On this the 92nd anniversary of Martin Luther King’s birth it is well to remember he was more than a civil rights leader. Dr. King had sound ideas about the distribution of wealth in America.
Wall Street has done very well during four years of Trump while the rest of the country has grappled to keep afloat.
America is in the depths of a Pandemic and an economic crisis. The economic, physical and psychological health of the country is at risk. Four years of Trump and his Give it to the Rich and culminating with a Pandemic during which he has been missing in action.
Finally, Trump’s is a failed administration which will forever live with the stain of an aborted Coup D’Etat. In short, Trump has been a disaster from Day One.
Radical action by President Biden is required beginning on January 20.
Excerpted from The Nation 1.18.2021 – John Nichols
Dr. King taught us that direct cash payments are a smart response to poverty and mass unemployment. In this crisis, we need to heed that call.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s posthumous message to America came in a Look magazine article published shortly after the civil rights leader’s assassination, on April 4, 1968. In it, King wrote, “We need an economic bill of rights. This would guarantee a job to all people who want to work and are able to work. It would also guarantee an income for all who are not able to work. Some people are too young, some are too old, some are physically disabled, and yet in order to live, they need income.”
King was not the first to propose an economic bill of rights—President Franklin Roosevelt had done so almost a quarter-century earlier in his 1944 State of the Union Address.
Nor was he the first to speak of the role guaranteed basic income might play in addressing poverty, inequality, and mass unemployment. But the pastor’s merging of these proposals as part of a call to “end poverty, to extirpate prejudice, to free a tormented conscience, to make a tomorrow of justice, fair play and creativity” was a vital contribution to the national debate, as was his recognition that the United States of more than 50 years ago had an “opportunity to avoid a national disaster and create a new spirit of class and racial harmony.”
Unfortunately, it did not happen. Political leaders of the late 1960s and early 1970s, from Richard Nixon to George McGovern, explored the prospect of using direct cash payments and guaranteed income initiatives to alleviate economic pain and address the often devastating consequences of social and technological change.
President-elect Biden has recognized that insufficiency and responded with a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan that includes a proposal for a workaround that gets the payment figure up to $2,000 —by adding an additional $1,400 to the already agreed-upon $600 figure.
Biden’s American Rescue Plan is reasonably ambitious. In addition to providing needed funding for health care and building a robust vaccination program, it promises extended unemployment benefits, rent relief, food assistance, aid to small businesses, support for schools and state and local government, and a federal minimum wage increase to $15 an hour. At the heart of the plan is an understanding on the part of the president-elect that “$600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table. We need $2,000 stimulus checks.”
Nor, however, should there be any question that more $2,000 checks will be needed in the months to come—as the pandemic continues, unemployment remains high, millions go hungry, and families are losing their homes.
Bernie Sanders, the incoming chair of the Senate Budget Committee, calls Biden’s proposal “a very strong first installment of an emergency relief plan that will begin to provide desperately needed assistance to tens of millions of working families facing economic hardship during the pandemic.” But additional installments will be required.
That’s why Representative Ro Khanna of California, is right when he says, “Let’s not just give ordinary Americans a one-time $2,000 check. With our new majority and a worsening crisis, let’s meet the need: $2,000/month, every month, until this crisis is over.”
Top photo – Dr. King speaks at March on Washington – August 28, 1963