Martin Luther King Jr: Economic Justice

“What is the job of government? Just to benefit the rich?”

Martin Luther KingThe book, To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice, (W.W. Norton, 2018) came out April 3—the day before the 50-year anniversary of King’s assassination. The author, historian Michael Honey, makes the case in an interview conducted for MLK Day 2019 that ECONOMIC JUSTICE WAS ALWAYS PART OF MLK JR.’S MESSAGE.

I find it strange that some commenters seem to eschew the idea that MLK was an economic warrior. They tend to believe such an idea is the result of revisionist thinking.

As Honey notes, King “said in Memphis: ‘It’s a crime in a rich nation for people to receive starvation wages.’ That remains a basic issue right now across the country, where it seems like the economy is doing really well but there are millions of people—about 40 million people—in poverty.

“Economically, things for poor people and working-class people are probably worse in some ways now than in his time. The unionized, industrial jobs that created the black middle class in places like Memphis are mostly gone…

“King said the best anti-poverty program is a union. Where you can fight for your own agenda—somebody doesn’t have to hand it to you. But you have to be organized to do that. King always supported unions. He gave his life in that cause, in a sense.

“Many workers in this country recognize King as a labor hero. ‘We can get more together than we can apart,’ King said in Memphis. He always said we have a common destiny, and he put it in an economic framework. And we do need that.”

Eliminate Poverty

Also, from Food for the Hungry, 9 Powerful Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on Eradicating Poverty. The earliest one cited was from 1961. “As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich even if he has a billion dollars.” That was in his American Dream speech.

If you want to truly celebrate Martin Luther King Day, support The Poor People’s Campaign, “a national call for moral revival. As Honey said, the PPC “said everybody should have health care, everybody should have a median level of income—not poverty income, a median level of income, such that you can live a normal life. And education, and housing, and jobs at union wages. King thought the role of government is to bring about social justice.

“To those who say it’s not the government’s job, King would ask, Well, what is the job of government? Just to benefit the rich?”

Labor Day: raise the federal minimum wage in the USA

“The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society.”

minimum_wage_pie_chart_05
Since it’s Labor Day, I shan’t work too hard. I want to recommend that you read:

A Livable Minimum Wage Could Decrease Unemployment by Decreasing Demand for Second Jobs:

Higher wages would more equitably distribute the jobs that are already available…. Forty hours a week (if you can get it) simply isn’t enough to pay the bills

Raising the Minimum Wage Can Reduce Unemployment

Lower-income and middle-class Americans have seen their income and wealth decrease over the last decade. So as you might imagine, many are pinching their pennies and spending less on goods and services. The end result is that businesses don’t have enough money or confidence to hire more workers.

Continue reading “Labor Day: raise the federal minimum wage in the USA”

Church and state: Francis I

If a Catholic priest were to echo Francis’ complaint about the rich-poor divide, that might be safe territory.

I found this graphic really interesting. The Socialist US Senator is embracing the Pope’s condemnation of “doctrinaire capitalism, ‘deified markets,” trickle-down economics, and the finance industry. He decried the growing gap between the rich and the poor, tax evasion by the wealthy, and characterized ruthless free-market economics as a killer that was inherently sinful.” I assume this will mean that the Pope will be painted as a socialist.

Francis, moreover Continue reading “Church and state: Francis I”

July Rambling: privilege, and 12-tone music

Roger Green was told that he cannot greet pupils from Sandy Lane Primary School in Bracknell, Berkshire, with the gesture because a driver said it slowed down traffic.

Watch the important documentary Two American Families online at Bill Moyers’ website. In the same vein, To Rescue Local Economies, Cities Seize Underwater Mortgages Through Eminent Domain.

From Meryl, the graphic novel expert: The Armageddon Letters and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also, Zahra – from Paradise to President. Published in 2011, its story takes place in Iran, June 2009.

Brief Thoughts on Shelby County v. Holder by Mark S. Mishler. (But the actual title is TOO long!)

Daniel Nester writes about privilege. I found it interesting, in part, because it reminded me of certain white sociology students Continue reading “July Rambling: privilege, and 12-tone music”

WWMD: What Would Martin Do?

If Martin Luther King were still alive, he would be concerned about the inequity of income that has developed regardless of race, especially over the past thirty years.


“A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back – but they are gone. It is up to us. It is up to you.” – Marian Wright Edelman
I saw this quote on Facebook a couple days after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. The quote made me think about what would MLK, Jr. be doing and saying about current events. I have read and/or listened to many of Martin’s writings and speeches, so I could (I hope) reasonably extrapolate his views.

Of course, it’s difficult to ascertain what his impact on society and the culture would be had he survived. Continue reading “WWMD: What Would Martin Do?”