverty on the grounds that “if democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking”. Though he accepted that the causes of this poverty are the indirect consequence of multiple social evils – limited educational opportunities; poor housing; fragile family relationships – Dr King said that the solution could not also be indirect, since in order to be effective the programs required to improve those situations sufficiently would have to be coordinated and comprehensive, which, to date, has never been the case. In addition, he stated “that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands it does not eliminate all poverty”. His conclusion, therefore, was that the simplest approach to the issue was also the most effective, which was to provide people with a direct guaranteed income.

Other than a guaranteed income being a way of addressing the moral quandary we face as a society, Dr King pointed out that “we are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of proceeding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished”. He also talked about the psychological benefits to the measure, including a flourishing of individual dignity, the ability for people to seek self-improvement, and a reduction in the friction experienced in personal relations “when the unjust measurement of human worth on a scale of dollars is eliminated”.

Dr King did expand on the specifics of what such a program should look like, stating two key conditions he deemed indispensable in ensuring that the guaranteed income remained a progressive measure. The first of these was that a guaranteed income should be pegged to the medium income of the society in order to avoid perpetuating welfare standards. The second was that the level of the income should be dynamic, such that if the income of society grows so does the payment. This latter measure would be necessary to avoid the system becoming regressive.

Reverend Dr William Barber of Birmingham, Alabama, has spoken of the need for a “breakthrough” in the civil rights movement in the US, citing an acceptable development being a point where “every poor person has a guaranteed income”.