America is confronted with a new philosophy—a guaranteed annual income for every person. If this were solely in the realm of political stargazing or economic sophistry, one could keep silent. But church leaders and organizations such as the National Council of Churches are beginning to take up the chorus of approval, and serious discussion of the subject is sorely needed.

With the coming of the industrial age, there were dire forebodings that men would be replaced by the machine and that starvation would be an inevitable result. But this pessimism proved unwarranted. Although many have lost their jobs to machines, new and varied jobs have been opened up, and those countries that have shared in industrialization have become the most prosperous in the world.

There are those who prophesy widespread unemployment as we progress further into an era of cybernetics, automation, and population explosion, and they are making plans based not on fact but on fear. The fact is that even now new conditions are creating new jobs and will certainly produce more. To say the least, it is fallacious to insist that our nation will be confronted with enforced joblessness and poverty and that some sort of governmental provision must be made for all citizens.

Does the government owe everyone a living? Do citizens really have the right to expect a guaranteed wage, salary, or “negative income tax”? That the government should do all within its power to encourage opportunities for employment for individuals is inherent in our concept of democracy. Furthermore, that no one should be permitted to starve is also recognized as a responsibility that local governments and charitable institutions must assume.

But the proposed guaranteed annual income is something ...

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