USBIG NewsFlash Vol. 13, No. 66 Fall 2012

The USBIG NewsFlash is both the newsletter of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network and the U.S. edition of the Basic Income Earth Network’s NewsFlash. The USBIG Network (www.usbig.net) 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.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Final Call for submissions: NABIG Conference deadline November 30, 2012
2. Donate to the NABIG Congress
3. Editorial: A new name and a new affiliation for the old USBIG Newsletter
4. ALASKA: This year’s dividend is the smallest since 2005
5. BIG news from around the world
6. Opinion

7. Recent events
8. Upcoming Events
9. Publications
10. Videos
11. WRITERS AND VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for BI News, the BIEN NewsFlash, and affiliate newsletters
12. New Links
13. Links and other info

 

1. Final Call for submissions: NABIG Conference deadline November 30, 2012

[USBIG – November 2012]
Twelfth Annual North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress: Basic Income and Economic Citizenship
Thursday May 9th to Saturday May 11th, 2013
Sheraton Hotel and Towers, New York City

The Twelfth Annual North American Basic Income Congress, Basic Income and Economic Citizenship, will take place in New York City on Thursday, May 9th through Saturday, May 11th, 2013. The congress is organized by the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG) in cooperation with the Basic Income Canada Network (BICN/RCRG), and will be held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Economic Association (EEA). Attendees at the North American Basic Income Congress are welcome to attend any of the EEA’s events.

Featured speakers include Carole Pateman, UCLA and Cardiff University, co-author of Basic Income Worldwide: Horizons of Reform; Sheri Berman, Barnard College, author of The Primacy of Politics: Social Democracy and the Making of Europe’s Twentieth Century; Jurgen De Wispelaere, McGill University, co-editor of The Ethics of Stakeholding;
David Casassas, University of Barcelona, co-editor of Basic Income in the Age of Great Inequalities; James Riccio, MDRC, co-author of  “Toward Reduced Poverty Across Generations: Early Findings from New York City's Conditional Cash Transfer Program;” Darrick Hamilton, The New School, co-author of  “Can ‘Baby Bonds’ Eliminate the Racial Wealth Gap in Putative Post-Racial America?” and Evelyn Forget, University of Manitoba, author of “The Town with No Poverty: A history of the North American Guaranteed Annual Income Social Experiments.”

All points of view are welcome, and proposals from any discipline are invited. For more information see the call for papers at: www.usbig.net.

Or contact the congress organizer, Almaz Zelleke of USBIG, at azelleke@gmail.com.

DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS: November 30th, 2012

2. Donate to the NABIG Congress

[USBIG – November 2012]

The USBIG Network has started a We Pay Campaign for the next North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress. We Pay allows organizations like USBIG to collect money from donors for a cause without a formal structure (which USBIG lacks). The campaign hopes to raise $2,500 to pay part of the travel and registration expenses for featured speakers, students, or low-income presenters, and perhaps to host a modest reception during the conference.

You can donate to the We Pay Campaign at:
https://www.wepay.com/x56f1op/donations/usbig-2013-congress

 

3. Editorial: A new name and a new affiliation for the old USBIG Newsletter

            Beginning with this issue (Volume 3, issue 66), the USBIG Newsletter becomes the USBIG Edition of the BIEN NewsFlash, or simply the USBIG NewsFlash for short. In the last few years, the BIEN NewsFlash and the USBIG Newsletter have been sharing more and more content, and the two publications cooperated to create the BI News website (BInews.org).
            After editing the USBIG Newsletter for 12 years, BIEN’s General Assembly elected me to take over as the BIEN News Editor in September 2012. This put me in change of both the NewsFlash and BI News. I decided to take the opportunity to make the USBIG Newsletter into the USBIG edition of the NewsFlash. The USBIG NewsFlash will include some overlapping content from the BIEN NewsFlash and with additional national content likely to be of interest only to U.S. readers. Other affiliates of BIEN might begin producing their own national editions of the Newsletter as early as next year.
            The new editorship and integration will likely come along with a new and evolving format. The NewsFlash is now written largely by a team of volunteers, after having been a one-person operation for several years. I am not sure exactly what changes and in store, but I look forward to seeing what happens next.
-Karl Widerquist, Quick Bites Café, Doha Qatar, November 2012

 

4. ALASKA: This year’s dividend is the smallest since 2005

Alaska distributed its yearly Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) on October 4, 2012. The amount was disappointing, only $878—down from last year’s dividend of $1,174 and the smallest dividend since 2005. The 2012 dividend was only the second dividend in the last 20 years to be below $900, and it is well below the all-time highest dividend of $2,069 in 2008 ($3269 including a one-time supplement the state added to the 2008 dividend).

The PFD is a sort of a yearly, variable basic income, given to all U.S. citizens (men, women, and children) who fill out a form showing that they meet the state’s residency requirement for eligibility. This year nearly 650,000 Alaskans received the dividend. It is financed by the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF), which is a sovereign wealth fund owned by the state and financed in turn by the accumulated savings from the state’s oil exports. The dividend varies considerably from year-to-year because the amount is calculated from a complex formula averaging the last five years of returns to the fund. The dividend is down this year because of the poor performance of international stock and bond markets over the last five years.

Even this year’s small dividend will come to $4,390 for a family of five, and the dividend makes a big difference in the lives on many Alaskans. The dividend is one reason Alaska is the most economically equal of all 50 states. According to Russ Slaten, “the oldest applicant was 107 years-old, and the youngest was born minutes before the qualification deadline on December 31 of last year.”

According to Jeff Richardson of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Alaskan retailers have seen a smaller-than-usual bump in sales around dividend time this year because of both the smaller changes and in the higher cost of fuel oil. The smaller effect on retail sales might also be partly attributable to the increase in people donating all or part of their PFDs to charities through the state’s Pick-Click-Give program that allows people to direct some or all of their PFD to the charity of their choice in a few steps on the internet. This year, 23,000 Alaskans gave more than $2.2 million through the program, four times as much as they gave in the first year of the program (2009).

The PFD has largely escaped the demonization given to many programs that promote equality, probably because it provides tangible benefits all Alaskans, rich and poor alike. According to Jeanne Devon, “Even those who gripe about it in theory don’t want to actually give up their own Alaskan ‘entitlement.’ It is our oil, after all.”

The yearly fluctuations in the fund do not signal a long-term threat to the PFD. The fund has had a healthy grown trend since its inception, and it continues today. The bigger worry for the future of the Alaska Dividend is gradual decline in the state’s oil revenues. The amount of oil flowing through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is getting dangerously close to the minimum level needed to keep the pipeline system open. Most of the state’s operating budget comes from oil exports, and the state budget is not well prepared for the loss of oil revenue. Gradual decline (or a sudden drop) in oil exports would put enormous pressure on the state budget and might inspire the legislature to divert returns currently used to financed the PFD toward regular government spending.

For more recent stories on Alaska’s PFD, see the following stories:

“Alaskans to get $878 in yearly oil wealth payout”
By Rachel D'Oro Associated Press, September 18, 2012
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/amount-annual-alaska-dividend-be-announced

“Smaller Alaska dividend check likely to disappoint ... for good reason”
Carey Restino, Bristol Bay Times, Sep 20, 2012
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/smaller-alaska-dividend-check-likely-disappoint-good-reason

“Dividend set: Alaskans shouldn’t forget fund’s purpose”
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Editorial Sep 18, 2012
http://newsminer.com/view/full_story/20186798/article-Dividend-set--Alaskans-shouldn%E2%80%99t-forget-fund%E2%80%99s-purpose?instance=home_opinion_editorial

“2012 Permanent Fund Dividend is $878”
SIT News Ketchikan, Alaska, September 18, 2012
http://www.sitnews.us/0912News/091812/091812_pfd.html

“Permanent Fund Dividend Lowest Since 2005”
Russ Slaten, Your Alaska Link, Sep 19, 2012
http://www.youralaskalink.com/news/Permanent-Fund-Dividend-Lowest-Since-2005-170382336.html

“With Alaska's higher costs, dividends won't go far”
Mark Thiessen, Associated Press, Sep 18, 2012
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-09-18/with-alaskas-higher-costs-dividends-wont-go-far

“PFDs still good for business, but not like the glory days”
Jeff Richardson, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sep 19, 2012
http://newsminer.com/bookmark/20198521-PFDs-still-good-for-business-but-not-like-the-glory-days

“Happy Socialist Money Grab Day, Alaska!”
Jeanne Devon, the Mudflats, September 19, 2012
http://www.themudflats.net/?p=33271

“By the numbers: Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend”
Eric Christopher Adams, The Alaska Dispatch, Sep 18, 2012
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/numbers-alaska-permanent-fund-dividend

“Alaskans donate $2.2 million from PFDs using Pick.Click.Give.”
Alaska Dispatch, Oct 06, 2012
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/alaskans-donate-22-million-pfds-using-pickclickgive

“Count the ways Alaskans spend their $878 Permanent Fund check”
Alaska Dispatch, Oct 05, 2012
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/count-ways-alaskans-spend-their-878-permanent-fund-check

“It's time to cut state spending: The numbers show future has arrived”
Bradford Keithley, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Oct 07, 2012
http://newsminer.com/view/full_story/20385563/article-It-s-time-to-cut-state-spending--The-numbers-show-future-has-arrived?instance=home_opinion_community_perspectives

PFD program generates record amount for Alaska nonprofits
Anchorage Daily News, October 5, 2012
http://www.adn.com/2012/10/05/2652015/pfd-program-generates-record-amount.html

 

5. BIG news from around the world

 

CANADA: Green Party Leader Endorses Basic Income

[Jenna van Draanen - BICN - November 2012]

Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party in Canada and an MP in British Columbia recently endorsed basic income. The endorsement of a “Guaranteed Livable Income” came through a press release on October 17, the United Nations (UN) International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. May’s press release reminds her audience that the Green Party is the only political party in Canada to advocate for a basic income as a means to eradicate poverty. The endorsement occurring on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is an apt response to the UN resolution for all member states to create and implement concrete strategies to eliminate poverty.

More about her remarks can be found online at: http://www.canadianprogressiveworld.com/2012/10/18/elizabeth-may-calls-for-a-guaranteed-livable-income-in-canada/

 

BELGIUM, FINLAND, AND SLOVENIA: BIEN officially recognizes three new affiliate networks

[BIEN - September 27, 2012]

During its general assembly of September 16th, 2012, the Basic Income Earth Network officially recognized three new affiliate networks. BIEN now has no less than 20 affiliates. The three new BIEN national networks are all located in Europe:

Belgium: http://basicincome.be/ (available in Dutch, French, German, and English)

Finland: http://perustulo.org/

Slovenia: contact address is valerija_korosec@yahoo.com (see also the programme of a conference to be organized in Ljubljana on October 11-12, 2012: http://www.inovum.si/ubi/en)

The BIEN General assembly was held within the framework of BIEN’s 14th international conference in Munich, Germany.

 

NAMIBIA: United Nations special rapporteur calls for implementation of BIG

[USBIG – October 2012]

According to the Namibian, the United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepulveda, has called on the Namibian government “to put aside prejudices against the poor and implement the Basic Income Grant (BIG) as soon as possible.” A rapporteur is “a person appointed by an organization to report on the proceedings of its meetings.” The Namibian reports that Sepulveda arrived in Namibia on October 1, and toured several regions where she met with government officials, civil society organizations and communities living in poverty.

For more info go to:
http://www.namibian.com.na/index.php?id=28&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=102841&no_cache=1

 

THE NETHERLANDS: Elections 2012 - No entrance to Basis Income

[Robin Ketelaars – Vereniging Basisinkomen (the Netherlands) – September 2012]

The elections of September 12, 2012 in the Netherlands were characterized by many debates in the media: radio, television, magazines and newspapers. The elections resulted in 21,176 votes for parties endorsing an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI - OBI in Dutch), but these parties didn't get any seats in parliament.

Reporting in the election paid little attention to UBI as an issue. Stories and interviews focused on the party leaders of the major parties and some of the smaller parties in the parliament. A few new parties that seek more substantial innovations (such as direct democracy, digital civil rights and an unconditional basic income) were sparsely covered. Of course, every political party received free airtime on public broadcasting, but that was it. The polls taken in advance of the elections only concerned the established parties. The newcomers received no attention.

 

SWITZERLAND: International Labour Organization reaffirms interest in BIG

[Citizens Income Trust – September 2012]

On the 30th May 2012 the General Conference of the International Labour Organization reaffirmed that the right to social security is a human right and recommended that member countries should ‘establish and maintain … social protection floors … Schemes providing such benefits may include universal benefit schemes, social insurance schemes, social assistance schemes, negative income tax schemes, … .’

For more information see: www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---relconf/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_183326.pdf

 

INDIA: Basic Income Pilot Project Finds Positive Results

[USBIG – September 2012]

Over more than a year, India’s Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) with support from UNICEF has been conducting a cash transfer pilot project in rural villages. They have just released some of their preliminary findings, and results are extremely encouraging. The study was conducted in 20 rural villages in India. Adult residents of 8 of those villages received a cash transfer of 200 Rupees (about US$3.75) per month. Children received 100 Rupees. Residents of the other 12 villages were observed as a “control group” as in a medical trial. The money was distributed unconditionally. Residents were told they could do whatever they wanted with the money.

Positive results were found in terms of nutrition, health, education, housing and infrastructure, and economic activity. The researchers found that the cash transfer group spent significantly more on eggs, meat, and fish than the control group. Researchers found a positive impact on health and access to medical treatment. The most visible impact of the study was on educational attainment. Researchers found increased spending on school-related items such as school uniforms, school fees, shoes for school, books, school supplies, and private tuition. School attendance in the cash transfer villages shot up, three times the level of the control villages. Performance in school improved significantly relative to control villages. There was increased investment in housing, such as the installation of in-door plumbing. Twice the number of cash transfer households started new activity over the study period as those in non-cash transfer villages.

SEWA has released a video explain the results and including interviews with participants in the study. This video explains the results of the Indian basic income pilot project. It includes interviews with participants in the study.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItkZ5b-C3Nw&feature=youtu.be

See also the story in the video section below.

 

6. Opinion

 

OPINION: Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income

[Karl Widerquist - USBIG - November 2012]

            My new book, Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory Of Freedom as the Power to Say No, now has a release date of February 28, 2013. Although I have edited or coauthored six other books, this is the first book I’ve written all by myself. It is also the first published book in which I begin to outline—however tentatively—my theory of justice. The basic income guarantee is intimately tied up with this theory of justice, and so I would like to take this opportunity to explain some of the background that led me to write it.
            I don’t know exactly when I began thinking about the ideas that made their way into this book. The general philosophical outlook is something that has been bouncing around in my head for a long time. The outlook didn’t appear as a whole at any one point; it gradually developed. My interest in social justice began when I was a kid. My parents were politically interested, liberal Christians (a rarity these days). They, my brother, my sister, and I regularly discussed politics around the dinner table. Growing up in that context in the 1970s, I was optimistic about the progress the United States had made against racism, and I began to believe that the biggest problem remaining in most democratic countries is the horrible way we treat the poor.
            The television series “Free to Choose,” by Milton Friedman, first introduced me to the idea of a guaranteed income, which is now more commonly known as the basic income guarantee. He presented it mostly as a way to simplify the welfare system, but having thought about it over the years, I began to see it as the centerpiece of a just society and a serious challenge to the Left: If we really care about other people in society, we should care about them unconditionally. The effort that has so far resulted in this book is a self-exploration of why I think this perspective is so important.
            As I see it, from the hanging gardens of Babylon to the modern sweatshop, one social problem occurs over and over again in different ways: advantaged people force disadvantaged people to serve them. Can this be justified? I find the social contract answer extremely dissatisfying: it’s OK to force people to do things as long as you can imagine conditions under which they would have signed a contract subjecting themselves to force.
            For some time I thought I was a libertarian, but I eventually came to see the Right-libertarians, who call themselves “libertarians” in the United States, in a similar light as social contract theorists. I find their answer even more dissatisfying: it’s OK for owners to force the propertyless to do things, because someone did something before we were all born to give owners special rights over the Earth and its resources, so that the propertyless have no right to refuse the duty to serve owners. Right-libertarians talk about freedom from force, but they invite everyone to ignore the tremendous amount of freedom-threatening force involved in the establishment and maintenance of property rights to the earth and all its products. Without rectifying this issue, “libertarianism” becomes the defense of privilege at the expense of liberty.
            Although these issues were important to me, I didn’t do much direct work on social justice until the mid-1990s, when Michael Lewis, Pam Donovan, and I decided to have weekly breakfasts to talk about the progress we were making on our theses. These discussions usually turned to politics, and one day we found the one thing we could all agree on was an unconditional basic income guarantee. So, Michael Lewis and I wrote a paper on it that was eventually published (about ten years later and in heavily revised form) as “An Efficiency Argument for the Basic Income Guarantee,” in International Journal of Environment, Workplace and Employment.
            One paper on the basic income guarantee led to another as well as to involvement with the Basic Income Earth Network and to writing the Newsletter for the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network. I read a lot of impressive literature on basic income, but none of it quite seemed to articulate the reasons I thought it was so important. So, I had to explore my ideas further.
            In 2001, I held a half-year fellowship at the Chaire Hoover at the Catholic University of Lovain in Belgium. By this time I had realized that my interest in economics was secondary to my interest in social justice, and I decided that the best way to work full-time on social justice was to go back to graduate school and get a doctorate in political theory. Getting a second doctorate still feels like a crazy idea, but in hindsight, it was the right thing for me. I started at Oxford in October 2002, and by April 2006 I completed a doctoral thesis entitled “Property and the Power to Say No: A Freedom-Based Argument for Basic Income,” which is my initial statement of the theory of justice as the pursuit of accord. Many of the ideas in this book appeared first in that thesis—often in a slightly different form.
            I have discussed these ideas with so many friends, colleagues, students, and mentors that I can’t possibly name everyone who has influenced this book. If I’ve discussed politics or philosophy with you in my lifetime, you might have influenced this book in some way. So, thanks.
            Since leaving Oxford, I have continued to rework and extend the ideas from my thesis on and off while working on other projects. Not long after Laurie Harting of Palgrave Macmillan approached me about becoming series editor for their new book series Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee, I thought about turning my thesis into a book. In the spring of 2012, I set out to do that, but as I revised it, I found that the chapters in the first half were growing and splitting into more chapters.
            I finally realized that the book would be an extension of the first half of my thesis—concentrating on an exploration of the theory of freedom I call “effective control self-ownership” or “personal independence” and leaving the development of most of the rest of justice as the pursuit of accord for later works. Effective Control Self-Ownership is a theory of freedom that makes the freedom from directly or indirectly forced service central to an individual’s standing as a free person. The book defines, derives, and defends this theory of freedom in the context of the contemporary literature on freedom and justice. It examines the implications of the theory and argues that a basic income guarantee is an important tool to maintain personal independence in a modern society.
            Now that the book is almost ready to be released, I still feel that it is tentative in many ways. I could spend years revising it, but it is best to get it out. Although tentative, it is a sincere expression of my beliefs on the issues discussed at this point. I hope to explore these ideas much more in the future.
-Karl Widerquist, Mojo’s Coffee House, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2012; revised onboard a flight from Dallas to London, November 2012

 

OPINION: Smaller dividends should inspire a change to “percentage of market value” formula for calculating the Permanent Fund payout

This year Alaskans received a dividend of $878, not bad compared to all the other states, but this dividend is the smallest since 2005, and it is only the second time in more than 20 years that the dividend has been below $900 per person. Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) needlessly fluctuates widely. This year’s dividend is 25 percent smaller than last year’s dividend of $1,174, and it is 57 percent smaller than the 2008 record-high dividend of $2,069 (not counting the one-time supplement of $1200 that was added to that year’s dividend).

 

The declining dividend does not mean that the PFD is in trouble. Actually the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF), which financed the PFD, is at near-record high levels. It closed the 2011-2012 fiscal year at 40.3 billion dollars. The dividend was low this year because the state uses a complex formula averaging the returns over a five-year period to determine yearly returns. The five-year average was chosen to smooth out fluctuations in market returns to create a more stable dividend, but—as Alaskans can easily see—a five-year average is not enough to do that job. Markets tend to have stable long-term trends, but they can have occasionally large yearly fluctuations (either up or down) that can dwarf a five-year average. The mid-2000s market boom, and the 2008-2009 market bust were just such fluctuations. Now, several years later with the boom returns falling out of the calculations but the decline still in, the 2008 market bust affects the dividend the more than it did at the time.

 

There’s a better, more stable way to calculate the dividend. It’s called percentage of market value (POMV). Most financial managers agree that an individual can afford to withdraw up to 4 percent of a well-invested diversified portfolio and still expect it to grow in real terms over time.

 

If Alaska used this rule to calculate the PFD, this year’s dividend would have been $2,380. It would have been a record-high dividend, because the APF closed the fiscal year at a record-high level. Suppose then there was a major sell-off in the markets and the fund declined by 25% to $30 billion. The dividend would decline by 25% as well, to $1,846. Suppose instead it rose by 25% to $50 billion. The dividend would rise by 25% as well, to $3,076. Because 25% is an unusually large fluctuation, we can expect this to be an unusually large change in the dividend. Most often it would change by less than 10% from year to year, and in most years it would increase.

 

Perhaps Alaskans should be more conservative. The goal of the fund is not just to payout as much as possible. It is also to save for the future. The more the APFC pays out in dividends now, the slower the APF and the PFD will grow over the long term. So, perhaps a POMV rule of 3% would be better—a little more cautious—than the 4% rule. If so, payouts this year would have been $1860. Payouts after a 25% decline to $30 billion would be $1,395. Payouts after a rise to $50 billion would be $2325, and Alaska could expect to larger reinvestments by the APFC to help the APF get to $50 billion much more quickly.

 

POMV just makes sense. Nobody likes the big fluctuations. No one wants their dividend to be less than half of what it was a few years ago. POMV stabilizes dividends, making it easier for Alaskans to plan, and it can be part of a conservative payout strategy that will keep the fund growing over time.

-Karl Widerquist, Doha, Qatar, November 2012

 

7. Recent Events

 

Munich (Germany), 14-16 September 2012, the 14th BIEN Congress

The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) held its 14th international Congress in Munich, Germany on September 14-16, 2012. The following reflections by Philippe Van Parijs provides a good overview of the Congress.

“Personal reflections on the 14th congress of the Basic Income Earth Network”
By Philippe Van Parijs October 1, 2012

What did I learn from this splendidly organized gathering of academic and activists from over thirty countries? As usual, many things. About people and about things. About facts and about dreams. I discovered, for example, that Götz Werner was perhaps even better at reciting Goethe than Eduardo Suplicy at singing Dylan. I also admired how much progress had been made in the sophistication of the study of small-scale basic income experiments. Long gone is the time when all that seemed to be needed was to hand out some cash and enthusiastically report that all recipients were delighted to get it and that at least some made laudable use of it. Serious assessments of the effects of duly specified basic income schemes require control groups of similarly situated communities who do not receive anything, or who receive the same total amount but distributed according to different rules. And even the best assessment of this sort cannot claim to tell us what a real-life basic income scheme would bring about, if only because the funding side tends to be left out, or because of the recipients’ awareness that the experiment is limited in time, or because the political packaging of a real-life reform is most likely to affect individual responses. Nonetheless, these experiments are instructive in all sorts of ways and are well worth the hard work they require: conducting laborious interviews and processing recalcitrant statistics, sometimes even in flooded villages, as reported by Guy Standing, with water above the waist and the laptop above the water.

Ecological sustainability and basic income: three links

In these brief remarks, however, I shall concentrate on two points that struck me particularly because of they ran through several of the workshops I attended. The first one is the link between basic income and ecological sustainability, which featured was central in many presentations and the subsequent exchanges. On reflection, however, there is not one but there are three such links, logically independent and profoundly different from each other.

The first link is connected to the theme full employment. In good Keynesian fashion, an unconditional basic income is sometimes defended on the ground that it boosts economic growth and thereby employment. Like any other minimum income scheme, it redistributes from the rich, who save more, to the poor, who spend more, and it thereby helps sustain effective demand and business confidence. More often, however, and in contrast to many other schemes, an unconditional basic income is defended instead on the ground  that it provides an alternative to the pursuit of full employment through economic growth: Freiheit statt Vollbeschäftigung. The underlying idea is that we must manage to tackle involuntary unemployment in a way that does not rely on a growth of production that constantly outpaces the growth of productivity, indeed — as discussed in a fascinating session of our congress — in a way that is consistent with de-growth. This way consists in transforming both some involuntary employment and some involuntary unemployment into voluntary unemployment. Or, to put it differently, some people make themselves sick by working too much and must be enabled to work less, while others get sick because of being excluded from work and must be enabled to access the jobs freed by those working too much. There is one simple way of achieving this: an unconditional basic income. This is a conclusion reached in the early eighties by some of the earliest basic income advocates in the context of the first signs of awareness of the “limits to growth”. It is also, fundamentally, the view now held by Baptiste Mylongo and the décroissants. The recognition of the right to idleness is here meant as the supply-side, anti-Keynesian, earth-friendly solution to the problem of unemployment.

The second link passes through the price mechanism. Prices are a handy tool for guiding both consumption and production. They condense in a single figure millions of data about the preferences of consumers and the scarcity of factors of production. But they can go badly wrong because they do not spontaneously incorporate either the damage inflicted on the environment or the right of unborn generations to use their share of the resources of the earth. In order to correct this twofold major defect, some prices must be dramatically increased to reflect so-called negative externalities and to protect the legitimate interests of the unborn. One salient example of this is a carbon tax sufficiently high to keep the total of emissions below the ceiling that should not be exceed, or equivalently the sale to the highest bidder of carbon emission permits whose total amounts to this ceiling. In either case, the consumers will ultimately pay the price, but something must be done with the huge proceeds. Whether at the world level or at the European level, there is one simple way, both efficient and fair, of distributing them: an unconditional basic income. The logic is fundamentally analogous to the equal distribution of the rent on land advocated in Thomas Paine’s Agrarian Justice (1796). Three “eco-bonus” proposals along these lines were proposed at one of our sessions, in greatest detail by Ulrich Schachtschneider.

There is, however, yet another quite distinct link between basic income and ecological sustainability. At its core is the role that will need to be given to trans-national transfers. Those who make this third link may share with the décroissants the view that we in the “North” need to reduce our consumption. But they do not conclude that we need to reduce our working time, because there is no good reason to believe that we should reduce our production as well as our consumption. This sounds paradoxical but is easy to understand. No one visiting, for example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo can resist the conclusion that achieving a decent standard of living for all inhabitants of the world through local production within a foreseeable future is simply out of the question. This is so because of a combination of sustained demographic growth, deeply dysfunctioning and under-resourced administrative, judiciary and educational systems, and sheer climatic conditions which, in the absence of unaffordable generalized air conditioning, cannot but keep productivity down in quite a large number of countries. To believe that fair trade or the end of exploitation of the “South” by the “North” would enable these countries to get out of trouble is sheer self-serving wishful thinking. The growth of production in poor countries can and will help, of course, but access to a minimally decent living standard for all within a foreseeable future cannot count on it as its main means. It must also count on a massive dose of one or both of two other means: massive migration to the North and massive transfers to the South.

If the migration of hundreds of millions of Africans to Europe is regarded as undesirable for both the communities they leave and the communities they join, only trans-national transfers are left. And to be sustainable at a high level, such transfers arguably need to be both inter-personal (as opposed to inter-governmental) and universal (as opposed to means-tested), i.e. take the form of something like a universal basic income. As was the case with the first link I mentioned above, sustainability here requires a reduction of consumption in the North and the introduction of a basic income. But in the first case, the basic income was there to help increase the leisure enjoyed in the North, and in the second case to channel wealth to the South. Unlike the former, this latter argument, frankly, has nothing to do with what triggered my interest in basic income thirty years ago. But it is closely related to the argument I used in my contribution to one of the sessions of this congress to explain why the buffering device needed to save the euro needs to take the form of a universal basic income.[1]

Universality and unconditionality: the crucial conjunction

The second point I want to mention emerged particularly clearly from the session that hosted a conversation between Götz Werner, CEO of the large drugstore DM, and Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn, member of the Bundestag for the Green Party. A central part of the background of any discussion on social policy in Germany is the dramatic reform of the German  welfare state by Gerhard Schröder’s red-green government known as Agenda 2010 or Hartz IV (2005). By reducing the duration of unemployment benefits, lowering the average level of social assistance and increasing the pressure on benefit recipients to seek and accept jobs, it is fair to say that the reform has improved the competitiveness of the German economy. But in a free trade area, making one country more competitive means making the other countries less competitive, and if this free trade area is also a single currency area, this means, for these other countries, deficits in the balance of trade, persistent unemployment and a pressure to restore their competitiveness by similarly scaling down their welfare states. For this reason, Hartz IV is no small factor in the current crisis of the Eurozone.[2]

Nonetheless, it is also fair to say that nothing ever happened in Germany that was better than Hartz IV at triggering a lively basic income debate. To understand why, note, first of all, that about half the recipients of the new social assistance scheme officially called Arbeitslosengeld II (but colloquially called “Hartz IV”) are at work. The reform massively extended the possibility of the Kombilohn, of low earnings combined with benefits. As such, this is not something basic income supporters should object to, as it is inherent in a universal basic income that it would generalize this possibility. But there is a major difference. Gerard Schröder himself complained that Hartz IV was “misused” by employers, as they used it to get workers into lousy jobs, with harsh conditions, no on-the-job training and no prospects of improvement. This is precisely why basic income supporters find unconditionality so important: a benefit granted to (potential) workers irrespective of whether they are willing to accept a job enhances their bargaining power and enables them to turn down poorly paid jobs of no intrinsic interest.

Put differently, the universality of the basic income — its not being means-tested — is what enables a person to say yes to a low-paid job. Its unconditionality — its not being work-tested — is what enables a person to say no to a low-paid job. Universality without unconditionality is a recipe for exploitation, because of the potential misuse of the Kombilohn by employers. Unconditionality without universality is a recipe for exclusion, because of the trap created by means-tested handouts. Instead, the conjunction of universality and unconditionality — so central to the basic income movement since its inception — is a path to emancipation. How emancipatory it can be will of course depend on its level. As stressed by Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn, however, the emancipatory effect starts being produced even with a level of basic income far below what would be deemed sufficient to live on for one’s whole life, even in a city, even on one’s own. Even a much lower universal and unconditional basic income broadens life options and thereby empowers its beneficiaries: it can make it realistic, for example, to accept an internship or an apprenticeship, or to combine further education with a part-time job, or to take the risk of becoming self-employed or of starting a cooperative, in situations in which today, in the absence of a basic income, one would be forced to accept a lousy full-time job.

A “partial” basic income, i.e. a low but genuinely universal and unconditional basic income, is therefore one obvious way in which one can move forward. But there are many others, more or less suited to local circumstances, more or less achievable in a particular political context, more or less likely to trigger a sequence of further emancipatory steps rather than unleash a damaging backlash. To move forward, we must dare to be “visionaries”, as emphasized by Götz Werner, while not hesitating to be “opportunists”, as demonstrated by Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn. Guided by our vision of a just society and a just world, we must be on the lookout for political opportunities to get closer to it, without denying the size of the challenges ahead — not least those arising from globalization — and without too much optimism about immediate success. Some good surprises are then bound to come our way…

[1] “No Eurozone without euro-dividend”, downloadable from www.uclouvain.be/8609.
[2] See my response to Gerard Schröder’s defence of Agenda 2010 on the occasion of his visit to Brussels in April 2012 : “L’Agenda 2010: un modŹle pour l’Europe?”, downloadable from www.uclouvain.be/8611

 

8. Upcoming events

Strasbourg, France, Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd February 2013, Council Of Europe Conference: Fight against Poverty and Inequalities from a Human Rights, Democracy and Common Goods Perspective

[BIEN – November 2012]

This conference is part of the Council of Europe’s ongoing project on the fight against poverty and inequality. Two members of BIEN’s Executive Committee, Yannick Vanderborght and Louise Haag, have been invited to participate in this project. Both will give plenary speeches at this conference, and basic income will be a major topic of discussion.

For more information go to: http://rights-poverty.eu/conference/

The 12th NABIG Conference May 9-11, 2013, New York, NY

[USBIG – November 2012]

Featured speakers include Carole Pateman, UCLA and Cardiff University, co-author of Basic Income Worldwide: Horizons of Reform; Sheri Berman, Barnard College, author of The Primacy of Politics: Social Democracy and the Making of Europe’s Twentieth Century; Jurgen De Wispelaere, McGill University, co-editor of The Ethics of Stakeholding;
David Casassas, University of Barcelona, co-editor of Basic Income in the Age of Great Inequalities; James Riccio, MDRC, co-author of  “Toward Reduced Poverty Across Generations: Early Findings from New York City's Conditional Cash Transfer Program;” Darrick Hamilton, The New School, co-author of  “Can ‘Baby Bonds’ Eliminate the Racial Wealth Gap in Putative Post-Racial America?” and Evelyn Forget, University of Manitoba, author of “The Town with No Poverty: A history of the North American Guaranteed Annual Income Social Experiments.”

All points of view are welcome, and proposals from any discipline are invited. For more information see the call for papers at: www.usbig.net. Or contact the congress organizer, Almaz Zelleke of USBIG, at azelleke@gmail.com.

DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS: November 30th, 2012

 

Host named for 2014 BIEN Congress

[BIEN – November 2012]
The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) has named the Basic Income Canada Network as the host of the 15th BEIN Congress, which will take place in Ottawa, Ontario in the spring or summer of 2014. Kelly Ernst, of Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, will chair the Local Organizing Committee (LOC). Other members of the LOC include Jurgen de Wispelaere, Kizzy Paris, Jenna van Draanen, Linda Lalonde, Myron Frankman, Tim Rourke, and Sharon Murphy. The LOC will name a date and a venue for the conference within the next six months and release a call for submissions sometime in 2013. For more information about the organizational efforts that will bring congress into being in a little more than 18 months, contact: Kelly Ernst <kernst@chumir.ca>

 

9. Publications

News from Basic Income Studies

[USBIG – November 2012]

The next issue of Basic Income Studies (BIS) will be available soon. This academic, peer-reviewed journal has been in a period of transition. The new publisher is De Gruyter, which acquired BIS earlier this year from Berkeley Electronic Press. The editing of the journal is being passed from Karl Widerquist and Jurgen De Wispelaeare to Louise Haagh (University of York, UK) and James Mulvale (University of Regina, Canada).

The past issues of BIS continue to be accessible at no cost at http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/bis (by pressing on "read content" button). 

If you are involved in scholarly work on Basic Income, and would like to reach a broad audience of academics from many disciplines as well as policy experts and advocates, please consider submitting your manuscript to BIS.


Three publications agree giving money directly to the people beats quantitative easing

[USBIG – November 2012]

Brown, Ellen, “Why QE3 Won’t Jump-Start the Economy—and What Would,” Web of Debt, September 21, 2012; reprinted by Truth Dig Sep 22, 2012.
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_qe3_wont_jumpstart_the_economyand_what_would_20120922//
http://www.resourceinvestor.com/2012/09/20/for-qe-ben-should-have-tried-the-helicopter

Kaletsky, Anatole, “How about quantitative easing for the people?” Reuters Opinion, August 1, 2012
http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2012/08/01/how-about-quantitative-easing-for-the-people/

Hutchinson, Martin, “For QE, Ben Should Have Tried the Helicopter,” Resource Investor, September 20, 2012
http://www.resourceinvestor.com/2012/09/20/for-qe-ben-should-have-tried-the-helicopter

Three recent U.S. editorials have argued that Quantitative Easing would be more effective and more equitable if the money was given directly to the people in the form of a basic income—if only a temporary one. Martin Hutchinson discusses the Feds goal of buying $40 billion dollars worth of debt each month for as many months as it takes. He argues that for only $31 billion dollars per month the Fed could send a $100 check to each of the 310 million US citizens. Anatole Kaletsky argues that $2 trillion (the amount the Fed spent on Quantitative Easing in 2009) could finance a cash dividend of “$6,500 for every man, woman and child, or $26,000 for a family of four.” All three agree this would be a superior anti-recession policy than Quantitative Easing, which directly benefits bankers and has a lesser effect on overall economic activity.

Blaschke, Ronald, “From the Idea of a basic income to the political movement in Europe”

[USBIG – November 2012]

According to the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, this paper has the following content: Short history of the idea of a basic income in Europe and the US; The idea of a basic income becomes the political call of a wide, but politically differently coined movement in Germany; The European Basic Income Movement; Market liberal and emancipatory approaches to reasoning for and design of a basic income; Occupation, welfare state and radical democratisation of society and economy; Public goods, infrastructure and services; Redistribution; Gender equality; Reduction in use of natural resources; and Global Social Rights.

Ronald Blaschke, “From the Idea of a basic income to the political movement in Europe,” The Rosa Luxembourg Foundation Papers, August 2012
Information about the paper is online at:
http://www.rosalux.de/publication/38626/from-the-idea-of-a-basic-income-to-the-political-movement-in-europe.html
The paper is online at: Papers_Basic-Income_Blaschke-2012pdf.pdf

Broadbent, Ed. “What kind of Canada do we want?”

[BICN - Jenna van Draanen - October 2012]

Ed Broadbent, the former leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and the founder of the Broadbent Institute, recently wrote an opinion piece in the Toronto Star in response to a host of austerity policies that are being implemented across Canada. Broadbent wants to stimulate a national discussion on extreme income inequality and potential ways to address it.

In terms of solutions, he points to Canadians’ willingness to pay higher taxes to protect social programs and calls on the government to take leadership on reducing inequality. Broadbent includes among the ways to address inequality: upgrading income security and federal support programs, a progressive taxation system, and transfers to the provinces. The piece also advocates for the promotion of jobs, investment in early childhood and post-secondary education, and protective employment legislation.

Notably, he says we should “seriously debate the concept of a Guaranteed Basic Income that ensures a minimum level of economic security for all” and points out that we already have such a system for seniors through the Guaranteed Income Supplement. This article concludes by calling on Canadians to use collective will to demand the major changes to current social and economic arrangements that will rebalance priorities in a way that works for Canada.

Broadbent, Ed. “What kind of Canada do we want?” Toronto Star. October 8, 2012.
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1267780--what-kind-of-canada-do-we-want

Caputo, Richard K. (editor) Basic Income Guarantee and Politics: International Experiences and Perspectives on the Viability of Income Guarantee, Palgrave Macmillan, August 2012

[USBIG – November 2012]

According to the publisher, “This exciting and timely collection brings together international and national scholars and advocates to provide historical overviews of efforts to pass basic income guarantee legislation in their respective countries and/or across regions of the globe. Contributing authors address specific substantive issues such as: who were the main people and groups involved in support of or against such legislative efforts; what were the main reasons for the success or failure of BIG-related initiatives to date; and what the prospects are for the future. Countries discussed include Australia, Finland, Germany, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the US.” The publisher also quotes Greg Marston, who writes, "This book integrates careful research, political theory and practical insights in a way that no other volume on the idea of a basic income guarantee has yet done. Through engaging and thoughtful presentation of wide ranging national case studies, readers will learn a great deal about the global state of play. In an age of growing economic insecurity, the book provides a timely reminder of the possibilities income guarantee schemes offer for improving social wellbeing."

For more information go to: http://us.macmillan.com/basicincomeguaranteeandpolitics/RichardKCaputo

Citizens Income Trust (UK), The Citizen's Income Newsletter, Issue 3 for 2012

[Citizens Income Trust – September 2012]

The latest edition of the Citizens Income Newsletter contains an editorial, the research note: “A Citizen's Income scheme's winners and losers” by Malcolm Torry, a review essay: “The message of James Robertson's Future Money” by Conall Boyle,” book reviews, a viewpoint: “Why Austerity is the Wrong Answer to Debt” by Geoff Crocker, and more.

Citizens Income Trust (UK), The Citizen's Income Newsletter, Issue 3 for 2012.
http://www.citizensincome.org/

 

Dearlove, Cameron, “Consider guaranteed annual income to reduce poverty”

[USBIG – November 2012]

This article argues that basic income is a bold solution that could not only reduce but actually eliminate poverty.

Dearlove, Cameron, “Consider guaranteed annual income to reduce poverty,” The Record, 19 October 2012
http://www.therecord.com/opinion/columns/article/819662--consider-guaranteed-annual-income-to-reduce-poverty

Dorling, Danny, The no-nonsense guide to equality

[BIEN Ireland - September 19, 2012]

This new book by Danny Dorling (University of Sheffield) includes an 8-pages discussion of basic income in the British context. Dorling seems to be very supportive of the idea, including at EU-level: “Imagine how much money would be saved”, he writes, “if a basic income one day replaced all the numerous different benefit and taxation systems existing across the whole of the European Union. How else could Europe ever have a unified system of social security to go with its free movement of labor?” (p.160).

Dorling, Danny, The no-nonsense guide to equality, Oxford: New Internationalist. 2012
http://www.dannydorling.org/books/equality/Homepage.html

Ernst, Kelly, “Poverty reduction strategies are wrong-headed”

[USBIG – November 2012]

This article argues the a form of basic income guarantee would work better than Canada’s current poverty-reduction strategies.

Ernst, Kelly, “Poverty reduction strategies are wrong-headed,” The Record, 23 October 2012
http://www.therecord.com/opinion/columns/article/821876--poverty-reduction-strategies-are-wrong-headed

Garcia, Marito and Charity M. T. Moore. The Cash Dividend: The rise of cash transfer programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

[CIT - October 10, 2012]

The World Bank has published a report, “The Cash Dividend: The rise of cash transfer programs in Sub-Saharan Africa,” by Marito Garcia and Charity M. T. Moore. The authors conclude: ‘Much can already be learned from Sub-Saharan Africa’s experience with cash transfer programs. Evaluations of unconditional programs have found significant impacts on household food consumption (for instance, Miller, Tsoka, and Mchinji Evaluation Team 2007 for Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Program; Soares and Teixeira 2010 for Mozambique’s Food Subsidy Program); nonfood consumption (for instance, RHVP 2009 for Zambia’s Social Cash Transfer); and children’s nutrition and education (including Agüero, Carter, and Woolard 2007 and Williams 2007 for South Africa’s Child Support Grant). A recent experimental evaluation found that a program for adolescent girls conditioned on their school attendance improved enrollment, attendance, and test scores in Malawi. Unconditional transfers in the same program decreased early marriage and pregnancy among girls who had already dropped out of school.’ (p.8).

Garcia, Marito and Charity M. T. Moore. The Cash Dividend: The rise of cash transfer programs in Sub-Saharan Africa, The World Bank 2012.
http://bit.ly/ct4SSA

Jordan, Bill, “An income of one’s own: the citizen’s income”

 [USBIG – Nov 2012]

In an obvious reference to Virginia Wolf, author Bill Jordon argues that the current economic crisis provides are great opportunity for basic income because there is now widespread recognition that the whole tax and benefit system is malfunctioning

Jordan, Bill, “An income of one’s own: the citizen’s income,” Red Pepper October 2012
http://www.redpepper.org.uk/an-income-of-ones-own-the-citizens-income/

Leibermann, Sascha, “Prospects of an Unconditional Basic Income”

 [USBIG – Oct 2012]

In this article, Sascha Leibermann calls the idea of a basic income, “simple and powerful, challenging and disturbing.” He introduces the idea, considers common objections to it, and discusses why it has such a difficult time getting onto the political agenda even though many of the common objects to it are unrealistic. Dr. Sascha Liebermann holds a PhD in Sociology. He is Assistant Professor at Ruhr-University Bochum, Visiting Fellow at ETH Zurich (Switzerland); Founding member of "Freedom not Full Employment" (www.freiheitstattvollbeschaeftigung.de) (in 2003), a group of German citizens arguing for an Unconditional Basic Income.

Leibermann, Sascha, “Prospects of an Unconditional Basic Income,” Club of Amsterdam Journal, June 2012, Issue 150
http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/contentimages/journal/print%20journal/print%200150%20Journal%20July%202012.htm

 

Lind, Michael, “Thank you, Milton Friedman”

[USBIG – 2012]

This article shows how “conservatives' economic hero” helped make the case for a form of basic income guarantee.

Lind, Michael, “Thank you, Milton Friedman,” Salon.com Aug 7, 2012
http://www.salon.com/2012/08/07/thank_you_milton_friedman/

 

Matthews, Dylan “Obama doesn’t want to just write welfare recipients checks. But what if we did?”

[USBIG – November 2012]

This opinion piece from the Washington Post favorably discusses basic income in light of Mitt Romney’s erroneous statement, “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work. You wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.” The author discusses some of the history of BIG, including the “Tax Cut for the Rest of Us” bill, which was authored by two members of the USBIG Network. The author concludes, “All of which is to say that while Mitt Romney mocks the idea of just sending checks to fight poverty, the idea has an impressive intellectual pedigree, including among conservatives. Perhaps we should give just writing checks a shot.”

Matthews, Dylan “Obama doesn’t want to just write welfare recipients checks. But what if we did?” The Washington Post, August 8, 2012
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/08/obama-doesnt-want-to-just-write-welfare-recipients-checks-but-what-if-we-did/

Quiggin, “the Golden Age”

[BI News – October 2012]

This article reviews Keynes’s 1930 prediction that economic growth would so make possible the 15-hour workweek. The author, John Quiggin, argues that the failure of the prediction to come true happened not because of a failure of economic growth but because of policy decisions that have concentrated the gains of economic growth on people at the top of the income distribution. As a part of the solution, he argue for a guaranteed minimum income (another word for a basic income guarantee). John Quiggin is a professor of economics and the University of Queensland in Australia. He is the author of Zombie Economics.

Quiggin, John. “The Golden Age: The 15-hour working week predicted by Keynes may soon be within our grasp—but are we ready for freedom from toil?” Aeon, 27 September 2012
http://www.aeonmagazine.com/living-together/john-quiggin-keynesian-utopiav1/

Sandler, Mike “Citizen’s Dividends: Basic Income from your Share of the Commons”

[Aynur Bashirova – BIEN – October 2012]

In this article published in the Hufftington Post, Mike Sandler argues that if we change the way money enters the economy (it enters as debt owned to private banks), government of the United States will be able to create Citizen’s Dividend and reduce the number of bankruptcies. The author comes to this idea based on the Ned Act proposed by Dennis Kucinich to abolish Federal Reserve, fractional reserve banking, prohibit compound interest, and give 25% of money created to the states. According to him, this will help budget deficits and help government to save money to give to every citizen of the United States in the form of the Universal Citizen’s Dividend. Sandler argues that this new way of handling economy will allow government to have enough money to give to actual people who will spend it into circulation. This, in turn, will create demand, so that employers will start hiring people again.

Sandler, Mike “Citizen’s Dividends: Basic Income from your Share of the Commons,” Hufftington Post, October 3, 2012
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-sandler/citizens-dividends-basic-_b_1936182.html?utm_hp_ref=business


Sheahen, Allan, Basic Income Guarantee: Your Right to Economic Security, Palgrave Macmillan, July 2012

[USBIG – November 2012]

According to the publisher, “A Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) is the unconditional government-ensured guarantee that all citizens will have enough income to meet their basic needs without a work requirement. Significant questions include: Why should we adopt a BIG? Can the U.S. afford it? Why don't the current welfare programs work? Why not guarantee everyone a job? Would anyone work if his or her income were guaranteed? Has a BIG ever been tested? This book answers these questions and many more in simple, easy-to-understand language.” The publisher also quotes U.S. Senator George McGovern, writing, "This book is a great idea - brilliantly stated. Some may think it's ultra-liberal, as they did when I proposed a similar idea in 1972. I see it as true conservatism - the right of income for all Americans sufficient for food, shelter, and basic necessities. Or, what Jefferson referred to as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

For more information go to: http://us.macmillan.com/basicincomeguarantee/AllanSheahen

Torry, Malcolm “Research note: A Citizen’s Income scheme’s winners and losers”

[USBIG – September 2012]

Here we uses computer simulation from survey data to estimate the outcomes for a genuine Citizen’s Income scheme: an unconditional and nonwithdrawable benefit for every citizen. The aim of the exercise was to test a variety of schemes. The study finds that by making a small number of changes to the present system in the United Kingdom, it is possible to establish a genuine Citizen’s Income scheme. Malcolm Torry is the director of the Citizens Income Trust (BIEN’s UK affiliate) and a parish priest and industrial chaplain for the Church of England.

Torry, Malcolm “Research note: A Citizen’s Income scheme’s winners and losers.” The Citizen's Income Newsletter, Issue 3 for 2012
http://www.citizensincome.org/

Welch, Mary Agnes “An End to the Perpetual Welfare Trap: Guaranteed Incomes Debated.”

[Aynur Bashirova – BI News – September 2012]

In the article published in Winnipeg Free Press, Mary Agnes Welch argues that an experiment done in Dauphin province of Canada around 40 years ago regarding the experiment of unconditional basic income was a success and should be reapplied. The topic was discussed in a conference hosted by Winnipeg Harvest at University of Manitoba. The experiment provided an unconditional basic income guarantee to every low-income person in Dauphin whether or not they were eligible to receive welfare. The results of the Dauphin experiment showed an improvement in health, a lower high school dropout rate, and people did not stop working just because they were receiving a guaranteed income. The experiment was stopped because the government lost interest in it. Welch further informs that the city of Dauphin is interested in having the experiment again. However, it does not fit the new strategy of the government that follows the policy of moving people back to work.

Welch, M. A. “An End to the Perpetual War Trap: Guaranteed Incomes Debated.” Winnipeg Free Press, August 22, 2012
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/an-end-to-the-perpetual-welfare-trap-167004295.html.


Widerquist, Karl and Michael W. Howard (editors) Exporting the Alaska Model: Adapting the Permanent Fund Dividend for Reform around the World, Palgrave-MacMillan, 2012

[USBIG – November 2012]

According to the publisher: “very year, every Alaskan gets paid. They receive a small dividend financed by returns on a fund created from the state's resource revenues – what the authors have called the 'Alaska model.' This timely book examines how the model can be adapted for use elsewhere, examining issues of implementation and showing that this model can be employed even in resource-poor areas in the industrialized and in the industrializing world.” The publisher also quotes Guy Standing, writing "The Alaska Permanent Fund has reached its 30th anniversary and is one of the world's unsung innovations in social and economic policy. It offers a route to income redistribution and prompts realistic thoughts of more ambitious schemes to provide universal basic income security. This book is an important contribution to what should be a much more widespread debate about the Fund's role and potential." This book is the sequel to Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend: Examining its Suitability as a Model, co-edited by Karl Widerquist and Michael W. Howard (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2012).

For more information go to: http://us.macmillan.com/book.aspx?isbn=9781137006592

Yglesias, Matthew, “How To Win The War On Poverty: Recognize That Redistribution Works,” Slate Sept. 15, 2012

[USBIG – November 2012]

Matthew Yglesias, Slate's business and economics correspondent, discusses the basic income guarantee as a more cost-effective solution to poverty than many current strategies, which he sees as attempts to use public services as a roundabout mechanism of income redistribution. Hence the fiasco of Amtrak's money-losing food services line.

Yglesias, Matthew, “How To Win The War On Poverty: Recognize That Redistribution Works,” Slate Sept. 15, 2012
http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/09/15/tax_and_transfer_win_the_war_on_poverty_with_redistribution_.html

BI News Opinion pieces

BI News has published the following six opinion pieces since October 1. They’re all online at: http://binews.org/category/opinion/.



OPINION: A Popular Legislative Initiative for a Guaranteed Citizenship Income in Spain
Red Renta Básica November 12, 2012

OPINION: Paul Ryan explains simple policy that would end poverty, but does not support it
By Timothy Roscoe Carter November 5, 2012

OPINION: Assessment of the Dutch Elections 2012, No entrance to Basic Income
By Robin Ketelaars October 29, 2012

OPINION: Why Austerity is the Wrong Answer to Debt: A Call for a New Paradigm

By Geoff Crocker October 15, 2012

OPINION: Funding Citizen’s Income by Seigniorage: The message of Future Money from James Robertson
By Conall Boyle October 8, 2012

OPINION: Personal reflections on the 14th congress of the Basic Income Earth Network

By Philippe Van Parijs October 1, 2012

Blogs

[USBIG – November 2012]

Several blogs are currently discussing the basic income guarantee

RiseUpEconomics: We Need to Re-work Work
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/10/1129978/-We-Need-to-Re-work-Work

The Zeitgeist Movement Official Blog: "Basic Income - An immediate step in the transition"
http://blog.thezeitgeistmovement.com/blog/dario-wurmd/basic-income-immediate-step-transition

Joshua Miller, “Another Badly-Aimed Attack on the Basic Income Guarantee from Crooked Timber,” August 9, 2012
http://www.anotherpanacea.com/2012/08/another-badly-aimed-attack-on-the-basic-income-guarantee-from-crooked-timber/

The Digital Journal's blog: "How Practicable Is Basic Income Today?"
http://www.digitaljournal.com/blog/18677

The Heteconomist blog: “Greece, Basic Income and the European Left”

http:// heteconomist.com/?p=6128

The Progress Report: “Local Equity & Citizen Dividends Proposed: Put Toll Concession Fees In a Permanent Fund For All”
http://www.progress.org/2012/tollroad.htm

 

10. Videos

 

Video with results of basic income pilot project in India

USBIG - September 22, 2012

This video explains the results of the Indian basic income pilot project. It includes interviews with participants in the study.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItkZ5b-C3Nw

Video: Basic Income Visualized

USBIG - October 18, 2012

European Alternatives has posted an attractive animated video presenting reasons for Basic Income on YouTube. In English, with Italian subtitles, it is currently being used to support the Italian campaign for a minimum income. According to European Alternatives, “Anyone is welcome to use and disseminate the video for our common cause.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxBbi3hlXkU

Video: Milton Friedman discusses NIT

[USBIG – October 2012]
In this 15-minute video Milton Friedman discusses the Negative Income Tax in an interview with William F. Buckley. It’s posted on the libertarian/conservative website, “LibertyPen.”

http://libertypenblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/video-milton-friedman-negative-income.html

Basic Income in Brazil: Video of a session a the BIEN Conference in Munich, September 2012

[BIEN – October 2012]
This video is 90 minutes long. It includes presentations by Senator Eduardo Suplicy and two others. It is posed on the website FirstPost.com.

http://www.firstpost.com/topic/place/austria-basic-income-and-its-implementation-in-brazil-eduardo-suplic-video-NLndVviBgmk-138-15.html

Video: Basic Income in India Presentation on BIEN Congress 2012 in Munich Germany

[BIEN – October 2012]

This 85-minute video is of a session at the 2012 BIEN Congress in Munich. Participants include Renana Jabhvala, Guy Standing, abd Shikha Joshi. It was posted on YouTube by Friedel Hans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6mYSNpcscQ

 

Video: Incremental Steps to Basic Income in USA Canada Europe BIEN Grundeinkommen Congress2012 in Munich Part10

[BIEN – October 2012]

This 75-minute is from a session at the BIEN Congress in Munich in September 2012. Presenters include Almaz Zelleke, BIEN New York, James Mulvale, BIEN Executive Committee Canada and Wouter van Ginneken, Divonne-les-Bains, France. It was posted on YouTube by Friedel Hans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IKbzInMUnc

 

Video: Pathways to a Basic Income Earth Network.

[BIEN – October 2012]

This 90-minute video is from a Session at the BIEN Congress in Munich, Germany on September 14, 2012. Participants include Bruna Augusta Perreira, Luis Henrique da Silva Paiva, Rolf Künnemann, Eduardo Suplicy. It was posted on YouTube by Friedel Hans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uSb57jHDrA&feature=relmfu

VideoAttac: YouTube Channel has dozens of videos on BIG

[BIEN – October 2012]

This YouTube channel has dozens of videos on BIG, some in English and some in German.

http://www.youtube.com/user/videoattac

Videos: Senator Hugh Segal (Canada)

[BICN – November 2012]

Two videos on Guaranteed Annual (Basic) Income in the Canadian context, featuring Senator Hugh Segal, can be found on the TVO website:

What Do You Think of "Guaranteed Annual Income"? (2 minutes)
http://theagenda.tvo.org/blog/agenda-blogs/what-do-you-think-guaranteed-annual-income

Politics Around Poverty (49 minutes):
http://ww3.tvo.org/video/184975/politics-around-poverty

11. WRITERS AND VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for USBIG and BI News

Volunteers are needed to write (and do other things) for BI News, the BIEN NewsFlash, and the USBIG Newsletter. All of the news you read here is written by a group of volunteers. We need more writers for our team. As a writer you get: byline, feedback on your writing, and a chance to help the global basic income movement. If you’re interested, please email Karl@widerquist.com


12. New Links


Basic Income: “Basic Income would cure most of our current economic problems.”

[USBIG – November 2012]
This page on Scoop.it has links to dozens of websites discussing basic income. It’s curated by Bipedal Joe and online at:
http://www.scoop.it/t/basicincome/

Citizen-Ownership Democracy: Where citizens get a direct and equal share…

[USBIG – November 2012]
This website has several posts on Basic Income: http://cod-democracy.blogspot.com/

 

13. Links and other info

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 content or their agendas.

The USBIG NewsFlash
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Copyeditor: Mike Murray and the USBIG Committee
Research: Paul Nollen
Special help on this issue was provided by: Cindy L'Hirondelle, Amanda Reilly, Steve Shafarman, and others

The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network publishes this newsletter. The Network is a discussion group on 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. More news about BIG is online at BInews.org.

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.

Thank you,
-Karl Widerquist, editor
Karl@Widerquist.com