End Poverty in California movement

The End Poverty in California movement (EPIC) was a political campaign started in 1934 by socialist writer Upton Sinclair (best known as author of The Jungle). The movement formed the basis for Sinclair’s campaign for Governor of California in 1934. The plan called for a massive public works program, sweeping tax reform, and guaranteed pensions. It gained major popular support, with thousands joining End Poverty Leagues across the state. EPIC never came to fruition due to Sinclair’s defeat in the 1934 election, but is seen as an influence on New Deal programs enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Plan

Sinclair laid out his vision for EPIC in his 1933 book I, Governor of California, and How I ended Poverty: A True Story of the Future.[1] Specifically, the plan called for state seizure of idle factories and farm land where the owner had failed to pay property taxes.The government would then hire the unemployed to work on the farms and at the factories. The farms would then operate as self-sufficient, worker-run co-ops. EPIC also called for the implementation of California’s first state income tax.The tax was to be progressive, with the wealthiest being taxed at 30%. The plan would also have increased inheritance taxes and instituted a 4% tax on stock transfers. EPIC also included government-provided pensions for the old, disabled, and widowed. To implement EPIC, Sinclair called for the creation of three new government agencies: the California Authority for Land (CAL), the California Authority for Production (CAP), and the California Authority for Money (CAM). CAL was to implement the plan for seizure and cultivation of unused farm lands. CAP was to do the same for idle factories. CAM meanwhile was to be used to finance CAL and CAP by issuing scrip to workers and issues bonds for the purchase of lands, factories, and machinery.

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