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Sat Jan 17, 2015, 04:48 PM


Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Solution to Poverty [View all]

From “Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr’s Solution to Poverty,” by Jordan Weissmann, published by The Atlantic:

When Americans stop to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. each year, we tend to do a great disservice to the man’s legacy by glossing over his final act as an anti-poverty crusader.

In short, King wanted the government to eradicate poverty by providing every American a guaranteed, middle-class income—an idea that, while light-years beyond the realm of mainstream political conversation today, had actually come into vogue by the late 1960s.

He laid out the case for the guaranteed income in his final book, 1967′s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? Washington’s previous efforts to fight poverty, he concluded, had been “piecemeal and pygmy.” The government believed it could lift up the poor by attacking the root causes of their impoverishment one by one—by providing better housing, better education, and better support for families. But these efforts had been too small and too disorganized. Moreover, he wrote, “the programs of the past all have another common failing—they are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.”

In part, King’s thinking seemed to stem from a sense that no amount of economic growth could provide jobs for all or eliminate poverty.


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