Reading Group to Discuss “With Liberty and Dividends For All”

The Transition Marquette County Reading Group will discuss the book “With Liberty and Dividends For All – How to Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don’t Pay Enough” by Peter Barnes, on Thursday, Feb 9, at 7pm in the Conference Room at Peter White Public Library in Marquette.

Barnes, co-founder of Working Assets Long Distance (now Credo Mobile) along with several other companies, notes the shrinking/disappearing of the middle class in our country, and the studies that document how a robust middle class is essential for a secure democracy. He describes how our economic system is designed to steadily, little by little, year by year, shift wealth from the lower income levels to the higher ones. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is designed into our system, and it will not change without changes to the system itself. He notes the four most proposed “pro-middle class policies” – stimulus, job creation, education, and innovation – and shows that while they are all good things, they will not be enough to sustain a healthy middle class.

Taking a cue from Thomas Paine (“Common Sense”, “The American Crisis”, “The Age of Reason”, “Agrarian Justice”), he proposes adding a system of universal dividends to be paid to all Americans from money generated by user fees attached to our co-owned wealth – the things that belong to us all, either because they are a part of Nature or because they were created and given to us by former generations. Examples of such “common” or “co-owned” wealth include the atmosphere, the forests and lakes, the economic system itself, the electromagnetic (broadcast) spectrum, the intellectual property protection system (patents, copyrights, trademarks granted and enforced by the federal government). He shows how a mature system could generate dividends of $5000 per person per year – with no end in sight. This would supplement, but not replace, each citizen’s income from their individual labor.

It is a timely and easy to understand book, and the Reading Group invites everyone to join them for the discussion. It would help to have at least started to read the book. For more information call Charlie at 226-3314 or email

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