For a more equitable society
“Public policies to create greater social and economic equality have had limited success. The source of inequality is a basic tension between the democratic and capitalist strands of our heritage. Efforts to resolve that tension have failed.
“Over the long haul, it is theoretically possible to change the economic contours of our society primarily through a redistribution of employment opportunities. A series of incremental steps can be taken towards the following objectives that would achieve the goal of a more equitable society:
“1) Full employment, including a gradual build-up of the capacity of local and state governments to provide meaningful, if low-paying, public service jobs so that anyone willing and able to work is guaranteed the opportunity to participate in the productive processes of society.
“2) Economic development of distressed areas, to create private, sustaining jobs for individuals, especially those who live in some rural areas, where depression never ends.
“3) Firm and carefully planned enforcement of affirmative-action programs to overcome the legacy of race and sex discrimination.
“4) Replacement of welfare with a credit income tax, or similar redistributive tax, to ensure a decent minimum income for the ‘working poor’ or those unable to work.
“The ultimate goal is to create a world in which each child and parent has the opportunity not only to make decent lives but, in making their lives, to help make history. This would be a world in which the power to influence and shape our collective destiny, a power now concentrated in the hands of relatively few, was diffused among the many who currently have little more than the power to muddle through.” — Richard H. de Lone
Excerpted from de Lone’s essay “The Limits of Reform and a Just Society,” published in the October 1979 edition ofFOCUS/Midwest.