Mike Gravel on Welfare & Poverty

Libertarian for President; Former Democratic Senator (AK)

No position on faith-based initiatives

Gravel has not taken a position on faith-based initiatives, according to campaign press secretary Alex Colvin
Source: The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Oct 25, 2007

US ranks low worldwide in poverty statistics

The US now ranks 22nd in childhood poverty, or second to last among developed nations; only Mexico ranks lower. The United States is 41st in the world for infant mortality; Cuba scores higher. Women are 70% more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe.

The World Health Organization ranked the US 37th [worldwide] for overall health performance and 54th for healthcare fairness. Yet the United States spends more per capita for healthcare than any other nation in the world.

Source: Press release, “Stepping Back From Imperialism” Nov 1, 2006

Citizens Wage: $5000 income from feds to banish poverty

[We should institute a] Citizen’s Wage, to which everyone is entitled at birth and which is available to the worker and the poor alike. The amount paid to the individual should maintain a minimum, decent standard of living. The Citizen’s Wage should also become an effective tool for the long-run economic improvement of our entire society.

The basic Citizen’s Wage would be $5,000 a year for a family of four, [with a sliding scale formula so that] anyone earning more than $10,000 would no longer receive the Citizen’s Wage [Note: in 2007 dollars, the Citizen’s Wage would be about $20,000 a year, phasing out at an income level of about $40,000 -- ed.].

The intent of this plan is simple: to banish poverty and financial insecurity. One could say that this plan comes down to a form of guaranteed income.

Presently we are spending $50 billion per year on welfare and Social Security programs which are totally inadequate. The Citizen’s Wage would cost only an additional $15 billion.

Source: Citizen Power, by Sen. Mike Gravel, p. 91-95 Jan 1, 1972

Workfare is morally repugnant; why not “wealthwork”?

Our present attitude toward the poor, especially those receiving welfare, contributes to their alienation. This can be seen in the “workfare” philosophy. The program requires welfare mothers of children over 3 years old to go to work [on the theory that] any amount of pay is better than none. The imposition of this discipline strikes me as highly singular, if not outright discriminatory. If work is so necessary to our national fiber, why not insist upon a program of “wealthwork” and force the nonworking affluent to get jobs?

I am trying to point out the dual standard which applies to the poor. We can compel the poor mothers to work because the government supports them. On the other hand, we don’t seem to care about the fellow who no longer has to work because he has cleaned up on subsidies or other government largesse.

The whole idea of forcing welfare mothers to work is morally and philosophically repugnant. It’s a chain-gang tactic, illustrating how we keep the poor prisoners of poverty.

Source: Citizen Power, by Sen. Mike Gravel, p.107-108 Jan 1, 1972

Other candidates on Welfare & Poverty: Mike Gravel on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010