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Laissez-faire? Guaranteed Income: True American Way - Part 5

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Homestead House
Homestead House
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A year ago a CNBC commissioned poll of the 514 millionaires reported that 51 percent believe income inequality is a "major problem." Two thirds of that group felt that the inequality could be reduced by a higher minimum wage and higher taxes on the wealthy. Such action would continue the establishment of class in the county, the wealthy and the middling to poor.

Neither welfare nor raising the minimum wage provides long term self sufficiency; having the ability to provide reliable subsistence for a family or individual.. These are temporary reprieves from the vicissitudes of life in the modern world. Illness, loss of employment, inflation, changing economic circumstances and tragedy prove this. We have nothing to fall back upon unless we qualify for one of the programs such as social security or "welfare" except what ever we have accumulated. For most of us who have that, it will fast disappear.

We no longer have those governmental programs that provided for much of the settlement and of this country by providing land for subsistence to families all over the United States. That was land that could be used for crops, vegetable gardens, live stock and chickens, fruit trees, timber for housing and furniture and a little extra to trade for cash. Federal Homesteads were much of the backbone for the growth of this country. The government furnished the basic need for the growth and expansion of this country and the wealth of a great part of the people through programs available eventually to almost all.

Programs started before the American Revolution. For example George Washington was awarded script for land for his part in the French Indian War in 1756-1763, as was common in those days. I was recently reminded of land for military service by a niece inviting me to a grave marking for an ancestor, a Tennessee Volunteer veteran in Andrew Jackson's campaign in New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812 with British. Those soldiers received land grants for participating in that conflict. The Mexicans gave land grants to Americans merely for settling in Texas. (Now the Texans don't want them to cross the border.) Governments felt and acted upon a basic need to provide for the subsistence of its people as a basic responsibility of the governments..

Starting in 1862 President Lincoln inaugurated operation of the first Homestead Laws, something supported for many years by the Republicans but opposed by the south. Between 1862 and 1934, the federal government granted 1.6 million homesteads and distributed 270,000,000 acres (420,000 sq mi) of federal land for private ownership. This was a total of 10% of all land in the United States dedicated to support a growing population. It was discontinued in the lower 48 in 1976 and in Alaska in 1986. About 40 percent of the applicants who started the process completed it and got full title to their subsistence farms and other homestead properties. The homestead was an area of public land in the West (usually 160 acres or 0.65 km2) granted to any US citizen willing to settle on and farm the land for at least five years. The law (and those following it) required a three-step procedure: file an application, improve the land, and file for deed of title. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government (including freed slaves) and was at least 21 years old or the head of a household, could file an application to claim a federal land grant. The occupant had to reside on the land for five years, and show evidence of having made improvements. Later there were provisions for increase allotments for planting trees. The government was providing people with their own means to economic independence.

Congress helped the rich at the same time with provisions for the building and owning of the Transcontinental Railroads. The first was constructed between 1863 and 1869 in a contiguous real line west from the Missouri river to the Pacific Ocean along a 1,907 mile route all made possible by the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862, 1864 and 1867.
'These acts provided for financing those railroads through Government issued 30 year bonds together with extensive land grants with additional grants to ten miles of alternative territory on either side of the road for every mile of grade built by the railroad except through cities and crossing rivers.' 'From 1850 to 1871, the railroads received more than 175 million acre of public land -- an area more than one tenth of the whole United States and larger in area than Texas,' much of which they sold on their own terms reserving the mineral rights.

Sorry, President Kennedy had it backwards in invoking the spirit of patriotism. He should have said 'Ask not what you should do for your country but what your country is providing for you to survive and subsist, to get a leg up, a real start with some security in the world and have an equal opportunity to thrive.' It is not tax money the rich should be raising to pay the poor for charity handouts. We need programs to provide all citizens fair, dependable guaranteed basic incomes that they may subsist largely unaided in the world. Today there is ample precedence, provided by both the Democratic and Republican Congresses, for providing every adult citizen a guaranteed annual income for their basic needs. and Congress has the power to create money and regulate its value (Constitution, Article 1 section 8 ) to do this.
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AB 1959 and JD 1963, University of Missouri, Columbia. 50 years active member of Washington State Bar Association, mostly civil and commercial office, trial and appellate practice and Superior Court Arbitrator for about 40 years or so, since the (more...)
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