USBIG NewsFlash Vol. 14, No. 68, Spring 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.>
A. INDIA: Results of Basic Income pilot project to be
evaluated at a conference in Delhi, May 30-31, 2013
B. EUROPEAN UNION: Citizens Initiative for Basic Income
C. ITALY: 50,000 signatures in favor of a Guaranteed Minimum Income delivered to the lower house of the Italian Parliament
D. ALASKA: New Debate Over the Future of the Alaska Dividend as the State Gives Tax Break to Oil Companies
E. ALASKA: Permanent Fund Hits New High and its Dividend Hits New Low
F. FINLAND: Campaign for basic income launched
G. NAMIBIA: BIG Advocate says pilot project less likely to be restarted but hopeful that the government will introduce BIG after the next election
H. ITALY: 5 Star Movement and the confusing proposal of a citizen's income
I. OREGON: Proposed amendment to state constitution would create a small basic income
J. INTERNATIONAL: The BIG Movement
K. ALASKA: Legislature Create Jay Hammond Day Honoring the Father of the Alaska Dividend (Alaska’s Basic Income)
L. LATIN AMERICA: Latin American Parliament passes basic income draft law
Basic income is a regular unconditional cash grant paid to all citizens without any means test or work requirement. It’s often dismissed as a utopian idea.
However, a basic income, or something very close to it, exists today in Alaska. It’s called the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) or sometimes “the Alaska Dividend.”
The PFD has been paying annual dividends to Alaskans since 1982 with no conditions except citizenship, residency, and the willingness to fill out a form. After following the Alaska Dividend since 1999, and I want to share six lessons that supporters of progressive economic policy should learn from what I call “the Alaska model,” but first some basic background.
In 1956, Alaska ratified a constitution recognizing joint ownership of unoccupied land and natural resources. In 1967, North America’s largest oil reserve was discovered in state owned areas on Alaska’s North Slope. In 1976, a state referendum created the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF), a portfolio of diversified assets, into which the government would invest a small part of the state’s oil revenue each year as a way to turn the temporary stream of oil money into permanent wealth. Back then, the state had no plan for what to do with the APF. In 1982, the state government finally decided to distribute part of the returns from that fund as a yearly dividend, and the Alaska model was born. The APF continues to rise with yearly deposits from oil revenue, and it goes up and down with the financial markets.
The PFD is derived from the returns of the APF’s investments. With some effort to smooth out the ups and downs, the dividend fluctuates with the markets. In 2008, the dividend (plus a onetime supplement of $1,200) reached a high of $3,269, which comes to $16,345 for a family of five. After the financial meltdown of 2008, the dividend has declined, reaching $878 per year in 2012. That’s still $4,390 for a family of five. Now that world markets have come back, the APF recently reach a new high of $46 billion. Higher dividends are likely to follow in a few years.
The APF and PFD are not perfectly designed, but they are an important and innovative example of democratic wealth existing in the world today. The APF is community-owned wealth invested in the private economy. The PFD converts some of the returns to that wealth into democratically distributed income. Together, the Alaska model is something, from which we can learn, and on which we can improve. An unconditional cash dividend of $4,000 to $16,000 per year for a family of five is significant for everyone except for the wealthiest people, and it is extremely significant for people living at the margins. It has helped Alaska maintain one of the lowest poverty rates in the United States. It has helped Alaska become one of the most economically equal of all 50 states. And during the 1990s and 2000s it helped Alaska become the only US state in which equality rose rather than fell. Alaska is doing something right, and the dividend is a part of it. Here are the six lessons from the Alaska model.
1. Resource dividends work and they’re popular
At a time when conditional social policies are under attack across the industrialized world, the Alaska Dividend continues to be extremely popular. It is sometimes called “the third rail of Alaska politics,” implying any politician who touches it dies. In 1999, a ballot initiative proposed diverting funds from the APF was rejected by more than 80 percent of Alaska voters. Think about that. It’s hard to get 80 percent of people to vote the same way on anything. But here we have 80 percent of Alaskans voting for a policy that fights poverty and promotes equality.
2. You don’t have to be resource rich to have a resource dividend.
It’s easy dismiss anything connected with Alaskan oil is an aberration, something possible only because of Alaska’s enormous windfall. But there are three reasons why nearly any political community can do what Alaska has done:
First, Alaska isn’t unusually rich. Oil transformed it from one of the poorer to one of the wealthier U.S. states, but Alaska is only the tenth richest of the states with a per capita GDP of about $42,000—only $2,500 higher than the national average. Alaska has no greater financial means than many other states and nations.
Second, the entire dividend is financed by only a small fraction of Alaska’s resource wealth. The APF is supported almost exclusively by taxes on a single resource, oil. Alaska’s taxes on oil are very low by international standards. And the state devotes only a small portion of that revenue to the APF. If Alaska devoted, say half of its potential resource revenue to the APF, the PFD could easily be five to ten times what it is now.
Third, every country, state, and region has resources—extremely valuable resources—but we don’t think of them the way we do of gas and oil because we’re so used to governments giving them away to corporations who sell them back at a profit and pay very little in taxes. Recent estimates by Gary Flomenhoft show that a resource-poor state, Vermont, could support a dividend two- to five-times larger than the PFD, if it made judicious use of resource taxes. The most resource-poor countries in the world are probably Hong Kong and Singapore, where millions of people are crowded together on a little island, and they have to import almost all their consumption goods. But these countries have fabulously valuable real estate. I wouldn’t be surprised if a tax on Singapore’s land could support something much larger than the Alaska Dividend. For the most part, the difference between being “resource rich” and “resource poor” is the difference between having the kind of resources states usually tax and the kind they usually give away for free.
3. Look for opportunities
Alaskans don’t have the dividend because they are resource-rich. They have it because some smart Alaskans took advantage of the opportunity. Common resources are being privatized all the time all over the planet. We could tax privatized resources, but the easiest place to start is at the moment of privatization. Every new well that’s drilled is an opportunity to assert community control of resources. So is every new mine that’s dug, every new reserve that’s discovered, every new smokestack that seeks to use the atmosphere as a garbage dump.
Less obvious opportunities are just as real. The US government recently gave away a huge portion of the broadcast spectrum to private companies for digital television broadcasting. If they had auctioned off leases to the highest bidder, they would have created a stream of income worth billions of dollars every year as long as broadcast exists. That was an enormous lost opportunity. Today, increased awareness about the need to do something about global warming is another opportunity. Two strategies currently being discussed, “tax and dividend” and “cap and dividend,” would make polluters pay for the damage they do to the environment and return the proceeds to everyone as a dividend. Opportunities are all around, if we look for them.
4. Think like an owner. Think like a monopolist. Think like Johnny Carson
There is a danger in the Alaska model. If everybody gets paid when we privatize resources, they might want to privatize more resources and allow more damage to the environment. The solution to this problem is that once the community demands fees for the use of its resources, it asserts ownership of those resources. Once members of the community begin to think of themselves as the owners of their environment, new opportunities open up. The community is the owner; government is the broker; business is the hired help. The owner sets the terms of rental. They can allow private exploitation of their property only with strong environmental protections attached. The right to compensation is only one of the rights of ownership—along with it comes the right to manage, regulate, and restrict access. Receiving payment for resources helps the members of the community think of themselves as joint owners of the environment with the power to insist that tenants be good stewards of the environment.
Once members of the community start to think of themselves as owners of the community’s resources, they need to realize that, as a group, they have a monopoly over those resources. Monopolists don’t sell all they can at bargain prices. They restrict supply, selling less to get higher prices. Once we think about maximizing profit from resources, big corporations can forget about bargain deals.
But we should not think like just any monopolist. We should think like Johnny Carson. Who? In the 1970s, Johnny Carson hosted the most popular talk show on American television. Because he could have gone to any network and brought his audience with him, he demanded and got a salary that made him the highest paid entertainer in the world, but he didn’t stop there. He gradually demanded more vacation time, eventually getting something like four months per year. Then, he decided to reduce his weekly workload by one day. So he worked four days a week, eight months a year, and he was still the highest paid entertainer in the world. Johnny Carson realized that his time was valuable not only when sold, but also when unsold. As monopoly owners of the commons who think of our environment the way Johnny Carson thought of his time, we could have more money coming in while we also secure larger parks, more nature reserves, less pollution, and better resource management.
5. Build a constituency
The feeling of shared ownership is one of the reasons resource dividends tend to be so popular once they’re in place. They build a large constituency who will defend the policy when attacked. Talking to Alaskans reveals a greater sense of ownership of Alaska’s oil reserves than of other state property and a greater sense of ownership of the APF than of the state’s oil reserves.
Another way way to build a constituency is through universal rather than targeted policies. It is easy for politicians to single out the recipients of targeted programs, because they are a relatively small and marginalized group, but a dividend, large enough to make a difference for the majority of the population, is much safer from attack.
A third way to build a constituency is to make policy significant. Insignificant gimmicky programs might be easier to pass, but they are also easier to cut when a less favorable administration comes into power. If a politician proposed cutting the Alaska Dividend, all Alaskans would face losing $1,000–$2,000 a year for the rest of their lives. Whether that politician was promising a tax cut or some other spending program, they would put a universal constituency of Alaskans in the position where they would sacrifice something very significant for the uncertainty that the replacement will be delivered. Alaskans care about the PFD because it makes a difference in their lives.
6. Avoid creating an opposition
Just as some policies create larger constituencies than others, some create greater opposition than others. Policies, such as the minimum wage and rent control, put most of their burden on one, specific, easily identifiable group who will probably fight the program as long as it exists. Even if financed by broad-based income tax, targeted redistribution can create an opposition if a significant number of taxpayers see it as something they’re unlikely to need.
The APF and PFD have virtually no opposition. No one has
reason to feel burdened by their creation and continued existence. It’s just a
pile of money that the state happens to own. No one feels infringed by it. Of
course, the APF is created and continually enlarged by taxes on the oil
industry, and they do try to lower their tax burden as much as they can. But
they have much harder time making complaint to the public. Opposing oil
royalties is like complaining that they have to pay a price for steel, trucks,
or ships. It doesn’t make sense to complain about what is obviously an
unavoidable cost of doing business. That’s just the way of the world. In
Alaska, Norway, and some other places, the state owns the oil fields. Anyone
who wants to drill must pay. And now that’s
the way of the world. A good solid policy can change the way the world works.
-Karl Widerquist, Doha, Qatar, April 24, 2013
This essay was originally published as, “The Alaska Model: a citizen's income in practice,” Karl Widerquist Our Kingdom: Power & Liberty in Britain, 24 April 2013 (http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/karl-widerquist/alaska-model-citizens-income-in-practice) and it was reposted on the Basic Income Blog on May 25, 2013 (http://usbig.net/bigblog/2013/05/six-lesson-from-the-alaska-model/). It is heavily based from a chapter by Karl Widerquist and Michael W. Howard in Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend: Examining its Suitability as a Model. The author owes a big thanks to Michael W. Howard.
– April 2013]
Since 2010, three overlapping pilot schemes have been testing how unconditional cash grants could be expected to work in India. Altogether, over 6,000 individuals have been receiving monthly cash grants, including all men, women and children of nine villages in Madhya Pradesh.
A public conference at which the evaluations of those pilots will be presented will take place at the Indian International Centre Conference Hall, New Delhi, on May 30-31, 2013.
The Minister of Rural Development, Jairam Ramesh, will open the Conference, along with Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chair of the National Planning Commission. The Minister is also the Cabinet Minister in charge of rolling out cash transfers across India. Other very senior government and international agency dignitaries, from the UN, World Bank and so on, will also be participating. Officials from various government departments, academics and social activists are expected to attend, as are representatives of the media.
The largest of the pilots was based on a randomised control trial methodology (RCT). In this, a random sample of 8 villages in Madhya Pradesh was selected, where every man, woman and child received individually a monthly cash benefit each month for 17 months, with the money for each child going to the mother or surrogate mother if she was dead or absent.
To evaluate the impact on health, schooling and so on, 12 other similar villages were drawn as a control group, in which nobody received the transfers. To assess the effects, a series of evaluation surveys were designed, beginning with a baseline census of all households in all 20 villages undertaken just before the launch of the cash payments.
Having done a listing of all households and individuals living in the villages and the baseline census, an Awareness Day was held in each of the 8 villages chosen to receive the cash grants. This involved a mass meeting of villagers, when our local team informed the villagers that they would be receiving the money, that it would be unconditional and paid universally, and that nobody would intervene to say how the money could or should be spent or used.
All recipients were required to open a bank account or a cooperative account within three months of receiving the first payment, which was handed out on formal registration. After that, the money was paid directly into their accounts. Initially, every adult was to receive 200 Rupees per month and every child under the age of 14 was to receive 100. This was later modified to be 300 Rupees and 150 Rupees respectively.
After nine months, an Interim Evaluation Survey (IES) was conducted in all 20 villages, covering all the subjects on which we had hypothesised there would be an impact on status, behaviour and attitudes. The IES covered a random sample of households, and gave a special focus to issues of implementation and “financial inclusion”.
After 12 months, a Final Evaluation Survey (FES) was conducted, which was a full census of all households and individuals in the 20 villages. After the pilot ended, a Post-FES survey was conducted, mainly to obtain personal impressions of the experience and the impact on the disabled, adolescents and the elderly, groups often neglected in such schemes.
of the MPUCT pilot was a design intended to test the following general
hypothesis, that cash grants have a series of positive effects but that the
presence of a Voice mechanism in the community would make some effects more
pronounced. Accordingly, half the villages selected for cash grants had SEWA
already established in them, half did not; and the control villages were also
split into half having SEWA, half not.
The series of evaluation surveys were complemented by some detailed case studies. And a Community Survey was conducted in the villages at the beginning and end of the experiment.
The other two pilots were smaller-scale. A sample of 450 low-income households in western Delhi were offered the alternative options of either continuing to receive subsidised food and kerosene in the ration shops or switch to receiving cash grants equivalent to the monetary value of those rations.
The third pilot was in a tribal village in Madhya Pradesh. In this case, for 12 months, every man, woman and child received a cash benefit of 300 Rupees, if an adult, and 150 if a child. For comparisons, a similar tribal village was chosen as a control group. As in the larger pilot in Madhya Pradesh, a baseline census was followed by an Interim Evaluation Survey and a Final Evaluation Survey.
The main objective of the evaluations was to determine the effects on such crucial developments as living conditions, including sanitation, health, nutrition, schooling, work, labour and production, consumption, savings and debt, women’s status and decision-making roles, and the effects for socially disadvantaged groups, including scheduled castes and the disabled.
The project has been coordinated by SEWA, the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India, working in collaboration with Professor Guy Standing, of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and with others who have made important contributions. The pilots have been funded mostly by UNICEF, New Delhi, which has seen it as a research project that could advance the debate on cash transfers in India and elsewhere.
The Conference will be open to the media. A variety of proponents and opponents of “cash transfers” are being invited, and there will be special sessions on all the crucial subject areas, such as nutrition, health, schooling and economic production.
An Op-Ed piece on the study by Guy Standing appeared in the Hindu newspaper. It is online at: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/sewa-model-shows-cash-transfers-work/article4262718.ece
A short video of initial results can be seen on the following:
Further details could be obtained from SEWA (Renana Jhabvala or Sarath Davala) or Professor Guy Standing (firstname.lastname@example.org). Provisional findings could also be provided, if interested.
[Robin Ketelaars – Vereniging Basisinkomen (the
Netherlands) – April 2013]
At the start of this year the European Union (EU) registered the European Citizens’ Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income. Fifteen EU member states are participating in this initiative. Before January 14th 2014 one million statements of support have to be collected for the initiative to pass. When the organizers of the citizens’ initiative reach this number, the European Commission will have to examine the initiative and arrange a public hearing for the Unconditional Basic Income by the European Parliament.
The initiative can be found at http://basicincome2013.eu and can only be signed by citizens of the European Union.
A YouTube Video explaining the initiative is online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqXXO0GGNRI
[BIN-Italia – April 2013]
On the 15th of April, 2013 more than 50,000 signatures gathered for the campaign to propose a popular initiative bill on guaranteed minimum income in Italy were delivered to the lower house of the Italian Parliament. A delegation of the 170 associations involved in the campaign met the newly elected President of the lower house, Laura Boldrini.
Before meeting the President of the lower house, the delegation met also some MPs of Partito Democratico (Democratic Party), SEL – Sinistra Ecologia Libertą (Left Ecology Freedom) and Movimento 5 Stelle (5 Star Movement) who came out of the Parliament to express their willingness to bring the discussion on a guaranteed minimum income into the lower house. In front of journalists and media photographers they grabbed the boxes containing the signatures as a symbolic gesture and declared to be in favour of a bill on guaranteed minimum income.
A few days before delivering the signatures, the associations involved in the campaign launched a call to the new elected MPs for approval of the guaranteed minimum income bill. The call highlighted the increasingly alarming conditions of precarious workers and unemployed in Italy and demanded that MPs who during the electoral campaign put on their agenda measures addressing citizens’ economic conditions to take a stance on this issue, back this proposal, and support the necessity of introducing a right to guaranteed income.
An article (in Italian) by the Italian journalist Roberto Ciccarelli about the delivery of the petition is online at: http://www.bin-italia.org/informa.php?ID_NEWS=485
The call to elect new MPs, entitled '#Just Approve it! More than 50,000 people have already done it!', is on line (in Italian) at: http://www.bin-italia.org/informa.php?ID_NEWS=470
For more information go to the Basic Income Italia website: http://www.bin-italia.org/
The state of Alaska has given the big oil companies
something they’ve spent the last several years lobbying for—an enormous
tax cut. Oil companies have argued that they must have lower taxes to make it
worthwhile to keep investing in the state, and they have have supported their
arguments with generous campaign contributions. Opponents of tax breaks for oil
companies have argued that there are better ways to incentivize the oil
companies to invest more and that at the very least any tax breaks should be tied
to increased investment.
Oil company arguments have won the day. According to the New York Times, the legislature passed and the governor signed a law that will reduce taxes by an estimated $750 million per year from now on. The tax cut comes with no responsibility on the part of the oil companies to actually increase their investment in Alaska.
Alaska’s basic income—the Permanent Fund Dividend—is not directly affected by the oil tax cuts because the Alaska Permanent Fund, which finances the dividend, is directly financed by a dedicated portion of the state’s oil revenue, and that portion is unaffected by the cuts.
However, anything that puts greater financial pressure on the state, puts indirect financial pressure on the fund and dividend. Historically the state has occasionally used budget surpluses to add to the fund or the dividend. And if and when oil revenue becomes insufficient to fund state expenditure, the legislature will come under enormous financial pressure to redirect the returns of the fund from the dividend to the state’s operating budget. In fact one recent editorial has called for the state to do just that (see link below).
In response to the tax cut for the oil companies, Democrats in the state legislature, most of whom opposed the tax cut for the oil companies, have proposed a constitutional amended that would constitutionally protect the dividend in the same way that the state constitution projects the fund. The APF was created by an amendment specifying that the legislature could not spend the fund’s principle, only its yearly returns. The PFD, however, was created by ordinary legislation, and so the legislature retains the power to cancel the dividend and redirect the funds to some other use at any time.
If the proposed amendment is passed, it would require another constitutional amendment to redirect funds from the PFD to the regular state budget. In Alaska, a constitutional amendment requires a supermajority vote of both houses of the legislature and a direct vote of the people. The proposal probably has little chance of passing as a Democratic proposal in a Republican-controlled government.
For more on these issues, see the following articles:
Clifford Krauss, “To Reinvigorate Production, Alaska Grants a Tax Break to Oil Companies,” The New York Times, April 15, 2013
Mark Gnadt, “Alaska Native News: Democrats Push Permanent Fund Dividend Protection In Light Of Oil Giveaway,” Alaska Native News, 04/03/2013.
KTOO News Department, “Proposal would put PFD calculation in constitution,” KTOO-TV, April 3, 2013 at 6:45 pm
The Tolling Bell, “The Time May Be Right To End The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend,” The Tolling Bell: Economic, Business, Political, And Higher Education Food For The Mind, May 6, 2013
The Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) has reached an all-time in a
year in which Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) will probably reach its
lowest level since 1987. The PDF is Alaska’s small, variable, yearly basic
income. It’s financed by the returns of the APF. You’d think, then, that the
fund and the dividend financed by it would move up and down together. And they
do—on average, over the long-run, with a time-lag. But they don’t
necessarily move together in any particular year, and this year the difference
is extreme. The fund has risen to an all-time high of $45.5 billion, while the
dividend is likely to reach a 25-year low of barely more than $700.
One reason the fund and dividend don’t always move together is that new oil revenues deposited into the fund increase its size every year without directly affecting the dividend. Another is that the size of the dividend depends on how many Alaskans apply for it that year. But the main reason the fund and dividend often move in opposite directions has to do with the formula translating the returns of the fund into dividends.
The legislators who created the dividend choose a rather simplistic way to try to protect the fund from inflation and to smooth out returns to make the dividend less volatile than the fund’s returns. The fund is invested in stocks, bonds, real estate and other assets around the world. A fund like that can rise by 20% one year and decline by 20% the next—and it did nearly that in 2007-2009. Nobody wants to have a negative dividend, and so the state decided to smooth out the dividend by basing it on a 5-year average of returns to the fund. This strategy does make the dividend more stable than it would be if it was calculated solely on the returns in any one particular year, but it also makes the dividend a lagging indicator of the fund’s performance over the previous 5 years.
This year’s dividend calculation is the first one in five
years that doesn’t include the big returns of 2008 and last one that will
include the negative returns of 2009—experienced as the world stock
market bottomed out following the 2008 financial melt-down. As long as this
year’s returns are better than they were in 2009, next year’s dividend will be
substantially higher than this year’s. Some (very) preliminary estimates indicate
that the dividend could nearly double to about $1400 next year.
The state could make the dividend much less volatile by dropping the current formula based on 5-year-average returns and adopting a new formula based on percentage of market value (POMV). Under a POMV strategy, if the fund increases by 10 percent (say from $45 billion to $49.5 billion), the dividend increases by 10% (say from $1500 to $1650, and when the fund decreases by 10% (say from $45 billion to $40.5 billion), the dividend decreases by 10% (say from $1500 to $1350). Most investment managers agree that a well-managed fund can pay out at least 4% of market value each year and still expect the fund to grow on average in real terms over time. Such a formula would be much simpler and more stable than the current system in which the dividend can double while the fund increases by only 10%.
-Karl Widerquist, Lowfield, Morehead City, North Carolina, May 23, 2013
For more on the recent ups and downs of the fund and dividend, see the following three articles:
Jerzy Shedlock, “Alaskans' Permanent Fund dividend may shrink to less than $800 this year,” The Alaska Dispatch, March 30, 2013
Jerzy Shedlock, “Booming stock market helps Permanent Fund hit $45.5 billion,” Alaska Dispatch, March 31, 2013
Anchorage Daily News, “Alaska Permanent Fund hits all-time high,” Anchorage Daily News, February 20, 2013
Storlund - Suomen Perustuloverkosto (BIEN Finland) - February 2013]
On 1 February 2013 a campaign for an unconditional basic income was launched in Finland. This was a historic moment, as the possibility to present citizen’s initiatives is as new in Finland as the one in the European Union. There is one difference between the EU and Finnish citizens’ initiative. The EU citizens’ initiative is addressed to the Commission, whereas in Finland, it is the Parliament that will decide on the initiatives. So now the initiative has the opportunity to test Finnish citizens' democratic muscle. 50,000 signatures are required from a population of close to 5.5 million. The result of the first day was more than 3,100 electronic signatures and some 100 signatures on paper forms.
These are the central points in the Finnish initiative:
- A basic income should be introduced to an amount covering at least the present basic social security entitlements and it should be designed in such a way that it does not reduce the income or entitlements of low-income earners.
- The basic income should be seen as a citizen’s right to an income free of means testing.
- It would secure means necessary for a life of dignity as required both by the Finnish Constitution and international human rights conventions.
- It would secure a comprehensive income to all and in all situations, avoiding thereby that groups of people would be excluded from the social security systems. This is a requirement that has also been expressed by the Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee during the reform of the basic rights and liberties provisions embedded in the present constitution.
- It should be unconditional, paid automatically to all persons independently of other incomes or choices in life.
The initiative stresses the need for a basic income because of the structural uncertainties in the labour market, caused by the increase in short-term or part-time work as well as different forms of self-employment. In addition, there are increasing problems in combining different social security benefits based on need with other kinds of entitlements, income from work and entrepreneurship. Paid employment and the current social security do not offer sufficient continuity in income. Through a basic income, a more egalitarian and just welfare state can be created. On these grounds Finnish citizens demand that their MPs start preparing legislation for the introduction of a basic income.
As of February 2013, the initiative has 7,500 signatures.
The initiative at the campaign website: http://perustulo.org/kansalaisaloite-perustulosta/aloiteteksti/#en
According to AllAfrica.com, Uhuru Dempers, a supporter of
the Basic Income Grant (BIG) pilot project in Otjivero, Namibia said that the
BIG Coalition of Namibia is unlikely to be able to continue the project any
longer. The coalition maintained a BIG in this small town for nearly two years
and had hoped to keep it going until the government took it over or introduced
BIG nationwide. The coalition doesn’t have enough donors to do that, but
Dempers said that the prospects for BIG are likely to increase after the next
For more on this issue, see “Namibia: Big Idea Needs Some Tweaking” by Magreth Nunuhe, 27 February 2013, New Era, at: http://allafrica.com/stories/201302270751.html
[by Sabrina Del Pico – March 2013]
In January 2013, a few weeks before general elections, Beppe Grillo, the colourful leader of Movimento 5 Stelle - M5S (5 Star Movement) declared: “The first thing we will do, after entering the Parliament, is to introduce a citizen's income for those who lost their jobs or do not have a job”. During the campaign for the national Parliament M5S presented its agenda including 20 points, the second of which was what Beppe Grillo improperly called a citizen's income.
That term is usually used synonymously with the term basic income for an unconditional income given to all without any means test or work requirement. Grillo instead used it essentially as a new name for unemployment insurance conditional on readiness to accept a job if one becomes available. Grillo himself said in a recent interview (in Italian), "the employment offices will offer people one, two, three jobs. If they don't accept those jobs they will lose the benefit." He did not even clarify whether the job offer must be appropriate for the individual’s skills.
M5S won an astonishing victory. It emerged as Italy's biggest single party in the lower chamber with 8.7 million over, nearly a quarter of all votes cast. Its leader did not eat his words pronounced during the electoral campaign and went on talking about the introduction of a what he calls citizen's income as one of the most important actions to be taken.
If on the one hand, it is unprecedented that Italian mainstream politicians put on their agenda measures addressing citizens' economic conditions; on the other hand it added confusion to political language and therefore also to concepts and outcomes. See the link below for an article misunderstanding Grillo’s use of the term citizens income. M5S' proposal considers a measure that provides unemployed with Ř1000 a month for 3 years. It is a quite vague proposal as regards the implementation process but as one point: the measure is entirely conditional to availability for work or some kind of commitment to a reintegration trajectory. It is clear, therefore, that what they call a citizen's income is actually a kind of unemployment benefit, either contributory or non-contributory. This is not a mere linguistic issue. It actually hides – or reveals, according to the standpoint – an inadequate and shallow knowledge of welfare state policies by mainstream politics, which implies the risk to implement a workfare measure passed off as a basic income.
Nevertheless, this proposal opened a lively debate in the mainstream politics about the necessity to provide citizens facing economic problems with some kind of income support. Nearly all Italian political parties are now aware that the issue of introducing an income support scheme is an inescapable fact.
As a matter of fact, in July 2012, BIN Italia, along with many associations and grassroots organisations, already launched a campaign to propose a popular initiative bill on guaranteed minimum income in Italy. The campaign, which ended in December 2012, was a great success. It reached its target to collect 50,000 signatures, and therefore the popular initiative bill on guaranteed minimum income may not only represent an important contribution to the current debate but it may also help determine implementation and practical aspects of welfare reform in Italy.
The website, truthout.org, published a long article (in English) on M5S’s policy entirely under the misapprehension that M5S had endorsemed basic income: Ellen Brown, “QE for the People: Comedian Beppe Grillo's Populist Plan for Italy,” Truthout, Thursday, 07 March 2013: http://truth-out.org/news/item/14953-qe-for-the-people-comedian-beppe-grillos-populist-plan-for-italy
An article (in Italian) by Roberto Ciccarelli appears in Il Manifesto briefly explaining the difference between a basic income and the unemployment benefit particularly in the light of the latest statements made by main mainstream politicians. He clarifies the positions of Bersani (Democratic Party), Vendola (SEL Sinistra Ecologia Libertą - Left Ecology Freedom), and Grillo (M5S) as well as those of some grassroots organizations such as BIN Italia and San Precario. Ciccarelli is one of the few in the mainstream media to highlight the haziness of Grillo's proposal: http://www.ilmanifesto.it/area-abbonati/ricerca/nocache/1/manip2n1/20130302/manip2pg/06/manip2pz/336754/manip2r1/ciccarelli/
[USBIG – April 2013]
Oregon State Senator Chip Shields submitted a proposal to amend the state’s constitution, to a land tax and dividend. The official summary reads, “Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to establish land-value lease fee imposed on real market value of land with proceeds distributed pro rata to residents of state. Establishes Resident's Dividend Agency to administer collection of fee and distribution of dividend.” The bill was introduced on January 14, 2013, and referred to committee on Jan 18. No further action has been taken by the state so far.
The text of the amendment is online at: http://landru.leg.state.or.us/13reg/measures/sjr1.dir/sjr0016.intro.html
Sen. Chip Shields can be reached at: Sen.ChipShields@state.or.us
[Aynur Bashirova – BI News – April 2013]
“The BIG Movement” is a global grassroots movement that aims to raise awareness about the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) through a network of project teams, public events, and media channels. It has a website and a Facebook page. It is currently sponsoring a petition and recruiting members. It held a virtual meeting online on December 30, 2012 in which the following issues were discussed: Goals of the movement, website structure & functionality, and TeamSpeak server setup. The meeting decided to focus in on one central goal, “To raise awareness of Basic Income through a network of project teams, public events, and media channels.”
If you’re interested in the BIG Movement, it can be found online at these two places: Webpage: http://www.thebigmovement.org/
Facebook page: http://www.thebigmovement.org/2013/01/02/like-this-facebook-page-the-big-movement
According to the Associated Press, the Alaska Legislature
approved a measure to designate July 21 as Jay Hammond Day. As governor of
Alaska from 1974 to 1982, Jay Hammond was instrumental in the creation of the
Alaska Permanent Fund in 1976 and of the Permanent Fund Dividend in 1982. The
Dividend is Alaska’s basic income, given out as a yearly dividend varying in
size depending on stock market returns over recent years. Alaska probably would
have had the Permanent Fund with one of many other politicians in office as
governor, but the Dividend is very unlikely to have happened with Hammond’s
eight years of campaigning and lobbying for it.
For news stories about the creation of Jay Hammond Day, go to:
[USBIG – April 2013]
The Latin American Parliament [Parlamento Latino Americano], approved a “Draft Basic Income Framework Law” at its meeting on November 30th, 2012 in Panama City. The Latin American Parliament is transnational party similar to the European Parliament. The draft law was presented as a model for all the parliaments of all 23 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.
For more on the draft law see Eduardo Suplicy’s recent commentary: http://www.usbig.net/papers/Palestra%20USBIG2013_English.doc
[USBIG – April 2013]
This special issue of Homo Oeconomicus, edited by Ao Yumin and Ulrich Steinvorth, requests submission of papers answering questions such as:
Š What are the reasons to demand a basic income?
Š What would be the consequences of its introduction?
Š What are the reasons or motives to reject or distrust it?
Š Can, or how far can, basic income counteract unemployment?
Š Should it, or how far should it, promote a life independent of salaried jobs?
Š What kind of activities should basic income promote or can it be expected to promote?
Š What should be the amount of basic income?
Š What are alternatives to basic income?
Š What can established institutions of basic income tell us about its future and possibilities?
Papers can be written both in an academic and in a more popular style accessible to a broader public and apt to impact the public opinion. Proposals are to be sent to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org The deadline for the papers, which must be preceded by an abstract, are expected for December 1st, 2013.
Homo Oeconomicus, is online at: http://www.homooeconomicus.org/
Some news on how to access full text versions of articles
published by Basic Income Studies (BIS) on the website of our new publisher,
Individual users with already existing accounts at the DeGruyter site can use the token “newusercredits”. This token can be entered in the window popping up when a user chooses a BIS article and clicks on “Get Access to Full Text”.
For new users ... DeGruyter is planning to include the BIS as part of a free access promotional package of 11 journals. When this promotion is launched, all BIS articles will be freely accessible for every new user registering (i.e. creating a new account) on www.degruyter.com.
For technical reasons, current registered users with DeGruyter will have to use the token as outlined above in order to access full text articles.
LIBRARY ACCESS: If you have access to a library that subscribes to Basic Income Studies, this of course is another means of accessing the journal. If the library at your institution or organization does not yet subscribe to BIS, please suggest that they do so!
If you are having access problems to BIS, please contact email@example.com
This special issue, guest-edited by Michael Lewis, features
a debate on whether it would be better for government to guarantee a job or an
income. It features articles by Philip Harvey, Guy Standing, Michael Lewis, Eri
Noguchi, and Pavlina Tcherneva (see more information below).
The debate is online at: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/bis.2013.7.issue-2/issue-files/bis.2013.7.issue-2.xml
“Introduction to the Special Issue on the? Right to Work and Basic Income”
Lewis, Michael A. Page 1-2
Published Online: 12/31/2012
“As I write these lines, the US economy is about 4 years out of the Great Recession of 2008–2009. Yet, unemployment is estimated to be at a stubbornly high 7.8% and the poverty rate is around 15%. That is, an estimated 12.2 million people are currently unemployed and about 46.2 million are living in poverty. … The two economists whose articles are featured in this special issue take fundamentally different approaches to these problems…”
“More for Less: The Job Guarantee Strategy”
Harvey, Philip. Page 3
Published Online: 12/31/2012
Abstract: The cost and effectiveness of a basic income guarantee and a job guarantee (combined with conventional transfer payments) are compared with respect to their ability to eliminate poverty and unemployment. It is argued that a BI guarantee provided in the form preferred by most advocates of the idea (a universal basic income grant or equivalent negative income tax) would be both more costly and less effective than a job guarantee—if the latter is properly designed to secure the right to work and income security recognized in in the Universal Declaration of Human Right. It is further argued that the job guarantee strategy configured in this way also would do more to promote the real freedom goals of the basic income advocacy movement.
“Why a Basic Income Is Necessary for a Right to Work”
Standing, Guy. Page 19
Published Online: 12/31/2012
Abstract: This article makes the proposition that a right to work can only exist if an individual has a prior right to a basic income. It criticizes the perspective that maximizing the number of jobs is a meaningful way of advancing the right to work, since activity in subordinated labour is scarcely consistent with a freedom-enhancing right to work. In recalling the historical right to practise an occupation, it rejects the notion of a “job guarantee”, as neither feasible nor desirable in a free society or as part of a progressive vision of a Good Society.
“Cost, Compensation, Freedom, and the Basic Income – Guaranteed Jobs Debate”
Lewis, Michael A. Page 41
Published Online: 12/31/2012
Abstract: In this volume Harvey argues that guaranteeing people the right to work would be a better policy approach than guaranteeing people an unconditional basic income. This is because a guaranteed job would provide many of the benefits that a basic income would but at far lower cost. I argue that Harvey’s analysis of the relative cost differences between guaranteeing one a job or an income is misleading if not flat out wrong in some places. I also argue that there is one benefit that BI could promote that his jobs strategy, at least as presented in the paper in this volume, could not – the right of an able-bodied person to lead the kind of life they desire even if they desire not to sell their labor.
“The Cost-Efficiency of a Guaranteed Jobs Program: Really? A Response to Harvey”
Noguchi, Eri. Page 52
Published Online: 12/31/2012
Abstract: Responding to Harvey’s argument that a Guaranteed Jobs program would be more cost-efficient than a Guaranteed Income program, this paper points out several costs related to the latter that are not included in Harvey’s cost comparisons, mostly related to the administrative costs of operating a Guaranteed Jobs Program, which tends to be much more complex and high maintenance. This paper also points out that the unemployment rate would shift in response to the program, and that some unnecessary jobs would most likely need to be created if the program is to guarantee a job for everyone. However, the paper concludes that the public projects imagined as part of a guaranteed jobs program have merit on their own grounds, and should not be dismissed.
“The Job Guarantee: Delivering the Benefits That Basic Income Only Promises – A Response to Guy Standing”
Tcherneva, Pavlina R. Page 66
Published Online: 12/31/2012
Abstract: The present article offers three critiques of the universal basic income guarantee (BIG) proposal discussed by Standing in this volume. First, there is a fundamental tension between the way income in a monetary production economy is generated, the manner in which BIG wishes to redistribute it, and the subsequent negative impact of this redistribution on the process of income generation itself. The BIG policy is dependent for its existence on the very system it wishes to undermine. Second, the macroeconomic effects of BIG on contemporary economies that use modern money are destabilizing. The job guarantee (JG), by contrast, stabilizes both the macro-economy and the currency while helping transform the nature of work itself. Finally, the employment safety-net in Standing’s piece is not an accurate representation of the modern JG proposals – a confusion which this paper aims to remedy.
is a collection of essays by several authors assessing the need for and
prospects of basic income in Latin America. It is edited by Ruben Lo Vuolo.
According to the publisher, “Social protection systems in Latin America
developed in a fragmented manner, offering varying access to benefits and
benefit levels to population groups. In the context of widespread informal and
precarious work, social insurance institutions could only provide limited
coverage. In this context, progress toward a Citizen's Income policy in Latin
America depends on the possibility of reappraising its importance for an
integrated institutional system which promotes the empowerment and economic
independence of people. A Citizen's Income policy is not only a cash transfer
to alleviate poverty or a basic income for food. It is a basic right to improve
democracy and encourage a more autonomous development of people living in
profoundly unequal societies.”
Rubén M. Lo Vuolo is academic director and researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Public Policy (Centro Interdisciplinario para el Estudio de Políticas Públicas, Ciepp), Buenos Aires Argentina.
This book is part of Palgrave-Macmillan’s series “Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee.”
Lo Vuolo, Rubén. Citizen’s Income and Welfare Regimes in Latin America: From Cash Transfers to Rights. Palgrave Macmillan, January 2013. ISBN: 978-0-230-33821-0, ISBN10: 0-230-33821-6, 5.500 x 8.500 inches, 286 pages. $100.
Publisher’s book page: http://us.macmillan.com/citizensincomeandwelfareregimesinlatinamerica/Rub%C3%A9nLoVuolo
Publisher’s series page: http://us.macmillan.com/series/ExploringtheBasicIncomeGuarantee
Sheahen’s book, Basic Income Guarantee:
Your Right to Economic Security, released by Palgrave Macmillan in July of
2012 is now out on paperback for $28.00, less than a third the cost of the
hardcover ($100.00). This book is both an introduction to the basic income
guarantee and a series of arguments for it. This is the first book in Palgrave
Macmillan’s series (Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee) to be released on
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.”
Sheahen, Allan, Basic Income Guarantee: Your Right to Economic Security, Palgrave Macmillan, May 2013. ISBN: 978-1-137-34788-6, ISBN10: 1-137-34788-0, 5.500 x 8.500 inches, 220 pages. $28.00.
Publisher’s book page:
Publisher’s series page:
According to the publisher, “Freedom is commonly understood
in two different ways: the absence of restriction or interference (scalar
freedom) and the absence of slavery or oppression (status freedom). Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic
Income argues that philosophers have focused too much on scalar freedom and
proposes a theory of status freedom as effective control
self-ownership—simply, freedom as the power to say no. This exciting new
volume argues for and explores the implications of this theory of freedom. It
shows that most societies today put the poor in situations in which they lack
this crucial freedom, making them vulnerable to poverty, exploitation, and
injustice. Widerquist argues that the basic income guarantee is an appropriate
institution to help secure status freedom in a modern industrial society.”
Karl Widerquist is an associate professor in Political Philosophy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. This book is the first of two planned books examining a theory of justice he called “justice as the pursuit of accord.”
This book is part of Palgrave-Macmillan’s series “Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee.”
Widerquist, Karl, Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No, Palgrave Macmillan, March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-137-27472-4, ISBN10: 1-137-27472-7, 5.500 x
8.500 inches, 256 pages, $100.
Publisher’s book page:
Publisher’s series page:
A Kindle Edition is available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Independence-Propertylessness-Basic-Income-Exploring/dp/1137274727/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1369254360&sr=8-5&keywords=Widerquist
[BIEN – May 2013]
This book, released in 2011, is now available for free download as PDF. The hard copy is still available for Ř29.90. Philippe Van Parijs is one of the leading philosophers writing about basic income today. Many of the chapters in this book respond to his ideas about basic income. According to the publisher, “This book brings together fifty of today's finest thinkers. They were asked to let their imaginations run free to advance new ideas on a wide range of social and political issues. They did so as friends, on the occasion of Philippe Van Parijs's sixtieth birthday. Rather than restricting themselves to comments on his numerous writings, the authors engage with the topics on which he has focused his attention over the years, especially with the various dimensions of justice, its scope, and its demands. They discuss issues ranging from the fair distribution of marriage opportunities to the limits of argumentation in a democracy, the deep roots of inequality, the challenges to basic income and the requirements of linguistic justice. They provide ample food for thought for both academic and general readers.”
According to Noble Laureate, Amartya Sen, "A book of quick and sharp thoughts on a grand theme is a novel way of paying tribute to a leading philosopher. But it has worked beautifully here, both as a stimulating book of ideas on justice, and as a fitting recognition of the intellectual contributions of Philippe Van Parijs, who is one of the most original and most creative thinkers of our time. "
Gosseries, Axel and Yannick Vanderborght, (editrs) Arguing about justice: Essays for Philippe Van Parijs. Louvain-la-Neuve: UCL Presses, 2011
For a link to the PDF go to: http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.science.philosophy.region.europe/4125?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
For more info about the book, in hardcopy and PDF, go to: http://www.i6doc.com/fr/livre/?GCOI=28001100609230
[USBIG – May 2013]
Mike Alberti and Kevin C. Brown recently published two in-depth articles on the history of the guaranteed income movement in the United States. The first discusses the moment in the late 1960s and early 1970s that the guaranteed income was a widely-discussed policy proposal in the United States. During that period the U.S. conducted four pilot projects studying a guaranteed income and a (water-down) proposal to introduce a national guaranteed income passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin, only to fail narrowly in the Senate. The second article discusses the change in values that caused the guaranteed income to fall out of mainstream politics in the United States in the 1980s.
Remapping Debate is a news website with offices located in the Flatiron District of New York City. It is committed to original reporting. Sponsored by the Anti-Discrimination Center, Remapping Debate covers the full spectrum of domestic public policy issues.
Mike Alberti has worked for Remapping Debate since its launch, and is now its chief correspondent. Mike graduated with a B.A. in English from Vassar College in 2009. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin C. Brown is a staff reporter at Remapping Debate. He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Carnegie Mellon University. Kevin is also the creator and host of Remapping Debate’s “History for the Future” interview series, which he started in 2010 at WRCT-Pittsburgh. Email: email@example.com
FIRST ARTICLE: Alberti, Mike and Kevin C. Brown, “Guaranteed income’s moment in the sun,” Remapping Debate, April 24, 2013
SECOND ARTICLE: Alberti, Mike and Kevin C. Brown, “Loss of support for guaranteed income reflects radical shift in values,” Remapping Debate, April 24, 2013
[USBIG – May 2013]
The Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT) is the UK affiliate of BIEN. This issue of the CIT’s newsletter, the Citizen’s Income Newsletter contains news, book reviews, an editorial, an opinion piece, an in-depth article on cash transfers and basic income in India.
The Citizen’s Income Trust, Citizen’s Income Newsletter, 2013, issue 2: www.citizensincome.org
For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– May 2013]
This editorial argues that recent proposed changes in Britain’s tax and benefit system would have a more stimulative and beneficial effect on Britain’s economy if they were reformulated as a Citizens (or basic) Income.
The Citizen’s Income Trust, “Editorial: The 2013 budget,” 2013, issue 2: www.citizensincome.org
[USBIG – May 2013]
article discusses the problem of poverty in Indian and argues that recent basic
income pilot projects conducted in India show how the country would benefit
from moving toward a basic income system. The author is Professor of
Development at SOAS (University of London) and honorary co-president of BIEN.
Guy Standing, “Can Basic Income Cash Transfers Transform India?” 2013, issue 2: www.citizensincome.org
SOAS, a publication of the University of London, published
an article on May 10, 3013 on the Indian basic income pilot project including
quotes from an interview with Guy Standing, one of the organizers of the
SOAS, “Unique pilot schemes assess impact of basic income schemes on India’s rural poor,” 10 May 2013
Rigmar Osterkamp, a long-time critic of the Namibian Basic
Income Pilot project has recently published a new piece on DandC.edu. In the piece he calls the project a “failure.”
Rigmar Osterkamp, “Poverty reduction Lessons from failure” D+C (DandC.eu), May 5, 2013:
[Wolfgang Müller – BI News]
As many other countries, South Africa struggles to provide effective social assistance policies in tackling poverty and inequality. Any proposed reform has been determined by ideology according to Leon Schreiber in an article on Politicsweb, February 26, 2013. They still ignore social reality, that many people are not able to find employment. This dominance of ideology also affected the public discourse about a proposal for a Basic Income Grant (BIG) by the Taylor Committee on Comprehensive Social Security for South Africa. Despite of positive examples such as Alaska or the Basic Income Grant Coalition in Namibia, the BIG has faded. In order to overcome this ideological driven discourse in South Africa and alleviate poverty and inequality, Schreiber urges to simply relay on the Constitution, which grants everyone the right to social security and social assistance.
Schreiber, Leon “Time to think BIG again?” Politicsweb, February 26, 2013
[Wolfgang Müller – BI News]
This article by Noah Smith, published in The Atlantic, January 13, 2013, discusses the hypothetical proceeding fall of labor income along with its consequences and possible solutions. He argues that the two-thirds/one-thirds division of labor and capital income of most rich nations has changed in a disadvantage to labor income. This is a result of mainly two reasons: First, China's low wage labor force entered into the global trading system, and second, more persuasive, technology replaces humans in more and more areas. This development requires new creative measurements since current social security systems are not build to deal with this challenge. As an alternative, Smith suggests stakeholder grants “with some fairly light paternalism”, which he calls “portfolio of capital ownership”. Not exactly basic income, but a step in that direction.
Smith, Noah, “The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots,” The Atlantic, January 13, 2013L http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/01/the-end-of-labor-how-to-protect-workers-from-the-rise-of-the-robots/267135/
This opinion piece supports a basic income grant in South
Devenish, GE “The grant has key role,” BusinessDay (South Africa) 08.03.2013
This op-ed piece argues that the political climate in Scotland has recently opened up to big ideas such as basic income.
McAlpine, Robin “A new enlightened political debate?” The Scotsman, 05.03.2013
This classic article of the Social Credit movement is now
online. Social Credit is a monetary reform movement that includes a basic
income guarantee under the name of a “national dividend.”
Monahan, Bryan W. 1967. “Introduction To Social Credit: Second Revised And Enlarged Edition,” London: K.R.P. Publications Ltd.
This article is online at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/112942854/Introduction-to-Social-Credit-by-Dr-Bryan-W-Monahan
A very early article from the Social Credit movement is now
online. Social Credit is a monetary reform movement that includes a basic
income guarantee under the name of a “national dividend.”
Gordon-Cumming, M. 1935. “Money in Industry.” London: the C. W. Daniel Company
This article is online at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114593844/Money-in-Industry
This op-ed piece calls for basic income as a new approach to
poverty and an alternative to austerity. It is written by Senator Hugh Segal of
the Conservative Party (Canada).
Segal, Hugh, “Why Guaranteeing the Poor an Income Will Save Us All In the End,” The Blog, Business Canada, The Huffington Post, April 8, 2013
OurKingdom: Power & Liberty in Britain, “Democratic Wealth,” 15 May 2013
This piece discusses BIG from a republican perspective—that
is from the two-millennia old political movement with roots in the writings of
Cicero, Livy, Machiavelli, and Rousseau and with little or nothing to do with
the so-called “Republican” party in the United States. According to the
authors, “Republicanism offers a persuasive guide to the political shaping of
markets. A basic income could be the foundation of a democratic republican
economy that frees all citizens from the commodification of labour.”
The piece is a part of a series called “Democratic Wealth” (http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/collections/democratic-wealth-building-citizens-economy), which is edited by Stuart White and which has included other pieces on basic income, including “The Alaska Model: a citizen's income in practice” (http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/karl-widerquist/alaska-model-citizens-income-in-practice).
Julie Wark is the author of Manifiesto de derechos humanos (The Human Rights Manifesto, 2011). Daniel Raventos is the author of Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom. Both are involved with the international political review Sin Permiso.
Raventos, Daniel and Julie Wark, “A republican call for a basic income”
OurKingdom: Power & Liberty in Britain, “Democratic Wealth,” 15 May 2013
This op-ed piece in the Washington Post has inspired a buzz in the blogosphere. The author goes over some of the common arguments for and against basic income, showing how it has aspects that attract to (and sometimes repel) both left and right. The author, Mike Konczal, is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, where he focuses on financial regulation, inequality and unemployment. He writes a weekly column for Wonkblog.
Konczal, Mike “Thinking Utopian: How about a universal basic income?” The Washington Post, Wonkblog page, May 11, 2013
Pieces responding to Konczal’s include:
Weisenthal, Joe, “There's A Way To Give Everyone In America An Income That Conservatives And Liberals Can Both Love”
Business Insider May 13, 2013
This short op-ed piece describes BIG as “an idea for stimulating the economy: Free money for everyone, all the time, with no exceptions or conditions.”
Bruenig, Matt, “Is a Universal Basic Income Really Utopian?”
Policy Shop Blog / Demos, May 13, 2013
Matt Bruenig he describes BIG as a ‘sadly-neglected policy
idea” and calls Mike Konczal’s op-ed “a wonderful piece,” but he takes issue
with Konczal’s description of BIG as “utopian.”
RiseUpEconomics, “That Vision Thing: our need to search for Utopia”
Daily Kos, May 13,
This piece does not take issue with the term utopian. Instead it calls for the need for more utopian thinking. It calls on people to imagine utopian things such as the transformation of work where more worker-owned businesses are possible and where banks don’t get bailed out.
The Daily Bell, “Universal Basic Income Promotion Hits Washington Post, May 13, 2013
This piece responds to the Washington Post article and connects it to Beppe Grillo’s misleadingly named citizen’s income proposal.
Mike Konczal’s piece is online at:
Joe Weisenthal’s piece is online at: http://www.businessinsider.com/universal-basic-income-2013-5#ixzz2TUIyu5DT; and it is cross-posted online at: http://www.demos.org/blog/universal-basic-income-really-utopian
RiseUpEconomics’s piece is online at:
The Daily Bell piece is online at:
Aynur Bashirova – BI News – 2013.
Yglesias, Matthew. (2013). “Print Money. Mail Everybody a Check.” Slate, April 1, 2013.
Matthew Yglesias, in an article published in Slate, argues that old and traditional methods of stimulating the economy in the United States is not effective and are subject to criticism from citizens because the they are so complex that citizens do not understand them; instead, he writes, the government needs to adopt a simpler method of printing money and sending checks to citizens. If people had more money, they would be buying more things. Increasing the size of savings would reduce the borrowing costs of firms and this will push up the value of stocks and other financial assets. All of these, in turn, would speed up the economic activity.
Ygesias accepts that there is one downsize to this approach, which is the risk of inflation due to printing too much money. However, the central bank has promised it is temporarily capable of tolerating 2.5% of inflation, until unemployment falls below 6.5%. Currently, inflation is just below 2%, which means that there is a room to implement Yglesias’ plan, which should help the US get out of the crisis.
Online at: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2013/04/helicopter_money_federal_reserve_should_print_money_and_give_it_directly.html
Aynur Bashirova – Bi News – May 2013.
Brian Westrick, in his article published in the North Wind, argues that the social safety nets in the US are inefficient and can be replaced by a more efficient system of the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG), which will supersede the desperation to find work with desire to work. According to Wesrick, BIG would give people the incentive to work with the principle of the more you work, the more you get and eradicate extreme poverty by making sure that no one stays without income. The author concludes that BIG is not perfect, but comparing its benefits to unemployment benefits, it makes more sense overall.
Westrick, Brian. (2013). “Basic Income Guarantee Solution for Social Welfare.” The North Wind, Thursday, Apr 11 2013
This article begins, “While austerity plans become more and
more popular in Europe and poverty is on the rise on the continent, a citizens’
initiative in favor of a basic income is also flourishing. Indeed, tired of a
welfare system, which does not meet their expectations, some citizens and
scholars are strongly convinced that a basic income might represent an
Beernaert, Lauranne, “Basic Income – A Solution for Austerity?” Utblick, March 30, 2013: http://www.utblick.org/2013/03/30/basic-income-a-solution-for-austerity/
[USBIG – April 2013]
Ailsa McKay, “Citizens’ financial rights,” the Scotsman, February, 2013
This editorial argues that a Citizens Income (basic income)
would be an affordable and effective way for Scotland to reform its welfare
Ailsa McKay is Professor of Economics at the Glasgow School for Business and Society in Glasgow Caledonian University.
Guaranteed (Basic) Income has been featured in an article in the prominent Canadian newsmagazine Maclean's. According to the author, “Fresh analysis of an old program shows that a guaranteed annual income kickstarts health.”
MacQueen, Ken “Is it time to chuck welfare?” MacLean’s, Friday, April 19, 2013
Bidadanure, Juliana, “Rediscovering The Utopian In Europe:
An Interview With Philippe Van Parijs,” Global: The Global Journal. March 26,
According to the author, Philippe Van Parijs is a central figure in the worlds of philosophy and politics alike. Described by Amartya Sen as ‘one of the most original and creative thinkers of our time,’ he is famous for his defense of a Universal Basic Income – an unconditional monthly grant allocated to all – as the best expression of social justice and freedom. Building on the thought-provoking exchange between Francis Fukuyama and Jürgen Habermas published in May, this special extended interview challenges us to imagine a fairer future for the European project.”
Published back in April of 2007, this article begins with “super-capitalist”
Warren Buffett’s “trenchant understatement: ‘A market system has not worked
well in terms of poor people.’” It argues from there for the necessity of an
international basic income guarantee.
The author, Stephen J. Fortunato, was a trial judge on the Rhode Island Superior Court for thirteen years after serving as a civil rights lawyer for more than two decades. He has been a Zen practitioner for at least forty years. His essays and reviews have appeared in the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, the Howard Law Journal, In These Times, and other publications.
Stephen Fortunato, “The Imperative of an International Guaranteed Income.” The Monthly Review Volume 58, Issue 11 (April 2007)
The article is online at: http://monthlyreview.org/2007/04/01/the-imperative-of-an-international-guaranteed-income
This article exposes what the author sees as the widely held
misconception that the creation of jobs is the motivating objective behind most
U.S. economic policy. It argues that we need to shift from the focus on job
creation to the focus on meeting people’s needs through a basic income guarantee.
The article concludes, “the prevailing ludicrous insistence that people obtain
jobs that do not exist — or which are being phased out into oblivion
— is a cruel fabrication that will result in nothing but the continued
dystopian consequences of poverty, marginalization, and oppression.”
The Author, Stephen Fortunato was a trial judge on the Rhode Island Superior Court for thirteen years after serving as a civil rights lawyer for more than two decades. He has been a Zen practitioner for at least forty years.
Stephen Fortunato, “The Fraud of Jobs,” Buddhist Peace Fellowship. February 25, 2013
[BIEN – April 2013]
This opinion piece in one of Britain’s leading newspapers, begins, “Most of the world's people are decent, honest and kind. Most of those who dominate us are inveterate bastards. It decries most recent British policy toward the poor as punitive, “brutal,” and “antisocial.” Looking for new solutions it considers both a land tax and basic income. According to Monboit, basic income “banishes the fear and insecurity now stalking the poorer half of the population. Economic survival becomes a right, not a privilege. … The poor are not forced by desperation into the arms of unscrupulous employers: people will work if conditions are good and pay fair, but will refuse to be treated like mules. It redresses the wild imbalance in bargaining power that the current system exacerbates. It could do more than any other measure to dislodge the emotional legacy of serfdom.”
Monbiot, George. “Communism, welfare state – what's the next big idea?” The Guardian, Monday 1 April 2013
Del Pico – March 2013]
This article argues that a universal livable income represents a wise investment for the future rather than an unsustainable cost. Using a metaphor about roof construction, the author compares and contrasts the long-term benefits of a universal income with the detriments to society at large caused by failing to introduce such a measure. The author, in fact, highlights how society would benefit from it both at socio-economic and health level.
C.A., L'Hirondelle, “The High Costs of a Leaky Roof Society” Livable 4 All, February 26th, 2013
[USBIG – May 2013]
An event, at the London School of Economics on Thursday 27th June at 6 pm, will launch the publication of the book, Money for Everyone: Why we need a Citizen’s Income, by Malcolm Torry, and published by the Policy Press. According to the publisher:
“Due to government cuts, the benefits system is currently a hot topic. In this timely book, a Citizen’s Income (sometimes called a Basic Income) is defined as an unconditional, non-withdrawable income for every individual as a right of citizenship. This much-needed book, written by an experienced researcher and author, is the first for over a decade to analyse the social, economic and labour market advantages of a Citizen's Income in the UK. It demonstrates that it would be simple and cheap to administer, would reduce inequality, enhance individual freedom and would be good for the economy, social cohesion, families, and the employment market. It also contains international comparisons and links with broader issues around the meaning of poverty and inequality, making a valuable contribution to the debate around benefits. Accessibly written, this is essential reading for policy-makers, researchers, teachers, students, and anyone interested in the future of our society and our economy.”
The author, Dr. Malcolm Torry, is Director of the Citizen’s Income Trust. He has first degrees in mathematics, theology, philosophy, and economics and management; and higher degrees in social policy and in theology. He has recently completed an honorary research fellowship in the Social Policy Department at the London School of Economics. He is Team Rector of the Church of England Parish of East Greenwich.
For an initial period the book can be ordered at a reduced price (£19.99 rather than £24.99) on the Policy Press website: www.policypress.co.uk.
If you would like to attend the launch then please email email@example.com to book your place and receive further information.
[USBIG – April 2013]
This conference looks at alternative responses to the crises such as the collective reduction of working time, the use of community currencies, and the implementation of basic income. Experts in these fields present and discuss these alternative policies and explain how they can contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future for all. The event is organized and hosted by Carl Schlyster, Member of the European Parliament (Green-Sweden). Presenters include Louise Haag, of the University of York (UK), Jean-Marie Perbost, author of the Green Party’s report “Work More? Work Less?” and Tony Greenham, of the New Economic Foundation. The event is free, but all attendees must register.
More information, including the program and registration instructions, is online at: http://www.greens-efa.eu/building-resilience-9644.html
[USBIG – April 2013]
A new organisation called Basic Income Ireland, held its introductory meeting on Thursday March 7th, at National University of Ireland in Maynooth, 7-9pm. Erik Olin Wright, professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, was a featured speaker.
The next Basic Income Ireland general network meeting will take place at the Central Hotel, Exchequer Street, Dublin 2 on Thursday May, 2nd from 6.30 to 8.30pm. The general theme of the meeting will be 'spreading the word' about basic income. Everyone is welcome to attend.
More information about the first event is online at:
More information about the second event is online at:
Basic Income Ireland is online at:
[USBIG – May 2013]
Earth Sharing and New Economics Webinar – On Monday, 6th May (10:00 am EST US East Coast (7:00 am US West Coast, 15:00 London time) Alanna Hartzok will give a teleseminar of the powerpoint she presented at the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference (April in Washington, WB headquarters). The ppt contains key points from her paper titled Socializing Land Rent, Untaxing Production, which includes a significant argument for basic income. There will be several discussion periods during the teleseminar. The teleseminar is sponsored by Commons Action for the United Nations and the Commons Cluster. For PDF of the full paper and further information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: Earth Sharing and New Economics
Time: Monday, May 6th at 10:00am Eastern 3:00 pm UK
Listening method: Phone + Web Simulcast
Phone number: (206) 402-0100
PIN Code: 090366#
To attend via web only, no need to call in, this is the audio/visual link:
Verona, Italy, 4th-29th April 2013: Photo Exhibition on Basic Income in Namibia
[BIN-Italia – Sapril 2013]
A photo exhibition on Namibia's basic income experiment has been going on at the Library Frinzi in Verona from April 4th to 29th. On kick-off day, April 4th, there was a brief introduction of both the exhibition and Namibia's basic income project. The experimentation undertaken in Namibia by BIGNAM (Basic Income Grant-Namibia) aims at granting every man and women a universal and unconditional basic income.
The photo exhibition, which is entitled 'Basic Income and Right to Life – Signals from Namibia, Images of a Concrete Utopia', depicts particular moments of daily life of Otjivero - Omitara (Namibia) community.
The exhibition was organized by Simone Michelangelo Muzzioli, a Ph.D student in Sociology and Social Research at the University of Verona, and it has been supported by PhD program in Sociology and Social Research of the University of Verona.
For further information about the exhibition it is possible to contact Simone Muzzioli (PhD student in Sociology and Social Research): email@example.com
More info (both in Italian and in English) is also available on line at: http://www.bin-italia.org/informa.php?ID_NEWS=473
– April 2013]
The Initiative for Basic Income in Greece organized a presentation in Athens on April 25, 2013 to inform people about what Basic Income is and how they can participate in the European effort to accumulate 1,000,000 signatures on a petition to get the European Union to exmine BI. The event’s speakers were Stanislas Jourdan (coordinator of the French movement for basic income and coordinator of the European campaign for basic income), Manos Matsaganis (Professor of public economics and social policy at the Athens University of Economics and Business and a life time member of BIEN) and Vassilis Perantzakis (Software engineer/Analyst and member of the Pirate Movement).
for more information on the Initiative for basic income in Greece
[BIN-Italia – April 2013]
On April 24th a lesson about Citizen's Income will be held at the Faculty of Law of Universitą degli Studi di Perugia (University of Perugia). The lesson will be lectured by Giuseppe Bronzini who is a Judge in the Supreme Court of Cassation in Italy, and the coordinator of the scientific committee of BIN Italia. The event was organised by the University of Perugia, and specifically by Professor Tamar Pitch who is chair of Philosophy of Law.
[BIN -Italia – April 2013]
On April 13th a public meeting on Common Goods and the so-called Commissione Rodotą (a parliamentary commission established in 2007 to change the rules of the Italian civil code on the subject of public goods and chaired by Stefano Rodotą, Professor Emeritus of Civil Law) was held at Teatro Valle Occupato. The meeting is an important step to form a coalition of scholars, jurists, and activist aiming at protecting the commons against neoliberal governance. Basic income has been listed as a common good along with the access to water, culture and nature.
More info (in Italian) is available on line at: http://www.teatrovalleoccupato.it/linarrestabile-ascesa-dei-beni-comuni-assemblea-pubblica-sabato-13-aprile-ore-15-30
[BIN-Italia – April 2013]
On April 10th a conference entitled ''The Future of Europe: a debate about solidarity, democracy, and integration'' was held in Turin at Fondazione Einaudi. The conference, which focused also on the issue of Basic Income, was attended by Philippe Van Parijs, Universite Catholique de Louvain, and Guido Montani, Universita di Pavia. The event was moderated by Flavio Brugnoli, Director of Centro Studi sul Federalismo.
Info (in Italian): http://www.carloalberto.org/assets/events/ilfuturodelleuropa.pdf
[BIN-Italia – April 2013]
A workshop entitled 'Guaranteed Minimum Income and Fight Against Social Exclusion' was organised on April 8th at Universita degli studi di Firenze. The workshop was lectured by Giuseppe Bronzini, Judge in the Supreme Court of Cassation in Italy, and coordinator of the scientific committee of BIN Italia. The event was part of a cycles of workshops organised by the Course of Labour Law of the University of Florence.
[BIB-Italia – April 2013]
On April 8th the Association Progetto Diritti organised the presentation of both BIN Italia last book, Reddito minimo garantito, un progetto necessario e possibile [Guaranteed Minimum Income, a feasible and necessary project] (published by Edizioni Gruppo Abele) and the campaign '#Just Approve it!' launched by the associations involved in the campaign for a popular initiative bill on guaranteed minimum income. During the event they screened the video 'Reinventing the Welfare State: a European perspective' by Francesca Bria and Sandro Gobetti.
The event was attended by Luca Santini (President of BIN Italia), Massimiliano Smeriglio (Deputy Governor of Regione Lazio), Celeste Costantino (MP of Sinistra Ecologia Libertą [Left, Ecology Freedom]), and Arturo Salerni (lawyer and member of Progetto Diritti). The meeting was introduced by Mario Angelelli, President of the Association Progetto Diritti.
[BIEN – April 2013]
On January 14th 2013, the European Commission accepted a petition for European Citizens’ Initiative for Basic Income, triggering a one-year campaign involving all countries in the European Union. If the organizers collect 1 million statements of support for the Basic Income petition from any 1 million out of the 500 million citizens of the European Union by January 14, 2014, the European Commission will be legally obliged to examine their initiative and arrange for a public hearing in the European Parliament.
The initiative’s website is: http://basicincome2013.eu/
The signup page for the petition is: http://basicincome2013.eu/ubi/signup-page/
[Aynur Bashirova – BI News – February 2013]
The BIG movement is a grassroots movement, which aims to raise awareness about the Basic Income. It does this by a network of project teams, public events, and media channels. Anyone interested can join the movement from its website, Facebook users can connect its through its Facebook page.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thebigmovement?fref=ts
Curated by Khannea Suntzu
This website has a host of links to articles supporting basic income.
AUDIO: Latentexistence “Why does everyone have to work?”
Also available as a blog, the podcast challenges the notion that the poor can be divided into the deserving and the undeserving. According to the author, a BIG would:
Š Replace the tax allowance and the benefits system
Š Make savings on means testing and administration
Š Allow freedom to work part time, full time or not at all
Š Allow the pursuit of hobbies and interests away from work
Š Produce inventions and innovations that benefit us all
Š Result in the production of books, music and art
Š Allow people to perform services for others and their community
Š Shift the balance of power from employers to employees
Š Provide security when jobs are not secure
Š Remove the fear and stress of disability assessments
AUDIO: Latentexistence, “Why does everyone have to work?” November 27, 2012
This book, released in 2011, is now available for free as a
computer-generated audio book in MP3 format. (It is also available for download
as PDF, see story from BI News, May 19, 2013). The hard copy is still available
for Ř29.90. Philippe Van Parijs is one of the leading philosophers writing
about basic income today. Many of the chapters in this book respond to his
ideas about basic income.
The audio version of the book is not read by a human being. It is created by read-out-loud software in a computer-generated voice. But it provides an accessible version of the text ready for downloading from the internet and uploading onto an iPod or any other portable audio player.
According to Noble Laureate, Amartya Sen, “A book of quick and sharp thoughts on a grand theme is a novel way of paying tribute to a leading philosopher. But it has worked beautifully here, both as a stimulating book of ideas on justice, and as a fitting recognition of the intellectual contributions of Philippe Van Parijs, who is one of the most original and most creative thinkers of our time. ”
Gosseries, Axel and Yannick Vanderborght (editors), Arguing about justice: Essays for Philippe Van Parijs. Louvain-la-Neuve: UCL Presses, 2011
The audio (MP3) version is available at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/z54m0lhjyd9y636/zgW4qS9Ssc/A.B.%20Axel%20Gosseries%20%26%20Yannick%20Vanderborght%20%28editors%29
The PDF version is available at: http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.science.philosophy.region.europe/4125?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
For more info about the book go to: http://www.i6doc.com/fr/livre/?GCOI=28001100609230
Thom Hartman, of the U.S.-based news website, RT The Big
Picture, recently interviewed Guy Standing on basic income, the Alaska
Dividend, and related issues. The interview is now on YouTube.
Hartmann, Thom. “The right to basic income: Interview with Guy Standing,” RT The Big Picture, YouTube, Apr 1, 2013
Martin Ruhland has written and recorded a song about basic
income. Two versions of the song (in both English and German) are
unconditionally available on Ruhland’s MySpace page. According to the song,
Basic Income will “grant all the people living here on Earth / Enough to live
in dignity from birth.”
The English version, “Basic Income,” is online at: http://www.myspace.com/martinruhland/music/songs/basic-income-91877476
The German version, “Grundeinkommen,” is online at: http://www.myspace.com/martinruhland/music/songs/grundeinkommen-40-rich-version-41-88553520
[BIEN – April 2013]
This 3-minute YouTube video explains the European Citizens’ Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income. It is online at:
[USBIG – March 2013]
Wallace Klinck, “Social Credit, Unemployment and Leisure--an address”
This 45-minute YouTube lecture discusses the economic system known as Social Credit, which includes a form of Basic Income Guarantee. The lecture was originally delivered by Wallace Klinck, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on March 8, 1971. The YouTude “video” includes audio and the text of the speech.
It’s online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F6h1s42vWQ
March 23, 2013, The Futurist:
A Magazine of Forecasts, Trends, and Ideas about the Future.
This blog makes a connection between BIG and peer-to-peer networks.
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, Guy Standing, Steve Shafarman, Michael Howard, 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.
-Karl Widerquist, editor