The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is sponsoring a Poor People’s March this year, on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s death. MLK was planning a poor people’s march on Washington D.C. right before he was assassinated, and so this march is continuing the spirit of his original march.

I signed up to endorse the march. You can also endorse the march or donate at the Poor People’s March website.

The goal of the PPEHRC and the march is to fight for economic human rights, particularly as defined in the United Nations’ Human Charter on Human Rights. It’s important to remember before judging the charter that the charter is actually heavily based on the political rights defined in the US Constitution, combined with the “Economic Bill of Rights” first proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In other words, the document on human rights is heavily influenced by American thought, which is what makes it so ironic that more than 50 years later, we still haven’t implemented all of the human rights enshrined in that document.

So what are our economic rights? President FDR proposed recognizing the following rights:

  • A right to a living wage: Everyone deserves a high enough salary to live and afford necessities.
  • A right to housing: No one should be homeless. We can ensure modest housing for everyone if we tried.
  • A right to healthcare: Everyone deserves guaranteed, high quality, comprehensive healthcare.
  • A right to education: Everyone deserves tuition-free public education.

The Green Party’s “Green New Deal” recognizes these rights. Even the name is a call back to FDR’s “New Deal” that called for economic rights. As an elected representative, I would push for the state Pennsylvania to recognize these economic rights.

We produce so much food that nearly half of it gets thrown away each year, meaning no one should starve. Banks are sitting on more vacant houses than we have homeless people, meaning no one needs to be homeless. Healthcare can be cheaper and guaranteed if we set up a single payer system and reject the for-profit insurance system. We spend more money in tax breaks and “incentives” propping up the banking system and the student loan industry than it would cost to simply send everyone to college for free.

Recognizing the economic human rights is not only morally right, but it makes economic sense. It is time we take action to recognize and protect these rights. The Poor People’s March is a great way to bring attention to the problem and I fully support it. I call on elected officials to listen to the demands, and I call on law enforcement to protect the Poor People’s March’s right to assemble and protest under the first amendment.