This is the Newsletter of the USBIG Network (www.usbig.net), which promotes the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a policy that would unconditionally guarantee at least a subsistence-level income for everyone. If you would like to be added to or removed from this list please email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
1. USBIG Congress takes place later this week
2. Conservative U.S. presidential candidate endorses a small BIG
3. Editorial: A Basic Income Supporter’s view of the sales tax movement
4. BIG News from Around the World
5. Upcoming Events
6. Recent Events
7. Basic Income Studies releases its fourth issue
8. New Publications
9. New Discussion Papers
10. New Members
11. New Links
12. Links and Other Info
The basic income guarantee has been a small issue
U.S. Presidential primaries. Republican candidate Mike Huckabee,
replacing the income tax with a sales tax and providing everyone with a
tax rebate “for taxes on purchases up to the poverty line, so that
taxed on necessities, [and] people below the poverty line won't be
all,” according the Huckabee’s website. The emphasis of the plan is on
sales tax. The rebate is quietly mentioned almost as an afterthought—a
cushion the blow to the poor. But that rebate is a
small basic income, set at some fraction of the poverty line.
website does not specify the tax rate. Advocates of the national sales
usually prefer a figure under 25 percent, but to maintain current
spending the tax rate might have to be more than 30 percent. At 2006
rates, the 25 percent rate would imply a basic income of $2500 per year
single person and $5000 for a family of four. The 35 percent tax rate
basic incomes of more than $3500 for a single person and $7000 for a
four. It is not a full basic income, but remember that Huckabee is one
of the most
conservative politicians of the 2008 race; yet he quietly endorsed
to one-third of what basic income supporters want.
The unexpected success of Mike Huckabee in the
primaries has given a substantial boost to the small movement to
federal taxes with a national sales tax with an accompanying tax rebate
form of a partial basic income (see story above). The basic income
been almost an entirely left-of-center movement since the 1980s, made
mostly of people who want a more equal society with much better, freer
for the poor. I believe that most basic income supporters would like to
ally on the other side of the political divide. Is the sales tax
an ally? Although I have no doubt that a basic income as small as the
proposed by the sales tax movement would be better than no basic income
there are two main reasons why the sales tax movement promotes
is very difficult for most basic income supporters to endorse.
First, the stress of the sales tax movement is almost entirely on the benefits of income tax relief. The tax rebate is included almost as an afterthought to cushion the blow on the poor, who currently pay little or no income taxes and would stand to lose significantly by a shift to sales taxes. Any motivation to help provide basic economic security is left out of the movement’s literature. The poor are expected to work, and adequate work is assumed to be available in the job market. As the sales tax movement sees it, the poor only have one problem—the government makes them pay taxes. If the government rebates their taxes, private employment provides everything they need. Even if we disagree with the motives of sales tax advocates, and even if their basic income is far too small, it is better to get some of what we want than nothing. That is, as long as the cost is not too high, which brings me to the next reason.
Second, sales tax advocates would only support a small basic income as part of a shift to the national sales tax, which supporters call “the fair tax.” But the sales tax has significant problems. The three most obvious measures of an individual’s economic standing are income, wealth, and consumption. Any one of these measures could provide a base for taxation: an income tax is obviously a tax on income; capital gains, wealth, and inheritance taxes fall on wealth; and a sales tax falls on consumption. What difference would it make to base federal taxation on sales? Savings (i.e. the accumulation of wealth) is the difference between income and consumption. If you make $30,000 and save $3,000, you spend $27,000. An income tax would tax you based on how much money you make; a sales tax would tax you based on the portion of that money you spend that year. Sales tax advocates call this fair because it encourages savings and because it supposedly taxes people how what they actually consume rather than on what they are able to consume.
For most of us, there is no a big difference between income and savings. The poorest people tend to spend all of their income, and members of the middle class are lucky if they can put away 10 percent. But at higher levels of economic well-being, there is an enormous difference. The richer one is; the less one spends as a percentage of income. Therefore, the “fair” tax is regressive, making after tax incomes between the middle class and the wealthy less equal than before tax incomes. Supporters argue (fairly) that it will be no more regressive than the current system with all of its exemptions, but the sale tax is simply not a mechanism capable of making the system progressive. A government financed by a national sales tax will allow families to accumulate more and more wealth and the power that goes with it. They will be able to pass that wealth down for generations and generations with no interference from income or wealth taxation.
Sales tax advocates say that it is fair to tax people on what they actually consume rather than their potential to consume. Yet, the holding of wealth takes up resources that other people might as much as consumption does. If my family holds land as wealth, we block anyone else from using that land, but we would pay no sales tax on it. Under a sales tax, if a middle class man spends $50 to buy his son a baseball glove, he pays tax. But if a wealthy man spends $50 million to buy his son a professional baseball team—that’s investment spending, not consumption—he pays no tax. This is the “fair tax” in name only.
Even so, a national sales tax could be part of an overall progressive system if it was accompanied by a substantial basic income and some kind of tax that hits large dynastic family accumulations of wealth. Inheritance taxes and capital gains taxes don’t actually do that job very well, but there are two taxes that could, a tax on land value or a tax directly on wealth holdings (see Top Heavy by Ed Wolff). However, I fear that sales tax advocates would resist any changes in their preferred system that would make it progressive.
Reginald Stackhouse, a former Progressive
Member of Parliament and emeritus professor at University of Toronto,
BIG in an editorial in the Toronto Star on February 17. Stackhouse
full basic income with the goal of eliminating all poverty in Canada.
concludes, “What you and I can be sure of is the present system is not
Canada is one of the most financially sound countries in the world –
still have enough poor people to populate one of our largest cities.
think that we should be looking for an alternative?” Ann Lukits,
writing in the
Kingston Whig-Standard, reports that Conservative Senator Hugh Segal
recently called for a feasibility study on guaranteed income in the
form of a
negative income tax. Lukits writes, "Canadian politicians have tried
without success for close to 40 years to introduce a guaranteed annual
for poor people. Kingston Senator Hugh Segal is hoping he's the one who
finally make it happen."
The Toronto Star editorial is online at:
The Whig-Standard article is online at:
Senator Eduardo Suplicy is one of the
advocates for BIG in the world. He sponsored the bill, which became law
2004, authorizing the gradual phase-in of a BIG in Brazil. He has met
politicians, researchers and heads of state around the world to
the introduction of basic income. Last month he spent several days in
with senior Iraqi officials and encouraging them to introduce basic
part of the effort to pacify their country. He will speak at the USBIG
Conference in Boston on Sunday March 9 and present a 20-minute video on
visit to Iraq. Senator Suplicy’s first-hand account of his visit to
online at: http://www.usbig.net/papers/182-Suplicy--Iraq.doc.
Residents of the village of Omitara, Namibia
first payments of a basic income grant of 100 Namibian dollars this
More than 900 residents will receive the grants (worth about US$13.32)
month for the next two years. The payments are part of a pilot project
conducted by the Namibian BIG Coalition and supported by private
baseline study on the living conditions of Omitara residents was
carried out at
the end of last year. Follow up studies will be carried out every six
over the next two years to scientifically document the concrete impact
BIG in Omitara. The findings of these studies will be made available to
media. The BIG Coalition hopes the project will demonstrate the
BIG, and the coalition plans to resume its lobbying efforts once the
Several source article for this report can be found online;
January 16, Denver Isaacs, the Namibian Windhoek:
January 18, Wezi Tjaronda, New Era Windhoek:
February 18, Denver Isaacs, The Namibian (Windhoek)
See also: http://www.bignam.org/
On October 15th, 2007, Bolivian president Evo
the creation of the Universal Lifetime Basic Income for Dignified
will consist of a universal and unconditional monetary transfer of
US$ for all people aged 60 and above in the country. This amount is a
point taking into account the poverty line in Bolivia. Evo Morales
basic income as a long dream and warned that should it not be approved
parliament he will put out a decree putting it into action immediately.
Latin America, through diverse pathways, the proposal for universal,
unconditional income recognized as a right is making progress. In
Bolivian proposal reinforces the universal citizen's pension of Mexico
active since 2001. Such a pension is now completely universal in the
month 420,000 persons get it, its amount is around US$70 and has been
as a right in the Law, that means is demandable to the Government of
The Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (PSG—
Party) endorsed a substantial BIG of 1500 Euros per month in its
platform for German
regional elections held on the January 27. The party platform is online
Roland Duchâtelet, the founder and President
became a member of the Belgian Senate on December 21, 2007. The core
Vivant includes an unconditional basic income, direct democracy and a
from labor taxes toward consumption tax. In the Senate Roland
succeeds Guy Verhofstadt of Open Vld, the coalition partner of Vivant,
agreed to lead an interim government until March 23, 2008. Vivant now
representatives in the Senate: Roland Duchâtelet and Nele Lijnen.
BIEN reports: The French Secretary of State for
Studies and the Evaluation of Public Policies, Eric Besson, has been
Prime Minister François Fillon to explore possible ways of
so-called "Universal Dividend", or basic income, in France. In 2002,
Christine Boutin, currently Minister for Housing and City Planning, had
published a report on poverty and exclusion, in which she advocated the
an income by right for all French citizens. In his letter to Besson, PM
François Fillon explicitly refers to this report, and asks for a
in the light of foreign experiences. The new report on basic income
finished at the end of March 2008.
For further information: http://www.frs-ladroitehumaine.fr/
BIEN reports: On October 2, 2007 a debate on Basic
took place in a plenary session of the Spanish Parliament, following a
presented by two political parties: the Republican Left of Catalonia
Republicana de Catalunya, ERC, a left-wing pro-independence party that
currently a member of the coalition that rules the Catalan government)
United Left (Izquierda Unida - Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds, IU-ICV,
organisation at the left of the Socialist Party, PSOE). The
debate had many repercussions in the press. The interventions made by
representatives of the parties in Parliament can be read in the
report (Diario de Sesiones), which can also be downloaded from
An article responding to the debate is online at:
BIEN reports: BRUSSELS (BE), 19 December 2007:
deserves a decent life”: The European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN)
kicked off EU
wide campaign for Adequate Minimum Income schemes. On December 19,
2007, EAPN launched
an EU wide campaign for Adequate Minimum Income schemes. 24 out of 27
States have minimum income schemes in place at this present time, but
serious flaws with their accessibility and their adequacy. It is time,
argues, to state clearly that adequate Minimum Income schemes are a
prerequisite for an EU based on social justice and equal opportunities
The campaign was launched in Brussels in presence of NGO
Members of the European Parliament, European Commission officials as
national representations and social partners (ETUC, EPSU, etc.)
For further information: http://www.eapn.org/
On January 25, 2008, the Government of "Regione
Lazio" (the Region which includes the province of Rome) approved a
“guaranteed social income.” In the coming weeks this proposal will be
in a Regional Commission, as well as in the Regional General Council,
where it is
expected to be approved. The proposal entails an income support of 450
per month, and a package of free services (free transport, electricity,
entrance in art centers, etc.). It is means-tested and targeted at
whose earnings are below a threshold of 7,500 Euros per year, such as
precarious workers and the unemployed. This proposal was made by
Tibaldi (Partito della Rifondazione Comunista), after discussions with
representatives of social movements, trade unions, and political
proposed funding is approximately 30,000,000 Euros for the first stage
experimentation, during the next three years. Some proponents of a
in Italy see this event as an important first step towards a true basic
for all. For further information:
BIEN reports: Andrew Glyn, fellow of Corpus
Oxford, died of a brain tumor at the age of 64. He was one of the most
respected and most loved left-wing political economists. He was also,
Times obituary put it (January 8, 2008), "an ideological radical who
proved himself to be one of the finest exponents of the most
traditional of all
teaching methods - Oxford's Socratic tutorial system" and "one of the
most inspiring and giving of Oxford's teachers".
His last book, Capitalism Unleashed, he wrote, "the campaign in support of Basic Income eventually notched up one more adherent". The top priority, he wrote in the final chapter, should be to establish "the basis for a new balance between work and other activities". How? "the most innovative policy suggestion to encourage moves in this direction is the proposal of a Basic Income". It "would involve a recasting of elements of the welfare state in an egalitarian direction which would be extremely worthwhile".
See “In Memoriam Andrew Glyn”, online at: http://www.uclouvain.be/8611.html
See also the obituary in “Socialist Unity”: http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=1417
And in “The Guardian”:
The 12th International Congress of the Basic
Network (BIEN) will be held on 20-21 June 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. The
this World Congress is: Inequality and Development in a Globalised
The Basic Income Option. This two-day event involving participants from
continents of the world will be preceded by a one-day event (June 19,
which will focus on Basic Income in Ireland and will be open to all
participants in the World Congress. Details about the Congress are
www.basicincomeireland.com. The organizing committee can be reached at
BASEL, Switzerland October 5-7, 2007:
BIEN Reports: More than 300 participants from Germany, Switzerland and Austria attended the second German-speaking BI congress "Securing everybody´s existence and Unconditional - BI as a human right" which was held at the University of Basel, Switzerland, Oct. 5-7, 2007. "This congress has linked the debates on BI in our three countries and stressed the European dimension of this debate" said Avji Sirmoglu, member of the organizing committee. "Combating poverty is one important issue in the debate on BI, since the aim of a BI is social integration and participation in the society". Scientists and persons e.g. from social initiatives and organizations of unemployed shared their insights and visions regarding current developments such as social security, labor markets as well as unpaid work. They discussed the introduction of an unconditional BI which must be high enough to secure everybody’s existence as well as special aspects like how to finance a BI.
One central question was whether BI is a human
was common sense that every human being must receive his/her fair stake
existing wealth. BI was called a very good way to make this reality.
congress was organized by the BI-networks of Austria, Germany and
together with ATTAC Germany and Switzerland and the BI-group within
Austria. The congress was held in participation with the Institute of
(University of Basel), Initiative BI Basel and others. This event was
by the Third (National) German Basic Income Congress in Berlin on
The program and articles on the Basel congress (in German) is online at: www.grundeinkommen2007.org Some of the workshops were recorded. Audio CDs (all German) can be ordered: www.grundeinkommen.at. Further information on the Berlin conference is available online at: http://www.grundeinkommen.de.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, December 13, 2007
BIEN Reports: The Citizen Income Network in
(Redaic (Red Argentina de Ingreso Ciudadano)) organized together with
Centre of Labour Studies and Research ((Ceil-Piette (Centro de Estudios
Investigaciones Laborales - Programa de Investigaciones
Tecnología, Trabajo y Empleo)) a workshop on "Income or
Guarantee? An Argentinean discussion between Basic Income and Employmer
Resort.” It took place on Thursday December, 13th. For further
Corina Rodríguez Enríquez, Conicet - Ciepp, Buenos Aires
BIEN reports: On October 17, 2007 (the
International Day for
the Eradication of Poverty), several faith leaders from Greater
Victoria held a
press conference and called for a livable income for all Canadians.
This press conference
focused on Victoria and British Columbia, where poverty is on the
spite of a booming economy, the gap between the rich and the poor has
been larger, activists say. "A crisis-based approach to dealing with
complex problems of poverty and homelessness does not work" said Rev.
Harold Munn, rector at St. John the Divine Anglican Church and a member
Victoria's Mayor Taskforce on Homelessness. "Building shelters and
income assistance and disability rates so low and so difficult to
shopping at food banks is a necessity- these strategies do not end
perpetuate it. Faith communities, in particular, are aware of the
these approaches have had on the lives and the dignity of poor people."
Besides Rev. Harold Munn, speakers included Fr. Dean Henderson (St.Andrew's Cathedral), Kathy Hoodikoff (Christ Church Cathedral), Ross White (Cadboro Bay United), Alan Saunders (First Metropolitan United) as well as speakers from St. Vincent de' Paul society, 9-10 Club and Faith in Action. Speakers emphasized that people of faith long for the day when poverty is indeed eradicated, and the food banks, clothing exchanges, and soupkitchens they are currently operating, close their doors forever. For poverty to end, they argued, governments at every level must support through their policy and funding commitments: affordable and/or supportive housing options, addiction and mental health treatment programs, and a livable income for all Canadians.
For further information, contact Rev. Harold Munn at 250-383-7169, or Rev. Al Tysick at 250-388-0343.
VALLES OCCIDENTAL (ES), 15-16 December 2007: The
Section of Catalonia’s Socialist Party at Vallès Occidental (one
of the most
politically active regions in Catalonia) held a two-day course on
and 16 which gathered many politicians from PSC (Catalan Socialist
other Catalan left-wing parties, as well as members of unions and
experts. Sessions dealt with issues such as work conditions in
Spanish labour markets, a general assessment of Zapatero’s turn of
(General Election at Spanish Parliament will take place in March 9
included a lecture given by Daniel Raventós, President of Red
Renta Bàsica, on
“The Feasibility of Basic as a Right Promoting Social Justice”.
BIEN reports: 19 January 2008: Asturia’s Section
Izquierda Unida, the main Spanish left-wing party to the left of
Socialist Party, organised a very well-attended Conference on the
justification of Basic Income, its political feasibility and its
financial schemes. Daniel Raventós and Jordi Arcarons (both
members of Red
Renta Básica) gave background lectures and conducted vivid
practitioners working at municipal and regional public agencies,
social and political movements and Izquierda Unida’s politicians. Many
radio stations and TV channels covered the event, which proves that
Income keeps going deeper into Spanish social and political debate.
OXFORD, United Kingdom, February 9, 2008: The
Economics Institute organized a one-day conference on "Social aspects
Green Economics: basic income, women and debt poverty, pensions,
women, and women’s access to economics". Karl Widerquist, of the
University of Reading, gave a keynote lecture entitled “An Introduction
Citizens Capital Accounts.” Clive Lord, one of the founders of the
Green Party, discussed basic income as a Green social policy. Pascal
editor of the Alternative Economics Journal (in French), discussed the
basic income in the manifesto of the French Green Party. Judith
the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, examined, “Five considerations for
the discussion of social security systems in general and an
income in particular.” Brian Heatley, of the British Green Party,
“Costing Citizen’s Income and associated benefit and income tax
For further information: http://www.greeneconomics.org.uk/
ERMUA, Spain, February 20-22, 2008: Ermua’s City
organized a Conference on Social Welfare Program for mid-size cities
inhabitants) as the result of its willingness to provide politicians
practitioners a broad and election-independent picture of the main
program are expected to face. This interdisciplinary Conference will
issues like social participation and political responsibility in the
of welfare services, welfare schemes and migration, and the debate on
(un)conditionality of these welfare schemes, among others. Speakers
Joan Subirats (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Imanol Zubero
del País Vasco), Josep Ramoneda (Centre de Cultura
Contemporània de Barcelona),
Daniel Raventós (Universitat de Barcelona and Red Renta
Básica), and Gemma
Zabaleta (Member of Basque Socialist Party).
Basic Income Studies (BIS) released Volume 2,
Issue 2 in
December 2007. It features several research articles, research notes,
reviews, and a debate, guest-edited by David Casassas, Civic
basic income. All current and past issues of BIS are available free
http://www.bepress.com/bis. Click the required article and follow the
instructions to get free guest access.
David Purdy "Is Basic Income Viable?".
ABSTRACT: The debate about Basic Income (BI) has hitherto been preoccupied with questions of desirability. To correct this imbalance and to throw light on the problems of winning political support for BI, this article considers whether BI is viable. At this stage, the exercise is necessarily speculative, but can be useful as long as care is taken to specify institutional arrangements and to take into account the way social agents are likely to respond to the introduction of BI. Accordingly, I develop a theoretical model of the interaction between tax-transfer policy and economic performance to explore the options facing the citizens of an imaginary state, who are contemplating radical reform but espouse divergent moral values. Initially, to fix ideas, I assume that their options are independent of the prevailing normative climate. In the end, however, I show that this assumption is untenable, and I draw conclusions for BI as a political project.
Manos Matsaganis and Maria Flevotomou "A Basic Income for Housing? Simulating a Universal Housing Transfer in the Netherlands and Sweden".
ABSTRACT: The gradualist approach towards an unconditional basic income for all involves the introduction or extension of universal benefits in place of current income-tested ones. Such a policy shift might cause higher fiscal costs or adverse distributional effects, at least in the short run. However, this need not always be the case. Using the tax-benefit model EUROMOD, the article simulates the introduction of a universal housing transfer – that is flat rate, tenure neutral and budget neutral – in place of mortgage interest tax relief and housing benefits in the Netherlands and Sweden. As it turns out, the regressive effect of mortgage interest tax relief thwarts the progressive effect of housing benefits. In view of that, replacing both by the universal housing transfer (equivalent to a partial basic income for housing) would enhance tax progressivity and reduce income inequality at no extra fiscal cost. Policy implications and possible objections are discussed in the concluding section.
Johannes Hohlenberg, Simon Birnbaum and Erik Christensen "Anthroposophical Reflections on Basic Income".
ABSTRACT: In the 1930s Danish author and painter Johannes Hohlenberg (1881–1960) published several essays in defense of an unconditional income for all. These original writings, strongly influenced by Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy, are not widely known. This article makes two of Hohlenberg's essays on this topic available in English translation for the first time. The first part of this article introduces Hohlenberg's ideas, followed in section two by English translations of the two Hohlenberg essays: Samfundsarven (The Heritage of Society) (1934) and Dersom nogen ikke vil arbejde, så skal han heller ikke have føden (He who Does not Work, Neither Shall He Eat) (1937).
Bill Jordan "Basic Income and Economic Integration".
ABSTRACT: This article addresses some of the issues raised for the Basic Income (BI) principle by global economic integration; especially the argument that a new model of reciprocity between affluent and developing economies does not require, and might be undermined by, this approach. In that view, complementarity between an Anglophone version of capitalism and an Asian model of human development can supply a more reliable route to eliminating world poverty and advancing global well-being.
Lily L. Batchelder and Fred T. Goldberg, Jr. "Reforming Tax Incentives Into Uniform Refundable Tax Credits".
ABSTRACT: Each year the US federal individual income tax delivers over $500 billion worth of tax incentives intended to encourage socially beneficial activities. Currently the vast majority operate through deductions or exclusions, which link the size of the subsidy to the taxpayer's marginal tax bracket. This article argues that uniform refundable credits are a more efficient approach for tax incentives intended to correct for positive externalities, absent evidence that positive externalities exist or that externalities or elasticities associated with the subsidized activity vary by income class. Moreover, some type of refundable credit should almost always be the most efficient subsidy even if externalities or elasticities rise with income. Their efficiency benefits are further magnified by their tendency to automatically smooth household income and macroeconomic demand. This article thus proposes a dramatic change in how the government provides tax incentives for socially valued activities: the default for all such tax incentives should be a uniform refundable tax credit.
DEBATE: “BASIC INCOME AND THE REPUBLICAN LEGACY”
David Casassas brings together several political theorists examining the role a basic income could play in republican political thought. The main motivation for a debate section on “Basic Income and the Republican Legacy” is to offer readers a glimpse of the debate within republican political thought on the importance of granting individuals an independent socio-economic status as a precondition for ensuring a concomitant political status of free citizens. David Casassas (University of Oxford), Philip Pettit (Princeton University), and Antoni Domènech and Daniel Raventós (University of Barcelona) all defend the right to a basic income on the grounds that republican freedom requires a strong form of material independence as a means to abolish the myriad of relations of domination that make up contemporary societies. Carole Pateman (Cardiff University) and Stuart White (University of Oxford), while acknowledging that the republican case for basic income is a strong one, question whether the republican conceptual framework offers a convincing account of the reasons why we might be interested in pushing for basic income. Pateman suggests that a comprehensive theory of democracy based on individual self-government would offer a more plausible case for basic income, rendering the republican analysis of freedom partially superfluous. White's “plea for difficulty” suggests the republican case for basic income moves too fast by giving insufficient attention to the virtues of active citizenship. Despite these disagreements, the discussion of republican freedom and its account of nondomination, freedom from independence and so on clearly offers ample room for the consideration of basic income.
Links to the individual articles in the debate are below.
David Casassas "Basic Income and the Republican Ideal: Rethinking Material Independence in Contemporary Societies".
Philip Pettit "A Republican Right to Basic Income?"
Antoni Domènech and Daniel Raventós "Property and Republican Freedom: An Institutional Approach to Basic Income".
Carole Pateman "Why Republicanism?"
Stuart White "The Republican Case for Basic Income: A Plea for Difficulty".
Monika Wallmon "Review of Harvey and Boyle (eds.), Basic Income Guarantees and the Right to Work”.
Adam Whitworth "Review of “Guy Standing and Michael Samson, A Basic Income Grant for South Africa".
Gerard Cotterell "Review of Tony Fitzpatrick, New Theories of Welfare”.
Wim Van Lancker “Review of Erik Olin Wright (ed.), Redesigning Distribution”.
To submit an article to Basic Income Studies, visit http://www.bepress.com/bis, and click "Submit Article". If you like to discuss your contribution informally, contact editors Jurgen De Wispelaere or Karl Widerquist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's All About You:
Edited by Jim Bennett and Graeme Cooke, September 2007
The Institute for Public Policy Research
According to the Citizens Income trust, the new Institute for Public Policy Research has published a new report endorsing streamlining of British Income maintenance programs. 'We propose moving towards a single income replacement benefit for people of working age. The benefit would be based on a single set of rules, paid at a standard basic rate and remain the same over time (so there would be no higher, long-term rates). It would replace Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Income Support (IS) and could also incorporate Carer's Allowance. There are a range of advantages to this proposal and they deal with some of the problems of the current benefits (and particularly the links between them). … The problems associated with moving between benefits would disappear. There would be no risk to a person's benefit if they tried going to work because the benefit would be the same before and after a period in work. Importantly, there would be no financial gain to be made from claiming one benefit over another or from remaining in receipt of benefit for a long period.' The system would be simple to administer and easy to understand, and it would reduce stigma. The report suggests that the individual and not the household should be the benefit unit, and that a non-means-tested benefit should be paid for 12 weeks and a means-tested benefit thereafter.
This article is available at www.ippr.org/publicationsandreports.
Eight Challenges for Basic Income
By Tony Fitzpatrick, The Citizens Income Newsletter, Issue 1, 2008
Returning to the subject of basic income after 10 years on other topics, Tony Fitzpatrick assesses the state of the debate, and finds that it has grown enormously and gone global. He identifies 8 challenges in the current debate. 1. “How do we disseminate information and coordinate efforts effectively about worldwide debates and developments?” 2. “How to maintain enthusiasm when many (or most?) in government are indifferent or dismissive; how to translate casual interest/support into something more?” 3. How do we persuade governments of the need for research? 4. “How do we keep up with political changes … and continue to demonstrate the potential relevance of BI?” 5. How do we present those with sympathetic beliefs alternatives to mainstream thinking? 6. How do we get people to think against what is 'common sense' or 'public opinion'? 7. How do we “read and respond to contemporary social changes?” 8. How do we “plough on, encouraging, navigating and utilising the BI community's diversity?” The article is on line at: http://www.citizensincome.org/resources/newsletter%20issue%201%202008.shtml
The utility - or otherwise - of being employed for a few hours a week
by Malcolm Torry, The Citizens Income Newsletter, Issue 1, 2008
This short research not argues that only the Citizen's Income net income line allows people with any shape of preferences to experience incentives to seek employment of any given number of hours. The article is on line at: http://www.citizensincome.org/resources/newsletter%20issue%201%202008.shtml
Twenty-three Theses on the Unconditional Basic Income
By Theophil Wonneberger
Published in translation by the Portland Independent Media Center
Wonneberger lists twenty-three ideas on basic income, following from the first: “Productivity has continuously increased since the beginning of industrialization in the 19th century. Successes in automation accelerated this process and will accelerate it further in the future. For the first time in human history, considerable portions of the population are not needed any more to produce the necessary goods.”
This article is on line at: http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2008/02/371801.shtml
This author’s email address is: e-mail: email@example.com
The original German version of this article is on line at:
PRABHAKAR, Rajiv (2007), 'Attitudes towards the Child Trust Fund: What do Parents Think?', The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 9 (4), 713–729.
The British government has recently introduced the Child Trust Fund. This pays all new babies a £250 (EUR337) or £500 (EUR673.5) capital endowment (or 'stakeholder grant') from government. This is locked into a special account until the child's 18th birthday. Parents are key to the success of this policy as they will make many of the key decisions about savings and investment. Little is known, however, about what new parents think of this policy. This article addresses this question by providing original evidence on what parents think of the basic features of this policy; whether the Child Trust Fund will make them more likely to save; attitudes towards the responsible use of the Child Trust Fund; and whether parents would prefer money spent on different forms of assistance rather than the Child Trust Fund.
The Failed Welfare Revolution: America’s Struggle over Guaranteed Income Policy
Brian Steensland, Princeton University Press, 2008
This book examines the rise and fall of the Guaranteed Income policy in mainstream U.S. politics. For a brief period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Guaranteed Income (a version of BIG) appeared to be the inevitable next step in social policy. Then it stalled and disappear. Policymakers in three presidential administrations tried to replace the nation's existing welfare system with a revolutionary program to guarantee Americans basic economic security. Surprisingly from today's vantage point, guaranteed income plans received broad bipartisan support in the 1960s. One proposal, President Nixon's Family Assistance Plan, nearly passed into law in the 1970s, and President Carter advanced a similar bill a few years later. The failure of these proposals marked the federal government's last direct effort to alleviate poverty among the least advantaged and, ironically, sowed the seeds of conservative welfare reform strategies under President Reagan and beyond.
Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom
RAVENTOS, Daniel (2007), London: Pluto Press, 240pp., http://www.plutobooks.com/
Daniel Raventós is chair of the Spanish Basic Income Network, and Professor at the University of Barecelona. His book is an introduction to basic income - what it is, how we can organize it, and how it can benefit the majority in different spheres of their lives. According to Philip Pettit, L.S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values, Princeton University, Raventos' book is 'The best introduction. It offers a first rate history of the idea, develops a powerful case in its support, and explores all its implications'.
The USBIG Discussion Paper series posts
discussing all aspects of BIG. The series has added 11 new papers so
year. This are:
Basic Income, Effective Control Self-Ownership, and Market Power
No. 178, January 2008, Jubb, Rob
SUMMARY: This note criticizes some aspects of “freedom as Effective Control Self-Ownership” recently proposed by Karl Widerquist.
The Rise and Fall of a Basic Income Guarantee Bill in the U.S. Congress
No. 179, February 2008, Sheahen, Al
SUMMARY: On May 2, 2006, the first-ever Basic Income Guarantee bill, written by USBIG members Karl Widerquist and Al Sheahen, was introduced in the U.S. Congress by California Congressman Bob Filner. This paper details how the bill (HR 5257) – dubbed “The Tax Cut For the Rest of Us” Act – was created, the strategy used to move it forward, the support it received, the resistance it faced, its eventual demise in the 109th Congress, its revival in the 110th Congress, the current state of the bill, and the outlook for a BIG bill in the future.
Cosmopolitanism and Self-Determination
No. 180, February 2008, Howard, Michael
Laying out the Argument for a Public Works Program
No. 181, February 2008, Harvey, Phil
A Basic Income to Democratize and Pacify Iraq
No. 182, February 2008, Suplicy, Senator Eduardo
SUMMARY: This paper reports on Senator Suplicy’s visit to Iraq, and his effort to persuade Iraqi officials to adopt an Alaska-style oil dividend to help stabilize Iraq.
Civilian Service for Social Security? Basic Income and Labor Sharing in the Thought of Arnaud Dandieu
No. 183, February 2008, Roy, Christian
The Little Red Hen Thinks Again
No. 184, February 2008, Clark, Stephen
Compassionate Liberalism as a Frame for a Renewed War on Poverty
No. 185, February 2008, Farris, Buford
SUMMARY: This paper is inspired by the scholarship of Sanford F. Schram. In his writings on Social Welfare and Social Policy, he combines Continental Post Modern theory with the best of the American progressive Pragmatist tradition. This paper draws particularly on Schram’s recent formulation of Compassionate Liberalism as a way of framing both Social Work Practice and Social Welfare Policy (2006:153-180). For Schram, liberal compassionate practice combines both direct service and social action and represents a critique of the dominant social and economic structure. He uses this same frame to formulate social policies such as a Basic Income and other entitlements. I view Scram’s Compassionate Liberalism as a call for the Liberal and Progressive Left to renew its commitment to the battle against Poverty. According to Schram, welfare reform has not been a success as for as the poor are concerned but it has been successful in muting the call for a renewed War on Poverty. Also, Shram wants to recover the authentic meaning of compassion from its inappropriate use by Compassionate Conservatism, which in his view is a form of social control to impose a rigid forms of work and family values on the poor. I also argue that Schram’s positive view of compassionate1 direct service implies that a Renewed War on Poverty requires a dual approach: one, the establishment of Social and Economic Rights such as a Basic Income and other entitlements (i.e. Health Care) which provide resources for better life chances; and second, the creation of Inclusive Social Solidarity for the poor through compassionate social ties and networks. As a former gang worker and poverty warrior, Shram’s framework is similar to ideas that I have worked on for much of my professional career and I have found his concept of Compassionate Liberalism very useful in understanding what work with the poor involves.
The Guaranteed Adequate Income Debate in Canada: Challenges and Opportunities
No. 186, February 2008, Mulvale, Jim
The Decent Level Criterion of Justice and Its Competitors
No. 187, February 2008, Nathanson, Stephen
SUMMARY: In this paper, I will defend what I call the decent level criterion of justice and show why it should be of special interest to proponents of a basic income guarantee. I believe that the decent level criterion and the basic income guarantee are linked by a commitment to the abolition of poverty. What is appealing about the basic income guarantee is the promise of abolishing poverty without embracing a radical egalitarian socialist perspective. This feature coincides with the decent level criterion, which sets the criterion of justice at the point where all have the resources for a decent level of well-being. It does not aim to abolish income inequalities entirely and does not attempt to do away with a market capitalist system of production and distribution. If the decent level criterion and the guaranteed income proposal coincide, then a defense of one is a defense of the other, and views that compete with or criticize one must be met by defenders of both views.
No. 188, March 2008, Widerquist, Karl
SUMMARY: This article attempts to define status freedom, to provide a theory of status freedom as person independence, and to argue for the importance of freedom as personal independence. Status freedom is a phrase meant to capture what people mean when they say that someone is a free person as opposed to an unfree person such as a slave, a prisoner, or a victim of oppression. Part I puts forward a theory of status freedom as personal independence or most exactingly, Effective Control Self-Ownership. That is a free person has the effective power to have or to refuse to have active interaction with other willing people. To have this effective power, a person must have access to enough worldly resources that she is not forced by deprivation to participate in projects designated by whoever controls access to resources. Part II makes several arguments for the importance of freedom as personal independence. It argues that in many cases consent is a constituent part of what makes interaction just, and that even in cases in which consent is not centrally important, personal independence is important for protecting disadvantaged individuals from abuse by more powerful people. The claims in this article are to some extent separable. One could agree with the need for a theory of status freedom while disagreeing entirely with how this article went about it. One could instead agree with the importance that the need for personal independence to protect the bargaining power of the weak and the disadvantaged without agreeing that it captures what it means to be a free person. But together the theory hopes to provide an account of the minimum level of decency with which society must treat its noncriminal dissenters.
Eleven new members have joined the USBIG Network
in the last
six months. The USBIG Network now has 136 members from 29 U.S. states
foreign countries. Membership in USBIG is free and open to anyone who
its goals. To become a member of USBIG go to www.usbig.net, and click
The current members of the USBIG Network are:
Karl Widerquist, Cassopolis, MI; Eri Noguchi, New York, NY; Fred Block, Davis, CA; Michael A. Lewis, New York, NY; Steve Shafarman, Washington, DC; Brian Steensland, Bloomington, IN; Al Sheahen, Van Nuys, CA; Philippe Van Parijs, Brussels, Belgium; Stanley Aronowitz, New York, NY; Carole Pateman, Los Angeles, CA; Frances Fox Piven, New York, NY; Eduardo Suplicy, Sao Paolo, Brazil; J. Philip Wogaman, Washington, DC; Chris LaPlante, Blacksburg, VA; John Marangos, Fort Collins, CO; Fransisco Sales, Carretera Mexico City, DF, Mexico; Manuel Henriques, Lisbon, Portugal; Amelia Baughman, Williams, AZ; Robert F. Clark, Alexandria, VA; Jason Burke Murphy, Saint Louis, MO; Joel Handler, Los Angeles, CA; Glen C. Cain, Madison, WI; Timothy Roscoe Carter, San Fransisco, CA; John Bollman, Bay City, MI; George McGuire, Brooklyn, NY; Adrian Kuziminski, Fly Creek, NY; Hyun-Mook Lim, Seoul, Korea; Kelly D. Pinkham, Kansas City, MO; Michael Murray, Clive, IA; Josep LI. Ortega, Santa Coloma, Andorra; Michael Opielka, Königswinter, Germany; Brenden Miller, Cambridge, MA; Myron J. Frankman, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Frank Thompson, Ann Arbor, MI; Harry F. Dahms, Knoxville, TN; Buford Farris, Bastrop, TX; Roy Morrison, Warner, NH; Robley E. "Rob" George, Manhattan Beach, CA, Almaz Zelleke, Brooklyn, NY; Gonzalo Pou, Montevideo, Uruguay; Elisabetta Pernigotti, Paris, France; Ross Zucker, New York, NY; Sean Owens, La Mirada, CA, Dean Herd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Hugh Thompson, London, UK; Jan van Knippenberg, Kinrooi, Belgium; Adam Csillag, Berlin, Germany; Steve Gazzo, Pittsburgh, PA; Mike Cottone, Weaverville, CA; Brigitte Sirois, Quebec, Quebec, Canada; Guy Standing, Geneva Switzerland; G. W. Putto, Den Haag, the Netherlands; Anonymous, Berkeley, CA; Pete Farina, Washington, DC; Robert Wirengard, Fair Share, Florida; Urban Boljka, Ljubljana, Slovenia; Ronal Cohen, Bennington, Vermont; H.T.L. Quan, Chicago, Illinois; Lourdes Maria Silva Araujo; Espirito Santo, Brazil; Patrick S. O'Donnell, Santa Barbara, California; Stephen Nathanson, Boston, Massachusetts; Jerey Vogt, Washington, DC; Justine Lam, Arlington, Virginia; Ricardo A. Bunge, San Antonio, Texas; Aziz Akgul, Ankara, Turkey; Judith A. Kaluzny, Fullerton, California; Leonard Butters, Spokane, Washington; Peter Christiansen, San Francisco, California; Kyle Patrick Meredith, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Benjamin Hyink, LaGrange, Illinois; Nancy Folbre, Amherst, Massachusetts; Noaki Yoshihara, Kunitachi, Tokyo; Bernard Mueller, Torrance, California; Zool (Paul Zulkowitz); Woodmare, New York; Amanda Reilly, Wellington, New Zealand; Adam Sacks, Lexington, Massachusetts; Mark Levinson, New York, New York Kathy Fitzpatrick, Grand Rapids, MI; Stephen C. Clark, Port Hueneme, CA; Cristian Pérez Muñoz, Sauce, Uruguay; Richa, Grand Rapids, MI; Floyd Robinson, Ann Arbor, MI; Bradley Nelson, Portland, OR; Mark Ewbank, Coventry, United Kingdom; Bernard Cloutier, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Mark Erickson, Skokie, IL; Dale Carrico, Oakland, CA; Joseph Meyer, St.Vith, Belgium; A.R. Rowe, Brooklyn, NY; Pius Charles Murray, Somersworth, NH; John D. Jones, Milwaukee, WI; Troy Davis, Williamsburg, VA; William E Fraser, Santa Cruz, CA; Luke Mead, Astoria, OR; Ori Lev, Baltimore, MD; Ralph Rostas, Chester, VA; Laura Cornelius, Woodbridge, VA; Dylan Matthews, Hanover, NH; John (Jack) O'Donnell, Millville, NJ; Stefano Lucarelli, Ancona, Italy; Richard Lippincott Biddle, Philadelphia, PA; Alanna Hartzok, Scotland, PA; Hank Delisle, Fukuoudai, Japan; Michael LaTorra, Las Cruces, NM; Mike Roberts, Rochester, NY, Anson Chong, Fen Forest, HI; Michele Lewis, Washington, DC; Heather Boushey, Washington, DC; Nicolaus Tideman, Blacksburg, VA; John Carroll, Edinburgh, IN; Rosalind Diana, Seaside Heights, NJ; W. Robert Needham, Waterloo, ON, Canada; Cedric Neill, Orlando, FA; Richard Cook, College Park, MD; Miroslav Turcinovic, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; William DiFazio, Brooklyn, NY; Angel Garman, Hugo OK; Karin Nyquist, Emmaboda, Sweden; Larry Dansinger, Monroe, ME; Richard G. Wamai Cambridge, MA; Melissa Farrell, Staten Island, NY; Bill McCormick, Grand Junction, CO; Rashida Ali-Campbell, Yeadon, PA; Lenny Krosinsky, Albuquerque, NM; Rachel Crutcher, Allen, TX; Julie Hendrix, Little Rock, AR; Annie Miller, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; Michael Howard, Orono, ME; Rae Amey, Los Angeles, CA; Colleen Chrisinger, Seattle, WA; Simon Peter Schooneveldt, Ashgrove, Australia; John Tomlinson, Deagon, Australia; George Misa, Auckland, New Zealand; Przemyslaw (Peter) Damian Maniecki, Longmont, CO; Michael Gene Frazier, Morehead, KY; Nathan W. Cravens, Woodbury, TN; Mark Gillespie, Kent, WA; Matthew C. Murray, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom; Alan Holmes, Buffalo, NY; John Jesse Heichert III, Elizabeth City, NC.
LIVABLE INCOME FOR EVERYONE (LIFE) has made major
its website. LIFE is "an organization started in 2003 to promote the
implementation of universal guaranteed livable income in every country
Postal address: Box 8441, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, V8W 3S1
ON THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF BASIC INCOME
The Worthwhile Canadian Initiative (economics blog)
This website has some interesting graphs the work through some of the general equilibrium implications of a basic income.
VIDEO AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET EXPLAINS BASIC INCOME
Jim Mulvale, Head of the Department of Justice Studies at the University of Regina and Rhonda Breitkreuez are advocates for guaranteed basic income for all in order to ameliorate or eliminate poverty. This video is taken from a conference presentation at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives. Mulvale, in his portion of the video, gives a solid introduction to basic income. Breitkreuez gives a critical examination of welfare-to-work programs.
MICRO-SIMULATION ON BASIC INCOME
French economist Marc de Basquiat has developed a micro-simulation model for the financing of basic income in France. His well-designed website can be viewed at www.allocationuniverselle.com. Comments and suggestions are welcome at : firstname.lastname@example.org
DEVELOPMENTS ON BASIC INCOME
Within the Vivant (Belgium) website, Paul Nollen posts updates on the development of the basic income debate in various countries. It can be found at:
IMPLEMENTING A GREEN BASIC INCOME
Discussion of a green basic income is going on at the website:
THE SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES maintains a website with an extensive list of publications and initiatives around BIG.
Online at: http://www.sacc-ct.org.za/campaigns.html
For links to dozens of BIG websites around the
world, go to
http://www.usbig.net/links.html. These links are to any website with
information about BIG, but USBIG does not necessarily endorse their
The USBIG Network Newsletter
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Research: Paul Nollen
Special help on this issue was provided by Cindy L'Hirondelle
The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network publishes this newsletter. The Network is a discussion group on basic income guarantee (BIG) in the
You may copy and circulate articles from this newsletter, but please mention the source and include a link to http://www.usbig.net. If you know any BIG news; 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.
As always, your comments on this newsletter and the USBIG website are gladly welcomed.
-Karl Widerquist, USBIG Coordinator. Karl@Widerquist.com