There’s been alot of renewed talk lately about a basic income for the United States. According to the dedicated page about Basic income:
A basic income is an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. It is a form of minimum income guarantee that differs from those that now exist in various European countries in three important ways:
- it is being paid to individuals rather than households;
- it is paid irrespective of any income from other sources;
- it is paid without requiring the performance of any work or the willingness to accept a job if offered.
It is a very controversial idea, because capitalism is built upon economic disparity, and it is the architect that created the matrix of the American Dream. You may have read about it in high school. Manifest destiny; every American has the chance to bootstrap him or herself to whatever dreams they can imagine.
But the Doctrine of the 1% has shown us otherwise. Capitalism creates a self-perpetuating cycle of trickle down. For there to be any businesses that profit, some individuals have to receive lower than cost-of-living wages. Taxes have to be high enough to compensate for unwieldy government budgets and for those that take advantage of tax shelters.
Charity is the stop-gap for the consciousness of the benefactors of Capitalism.
This isn’t lost on the American consciousness. Hilary Clinton has went on public record stating that her assuming the title of presumptive Democratic nominee ahead on the DNC convention is a win for women. Women as well as other groups have economic challenges and suffer poverty and homelessness at alarming rates. Hopefully as the first female president in the history of the United States, Mrs. Clinton will address these concerns.
And that hope is the reason why I’m writing today. Why is there a need for this hope at all?
Why does the strongest and wealthiest nation on the planet have issues with poverty and hunger? Hunger and poverty are not communicable diseases that may take years of research in order to find a cure. The formula in this case is simple: If there are hungry people…feed them. If there are homeless people…clothe them. Pass the laws that will make it so. A basic income would go along way to address these concerns.
Why then doesn’t this happen?
I see advertisements for the Greater Food Depository on the train headed to my morning job. Their mission as stated is, “…striving to end hunger in our community. Why do we need an non-government organization to end hunger in Chicago? We have a mayor and a governor for that. We elect legislators and lawmakers that should be creating laws that eliminate hunger. It’s not a issue of ability to pass the legislation. Its an issue of desirability. If they wanted to, they could. Why don’t they?
Lawndale Community Development Coporation has been in the Lawndale neighborhood for decades. They have helped hundreds of people move into their own houses, in addition to other services. It is an indictment of the local, state and federal government, on whose collective shoulders lies the responsibility to take care of the material needs of their citizenry.
Charity is the stop-gap for the consciousness of the benefactors of Capitalism. I can imagine the internal narrative: “Why change the laws that can stop poverty, hunger and homelessness, when we can just create charities and NGOs to address those issues? Then we can laud the progress of helping increasing numbers of people, while never even denting the significant number of sufferers”.
Charities slap a band-aid on the wound of poverty and need, while ignoring the sharp projectiles raining down on our heads, cutting us to economic and social shreds. It makes us feel like, “Poverty is a problem, and homelessness is an issue, but thank God were doing something about it, and that’s a good thing”.
It’s not a good thing. It’s a moot point.
Can we be thankful if our soldiers went without weapons, and then by means of some grassroots organizations, finally got the guns they so desperately needed to fight in wars? NO…they need guns to do their very jobs! It’s not a blessing and cause for a pat on the back to give someone what they need to simply subsist. It is an absolute duty and necessity.
Thank you for the work you do, Greater Chicago Food Depository. Thank you LCDC.
But you should not exist.