USBIG NewsFlash Vol. 14, No. 67 Winter 2013
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 go to: http://www.usbig.net/newsletters.php.
For questions, contact the editor, Karl Widerquist <Karl@Widerquist.com.>
8. New Links
voters of the United States were loudly debating gun control, the deficit, the
debt, taxes, immigrant rights, the filibuster law, health care, and a host of
other issues, the Obama administration quietly did something that would have
been unthinkable a few decades ago. It ordered the military to allow women to
serve in combat units. Other changes that would have been unthinkable a few
decades ago also seem to be underway. Two states (Colorado and Washington)
voted to legalize marijuana. Nine states now have same-sex marriage, when as
late as 1976, the Democratic National Convention refused to pass a resolution
doing no more than recognizing homosexuals as human beings. After thousands of
years of prohibit, Britain and France seem to be on the verge of legalizing
same sex marriage at virtually the same time.
Big changes often feel far away until they. Few people in 1926 could have guessed that the United States was within ten years of introducing a near-universal system of old age pensions that would eventual almost eliminate poverty among the elderly. Few people in 1856 could have guessed that the United States was within ten years of the end of slavery.
Supporters of the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) should remember this lesson. BIG is far from mainstream politics in America today. But there are many people who want to see a fairer distribution of property and who would be interested in a new and better way to make it happen. If BIG remains a viable, well-thought-out option, the possibility that might suddenly become a political reality remains.
-Karl Widerquist, waiting for Proteus to roll down Napoleon Avenue, Lundi Gras, 2013
By Stanislas Jourdan, January 21, 2013
After an unsuccessful first attempt, the European Citizens’ Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income finally got
accepted by the European Commission, thus opening the possibility for the
organizers from 14 European countries to start collecting their signatures of
support. Hereby starts a 12-month European-wide campaign for basic
income in Europe, with the goal of collecting one million signatures.
ECI UBI 2013The citizens committee members got it right not to give up after the EU commission rejected the first attempt, back in september. Indeed, the second attempt was finally accepted, the citizens committee members were noticed on the 14th of January in a communication by Klaus Sambor, the head organizer of the initiative.
Under the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) new procedure, the EU commission must certify that the goal of the initiative submitted by citizens falls under its competences and attribution before citizens start collecting signatures, so that they don’t do it for nothing.
Following the first rejection by the EU commission, which stated at the time that the proposal “manifestly fall outside the framework of the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act of the Union for the purpose of implementing the Treaties”, the citizens committee decided in Munich to keep on working on a second attempt, with the main objective of having it accepted by the EU commission.
Citizens met again in Firenze (Italy) and, after discussion and consensus, submitted a new proposal – the one that just got accepted by the commission. In order to meet the commission’s requirements, the new text (available here on the website’s commission), does not demand a “legal act”, but instead requests the commission to explore the feasibility of a European basic income. What fiscal harmonization would be necessary for implementing a basic income in the EU? What would a basic income imply for other social policies and labor rights? These questions must find clear answers. Hence the new title of the initiative: “Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) – Exploring a pathway towards emancipatory welfare conditions in the EU”.
This can be done by organizing conferences, calling for studies, giving subsidies and any other means the commission has. Long story short, we’re asking the commission to make a serious case for the implementation of basic income in Europe, and to feed the debate on how to do it in a harmonized way inside the European Union. As we expected, this request could hardly be rejected by the commission.
Now the next step is to have the online signature collection system be authenticated as ‘secure’ by the EU authorities, so that people can directly sign the initiative online. The ECI citizens committee decided to use the system and servers provided by the EU Commission in Luxembourg, which implies a delay.
In other words, citizens cannot sign online yet, but of course we will let them know as soon as they can through our facebook page.
If we collect more than one million signatures, then the commission will offer a hearing to the organizers at the European Parliament in Brussels. The EU commission will then have to accept or refuse the demand expressed by citizens, and give justifications for it.
We admit, our demand is very modest – and the results highly hypothetical. But one has to start somewhere. In France, the ECI has inspired and empowered groups of citizens who are now working hard to create a broader social movement. Being at the front line of this, I can assure you: nothing would have happened without such a challenge like the ECI.
And this is why I completely agree with Philippe Van Parijs, who said in a message of support to the organizers: “Whatever the exact wording and whatever the number of signatures that will ultimately gathered, it is good to seize this new opportunity for spreading the idea of basic income far beyond the circles in which it has been thought about so far. The challenge presented by the mobilization of a civil society spread over 27 countries and speaking 23 different official languages is huge. But is is definitely worth taking on.”
The road may be long, but the way is clearly free. Let’s make it a historical campaign!
Stanislas Jourdan, editor in chief at Ouishare.net and member of the citizens committee for the European citizens initiative on unconditional basic income.
[USBIG – December 2012]
India’s ruling coalition government suddenly and unexpectedly announce a major move in the direction of a basic income guarantee by replacing many transfer and expanding them into a cash transfer program. The government will begin phasing-in the program on January 1, 2013. Details are sketchy at this point. According the New York Times, “The plan is to replace existing pensions, scholarships and subsidies on household items by directly disbursing cash to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts. It could apply to 720 million people.”
A group of private NGOs has been conducting a pilot project on basic income in India for over a year. It is unknown the extent to which this project influenced the government’s decision. But, according to Guy Standing, one of the principle researchers on the project, members of their team have been requested for television interviews and newspaper articles are pouring out about the new decision.
For more on the issue see:
Bal, Hartosh Singh, “Will Vote for Rupees,” The New York Times, December 7, 2012
[USBIG – January 2012]
Economist, James M. Buchanan died on January 9, 2013. Most famous as one of the founders of the “public choice” field in economics, James Buchanan won the Noble Prize in economics in 1986. Although he was known as a “free market” economist, he was one of several Noble Prize-winning economists who endorsed the basic income guarantee (BIG). Excerpts from his 1997 article, “Can Democracy Promote the General Welfare?” (in which he makes a public-choice argument for BIG) will appear in Basic Income: An Anthology of Contemporary Research, due out on Wiley-Blackwell later this year.
A New York Times obituary of him is online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/business/economy/james-m-buchanan-economic-scholar-dies-at-93.html?_r=0
His Wikipedia page is at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_M._Buchanan
[BIEN – January 2013]
Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge was founded on October 12, 2012 to promote basic income in Norway. The organization’s main purpose is to inform the Norwegian population on universal, unconditional basic income guarantee (BIG) in hopes of getting BIG on the political agenda. The organization will promote BIG for all Norwegian citizens and one that is large enough to cover all necessary living expenses.
Š Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge has already made news or organized events in Norway:
Š October 19: The news magazine, NY TID, ran a story about the startup of the organization.
Š November 2: Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge organized a lecture on BIG at a Globalization Conference.
Š November 12: Network for Social Entrepreneurship invited Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge to a dialogue in Parliament.
Š November 24: Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge organized a lecture at the Romsas volunteer center for “Free Philosophical Forum” on BIG in a green perspective.
Š December 5: Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge gave a brief introduction to BIG at a “Green Drinks” at Lillehammer.
Š December 9: Organizers of Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge were interviewed in NA24. According to the editor, it was read 63,370 times within a few days.
Š December 13. Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge had a lecture at “Litteraturhuset”. The title of the lecture was “BIG - In a green perspective.”
In the coming year Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge hopes to get BIG on the agenda for the Norwegian parliamentary elections scheduled for September 9th, 2013. Otherwise Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge will continue to organized lectures and workshops on BIG.
The board of Borgerlonn-BIEN Norge, from left: Ole A. Seifert, Ali Reza Nouri, Lexander Wist, Sjur C. Papazian, Espen X. Leinaes, Anja Askeland (Chair) and Grete Antona Nilsen (Vice Chair).
[USBIG – January 2013]
A new Massachusetts-based non-profit, called GiveDirectly, transfers donations to poor Kenyans with no
conditions attached whatsoever. According to GiveDirectly,
their model of giving is based on a simple, four step process: “1. You donate
through our webpage. 2. We locate poor households in Kenya. 3. We transfer your
donation electronically to a recipient's cell phone. 4. The recipient uses the
transfer to pursue his or her own goals.” No conditions or restrictions are
imposed on the recipient. The nonprofit was founded in 2008
by four people who were then graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Paul Niehaus, Michael Faye, Rohit Wanchoo, and Jeremy Shapiro.
GiveDriectly went public in 2012, and it has recently
received a grant to expand beyond Kenya.
According to a recent story in the Atlantic Monthly, initial results of the transfers appear extremely positive. Although the popular stereotype of the poor is that they will spend money they receive on vices such as alcohol and prostitution, “recipients are spending their payments mostly on food and home improvements that can vastly improve quality of life, such as installing a weatherproof tin roof. Some families have invested in profit-bearing businesses, such as chicken-rearing, agriculture, or the vending of clothes, shoes, or charcoal.”
Although the GiveDirectly website makes no mention of basic income, the organizers are inspired by, “a wealth of evidence on the positive impacts of cash transfers,” and their values are similar to those usually behind support of basic income. For example, their website compares their values to what they call “industry standard” values (i.e. values of most charities working in Africa; under the value of “respect,” the website reads, “Industry standard: Empower experts to decide what is best for the poor based on an assessment of needs or on personal ideology. Our standard: Empower the poor to set their own priorities.”
GiveDirectly’s website is online at:
The two following news stories have additional info on GiveDirectly:
Goldstein, Dana, “Can 4 Economists Build the Most Economically Efficient Charity Ever?” the Atlantic Monthly, Dec 21 2012, 9:51 AM ET 4
Yglesias, Matthew, “Fighting Poverty By Giving Poor People Money” Slate Magazine, Dec. 25, 2012, writes, “I've come to think that directly transfering [sic] cash money to people in need is the most underrated tool around for fighting poverty.”
[BI News – December 2012]
The German television show, “Bread for the World,” on the public-service German television broadcaster, ZDF, recently
called for donations to support Otjivero's BIG pilot
project in Namibia. Requests for donations are not unusual in the pre-Christmas
period, but a request to support Basic Income is unusual on major German TV.
Broadcasters called it “a beautiful project.” A video of the show, in German is
at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocwaFwyIaIM
The “Bread for the World” website is online at:
[USBIG – December 2012]
The German Pirate Party, which has endorsed BIG in recent
elections, has made it official by producing an official economic program
including a basic income guarantee. According to the program, “For us, work is
not just a commodity, but also always the personal effort of an individual.
Therefore, it is an imperative of human dignity that every human is free to
decide what career they want to pursue and what work they want to accept, but
also, that this effort is appreciated correspondingly. The technological
development allows that not every monotone, little meaningful or even dangerous
task must be done by human hands. We see this as a great step forward that we
welcome and want to advance further. Therefore, we consider the pursuit of
absolute full employment as neither timely nor socially desirable. Instead, we
want to commit ourselves to ensuring that all humans receive a just part of the
overall prosperity and will for this purpose examine the introduction of a
unconditional basic income guarantee.” The program was adopted at the party
convention on November 24-25, 2012 in Bochum, Germany.
For more on the Pirate Party’s economic program (in English), go to:
[Wolfgang Müller – BI News – December 2012]
The case of Ralph Boes has gained a lot of public attention in Germany recently. Boes, a longtime beneficiary of the German social support system “ALG-II” - also known as “HartzIV”--and an activist against the sanctions of this system, provoked the responsible German state agency until he was sanctioned at the beginning of November. His benefits were reduced by 90 percent, from Ř374.00 per month to only Ř37.40 per month. With only this much left, he saw himself as forced to starve.
Boes refused any private help in order to demonstrate the consequences of the sanctions policy. In 2012, Germany imposed sanctions on more than 1,000,000 times. This number represents an increase of about 38 percent compared to 2009. In more than two-thirds of these cases, the reason for the sanction is failure to appear.
After 26 days, the authority recognized a formal error, and Boes received the full amount of his benefits again.
More information about Boes can be found here:
More information about rising sanctions can be found here:
An article about Boes in English can be found here:
[USBIG – Feb 2012]
The Alaska Permanent Fund has increased by more than 7% in
the first six months of its fiscal year, which runs from July to July. The fund
is the financial base for Alaska’s Permanent Fund Divided, a small and variable
basic income for all Alaska residents. The state of Alaska deposits a small
amount of its oil revenue into the fund, which is invested in stocks, bonds,
and other assets around the world. Each year, each Alaskan receives a share of
the returns to that fund in the form of a cash dividend. Dividends have been
declining gradually since the financial crises began to affect dividends in
October of 2009. Usually between $1000 and $2000 per person per year, the
dividend was only $878 in October of 2012. If this year’s performance
continues, the dividend will start going up again in 2013. According to the Alaska Dispatch, the fund rose by
4.6% in the first quarter of the fiscal year and 2.7% in the second quarter for
a total of 7.3% this year. That would be a solid increase even if the fund were
to stagnate for the rest of the year. The fund is now at an all-time high of $44.6
For more on the fund’s recent performance, see: “Permanent Fund is off to a roaring start this fiscal year,” Alaska Dispatch, Jan 24, 2013: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/permanent-fund-roaring-start-fiscal-year
[BICN - Jenna van Draanen - 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/
– January 2013]
At the Great Lakes Commons Gathering at Notre Dame University in the United States last October James Quilligan, who has recently spoken at a series of seminars in London, proposed a Great Lakes Commons Trust and Community Bank. ‘Bioregional trusts are an emerging horizon in environmental sustainability and financial stability for the people of a common resource area. … The purpose of a bioregional trust is to safeguard a resource for future generations. Just as some communities across the world have become adept at preserving, creating and replenishing their local commons, bioregional trusts can also apply the principles of subsidiarity, polycentricity and inclusive decision-making to the protection and production of resources that are shared on a broader scale. Integrative commons management contributes not only to a clean and healthy biological environment, but also to people’s social well-being. In addition, a bioregional trust may generate funds which could be used for ecological restoration as well as a basic income for the people of a region.
For more on James Quilligan’s proposal, go to: http://thefinancelab.ning.com/events/meetings-with-remarkable-commoners-james-quilligan-finance-lab-ch?xg_source=activity
[Ian Orton – BIEN – December 2012]
In a recent interview, Senator Eduardo Suplicy reiterated the case for a basic income (BI) in Brazil, underlining that is not only desirable but something that is practically attainable now. At present, the BI in Brazil still exists in a truncated form as the Bolsa Familia conditional cash transfer (covering 25% of the population). Suplicy was the architect of the 2004 law that established the BI in Brazil. This law was charged with introducing the BI there gradually, with the Bolsa Familia being the first step in the process. Suplicy argues that that the time has come for the Bolsa Familia to be extended to cover all Brazilians. He calculates that covering all Brazilians with a modest BI of USD$35 a month would require an eight-fold increase in the budget of USD$80 billion (4% of GDP) currently assigned to the Bolsa Familia. In spite of such fiscal challenges, he believes this is possible given the prosperity the world is seeing and the potential of natural resources as an additional funding source.
For more on this issue see:
Nagarajan, Rema, “Brazil: Imagine a World Free of Hunger and Need,” the Times of India, September 6, 2012.
[USBIG – February 2013]
Summer School by Professor Stuart White (Oxford University) on: Basic income: communism, liberalism and republicanism
When: 18-20 July 2013
Where: University of Minho, Braga (Portugal)
The School will consider the ethical arguments surrounding the idea of unconditional basic income, focusing specifically on arguments appealing to interpretations of communism, liberalism and republicanism. What are the strengths and weaknesses of these arguments? How successfully do they meet the main ethical objections to basic income, including the objection, itself derivable from within currents of socialist, liberal and republican thought, that basic income is unfair because it allows some who are able to work to live off the labor of their fellow citizens?
Fee: 50 Euros
Inscription: Please send a short letter of motivation and CV by e-mail to Roberto Merrill (email@example.com) by 15 April 2013.
This event is organized by the Political Theory Group of CEHUM, University of Minho (Braga).
Information about registration, accommodation and travelling will soon be available online at the school's website:
[USBIG – January 2013]
According to Vereniging Basisinkomen (VB, the BIEN Affiliate in the Netherlands) the 2013 World Social Forum, taking place in Tunis from March 23rd to 28th, will include a collaborative workshop on Basic Income. According to VB, this workshop could be the occasion to show how an unconditional basic income reduces poverty, emancipates individuals from an alienating productivist economic system, and gives them the means to get more involved in their communities.
For more information, see the story on the VB website: http://basisinkomen.nl/wp/ai1ec_event/2013-world-social-forum/?instance_id=
And the World Social Forum webpage for the workshop:
Three well-known philosophers debated taxing resources and distributing the proceeds in cash (a basic income guarantee by another name). All three of the authors support the idea. They debated the details of how best to implement it. The debate included a proposal by Paula Casal, responses from Hillel Steiner and Thomas Pogge (both of whom had written proposals along similar lines in the past), and a rejoinder by Casal. The four articles are:
Casal, Paula (2011) “Global Taxes on Natural Resources,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 8, pp. 307–327
Thomas Pogge’s Global Resources Dividend relies on a flat tax on the use of natural resources to fund the eradication of world poverty. Hillel Steiner’s Global Fund taxes the full rental value of owned natural resources and distributes the proceeds equally. The paper compares the Dividend and the Fund and defends the Global Share, a novel proposal that taxes either use or ownership, does so (when possible) progressively, and distributes the revenue according to a prioritarian rather than a sufficientarian or egalitarian principle.
Steiner, Hillel (2011) “The Global Fund: A Reply to Casal,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 328–334
The Global Fund is a mechanism for the global application of the Left Libertarian conception of distributive justice. As a form of luck egalitarianism, this conception confers upon each person an entitlement to an equal share of all natural resource values, since natural resources – broadly, geographical sites – are objects for the production of which no person is responsible. Owners of these sites, i.e. states, are liable to a 100% Global Fund tax on their unimproved value: that is, their gross market value minus the value of the improvements added to them by human effort. It is argued that the revenue yielded by this tax would be correspondingly reduced by a further tax on the use of natural resources.
Pogge, Thomas (2011) “Allowing the Poor to Share the Earth,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 8, pp. 335–352
Two of the greatest challenges facing humanity are environmental degradation and the persistence of poverty. Both can be met by instituting a Global Resources Dividend (GRD) that would slow pollution and natural-resource depletion while collecting funds to avert poverty worldwide. Unlike Hillel Steiner’s Global Fund, which is presented as a fully just regime governing the use of planetary resources, the GRD is meant as merely a modest but widely acceptable and therefore realistic step toward justice. Paula Casal has set forth various ways in which this step might be improved upon. Solid counter-arguments can be given to her criticisms and suggestions. But to specify the best (effective and realizable) design of an appropriate global institutional mechanism with some confidence, economists, political scientists, jurists, environmental scientists, and activists would need to be drawn in to help think through the immense empirical and political complexities posed by this urgent task.
Casal, Paula (2011) “Rejoinder to Pogge and Steiner,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 8, pp. 353–365
The four papers are available (for a fee) on the Journal of Moral Philosophy’s website: http://www.brill.com/journal-moral-philosophy
The Georgist News has special offers on two books that came out last year about the Alaska Permanent Fund (Alaska’s small basic income). Each book is reduced from $100 to $65. The books are:
Karl Widerquist and Michael W. Howard (eds.) 2012. Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend: Examining its Suitability as a Model, New York: Palgrave Macmillan
Karl Widerquist and Michael W. Howard (eds.) 2012. Exporting the Alaska Model: Adapting the Permanent Fund Dividend for Reform around the World, New York: Palgrave Macmillan
The special offer can be found online at:
[USBIG – December 2012]
Mike Konczal, of the Roosevelt Institute, begins as article in The American Prospect, writing, “Now that Obamacare—the largest expansion of the social-safety net in the last 60 years—is safe, what's next for the liberal economic project?” He suggest basic income as one of two strategies that could answer that question. Byron York carries on the same conversation in the Washington Examiner.
Konczal, Mike, “The Great Society's Next Frontier,” the American Prospect, November 19, 2012
York, Byron, “After victory, liberals want income redistribution,” the Washington Examiner, November 26, 2012
[USBIG – December 2012]
This article argues that the income gap is a source of the Britain’s financial weakness, and suggests Citizens Income as part of the solution.
Crocker, Geoff, “Opinion: So what’s really wrong with the economy?” Liberal Democratic Voice, December 10th, 2012
[USBIG – December 2012]
Abstract: We challenge the view, typically assumed by advocates of unconditional basic income (UBI), that its administration is uncontroversial. We identify three essential tasks which, from the point of view of the administrative cybernetics literature, any income maintenance policy must accomplish: defining criteria of eligibility, determining who meets such criteria and disbursing payments to those found to be eligible. Building on the work of Christopher Hood, we contrast two alternative ways in which the design of a UBI might apply the principle of ‘using bureaucracy sparingly’ to the performance of each of these three tasks. Relating these alternative designs to the politics of basic income, we show a correspondence between contrasting senses of using bureaucracy sparingly and ‘redistributive’ and ‘aggregative’ UBI models.
Wispelaere, Jurgen De and Lindsay Stirton, “The Politics of Unconditional Basic Income: Bringing Bureaucracy Back In,” Political Studies, Early View published online November 26, 2012.
[Wolfgang Müller – BI News]
The Austrian newspaper dieStandard.at published a report on the basic income pilot project in India, organised by the All India Federation of Self-Employment Women's Associations (SEWA) and financed by UNICEF.
DieStandard.at: “Armen-Grundeinkommen in der Testphase,” DieStandard.at, December 26, 2012
The report is in German and can be found here:
[BIEN – January 2013]
The first issue of the Citizen’s Income Newsletter (CIN) for 2013 is now available. The CIN is the newsletter of the Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT), BIEN’s affiliate in the United Kingdom. This issue includes an editorial, a research article, entitled “A rule-of-thumb basic income model for the UK, with and without an earnings/income disregard” (see below for more information), news, a report from the BIEN Congress of 2012, a research note, entitled, “a French microsimulation,” and book reviews of Simon Birnbaum, Basic income Reconsidered: Social justice, liberalism, and the demands of equality (reprinted on BI News) and Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky, How Much is Enough? The Love of Money, and the Case for the Good Life (reprinted on BI News).
Citizen’s Income Trust, Citizen’s Income Newsletter, Issue 1 2013
For more information about the CIN, contact the director of the CIT, Malcolm Torry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article argues that the United Kingdom’s proposed “Universal Credit” fails largely because it fails to be universal enough. If it was structured more like the UK’s child benefit system, it could be more effective and more of a step toward a Citizen’s (or Basic) Income.
Citizen’s Income Trust, “Editorial,” Citizen’s Income Newsletter, Issue 1 2013.
This book argues
against the change of income distribution in the last decades (“the great redistribution
from bottom to top”), but it also reject the basic income as a solution.
Flassbeck, Heiner, Friederike Spiecker, Volker Meinhardt and Dieter Vesper (2012), Frankfurt, Westend. Irrweg Grundeinkommen: Die große Umverteilung von unten nach oben muss beendet warden [The Basic Income Aberration: The Great Redistribution from Bottom to Top Must be Ended], Frankfurt, Germany: Westend.
A critical review of this book entitled Kein Irrweg [no abberation] is online in German is at:
A translation of that review into English is online at:
[USBIG – Dec 2012]
In this article, James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, endorse a fee-and-dividend approach to greenhouse gas emissions reduction. This approach includes a small basic income.
Hansen, James, “Storms of My Grandchildren’s Opa.” Columbia.edu, December 13, 2012
This op-ed piece argues that a good solution to global warming is to cap carbon emissions, auction off the rights to them, and distribute the revenue as a dividend (sort of a carbon-based basic income).
Howard, Michael W. “Want the public to heed global warming threats? Cap carbon emissions, pay dividends to everyone,” Bangor Daily News, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012
[USBIG – December 2012]
Summary, “A low risk politically acceptable and practical way to resolve the world debt crisis without sudden or radical change to the world’s financial system is presented. It is worked out for conditions in New Zealand. Applicable to any economy, it includes the introduction of Universal Basic Income (UBI), Debt Jubilee Income (DJI), and “Quantitative Easing” and takes non-debtors’ interests equitably into account. Three administrative institutions are introduced: A national debt management authority (NDMA), A national public development fund (NPDF), A national public investment trust account (NPITA). The UBI and the DJI are structured to avoid inflation by matching incomes with the physical and human resources available to the economy.”
In English, with French translation available.
Manning, Lowell, “The Manning plan for permanent debt reduction in the national economy,” Integrated development.org. September 11, 2012
[USBIG – December 2012]
Summary, “This paper offers a practical plan to resolve the world’s problem of exponential debt growth and to control inflation. The plans are based on a revision of the well-known Fisher Equation of exchange enabling it to take account of interest-bearing debt. They are designed to ensure that no low or middle income group in the community is worse off than it is now. The plan involves introducing a guaranteed minimum income (GMI) for each person in the country to replace the existing welfare system. The GMI can be funded on an income-positive basis by phasing out existing welfare transfer payments, by realigning existing tax thresholds and by introducing a wealth tax of 1% of all net assets. This paper shows that a fair result is produced using a flat tax of 41.5% on all earned income.”
In English, with French translation available.
Manning, Lowell, “How to introduce a guaranteed minimum income in New Zealand,” Integrated development.org. August 8, 2012
[BIEN – January 2013]
This article demonstrates how a BI scheme can be designed to fulfill a set of stated objectives according to given priorities, such as redistribution, poverty prevention, work incentives, and so on. It provides a simple, illustrative model, with partial and full BIs set at proportions 25 percent and 50 percent respectively of mean income. It finds that there is a variety of potential levels for the partial BIs without increasing the standard rate of income tax. This offers a remarkable degree of flexibility. And it demonstrates that even fairly generous BI schemes are economically feasible in the UK.
Miller, Anne G. “A rule-of-thumb basic income model for the UK, with and without an earnings/income disregard: Design and cost your own Basic Income scheme,” Citizen’s Income Newsletter, Issue 1 2013.
This article reports on and discusses the political implications of a recent publication by the Center for Global Development, Rodríguez, José Pedro L., R. Morales, and Francisco J. Monaldi “Direct Distribution of Oil Revenues in Venezuela: A Viable Alternative?” (see above). Both articles discuss direct distribution of Venezuela’s oil revenue to its citizens in cash.
O'Grady, Mary Anastasia , “How to Break the Tyranny of Oil Wealth: If Chávez believes the nation's oil billions belong to the people, why not give it to them directly?” The Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2013
[USBIG – January 2013]
“As ideas of employment become more obscure and desperate, 2013 is the perfect time to ask what it means to live without it.” This article mentions the campaign for a citizens income in response to increasing job insecurity and low pay.
Power, Nina “What might a world without work look like?,” The Guardian,
Thursday 3 January 2013:
In this paper, Pedro L. Rodríguez, José R. Morales, and Francisco J. Monaldi ask whether the direct and automatic distribution of oil rents to citizens is a viable option in Venezuela. Government accountability there has weakened as oil revenues have been diverted more and more to toward discretionary spending channels. Would direct distribution improve accountability? What do citizens think about the approach? The authors confront these questions, focusing on the fiscal contract between citizens and their government.
Rodríguez, José Pedro L., R. Morales, and Francisco J. Monaldi (2012) “Direct Distribution of Oil Revenues in Venezuela: A Viable Alternative?” Center for Global Development Working Paper no. 306, September 14
[USBIG – December 2012]
This commentary argues that Alaska should change the formula
for calculating its yearly Permanent Fund Dividend (Alaska’s basic income) to
create more stable dividend payments.
Widerquist “Commentary: Let's change the way Alaska Permanent Fund pays dividends,” the Alaska Dispatch, December 5, 2012
Gary Flomenhoft, “QE3 PLUS!” Vermont Commons, Wed, 12/05/2012
[USBIG – December 2012]
This blog on Quantitative Easing 3 (QE3) argues that a temporary basic income would be much more equitable and effective way to stimulate the U.S. economy. Flomenhoft finds that the $85 billion per month the Fed is buying mortgage debt and treasury bonds could finance a basic income of $270 per person per month or $3240 per year. It’s online at:
[USBIG – December 2012]
Edited by Johan Nygren, “BipedalJoe,” this website has a large number of articles related to basic income. It’s online at:
You can contact the editor, Johan Nygren <email@example.com>
[USBIG – December 2012]
This website describes itself as providing, “Self-financing, ecological, sustainable, local integrated development projects for the world’s poor” and “a model for development with creative practical solutions to poverty reduction.” The website includes several papers on debt reform, some of which involve a basic income.
Staatsbuergersteuer is a tax
system that incorporates a basic income. Joachim Mitschke
and Bernd Starkloff are the coauthors of Staatsbuergersteuer, which released its first publication
more than 40 years ago. The system incorporates the concept of Buergergeld, a negative income tax, comparable to Basic
Income along with other ideas. Their website (available only in German), is
An English-language abstract of the system is online at: http://www.staatsbuergersteuer.de/abstract.htm
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
OpenOil is an energy and transparency consultancy based in Berlin. They are modelling a policy proposal to model a universal cash distribution in 20-30 countries around the world to replace fossil fuel subsidies and are looking for research partners at field level, to help increase the stock of information about current energy use patterns.
[USBIG – January 2013]
The website of Young Greens (the youth and student branch of the Green Party in the United Kingdom) includes a discussion of basic income. According to the website, The Green Party would introduce a Citizen’s Income that would:
1. Guarantee that everyone’s basic needs are covered by a non means-tested weekly payment, as of right.
2. Replace benefits such as Job Seeker’s Allowance, as well as replacing personal tax-free allowances with a payment which is worth much more.
3. Ensure that anyone who takes paid work will be better off for doing so.
4. Make working part-time an option for many people who would prefer it, but who are currently discouraged from it.
5. Put an end to demeaning benefits procedures.
6. Act as a safety-net to those considering self-employment, so that they have less to fear if their business isn’t successful.
It’s online at:
[USBIG - Janaury 2013]
This TEDx Talk discusses BIG under the name, Citizen Dividend: “Why can’t Nigeria be like Norway? With 20 years experience in and around the oil industry journalist and consultant Johnny West claims a simple policy tool, that can switch the situation of countries in which natural resources are produced and which, as a consequence, suffer from conflicts, war and corruption.”
West, Johnny: "Give It Back! Oil and the Smart Citizen
Dividend," TEDx Talk, Berlin 2011: http://www.tedxberlin.de/tedxberlin-2011-johnny-west-give-it-back-oil-and-the-smart-citizen-dividend
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
The USBIG NewsFlash
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Copyeditor: Mike Murray and the USBIG Committee
Research: Paul Nollen
Special help on this issue was provided by: Steve Shafarman, Geoff Crocker, Jurgen de Wispelaere, Gary Flomenhoft, Jeff Smith, and Alanna Hartzok.
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.
-Karl Widerquist, editor