Feb 5, 2013

Citizen Rights. Part 3. The Struggle

Citizen rights do not come cheap. Politicians generally do not offer citizen rights without a fight.

Consider voting rights in USA.

When USA declared independence in 1776, "in most states, only white men with real property (land) or sufficient wealth for taxation were permitted to vote." White women, men and women of other races, and poor white men did not get a voting right. There were many law changes through the centuries to give voting rights to more citizens. By 1850, poor white men could vote. By 1920, women (white only) could vote. Recently, in 1965, blacks and other races could vote. It is claimed that Democratic America is only half a century old, starting from 1965. In 1971, the age for voting rights was set at 18, lowered from 21.

Citizen rights do not come free from a super leader. Citizens need to fight for them. For example, see here or here for a history of the century-long struggle for women voting rights.

Citizen-ownership rights would not come free also. The Alaska example is a rare instance. The situation at that time encouraged the distribution of Alaska oil to citizens. Alaska has only a partial citizen-ownership democracy, since only a small part of the state's wealth is distributed in the Alaska Permanent Fund.

Citizens in every country will need to fight for their citizen-ownership rights.

Women fought for their voting rights.
Blacks and other races fought for their voting rights.
If citizens are willing to fight for their citizen-ownership rights, they will get it.

The good news is that this right to a citizen dividend or basic income is spreading around the world. Just like universal suffrage, this is  a swelling global movement.


  1. One of the big challenges that I see for this is not so much leaders as the attitudes of citizens themselves.

    Certain ideas have become so ingrained, it is difficult to discuss this idea rationally or to introduce new ideas. The ideas are bounded by "lazy/industrious; deserving / undeserving; sloth / work ; free economy / communism... all of these can be seen as false dichotomies. To empower citizens, we would have to rewrite the book with new vocabulary; to point out that capitalism is NOT a benign force of nature rewarding the good, but a deeply flawed man-made system that perpetuates poverty and inequality.

    1. Yes, citizen re-education is needed. But leaders are often the ones sending out the wrong messages.