Everybody Has the Right to Live
In April 2018, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival released a Moral Agenda and Declaration of Fundamental Rights. The demands contained within that document present a comprehensive response to the systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism, and war economy plaguing our country today. For the 140 million people who are poor, or one emergency away from being poor, we know these demands are necessary. This Poor People’s Moral Budget asks, given the resources of our society, whether these demands are also possible. Our answer is a resounding yes.
In the seven sections of the Moral Budget, we look at policies and investments for seven critical areas of the Poor People’s Moral Agenda: 1) democracy and equal protection under the law; 2) domestic tranquility; 3) peace and the common defense; 4) life and health; 5) the planet; 6) our future; and 7) an equitable economy. In each case, we’ve found that our nation has abundant resources to meet the demands of the poor, and to address the widespread and systemic injustices we face. In contrast, the current realities of voter suppression, low and inconsistent wages, insecure access to health care and other basic needs, wealth inequality, war, and climate change are far costlier than we have been led to believe.
This Budget also challenges the idea that poverty is the fault of the poor. Instead, it finds that poverty is caused by structures and immoral policies, and therefore, it will take moral policies and larger social transformation to lift the load of poverty. At the same time, this Budget is not an endorsement of any specific policy and it is not a policy prescription. It is, instead, an effort to offer a broader, bigger way to imagine society than our current public discourse and framing.
We are presenting this Budget now, because we are witnessing a movement swearing that America will be being born anew in this moment, right in the midst of the deferred dreams and hopes of the poor. It has become clear that people are ready to come together and demand truth, love, and justice, and debunk the lies of scarcity and inevitable, unchangeable poverty.
This is not an argument for charity or goodwill to the poor. It is, rather, a simple recognition that the poor are not only victims of injustice, but agents of profound social change. This is why the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival continues to organize and build power among the poor today. It understands that those who have been cast out of the economy and who are living on the few remaining crumbs of its meager offerings are also articulating a way out of this wretched existence – not just for themselves, but for us all.
The United States has abundant resources for an economic revival that will move towards establishing a moral economy. This report identifies:
- $350 billion in annual military spending cuts that would make the nation and the world more secure;
- $886 billion in estimated annual revenue from fair taxes on the wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street; and
- Billions more in savings from ending mass incarceration, addressing climate change, and meeting other key campaign demands.
The below comparisons demonstrate that policymakers have always found resources for their true priorities. It is critical that policymakers redirect these resources to establish justice and to prioritize the general welfare instead. The abundant wealth of this nation is produced by millions of people, workers, and families in this country and around the world. The fruits of their labor should be devoted to securing their basic needs and creating the conditions for them to thrive.
At the same time, policymakers should not tie their hands with “pay-as-you-go” restrictions that require every dime of new spending to be offset with expenditure cuts or new revenue, especially given the enormous long-term benefits of most of our proposals. The cost of inaction is simply too great.