USBIG NEWSLETTER VOL. 3, NO. 16, JUNE-JULY 2002
This is the Newsletter of USBIG, (http://www.usbig.net) a network promoting the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States--a policy that would unconditionally guarantee a subsistence-level income for everyone. If you'd like to be added to or removed from this list please email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1 USBIG ANNOUNCES ITS NEW DISCUSSION PAPER SERIES
2 CALL FOR PAPERS: USBIG SESSIONS AT THE EEA
3 SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE ENDORSES BIG
4. THE QUEBEC GOVERNMENT PROPOSES A MODIFIED BIG
5. NEW YORK GREEN PARTY NOMINATES BIG SUPPORTER FOR GOVERNOR
6. BIG MOVEMENTS AROUND THE WORLD
7. ABSTRACTS OF NEW DISCUSSION PAPERS
8. RECENT AND UPCOMING EVENTS
9. NEW LITERATURE ON THE BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE
10. NEW LINKS AND OTHER INFO
It’s an exciting time for the basic income guarantee: Ruling governments in South Africa and Quebec are considering serious proposals; conferences are planned on both sides of the Atlantic; and even a U.S. politician is talking about the idea. Meanwhile, USBIG launches its new discussion paper series, prepares for its 2002 conference, and reports on the growing worldwide movement for BIG.
1. ANNOUNCEMENT: THE CREATION OF THE USBIG DISCUSSION PAPER SERIES
The new USBIG discussion paper series is a forum for works in progress about or relating to the Basic Income Guarantee. Its purposes are to increase opportunities for discussion of the Basic Income Guarantee, poverty, inequality, and related issues, and to give the authors feedback on their papers in advance of publication. The series exists only on the web. It began with papers that were presented at the USBIG Congress and seminar series, but we are now opening the series for direct submission. Several new papers are announced below, and they are already available on the web. We encourage anyone who writes scholarly papers on the basic income guarantee or on the state of poverty in the United States to submit them for discussion. It’s not the appropriate format for newspaper and magazine articles, but such articles could be submitted to the USBIG newsletter itself. Papers can be submitted at any time and will be announced in the following USBIG newsletter. They will also be made available to Working Paper search sites. Discussion papers are not considered to be “published,” and there is no rigorous review process. They must simply be coherent, scholarly articles relating to BIG. Interested authors should see the instructions and send an electronic copy to Karl@Widerquist.com. Three new discussion papers are listed below.
2. CALL FOR PAPERS: USBIG MEETING AT THE EASTERN ECONOMICS ASSOCIATION IN NEW YORK, FEB. 21-23, 2003
USBIG will hold its 2003 meeting in New York in February. The meeting will be held jointly with the Eastern Economics Association’s annual meeting. The EEA will handle registration and logistics, and anyone attending the USBIG conference is welcome to attended any of the EEA sessions, but in content USBIG is entirely autonomous, and will continue in its interdisciplinary character. Scholars, activists, and others are invited to attend, to submit papers, and to organize panels in any discipline. Paper submissions are welcome on any topic relating to the Basic Income Guarantee or the state of poverty and inequality, such as the political economy of BIG; the history of BIG; gender, family, and labor market issues and BIG; empirical issues of BIG and of poverty. Any points of view are welcome.
To present a paper, send a proposal including the following information to Karl@Widerquist.com:
2. Title (if applicable)
3. Affiliation (if applicable)
4. Address including City, State, Zip Code (Postal Code), and Country
5. Telephone, FAX
6. Email Address
7. Paper Title
Anyone who submits a paper should also be available to chair a session and/or to act as discussant. Anyone who wants only to chair a session or act as a discussant should email their name and affiliation to Karl@Widerquist.com.
Proposals for sessions should include all of the above information for each paper as well as the title for the session itself, plus the names, affiliations, and contact information for discussants. Given the time constraints, panels should contain three papers, although it is possible to squeeze in four. Proposals for panel discussions (that do not include formal paper presentations) should include the names and affiliations of all participants and the title and topic of the panel.
ALL ATTENDEES MUST REGISTER WITH THE EEA. Indicate on your registration form that you will be attending the USBIG conference and you can register at the members’ advanced price of $45 without paying the membership fee.
3 SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE ENDORSES BIG
(From reports by the Basic Income Grant Coalition and by Jon Jeter for the Washington Post Foreign News Service)
The Consolidated Report of the Committee of Inquiry into a Comprehensive Social Security System for South Africa (also known as the Taylor Committee), which was released by the Minister of Social Development on 2 May 2002, endorsed a basic income grant (BIG) for South Africa. The report called for the creation of a comprehensive social protection package that addresses not only income poverty, but also capabilities poverty, asset poverty and special needs. Although South Africa, as a nation, is comparatively affluent, apartheid created enormous disparities in wealth and income, leaving the vast majority of the population profoundly impoverished. It is therefore in the unique situation of having both an acute need for a comprehensive social protection package and sufficient resources to finance it.
The BIG would take the form of a universal grant for every South African. The proposed level is small, only 100 Rand—the equivalent of $10—per month, but that amount would make an enormous difference in a country where half of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Many poor South Africans already band together into large extended families to stretch their income to the maximum. Many families survive almost entirely off the old-age pensions of retired members. Unemployment is so high in South Africa, and prospects for reducing it so low, that a BIG looks like one of the few viable solutions.
The Basic Income Grant Coalition (chaired by Rev. Douglas Torr) strongly endorsed the Taylor Committee’s report, which is currently sitting on President Mbeki's desk, awaiting the government's response. BIG still faces significant opposition in the ruling ANC, notably from the finance minister, but the proposal has gained so much momentum recently that the government cannot dismiss it lightly. But the BIG Coalition was enthusiastic, saying, “The national debate on social security should no longer be focused on whether we implement a Basic Income Grant, but rather on how we do so.”
4. QUEBEC GOVERNMENT PROPOSES A MODIFIED INCOME GUARANTEE
By Marc-Andre Pigeon
The “Parti Quebecois” (PQ), which holds a ruling majority in the provincial parliament of Quebec, unveiled a plan on June 12th that early media reports called a “guaranteed income.” Subsequent reports, however, characterized the proposed policy as more of an income support policy. According to the PQ, the policy will reduce poverty in Quebec from 14.7% (higher than the U.S. level) to levels comparable with those in Sweden and France (7% or 8%). Social spending is primarily the responsibility of the provinces in Canada, which was one of the reasons that why federal government’s trial balloon on the guaranteed income was swiftly deflated in December of 2000.
The proposal takes the form of a negative income tax; only those whose income falls below certain thresholds would be eligible. Speculation is the thresholds will be set at $10,700 (US$6,916) for single persons and $21,000 (US$13,574) for families of four and cost the government $1.5 billion (US$969 million) over the next five years. It falls short of a true basic income guarantee because it will only act as a supplement not a replacement to existing programs, and it will apparently come bundled with certain work incentives.
While the proposed policy could represent a first step toward a true BIG, it is best to guard against unwarranted optimism. The ruling separatist PQ unveiled the program hastily and with few details ahead of a series of by-elections, of which the PQ lost three of four. On the other hand, one of the two main opposition parties, the right-of-center and also separatist, “Action Democratique du Quebec” (ADQ) has proposed something more in keeping with a pure BIG program (details are sketchy, but see the ADQ website: http://www.adq.qc.ca/programme/index.html), suggesting that at the very least BIG and related themes will be a big part of political discussions leading up to the general elections expected within a year or so. An editorial in the English-language Montreal Gazette on June 14th criticized both parties’ proposals as “passe” and including “terrible incentives,” although the author admitted that both proposals included better work incentives than the current social welfare system in Quebec.
5. NEW YORK GREEN PARTY NOMINATES BIG SUPPORTER FOR GOVERNOR
The New York Green Party has nominated Stanley Aronowitz as its candidate for New York Governor in 2002. Dr. Aronowitz is a distinguished professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, but he spent most of the 1950s as a steelworker and a lathe operator in New York City, and he remains active in the union movement. He has been a supporter of the basic income guarantee for years. He helped to organize and spoke at the First Congress of the USBIG Network. The next issue of the USBIG newsletter will contain an interview with Aronowitz.
6. BIG MOVEMENTS AROUND THE WORLD.
By Al Sheahen
The world-wide movement for a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) has grown considerably in the last few years. At least 14 national networks have sprung up since 1986, when the first international organization – Basic Income European Network (BIEN) – was formed. Since then, BIEN has held eight biennial International Congresses. Its ninth Congress will be held September 12-14, 2002, in Geneva, Switzerland. More than 100 economists, authors, teachers, activists, etc. are expected to attend.
The premise of BIEN and most of the national groups is that everyone should be paid a basic income from the Government – enough for food, shelter, and basic necessities. The guarantee would be unconditional. It would not require one to work. It would not be “means-tested,” meaning it would be paid to everyone, not just to those with little or no income. While a basic income would certainly help alleviate hunger and poverty, many argue its main benefit is the freedom it would create for people to pursue their aspirations, refuse grueling work, and leave abusive relationships.
Most national networks have explored and encouraged discussion of more “politically practical” proposals, such as a negative income tax, children’s allowances, and means-tested basic income. Most of the national organizations are in Europe. A few are in other industrialized nations around the world.
In Britain, The Basic Income Research Group was set up in 1984 “to research all aspects of reform along the lines of a basic income.” It was renamed “Citizens Income Trust” in 1992. For a while, its activities were financed by donations from the Rowntree Charitable Trust, but that funding ended in 2001. The group has since negotiated the change from being a well-funded organization with an office and paid staff to being a low-budget group run by volunteers. It publishes three newsletters a year, maintains a web site, and has a separate listing in the London phone book. The goals of the Citizen’s Income Trust are to:
-Operate effectively on a limited budget
-Maintain clarity as to definitions
-Remain in the real world – to promote debate only on realizable social policy, which generally means revenue-neutral proposals
-Realize this is a long-term debate
Currently in Great Britain, Income Support, Working Families Tax Credit, and the Elderly Persons Minimum Income Guarantee provide a minimum income at a low level to the majority of UK residents. A form of Basic Income Guarantee is the Child Benefit paid to parents of children. There are fewer children in poverty than in past years. Poor and overcrowded housing are more of a problem than homelessness. Prime Minister Tony Blair has made ending child poverty a goal of his administration.
The “Vereniging Basisinkomen” group was formed in the Netherlands in 1987 to coordinate debate and action on basic income. The group publishes a quarterly newsletter in Dutch and maintains a web site in Dutch. The goals of the network are to:
-Establish a full basic income in the long run
-Support partial basic income plans of others as a temporary goal
-Aim at a better distribution of paid and unpaid work
-Support those who want to establish a basic income via a negative income tax
“BIEN Ireland” is the Irish branch of BIEN. Established in 1995, it helps spread information about basic income in Ireland. But the main group promoting a basic income in Ireland is the CORI Justice Commission. Headquartered in Dublin, it is a branch of the Council of the Religious of Ireland. (www.cori.ie/justice/basic_inc/basic.html). In January, 2002, Sean Healy presented a paper on Basic Income in Ireland at a conference on “Basic Income in Europe” at the University of Liege, Belgium.
Spain currently has two separate groups promoting basic income. Both are headquartered in Barcelona. “Red Renta Basica” began its activities in January, 2001. Its web site is in Spanish. Its main goals are to promote studies on the merits and political viability of basic income. In June, 2001, the group organized the First Spanish Basic Income Symposium, which drew more than 100 activists, students, labor union members, government officials, etc. It is planning a Second Symposium to be held in the Basque Country in the autumn of 2002. “Baladre’s People” is an informal movement with more than 50 grassroots groups participating in discussion of issues like basic income, poverty, unemployment, globalization, militarism, etc. The group promotes basic income from “below” (with the people), not from “above” (for the people). Spain’s current welfare policies have not erased the growing income insecurity and poverty levels, but the Basic Income concept is being well received by many. In March, 2002, the Spanish Communist Party adopted a resolution emphasizing the relevance of an unconditional basic income, and calling for debate on the subject within the Party.
“Basic Income Austria” was formed in 1995 to spread the idea of Basic Income in Austria. A government working group prepares proposals that tend not to introduce a basic income but to improve the (not so bad) existing social security system. Frequent articles on basic income have appeared in the Austrian mass media. The Liberal Forum political party adopted a basic income as part of its official party platform. But the idea was essentially rejected by the leading parties and trade unions. The Green Party decided to restrict its basic income model to children, workers, and the aged. The Basic Income is debated annually at the National Conference on Poverty.
“The People’s Movement for Citizen Wage in Sweden (FFM)” has about 130 members throughout the country. It maintains a web site in Swedish. It participates in various social forums and holds seminars and workshops. There is a membership fee (pay whatever you can afford). The group sells books, and is run by volunteers. In Sweden, the basic income is most strongly associated with the Green Party. Called a “Citizen’s Wage,” it is one of the long-term goals of the Party. However, the concept is not yet taken as a serious idea in mainstream Swedish politics.
In France, “Association Pour L’Instauration d’Un Revenu d’Existence (AIRE)” was created in 1989. It organized BIEN’s 1992 Congress. It holds regular meetings and publishes a quarterly newsletter, in French, in hard copy only. The subscription fee is FF200 per year. In January, 2002, the French Communist Party organized a one-day conference in Paris titled: “For or Against a Universal Existence Income.”
“Organization Advocating Support Income in Australia (OASIS)” generally publishes two newsletters a year and maintains a web site. It has no funding and has been run by volunteers since 1989. OASIS favors unconditional, universal income support for all, with no means testing. A basic income is not on the political agenda in Australia. Unemployment has climbed to 6.5% -- over one million people. Means-tested pensions are provided for those over age 65. The Minister for Aging recently gave notice that people will have to work beyond retirement age to support themselves and succeeding generations.
“Universal Basic Income New Zealand (UBINZ)” was formed in 1992. The group has organized two national conferences (1996, 1998, both in Wellington) on Universal Basic Income. It maintains a web site, but its last newsletter was published in 1998. It has no reported activity at the moment.
“Basic Income Earth Network-Brazil (BEIN-Brazil)” is coordinated by Senator Eduardo Suplicy – perhaps the highest-ranking elected official in the world who supports a basic income. He ran for President in the 2002 Worker’s Party primary, which has proposed a “zero-hunger” program for the more than 30 million Brazilians who do not have enough to eat.
In 2001, the South African Council of Churches joined a broad coalition of civil society organizations calling for a BIG in the struggle against poverty and inequality. At least 22 million people in South Africa – well over half the population – live in poverty. The proposed grant is 100 Rand (about US$10) per month for all South Africans. The coalition estimates this would cost about 8% of tax revenues, and the proposal has received broad support in South Africa. Information on BIG in South Africa is at http://www.sacc-ct.org.za.BIGindex.html.
Efforts are also underway to create basic income groups in Germany, Canada, and other countries.
In the United States, “USBIG” was formed in 2000. It publishes this bimonthly electronic newsletter with a subscription of over 300, and maintains a web site. It has no formal structure or membership, and no budget except for what can be raised for special events. The group held its first Congress in New York City in March 2002. More than 100 people attended the two-day event including economists, political activists, sociologists, historians, law professors, social workers, filmmakers, graduate and undergraduate students, and writers. Some of the attendees were in the thick of the fight for a guaranteed income in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A second conference is scheduled for February 2003 in New York City.
USBIG is reviving discussion on this issue, which has died down in this country since the decline of the guaranteed income movement in the 1970s. In the 1960s, President Johnson declared a “war on poverty” in the U.S. In 1969, a Presidential Commission proposed an unconditional basic income. In 1970, legislation was introduced in Congress to provide a means-tested minimum income with work requirements. It passed the House of Representatives, but was defeated in the Senate. Although a full guaranteed income did not pass, some successful legislation came out of the guaranteed income movement. In 1974, the U.S. passed a means-tested minimum income with no work requirements for people over age 65 and people with disabilities (SSI). The food stamp program was expanded for low-income families. In the 1980s, the “Earned Income Tax Credit” was adopted – a form of negative income tax for those who work at low wages.
The official U.S. poverty rate has remained the same for the past 20 years – at about 11% of the population – but the idea of a basic income is not on the political agenda. Instead, the 1996 Welfare Reform Act imposed tough work requirements upon any able-bodied parent. Benefits for single people are provided only locally and are skimpy, where they exist at all. The number of homeless shelters and food banks have increased in the past 10 years to meet the growing demand.
What does the future hold for BIG? Despite the fact that the idea makes eminent sense when put to serious study, most people in capitalist nations think “paying people not to work” is a bad idea. At times, it appears hopeless that the idea will ever take hold, especially in conservative countries like the USA. But if a serious effort to push the concept were ever made by the political and economic leaders of a country, public opinion could likely be turned around in a year or two. The task of national BIG groups around the world would seem to be to keep the idea alive, continue the research and discussion, keep pushing in a sensible and realistic way, and be prepared for the opportunity which one day will come.
7. NEW DISCUSSION PAPERS
FROM A MINIMUM INCOME TO A BASIC INCOME IN BRAZIL: Recent developments of a tool to Fight Poverty and Inequality
Suplicy, Eduardo Matarazzo, member of the Brazilian Senate.
USBIG Discussion Paper No. 34, April 2002.
ABSTRACT: In this article, I will try to summarize the ideas contained in my book Renda de cidadania -- A saida e pela porta [Citizen’s Income – The Exit is through the Door] (Fundacao Perseu Abramo/Cortez, Sao Paulo, 2002), in which I explain how the idea of guaranteeing an income to all persons in Brazil came into being, I sum up the process of maturation of the discussion concerning a guaranteed minimum income, and I stress the importance of guaranteeing to all persons, unconditionally, a basic income as a right to citizenship, so that everyone can live with dignity. [For the full text of this paper go to http://www.usbig.net, and click on “discussion papers.”]
WELFARE AND THE TRUE MEANING OF “CONSERVATIVE”
Steven Shafarman, The Citizen’s Policy Institute
USBIG Discussion Paper Number 36, May 2002
Shafarman discusses BIG as a proposal that can appeal to conservatives.
THE STAKEHOLDER ACCOUNT SYSTEM
Karl Widerquist, University of Oxford
USBIG Network Discussion Paper No. 36, May 2002
This paper proposes a hybrid of the basic income guarantee and of Stakeholder Accounts with features that give it some advantages over either one. Each child is granted a baby bond at birth. Upon reaching adulthood the owner of the bond is not given the principle to the bond but an account from which she can withdraw the interest or let it accrue throughout her life. Stakeholder Accounts combine the political appeal of Stakeholder Grants with basic income’s ability to meet pressing social needs. It reduces wealth inequality but also fosters savings. It gives people an incentive to work and to let the funds in their account grow, but provides a cushion that people can draw on if and when they need it. This paper discusses the specifics of how a Stakeholder Account System would work, its advantages and disadvantages, and the financing of a small Stakeholder Account System for Britain.
SOCIAL CITIZENSHIP AND WORKFARE IN THE U.S. AND WESTERN EUROPE: FROM STATUS TO CONTRACT,
Joel F. Handler, UCLA
USBIG Discussion Paper No. 37, July 2002
A major goal in workfare policies is to re-integrate the socially excluded into full citizenship. I examine the experience in the U.S. and compare the current reforms in selected Western European countries. I argue that current policies of inclusion necessarily exclude. Workfare contemplates an individual, “contract’ between the agency and the client. I concentrate on the implementation issues – the characteristics and constraints on the welfare worker-client relationship. A basic income guarantee is necessary not only to relieve suffering but also to provide an exit option for the client.
8. EVENTS: RECENT AND UPCOMING
THE BASIC INCOME EUROPEAN NETWORK CONFERENCE will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, September 12-14. “Our 9th congress will again be a privileged moment for dense interaction among people interested in basic income from all over Europe and beyond.” A full program, a registration form and a list of options for subsidized accommodation in Geneva can be found on the BIEN website http://www.basicincome.org. You can also obtain them in hardcopy version from the Congress secretariat (email@example.com). Deadline for registration: July 31st.
THE SOUTH AFRICAN BASIC INCOME GRANT COALITION will host an informal seminar on universal income support grants and their implications for sustainable human development at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (to be held in Johannesburg at the end of August) to host an informal seminar on universal income support. To attend or for more information contact Karen Kallmann of Blacksash and the South African BIG Coalition firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE REAL UTOPIAS CONFERENCE ON RETHINKING REDISTRIBUTION was held at the University of Wisconsin in Madison on May 2-5, 2002. Twenty-five participants spent 3 days discussing the relative merits of two proposals for the redistribution: Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott’s Stakeholder Grants, and basic income as proposed by Philippe Van Parijs. The discussion was lively and thoughtful. Basic income advocates largely agreed that basic income fills a much more pressing need in society, and Stakeholder advocates largely agreed that Stakeholding is more politically feasible. But it was widely agreed that either proposal would lead to greater equality of wealth and opportunity. Some of the papers presented at the conference will be included in a special issue of the journal Politics and Society and in a book to be published by Verso next year, tentatively titled, “Reinventing Redistribution: basic income and stakeholder grants as designs for a more egalitarian capitalism.”
HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS POLICY CONFERENCE (April 29-30, Washington, DC) was organized by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Speakers included Representative Bernie Sanders and Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities. The conference brought together activists, intellectuals, and current and former homeless. It included a session on redistributional strategies, at which Karl Widerquist and Steve Shafarman made presentations on the basic income guarantee.
RIPENSARE LA REDISTRIBUZIONE. IL REDDITO UNIVERSALE: UN'IDEA SEMPLICE E FORTE PER IL 21 SECOLO, Salerno, Italy, 24 May 2002. A debate on basic income organised by Laura Bazzicalupo and Ingrid Salvatore (both philosophers at the University of Salerno), with the participation of philosopher Philippe Van Parijs (Hoover Chair, University of Louvain) and economist Adalgiso Amendola (Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, University of Salerno). For further information: Dr Ingrid Salvatore email@example.com.
LA RENTA BÁSICA EN UN PROYECTO DE REDEFINICIÓN DE LA IZQUIERDA, Madrid, Spain, 7 May 2002. Conference on basic income and the redefinition of the Left organised by the Department of Political Science of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and various student associations, with the participation of Antoni Domènech (Univ. de Barcelona), Andrés de Francisco (Univ. Complutense de Madrid), Manuel Monereo (Izquierda Unida) and Jordi Sevilla (PSOE). LA RENTA BASICA, Oviedo, Spain 12 April 2002. Roundtable on basic income organised at the University of Oviedo by ATTAC-Asturias, with Juan José Fernández (Councillor for the left party Izquierda Unida) and Daniel Raventós (chairman of Spain's basic income network). For further information on both events contact: Dr Daniel Raventos firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. RECENT PUBLICATIONS
Groot, L.F.M. "Compensatory Justice and Unconditional
Basic Income, *Journal of Social Philosophy* 33/1 (2002), pp. 144-161
Nick Woomer, The Michigan Daily, “Don't cut taxes, give everyone an unconditional income.” This article from January of last year is a very positive review of Van Parijs’s proposal for a basic income for the United States in his book, “What’s Wrong With a Free Lunch?” It can be found on the web at: http://www.pub.umich.edu/daily/2001/jan/01-16-2001/edit/03.html
David Christopher Naylor Swanson wrote the column “Guaranteeing Income,” discussing Steve Shafarman’s proposal for Citizen Dividends for his website, “A Vision for 2050.” You can find it at: http://webspace4me.net/~swanson/columns/guaranteeing.htm.
BLAIS, François. Ending Poverty. A Basic Income for All Canadians. Preface by Senator Lois Wilson. Halifax (Canada): Lorimer Paperback (email@example.com), 2002, 134p. ISBN 1-55028-755-9. http://www.formac.ca/lorimer/lorimer.html. Written by a professor of political science at Laval University (Québec), this is an English translation of the best French-language introduction to basic income, published in Montreal in 2001. The book consists of three chapters. Chapter 1 presents basic income as a polar alternative to workfare in a policy context in which all seem concerned to offer a cure for exclusion from employment which, at the very least, does not worsen the poverty level. Chapter 2 mobilises a large literature in an attempt to present basic income as an ideal combination, under present-day circumstances, of justice and efficiency. Finally, chapter 3 presents a critical overview of funding methods, as well as of a wide range of more modest measures, either already in place in some countries or under discussion, which might lead to the implementation of a genuine basic income. Devoid of economic and philosophical jargon, yet showing a full awareness of the intricacies of the financial and ethical issues involved, this is an extremely useful - and hopeful - book.
LAKE, Christopher, Equality and Responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, 192p., ISBN 0-19-924174-0
This academic book investigates the philosophical relation between equality and responsibility. Its final chapter, engages critically with Stuart White's reciprocity objection to basic income. Reciprocity, Lake argues, is only a derivative concern and cannot ground a fundamental objection against out-of-work benefits. Moreover, White cannot appropriately compare different people's obligations to work, because he conflates "social contribution" and the "costs often associated with working". Once we recognize that some forms of contributive work do not represent a burden, and conversely some forms of burdensome work do not represent a genuine contribution, a simple unified basis upon which we can judge whether a person does his or her bit falls through. Lake does not discuss basic income at great length, but his critique of the reciprocity objection has obvious implications for the basic income debate.
STANDING, Guy. Beyond the New Paternalism. London: Verso, 2002, 306p. (Author's address: GuyStanding@compuserve.com ) Largely based on the author's more scholarly Global Labour Flexibility (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999, 404p.), this new book by BIEN's co-chairman and director of ILO's Programme on Socio-economic Security is a more popular and accessible formulation of his diagnosis and of his faith. "Only a romantic utopian", he asserts, "would imagine 'the end of labour'. Yet labour is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Maximising the number of people in labour is a fetish. It can be done, at a cost, in terms of lower wages, less social protection, more stress, social illness and inequality. We need freedom from labour so that we can pursue work in conditions where multiple forms of activity are valued as preserving community and fraternity." The combination of flexibility and security which justice an efficiency require under current conditions is the polar opposite of subjection to workfare. It includes new forms of voice which broadens the function of Trade Unions and also a "floor constraint" in the form of "a citizenship allowance, de-linked from performance of labour". "Dignified work needs basic security, or real freedom is denied", the book concludes, "The ultimate paradox is that it requires the freedom to do no work at all. Dignified work can only exist when it is done for intrinsic reasons, not because a landlord, a boss or the state says it shall be so." Tough language for an International Labour Office programme director, but no doubt consonant with the ILO's overarching goal of promoting social justice under ever changing circumstances.
JON R. NELL. “The Political Viability of a Negative Income Tax.” Social Choice and Welfare Vol. 18, Spring 2001. p. 747-757. This paper uses models of rational decision making to examine the necessary conditions for a majority to support a negative income tax.
10. NEW LINKS AND OTHER INFO
David Swanson of ACORN interviewed Al Sheahen for his website. Most of Swanson’s questions were whether BIG would be large enough to make a serious impact on poverty. Swanson subsequently endorsed BIG as part of his visions for reforms for 2050. You can view the exchange on the web at:
FOR LINKS TO DOZENS OF BIG GROUPS WEBSITES AROUND THE WORLD, go to http://www.usbig.net, and click on “links.”
THE U.S. BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE NETWORK (USBIG), which publishes this newsletter, is dedicated to promoting the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a generic name for any proposal to create a minimum income level below which no citizen’s income can fall. Information on BIG and USBIG can be found on the web at: http://www.usbig.net. If you know any BIG news; if you have any comments on the newsletter or the web site; if you know anyone who would like to be added to this list; or if you would like to be removed from this list; please send me an email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
-Karl Widerquist, coordinator, USBIG.