The USBIG NewsFlash is both the newsletter of the U.S. Basic Income
Guarantee (USBIG) Network and the U.S. edition of the Basic Income Earth
Network’s NewsFlash. The USBIG Network (www.usbig.net) promotes the discussion
of the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a policy that
would unconditionally guarantee at least a subsistence-level income for
everyone. If you would like to be added to or removed from this list please go
For questions, contact the editor, Karl Widerquist: Karl@Widerquist.com.
1. NEW YORK: USBIG Announce list of forty speakers for NABIG Congress,
Feb. 26 – Mar. 1, 2015
2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Basic Incomes makes unprecedented political progress around the world
3. Alanna Hartzok, running on a platform including support for Basic Income, receives 37 percent of the vote in Congressional Race
4. BIG News
5. Events: UBI-Europe launches series of conferences on basic income
8. New Links
9. More news, links and other info
The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USIBG) Network has released a list of forty participants for the Fourteenth Annual North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress (a joint even of USBIG and the Basic Income Canada Network). The Congress will take place in New York City starting Thursday, February 26 – Sunday March 1, 2015. Most events will be held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Economic Association (EEA) at the New York Sheraton Hotel and Towers. The Congress will also involve free events including a public discussion at the Hunter School of Social Work on Thursday, February 26 and an activists meeting at the Brooklyn Commons on Sunday March 1.
Conference participants include
Thursday, February 26, 2015
7pm to 9pm: Public Discussion: “New Possibilities for the Basic Income Movement”
Hunter College, room to be announced
Friday, February 27, 2015
8am to 7pm: Sessions at the Sheraton Hotel, 811 7th Avenue, New York, NY
Evening: social event to be announced
Saturday, February 28, 2015
8am to 6:30pm: Sessions at the Sheraton Hotel, 811 7th Avenue, New York, NY
Evening: social event to be announced
Sunday, March 1, 2015
8am to 12:30pm: Sessions at the Sheraton Hotel, 811 7th Avenue, New York, NY
12:45-m-2:15: Lunch meeting: organizational meeting of the USBIG Network
6:30pm: Activists Meeting: “Are we ready to start an activists movement for BIG in the United States?” We’ll chip in for pizza and drinks, but we’ll share the food and drink unconditionally with everyone who comes—without means test or any requirement to make a reciprocal contribution. We will discuss this question without any more specific agenda. Karl Widerquist will moderate the discussion, but will not lead the discussion or any effort that might come out of it. Location: Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Ave. Brooklyn, NY
Everyone attending the events at the Sheraton must register with the EEA and pay their registration fee (all events outside the Sheraton are free and open to everyone). Anyone who registers as a USBIG participant can register for the EEA members’ price of $110 without paying the EEA’s membership fee—saving $65. All registered attendees of the NABIG Congress are welcome to attend any of the EEA’s events.
For updated information on featured speakers, registration, and accommodations as more becomes available, visit the USBIG website: www.usbig.net. For more information about the Eastern Economics Association Annual Meeting, visit the EEA website: http://www.quinnipiac.edu/eea/41st-annual-conference/.
Conference dates: Thursday, February 26 – Sunday,
March 1, 2015
Locations: New York and Brooklyn, NY: The Sheraton Hotel and Towers, 811 7th Avenue, New York, NY, Hunter College, and the Brooklyn Commons
Organizing committee: Karl Widerquist <Karl@Widerquist.com> (organizer), Ann Withorn <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Shawn Cassiman <email@example.com>, and Jurgen De Wispelaere <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The momentum behind Basic Income has been gaining ground for some time now, with more and more media attention including articles in publications such as The Economist and the Washington Post and a community on reddit that is closing in on 20,000 subscribers and is still growing. That's not to mention the huge amount of signatures collected for the European Citizen's Initiative and the successful campaign for a Basic Income referendum in Switzerland.
But in the last few months, the momentum among political parties and leaders, which will be the focus of this article, has also picked up. The Green Party worldwide has of course had Basic Income on its policy agenda for quite some time, but in February of this year, the general conference of the Liberal Party in Canada approved two motions in favour of Basic Income, one in favour of a federal pilot programme and one in favour of implementation. Though good news, the leader of the LPC, Justin Trudeau, has yet to mention the policy and the party have not campaigned on the issue in by-elections which took place this year. They are however leading in current opinion polls, but not by enough to achieve a majority government.
This is after the premier of Prince Edward Island province, Robert Ghiz of the Liberal party, called for a pilot programme for a Guaranteed Minimum Income, a form of Negative Income Tax and the leader of provincial opposition party, the NDP called for the similar Basic Income Guarantee. The Liberal Party and NDP came first and second respectively in a recent opinion poll in the province.
Meanwhile in Québec province, the minister for Employment and Social Solidarity in the recently elected Liberal provincial government, Franćois Blais is a supporter of Basic Income, calling it the 'way of the future', though his government does not have any plans to introduce the policy.
Moving on from Canada, in Spain as a reaction to dissatisfaction with regular politics, a new party called Podemos was formed this year, considered by many to represent the 'Indignados' mass protest movement which sprang up in 2011. This party has called for Basic Income as one of its platforms. An opinion poll in September placed Podemos as the most popular party in Spain for the first time. With elections due in less than a year, there is a real possibility they will be elected as the largest party. Unfortunately, the party left Basic Income out of it's first economic document published recently, though there is still the chance that they will once again pick up the Basic Income idea before the general election.
But that is not the end of political moves towards Basic Income. In the Netherlands, at their party conference, opposition party D66, approved a policy to conduct a Basic Income pilot programme if elected into office. In response to the increased discussion about Basic Income, the Prime Minister from the VVD party came out opposing the policy. D66 is currently the second or third most popular party in the Netherlands according to the most recent opinion polls, with an election due no later than 2017.
In Finland, during a debate in parliament led by the Centre Party and Left Alliance, the Centre Party leader also called for Basic Income pilots. The Left Alliance and Green League parties in Finland already had Basic Income as part of their platforms. In the debate, a number of MPs expressed support for Basic Income pilots, including the current Prime Minister, Alexander Stubb. The Centre Party is currently the most popular party in opinion polls, with an election due next year.
And in New Zealand, the recently elected leader of the Labour party and new leader of the opposition, Andrew Little has come out in favour of a Universal Basic Income, saying in a radio interview that he would like this to be a focus of policy for the party. Little has a difficult task ahead of him however, Labour in New Zealand have lost the previous four elections, losing vote share on each occasion.
The policies discussed by nearly all of these parties and politicians is Universal Basic Income. While a Negative Income Tax was almost passed in the USA by the Nixon administration, there has never been such a level of support for its sister policy Universal Basic Income, with parties who support either pilot programmes or implementation ahead in the polls in three different countries with the furthest election being just over 2 years away. For the first time in decades, a Basic Income which would end poverty and guarantee true freedom and dignity for all has made real progress in the political arena.
For more information, see:
Liberal Party of Canada, “97. Basic Income Supplement: Testing a Dignified Approach to Income Security for Working-age Canadians", Liberal Party of Canada, February 23 2014
Liberal Party of Canada, “100. Priority Resolution: Creating a Basic Annual Income to be Designed and Implemented for a Fair Economy", Liberal Party of Canada, February 23 2014
CBC News, “Guaranteed livable income plan possible, Ghiz confirms”, CBC News, April 04, 2014
NDP Prince Edward Island, “Basic Income Guarantee should go to Committee, NDP Prince Edward Island, May 06 2014
Yannick Vanderborght, “QUEBEC, CANADA: Minister of Employment for the provincial government reiterates his support for basic income”, Basic Income News, July 17 2014
Podemos, “Documento Final del Programa Colectivo [Final Document of the Collective Program]”, Podemos, May 27 2014
Jelmer Luimstra, “D66 pleit voor nieuw onderzoek naar een basisinkomen [D66 calls for new research into Basic Income]”, de Volksrant, November 4 2014
Johanna Perkiö, “Finland: the opposition leader proposes basic income pilots“, Basic Income News, October 9 2014
Radio New Zealand, “What policy changes will Andrew Little usher in?”, Radio New Zealand, November 19 2014
Alanna Hartzok, a long-time support of Basic Income, received 37% of the vote in the Congressional election for 9th Congressional District in Pennsylvania. She received the Democratic Party nomination for Congress earlier this year, and finished second in voting to the Republican incumbent, Bill Shuster.
Hartzok is Founder and Co-Director, Earth Rights Institute and author of The Earth Belongs to Everyone. She is a researcher, an activist, a prominent supporter of land value taxation. She has been a regular contributor to the North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress for the last decade, and she has written about basic income, usually using the term “Citizens Dividend,” which is a basic income financed by resource and rent taxes.
Hartzok’s campaign website lists 14 fundamental policies and guidelines to help us establish economic democracy, including, “7. Establish a PA Sovereign Wealth Fund similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund and like in Alaska distribute “citizen dividends” to directly share natural resource super profits from our commonwealth of natural resources.”
For more information about Hartzok and her campaign see:
David Wenner. “Alanna Hartzok, Bill Shuster: Results are in from 9th Congressional District in Franklin County.” PennLive, November 04, 2014.
Alanna Hartzok. “Citizen Dividends and Oil Resource Rents: A Focus on Alaska, Norway and Nigeria.” Wealth and Want, February 2004.
See also her campaign website.
Podemos, the Spanish party which stormed into first place in recent opinion polls and who previously declared support for a Universal Basic Income, have left the propsal out of a recent document outlining their economic plans.
The party, which only launched earlier this year, gained prominence with a number of radical proposals including reducing the retirement age to 60 and nationalising all utility companies. Their economic document, released Thursday, was seen as a test for the party, whether or not it could formulate a coherent set of policies. Despite the radical tone of initial party statements, some of the more radical policies were left off the document, including Basic Income.
This is a blow to the Basic Income movement, with Podemos previously looking set to become the first party supporting Basic Income to win an election in Europe, an election which is due in Spain before the end of 2015. However, it doesn't mean the party has stopped supporting the proposal, merely that is has not been placed on this document, which is not a full manifesto. They mentioned at the press conference to launch the document that they wanted it based on 'realistic proposals'.
Basic Income has been gaining ground politically in the last year, despite this setback there are still a number of parties supporting Basic Income or pilot programmes which have considerable support in other parts of the world, including Canada, Finalnd and New Zealand.
For more information, see:
Language: Spanish: Vicenć Navarro, Juan Torres “Un Proyecto Económico para La Gente [An Economic Project for the People]”, Podemos, 27 November 2014
Matthew Bennet, “A Look At The New Podemos Economic Document”, The Spain Report, 28 November 2014
Hugo OrtuĖo, “The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias presents
his economic proposal”,
Demotix, 27 November 2014
Nearly 8 out of 10 Namibians (78%) favor a Basic Income Grant (BIG—as unconditional basic income is known in the region) for every Namibian citizen according to a recent poll. This result is probably the highest level of support for Basic Income recorded in any representative poll in any country. Most respondents still favored BIG even if it required raising taxes or introducing new taxes. Despite the popularity of BIG, the ruling party remains opposed to it. Despite the ruling party’s opposition to BIG, the ruling party remains popular.
The poll results came from round six of Afrobarometer opinion poll, which interview 1,200 adults all across the country during the period between 27 August and 19 September 2014. The sixth round survey is for the period between 2014 and 2015 covering up to 35 African countries. Survey Warehouse and the Institute for Public Policy Research conducted the Afrobarometer survey in Namibia.
For more information see:
Kuzeeko Tjitemisa, “Namibians craving for BIG – report.” New Era, November 19, 2014.
New Era, “Unequal income fuels BIG calls – Ngurare.” New Era, October 14, 2014.
Institute for Public Policy Research, “New Release: Namibians express strong policy prefe4rences in comparison to the government.” Windhoek, Namibia. 18 November, 2014.
Recent poll shows Podemos (We Can) is most supported party in Spain. Podemos was a newly emerged political party in January 2014 out of Indignados, the anti-austerity movement similar to the Occupy Wall Street. The party endorses BIG and got five seats in European Parliament Election in May 2014. According to the poll released November 1st by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, The party got 27.7%, ahead of the opposition Socialist Party 26.2% and of the ruling party Popular Party 20.7%.
For more information, see:
Mike Pope, “Podemos is the most popular political party in spain” The News Hub Beta, November 2, 2014.
Julian Toyer, “Poll lead for newcomer shakes up Spain's political system” Reuters, November 2, 2014.
To read more on Podemos and BIG, see:
Karl Widerquist, “SPAIN: New political party that endorses big takes five seats in european parliament” Basic Income News, June 1, 2014.
Pete Higgins has opened an e-petition on “Replace the Benefit System with a Universal Basic Income for all” in HM Government. If it would collect more than 100,000 signatures by its closing date March 30, 2015, this petition could be discussed in the House of Commons. There are 233 signatures at this stage.
To read the original site for the petition, see:
On September 16, during the 7th International Basic Income Week, a new UK activist group called UK Basic Income met to announce its mission statement. Basic Income Week is an event is organized by the Basic Income Earth Network and has participants from countries throughout Europe. UK Basic Income proposes a universal full living wage.
The statement was followed by an open discussion of the benefits of a basic income and various proposals for funding such an initiative. Many different methods of funding a basic income have been put forth. Implementing a universal basic income accrues many benefits, and has a variety of supporters of different political affiliations and ideologies with many different reasons.
Further information about the
statement is available at: Christina Brooks, “Basic
Income supporters in London agree on statement”, Basic Income UK, 2014 September 22
Basic Income Subreddit FAQ, “How would you pay for it?”, Basic Income Subreddit
Basic Income Subreddit FAQ, “What are the benefits of basic income?”, Basic Income Subreddit
Basic Income Subreddit FAQ, “I
believe in [insert ideology]. Why should I support a basic income guarantee?”,
Basic Income Subreddit
Unconditional Basic Income Europe (UBIE) is organising a series of five conferences on the theme “UBI in Europe – Promoting civil society” in order to promote Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) in Europe over the next year. The conferences are:
Š UBI as a response to social inequality in Europe – Maribor, Slovenia, 19th-20th March 2015.
Š Minimum Income vs. Basic Income – Paris, France, 19th -20th June 2015
Š Stimulating Social Cohesion and Peace – The Hague, Netherlands, 17th -18th Sept. 2015
Š National UBI vs. UBI in Europe – Budapest, Hungary, 5th – 6th Dec. 2015
Š UBI and Degrowth – Cologne, Germany, 26th – 28th Feb. 2016
For each of those events, organizers want to adopt a participative way of elaborating the programs, and therefore, they are seeking for contributions to our first conference to be held in Maribor, Slovenia, 19th-20th March 2015.
The invitation is open to all European citizens with a wider interest in unconditional basic income who wish to share their findings and research with a European network. The conference in Maribor will explore the following key themes:
Š Different social support systems and inequality
Š Reaching social cohesion in Europe – Basic Income as one possible solution
The deadline for proposals is 8th January. For more details on how to participate, please see the conference website.
See also UBIE’s calendar of events.
In 1986, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and The Brookings Institution co-hosted a conference on “The Lessons from the Income Maintenance.” The proceeding, where Robert Solow and some others contributed, was published. It is available online.
Alicia H. Munnell (ed.), “Lesson from the Income Maintenance.” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and The
The author discusses the effect of economic insecurity on elections and advocates for basic income, among other measures.
Amitai Etzioni, “It’s Economic Insecurity, Stupid”, Huffington Post, 2014 November 18
The Adam Smith institute, self-describing as being ‘at the forefront of making the case for free markets and a free society in the United Kingdom,’ recently drew attention to desirability of a Negative Income Tax, by reclaiming the 1970s experiments on it in USA.
Ben Southwood, “We’ve actually tried negative income taxes, and they seem to work ” Adam Smith Institute, November 6, 2014.
In his post, Christensen inform that a science fiction published in 1967 referred to a basic income. Philip Jose Farmer’s novel Riders of the Purple Wage predicted what will follow after the implementation of a basic income. The novel won Hugo Award.
Bill Christensen, “Time For A Universal Basic Income?.” Science Fiction in the News, October 30, 2014.
In his post, Dvorsky argues that technological unemployment has been increasing and inevitable, and that it makes a basic income absolutely inevitable for a bright future.
George Dvorsky, “How Universal Basic Income Will Save Us From the Robot Uprising.” io9:We Come From The Future, November 4, 2014.
The author proposes a universal child benefit, a limited form of basic income specifically for families with children.
Clio Chang, “The Kids Need Cash”, U.S. News & World Report, 2014 November 5
A universal basic income (UBI) and unemployment insurance (UI) are two possible forms of social insurance for an economy in which job loss is a significant risk. Alice Fabre, Stéphane Pallage, and Christian Zimmermann (FPZ) address in a recent working paper from the Research Division of the St. Louis Fed. They argue, when compared head-to-head, UI is a better social safety net than a UBI. Skeptics are likely to seize on these findings, but in the Ed Dolan’s view, they do not support a blanket rejection of a UBI. Instead, as he explains, they highlight how important it is for UBI proponents to pay attention to details of financing and program design.
Ed Dolan. “Universal
Basic Income vs. Unemployment Insurance: Which is the Better Safety Net?” EconoMonitor. November 24th, 2014
The article discusses increasing income inequality and how it relates to different sources of income. The author posits that a basic income, among other measures, is a necessity to rectify the current situation.
Guy Standing, “The age of rentier capitalism”, Aljazeera America, 2014 September 7
Henvel and Cohen interviewed Edward Snowden on October 6 in Moscow. In the interview Snowden endorses a basic income. The interview now online and also will be published in the November 17 edition of the Nation.
Katrina vanden Heuvel and Stephen F. Cohen, “Edward Snowden: A 'Nation' interview.” Nation, November 17, 2014.
The author discusses the success of unconditional cash transfer programs in reducing poverty and providing a number of benefits. Cash transfer programs are a form of basic income limited to those with low income.
Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, “Social protection may be the key to uplifting Africa’s poor”, Mail & Guardian, 2014 November 17
Malcolm Torry, who has long been serving as the director of the Citizen’s Income Trust, reflected a time he worked as welfare officer in late 1970s and how uncertain the situation of claimants were because of the nature of means tested benefit. He argues that BIG “will need to be high on the agenda of the Government enquiry into income maintenance.”
Malcolm Torry, “Basic Income – a benefits system for our society, today and tomorrow. “Basic Income - a benefits system for our society, today and tomorrow.” Discovers Society: Measured – Factual - Critical, Issue 13, September 30, 2014.
In this post, ‘newsroom’ of the Mistbreaker news argues current strand to further automation urges us to consider BIG seriously.
“Is Basic Income a Viable Concept in
the Automated World.”
Mistbreaker News – sensing tomorrow,
November 13th, 2014.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Would it be possible to provide people with a basic income as a right? The idea has a long history. This book draws on two pilot schemes conducted in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh, in which thousands of men, women and children were provided with an unconditional monthly cash payment.
In a context in which the Indian government at national and state levels spends a vast amount on subsidies and selective schemes that are chronically expensive, inefficient, inequitable and subject to extensive corruption, there is scope for switching at least some of the spending to a modest basic income. This book explores what would be likely to happen if this were done.
The book draws on a series of evaluation surveys conducted over the course of the eighteen months in which the main pilot was in operation, supplemented with detailed case studies of individuals and families. It looks at the impact on health and nutrition, on schooling, on economic activity, women's agency and the welfare of those with disabilities.
Above all, the book considers whether or not a basic income could be transformative, in not only improving individual and family welfare but in promoting economic growth and development, as well as having an emancipatory effect for people long mired in conditions of poverty and economic insecurity.
Sarath Davala, Renana Jhabvala, Soumya Kapoor Mehta, and Guy Standing. Basic Income: A Transformative Policy for India. New Delhi: Bloomsbury Publishing India, December 2014.
The article discusses the suffering and deaths of those who were inappropriately denied various means-tested social safety net benefits and posits that a universal basic income will reduce and alleviate such tragedies.
Scott Santens, "'Fit for Work and Fit to Die': A Memorial for the Means-Tested", 2014 November 17
ABSTRACT: In this paper we compare the welfare effects of unemployment insurance (UI) with an universal basic income (UBI) system in an economy with idiosyncratic shocks to employment. Both policies provide a safety net in the face of idiosyncratic shocks. While the unemployment insurance program should do a better job at protecting the unemployed, it suffers from moral hazard and substantial monitoring costs, which may threaten its usefulness. The universal basic income, which is simpler to manage and immune to moral hazard, may represent an interesting alternative in this context. We work within a dynamic equilibrium model with savings calibrated to the United States for 1990 and 2011, and provide results that show that UI beats UBI for insurance purposes because it is better targeted towards those in need.
Stephane Pallage, Christian
Basic Income versus Unemployment Insurance”, IDEAS, 2014 November 14
Yahoo Japan, a Japanese online news site features Basic Income. In the first article written by Toru Yamamori, he explains failure of the Japanese Social Security systems. The article also contains information on Guy Standing talk on Basic Income at the International Sociology Association in Yokohama. The article is written in Japanese.
Toru Yamamori, “Why Basic Income Now? Limitations of the Japanese Welfare State,” Yahoo Japan News, July 11, 2014.
World Without Poverty. “Dilma
Rousseffęs government guarantees a real increase of 44% for the Bolsa Familia
Program”. WWP. Brazil.
A new book has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan in its series “Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee.” Entitled ““, and co-edited by Yannick Vanderborght & Toru Yamamori, this collective volume provides the international audience with the very first general overview of the scholarly debate on basic income in Japan. The fifteen chapters offer a balanced picture of this debate, using basic income as a test case for analyzing the ongoing transformations of the Japanese welfare state. Contributors address many of the key issues faced by other developed nations today, such as growing economic insecurity, income and gender inequalities, poverty, ageing, migration, and the future of universal versus selective programs. Even if some remain skeptical about the immediate prospects for this radical idea, all contributors believe in its relevance for the study of contemporary Japan. The volume includes a foreword by Ronald Dore, one of the most prominent experts of Japan’s economy, and a long-standing basic income advocate.
For further information, and the table of contents, see
A conference on the book will take place at Maison franco-japonaise in Tokyo (in French and Japanese) on October 31, 2014. More details on the conference .
Vanderborght, Yannick &
yamamori, Toru (eds.) (2014), , New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Alberta Primetime, “Money for nothing?”, October 10, 2014
Boom Bust, "
Coppola on the mess in Europe and Kling on basic income", 2014
Christian Fernandez, “UBI and victims of abuse: My
personal experiences”, 2014 November 20
On the 17th of October, Estonian TV of Tallinn (Tallinna TV), which houses about 400.000 people, shows the film "Basic Income - a Cultural Impulse".
Tallinna TV, Screening of "Basic Income - a Cultural
Impulse", Tallinna TV, October 17 2014
Paul Flahive, “The
Source: Calls To Eliminate Social Welfare And Simply Cut A Check”, Texas Public Radio, 2014 November 13
Vox, "We know
how to end poverty. So why don't we?", 2014 November 14
This is the YouTube channel of the Estonian UBI Network.
For up-to-the-day news on BIG,
see Basic Income News. For links to dozens
of BIG websites around the world, go to USBIG’s links page. 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
Thanks to everyone who helped this issue.
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 at USBIG’s website. More news about BIG is online at BInews.org.
You may copy and circulate articles from this NewsFlash, but please mention the source and include a link to Basic Income News. 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 NewsFlash and the USBIG website are gladly welcomed.
-Karl Widerquist, editor