USBIG Newsletter VOL. 7, NO. 37, January - February 2006

This is the Newsletter of the USBIG Network (, which promotes the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States--a policy that would unconditionally guarantee a subsistence-level income for everyone. If you would like to be added to or removed from this list please email:


  1. The Fifth USBIG Congress, Philadelphia, February 24-26
  2. Help staff the USBIG booth at the Conference Exhibition Center
  3. Basic Income Studies Signs a Publishing Agreement With the Berkeley Electronic Press
  4. First USBIG Session at the American Economics Association Annual Meeting
  5. CALL FOR PAPERS: 11th Congress of the Basic Income Earth Network, submission deadline, March 16
  6. BIG events around the world
  7. BIG news from around the world
  8. New publications
  9. New discussion papers
  10. New Links
  11. Links and other info

1. Fifth USBIG Congress, Philadelphia, February 24-26, 2006

The Fifth Congress of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network: Resources and Rights will take place at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Philadelphia, PA February 24-26, 2006 Featured speakers: Nicolaus Tideman, of Virginia Tech; Heather Boushey, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Eduardo Suplicy, of the Brazilian Senate; Kevin Zeese, Candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland; and Alanna Hartzok, of the Earth Rights Institute.

The USBIG Conference program is:

The USBIG Congress will take place in conjunction with the Eastern Economics Association Annual Meeting, which will include hundreds of presentations by more than 1000 scholars from around the world. The papers accompanying presentations and the full schedule at the USBIG Congress are on the web at


2. Help staff the USBIG booth at the Conference Exhibition Center

Stephen C. Clark will coordinate staffing of the USBIG booth at the Exhibition Center of the USBIG-EEA Congress. The booth will present literature on basic income to conference attendees. Anyone interested in volunteering to help staff the booth can sign up at the Congress or you can contact Steve at


3. Basic Income Studies Signs a Publishing Agreement With the Berkeley Electronic Press

Basic Income Studies (BIS), the new international academic journal for basic income research, is pleased to announce that it has signed a publishing agreement with The Berkeley Electronic Press ( Bepress is a well-known electronic publisher of a wide range of academic journals particularly in the fields of economics and law and a representative of the "new standard in scholarly publishing". Founded by academics in 1999, Bepress produces innovative and effective means of content production and dissemination for journals and publishers.

Publication with Bepress will have numerous advantages for BIS: invaluable assistance in the editorial and production process through the use of Bepress' licenced editorial management software; administration of individual and institutional subscriptions; access to Bepress' worldwide advertising network to assist us in promoting basic income research. In addition the close association with a recognized publisher will give BIS recognition as a serious academic publication.

Over the past months the BIS editorial team and Bepress have put a lot of work in putting together a website with electronic submission facilities. Our new website will be officially launched at the USBIG conference in Philadelphia on 25 February. We invite all of you to visit our site afterwards.

The BIS inaugural issue with contributions by G. A. Cohen, Erik Olin Wright, Robert van der Veen, Philippe Van Parijs, and many others is due to be published in June 2006. In the meantime BIS is constantly on the look-out for research articles and book reviews.

If you are interested in submitting an article or want to see the list of books for review, please get in touch with the editors at: or the book review editor at:


4. First USBIG Session at the American Economics Association Annual Meeting

John Marangos organized and moderated the first USBIG Session at the Allied Social Science Association (the conference organized around the American Economic Association Annual Meeting). Many of the papers presented are expected to be included in a special issue of the Review of Social Economy, which will be co-edited by Marangos and Deborah M. Figart. The session, entitled The Basic Income Guarantee and Living Standards, was held on Friday, January 6, 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. It included the following participants:

John Marangos, Colorado State University, “Basic Income Guarantee versus Basic Livable Income Guarantee: A Historical Perspective”
Mark Friedman, Colorado State University, “Toward a Living Wage and an Optimal Maximum Wage: The Sarkarian Individual Productivity Curve”
Andrea Fumagalli, University of Pavia, Italy, Stefano Lucarelli, University of Ancona, Italy, and Jacopo Mazza, University of Lugano, USI, Switzerland, “Basic Income Sustainability and Productivity Growth”
James B. Bryan, Manhattanville College, “Economic Theory and the Social Contract: Implications for Policies to Reduce Poverty”
Stephen Nathanson, Northeastern University, “The Decent Level Criterion for Justice: A Philosophical Basis for the Basic Income Guarantee”


5. CALL FOR PAPERS: 11th Congress of the Basic Income Earth Network, submission deadline, March 16

Date of Congress: 2-4 November 2006, Cape Town, South Africa.

BIEN's 11th International Congress will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, on 2-4 November 2006. The organizing committee invite you to submit a proposal for your presentation at the conference. Our theme for this conference has a twin focus: to strengthen demands for universal provision of social protection and to illuminate the impact of universalism on social and economic development. Proposals on all aspects of Basic Income are welcome, and the committee will endeavor to accommodate as many of the proposals outside the main theme or sub-themes as possible. For this conference BIEN is adding another dimension to the proceedings. While the main focus of the conference will be on the more academic and formal papers presented in plenary and panel discussion sessions, we invite participants who wish to participate in a less formal manner to put forward proposals for the workshops. These workshops will focus on issues of mobilization and implementation of Basic Income. The workshops will be practical and some even hands-on. In this way we hope to embrace the new challenges countries are experiencing in accepting and promoting the ideals and ideas of Basic Income in the world.

Full details can be found in the official call for papers on BIEN's website:
Proposal Submission deadline: 15 March 2006
Please send proposals to:
Please forward questions to:
Registration is R600 (EURO 85, US$100).

USBIG is one of BIEN’s twelve national affiliates around the world.


6. BIG events around the world

ZURICH (CH), 6 October 2005,

BIEN-Switzerland organizes open discussion on basic income BIEN-Switzerland has organised a panel discussion on unconditional basic income on the 6th of october in Zurich, at the "Bernhard-Theater". Main discussants were Joachim Mitschke (Professor of Economics in Frankfurt), Michael Opielka (Professor for Social Policy in Jena), and Peter Ulrich (Professor for Business Ethics in St. Gallen). Rather than a scientific exchange it was a controversial "political discussion" in front of about a hundred spectators, and no specific papers were presented. The newspaper "Neue Zurcher Zeitung" reported on the conference in its October 8th issue.

-From BIEN

SAO PAULO (BR), 23-25 November 2005, National Seminar on Income Transfer

This event was organized and coordinated through an academic cooperation among the following institutions: "Public Policies Post Graduation Program" from the Universidade Federal of Maranhão; "Post Graduation in Social Services" from the Pontificia Universidade Católica in São Paulo and the "Studies Nucleus on Public Policies" from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas. The National Seminar on Income Transfer was based on the experiences of the programs in progress in the country and the researches that are being developed in the institutions which promoted the event, taking into account the 10 years of the implementation of these programs in Brazil, the implementation of these experiences in all Brazilian municipalities, the importance of these programs in remodeling the content and the dynamics of the Brazilian System of Social Protection today, and the proposal of the unification of the programs at the national level.

The Seminar was directed by the following targets:
a) The follow-up and the assessment of the developing process in the Income Transfer Programs that are being implemented in Brazil;
b) To explain the experiences and the scientific works on these programs;
c) To foster the national exchange between organizations and entities responsible for the experiences;
d) To produce general or specific recommendations aiming at certain programs;
e) To present the Citizen's Basic Income Brazilian Network.

The programme was constituted by the presentations of experiences and of research results in the following conferences:

"Income Transfer Programs in the Context of the Social Protection Brazilian System" ("Os Programas de Transferência de Renda no Contexto do Sistema Brasileiro de Proteção Social") (Profa. Dra. Maria Ozanira da Silva e Silva, Universidade Federal do Maranhão);
"The Income Transfer State Programs and its linking to the Municipal and Federal Programs" ("Os Programas Estaduais de Transferência de Renda e sua articulação com os Programas Federais e Municipais") (Profa. Dra. Maria Helena Guimarães de Castro, Social Development State Secretary in São Paulo);
"The Income Transfer Municipal Programs and its linking to the Bolsa Familia Program")(Os Programas Municipais de Transferência de Renda e sua articulação com o Bolsa Família") (Dr. Antônio Pereira Pesaro, Social Assistance Municipal Secretary in São Paulo);
"The Federal Government Income Transfer Programs: nowadays and unification" (Os Programas de Transferência de Renda do Governo Federal: atualidade e unificação") (representative of the Social Development and Combat against Hunger Ministry);
Presentation of the Citizen's Basic Income Brazilian Network (Rede Brasileira de Renda Básica de Cidadania) (Senator Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy)"

-From BIEN

ROME (IT), 2 December 2005, Conference on new social guarantees

Italian interest in a basic income is growing. On December 2, 2005, a public conference was organised in Rome to discuss 'the right to a basic income'. More than 200 persons, among whom numerous members from trade unions, social movements, journalists, local administrators were present at this meeting promoted by the Councillor’s Office on Labour of Regione Lazio.The invited plenary speakers were Alessandra Tibaldi, Stefano Sacchi, Guy Standing, Rafael Pinilla Palleja, Jose Iglesias Fernandez, Luigi Nieri, Alessandra Mandarelli and Giuseppe Mariani. The interventions of the participants pointed out the need and the possibility to start experiments of basic income as part of a new redistributive policy.

The meeting pointed out the need to launch a wider plan of reconstruction of the Italian welfare state system which takes the matter of basic income into account. A basic income in cash or in kind must be the core of future social policies.

Recent reforms of the Italian Constitution now give more power to the regions in the field of welfare. The political actors who were present such as the Member of the Councillor’s Office on Labour and the Member of the Counillor’s Office on Budget declared that they are in favour of taking a course which leads to the introduction of a regional bill about basic income.

With the General Election due to take place in 2006, there is much debate about what platforms should be presented on welfare by the opposition parties. As is well known, the Italian welfare state is particularly undeveloped by comparison with all the European countries to the north of Italy. But there is considerable disquiet about the growth of precarious labour contracts and the pressure on the pension system, as well as the shrinking Italian family and the ageing of the population. Economic insecurities are pervasive, and in that context movements towards a basic income are conceivable.

For further information:

-From BIEN

DORTMUND (DE), 10 February 2006: Panel discussion on basic income

A panel discussion about an unconditional basic income will take place at the University of Dortmund, February 10, 2006. Participants: Wolfram Richter (Economist, Univ. of Dortmund), Lutz Wingert (Philosopher, Univ. of Dortmund), Sascha Liebermann (Sociologist, Univ. of Dortmund), Götz Werner (Owner, DM Drugstores, and Univ. of Karlsruhe), Claus Offe (Political Scientist, Hertie School of Governance Berlin).

For further information: and

-From BIEN

KARLSRUHE (DE), 23-24 February 2006: Symposium on basic income

A two days symposium on basic income (in German) will be held at the University of Karlsruhe on Feb. 23-24, 2006.

For further information: André Presse
See also:

-From BIEN


7. BIG news from around the world

Germany: Discussion of BIG in major media

On November 30, 2005, The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel published an interview with Götz Werner on his campaign promoting UBI in Germany. Werner is the founder and owner of the German drugstore chain dm, which has about 1700 branches all over Germany. Werner proposes a very ambitious plan to implement UBI in Germany: according to it, UBI should replace all other welfare benefits. The introduction of UBI would go together with a complete abolition of all direct taxes on incomes and profits – the only tax remaining to fund the UBI would be the VAT. Werner and his tax expert Benedikt Hardorp claim that this would be sensible since a) all direct taxes were passed on to consumers anyway, b) the proposal would lower labor costs in Germany dramatically and thus boost Germany’s performance on the global market, and c) put an end to tax evasion from Germany to low-tax countries, keeping investment capital in the country. According to Hardorp’s calculations, UBI could be 1200 € per month on average over a whole lifetime; initially, however, it would only be around 350 €. This corresponds roughly to the current minimal level of welfare payments in Germany. For further information (in German) see the initiative’s website:

-Article by Christian Schemmel


BIEN reports, in recent weeks the group "Freedom, not Full Employment" has been actively trying to give more visibility to the idea of basic income. It advertised the idea of an unconditional basic income in subway stations in Cologne (Dec. 6-12, 2005) and Hamburg (Dec. 9-18, 2005) (see One of its more active members, sociologist Sascha Liebermann, has been discussing "Work and Income" in a radio show on Bayern 2 Radio (Bavaria), January 5, 2006, 10-11 AM ( Liebermann also wrote a reply to a paper by Ulrich Busch ("The Land of Milk and Honey - a Leftist Utopia? Critique of the Idea of an Unconditional Basic Income", which was published in "utopie kreativ", no. 181, November 2005. This reply is entitled "Freedom is a Challenge, not the Land of Milk and Honey", and will be published in "utopie kreativ", no. 184, February 2006.

Several German newspapers have echoed the activities of the group "Freedom, not Full Employment". See for instance an interview in "Thüringer Allgemeine " under the titel: "Freiheit zur Muße" (Freedom for Leisure), with Sascha Liebermann, published on January 13, 2006; or an interview in "Tageszeitung" (Taz - regional edition of North Rhine Westfalia) with Sascha Liebermann and Ute Fischer, published on January 28, 2006.

The main Theses defended by the group are now translated into French on its website:


BIEN reports, according to the January 27, 2006 issue of the daily newspaper "The Namibian" (Windhoek), Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba met representatives of the Basic Income Grant Coalition (BIG) at State House. The Coalition, made up of a host of different organisations, is lobbying for the introduction of an unconditional N$100 minimum grant to every Namibian not yet eligible for a Government pension. The President met the head of the delegation, Bishop Zephania Kameeta, BIG coordinator Reverend Philip Strydom, Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) Director Norman Tjombe and academic researcher Reverend Dirk Haarman, in a closed-door session to discuss the implementation of the proposed grant. At the end of the day, Pohamba had "not committed himself to anything", Kameeta said after emerging from the hour-long meeting, although the President did promise to take the matter up with Cabinet. "That's all we can ask," Kameeta said. "We cannot give the President of Namibia a time frame, but for us this was enough. The most positive thing is that he said we must stay in consultation, stay in communication. We had a very open and frank discussion. He asked very frank questions, so the meeting went beyond our expectations."

The idea for a Namibian basic income started in 2002, Kameeta told the President before the closed-door session began, when Government's Namibian Tax Consortium (Namtax) stated that it found the best method of addressing poverty and inequality to be a universal income grant. The grant would retrieve the money from those not in need, Kameeta said, through progressive tax adjustments. In this same way, the grant would overcome the threat of people becoming dependent on it. Last year, BIG Coalition representatives met the then Speaker of the National Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab, and the Parliamentary Committee on Human Resources, Social and Community Development. According to Reverend Haarman, both entities were supportive of the idea.


BIEN reports, in 2005 the Universal Income Trust (UIT) has promoted and made available its educational brochures and other resources extensively throughout New Zealand, in both urban and rural areas. This has been done via telephone, email, physical post and in person. As a result, the Trust's support networks have been greatly strengthened and extended. It has received help from an increasing number of organisations and individuals who have wished to display and/or distribute Universal Income resources. The types of organisations have included the tertiary education sector especially student associations, citizen advice centres, information centres, recycling centres, community houses, pre-school centres, cafes, and 170 or so public libraries which constitutes almost the entire public library network in Aotearoa. The Asian translations have been appreciated in many areas. The Trust now has two static vertical displays: Universal Income for a Sustainable Future and Universal Income Systems: A Global Vignette. One or both have been mounted in various public libraries.


BIEN reports, in the context of the reform of the European Common Agrarian Policy, Spanish Ministry of Agriculture held a meeting with the Deputy Director of the General Secretariat for Underprivileged Zones and a small group of Basic Income supporters at the end of December 2005. The main topic of discussion was the differences between a universal unconditional Basic Income and a guaranteed income focused on farmers. Although the representatives of the Ministry did not make a substantial commitment, they showed disposal to give support to a symposium on Basic Income. The aim of the participants at the meeting was to convince the Ministry of Agriculture to raise the cause of Basic Income at the debates on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union.
For further information:


8. New Publications

Class, Race and Inequality in South Africa (Yale UP, 2005)

Jeremy Seekings and Nicoli Nattrass

This large volume provides a detailed analysis of the changing nature of inequality in South Africa since the 1940s, arguing that the basis of inequality has shifted from race to class. Inequality has remained high - and perhaps even risen - since the transition to democracy, because the state has maintained key aspects of the 'distributional regime' that characterized the late apartheid period, and has not implemented the reforms necessary to improve the position of the poor. The book provides a critique from the global South of the 'worlds of welfare capitalism' literature. It concludes with proposals for a more transformative distributional regime, including a basic income grant.

“Globalization as Hyper-Alienation: Critiques of Traditional Marxism as Arguments for Basic Income,”

Harry F. Dahms
Social Theory as Politics in Knowledge (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, vol. 23) (London: Elsevier, 2005), pp. 205-76

Basic income-related schemes both try to retain and overcome certain aspects of the social welfare state. Combined with Keynesian social and economic policies, the social welfare state helped to secure social and political stability, and facilitated unprecedented economic expansion and development. Yet in retrospect, the social policy paradigm that emerged during the Cold War does not appear to have been directed at eradicating, nor at alleviating once and for all, those inequalities. Rather, it sustained a network of enduring social and economic inequalities. Both van Parijs and van der Veen's argument about basic income that began with "a capitalist road to communism" (1986), and Moishe Postone's “reinterpretation of Marx's critical theory” (1993), are critiques of “traditional Marxism” that complement and support each other in important ways, as they strengthen arguments for basic income by emphasizing how the thrust of critical Marxism is directed at illuminating how the dominant social policy paradigm is a mechanism that maintains forms of social, political, cultural and economic life in a state of stasis that is increasingly immune to qualitative transformations.

-From BIEN

"Do the Poor Deserve Less Than Surfers? An Essay for the Special Issue on Vulnerable Consumers."

Ronald Paul Hill
Journal of Macromarketing, Dec2005, 25 (2), p215-218.

In his seminal work on an unconditional basic income for each citizen, Philippe Van Parijs provides a new paradigm to facilitate a discussion on the morality (or lack there of) inherent within our global distribution system of goods and services. He also (implicitly) challenges the field to consider the impact of greater exchange parity upon our material world and the quality of life afforded our most vulnerable consumers. After briefly presenting his approach, the work of John Rawls on distributive justice and this author's own research on consumption adequacy is integrated into this perspective to form a powerful model for policy makers. Ronald Paul Hill is Bank of America Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility and founding dean, College of Business, University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

-From BIEN

"Reform 30/30: Rebuilding Australia's Tax and Welfare System"

John Humphreys
CIS Policy Monograph 70, 27pp

Much has been said about the need for tax and welfare reform in Australia. In this paper the author argues that the tyranny of the status quo and self-imposed limitations such as ‘budget neutrality’ and ‘no-person-worse-off ’ has doomed any radical reform proposal to failure. He advocates what he calls a “tax revolution” for Australia: “Reform 30/30”. Under Reform 30/30, all income taxes (company, Capital Gains Tax [CGT], Pay As You Go [PAYG], Fringe Benefits Tax [FBT]) would be equal at 30%, and the "Medicare levy" removed. The tax free threshold (TFT) would be increased to A$30,000 per person and all tax expenditures (tax deductions, offsets, and so on) would be removed. The current welfare system would be replaced by a sliding scale of payments (a Negative Income Tax or NIT) that phased out at 30% and finished at an income of A$30,000. The NIT would allow the removal of the minimum wage which would lead to the creation of 500,000 new jobs. The incentives for low-income earners will be improved as their effective marginal tax rate (EMTR) is reduced from over 60% to 30%­so that people have an incentive to take the new jobs. According to the author of this study, these two policies represent the best solution to unemployment and Reform 30/30 is unambiguously beneficial to the economy with estimated benefits of A$90 billion as well as higher ongoing economic growth. Reform 30/30 is unambiguously simpler than the current system with no tax return, no tax avoidance opportunities and much lower administrative costs. Issues of equity will always be contentious, but Reform 30/30 is more equitable than the status quo for several reasons. First, it massively reduces unemployment and poverty. Second, it ends the discrimination against couples. Third, it ends the discrimination against risky business and inconsistent income. Finally, this reform will actually pay for itself. Rough estimates suggest a medium-term impact on the budget of +A$15 billion per year, and more in the long run. Reform 30/30 offers 500,000 new jobs, less poverty, a A$90 billion bigger economy, higher growth rates, lower tax levels and a simpler, fairer tax/welfare system and more money in the budget. The price is that some sacred cows of politics (‘progressive’ tax, minimum wage, no- person- worse-off ) will have to be sacrificed. It’s worth it, the author concludes.

The paper can be downloaded at

-From BIEN

The citizen's stake. Exploring the future of universal asset policies

Will Paxton, Stuart White and Dominic Maxwell
Bristol, The Policy Press, 224 pages, Paperback ISBN 1861346999, Hardback ISBN 1861347006.

Can and should asset-based policies such as universal capital grants become a new pillar of the welfare state? Can they form the basis for a more egalitarian form of market economy? The citizen's stake throws open the debate by bringing together the ideas of leading thinkers in academia and policy to explore the future scope of asset-based policies in Britain.

The book examines asset-based welfare in connection with a wide range of issues, from tax policy to childcare, and includes the results of two innovative studies of public opinion on capital grants and inheritance tax. It is the first time that public opinion work has been integrated with theory into a serious and cohesive consideration of practical options for the future of asset-based welfare.

The citizen's stake is accessibly written and aimed at a broad audience of academics, students and policy-makers. Indeed, anyone interested in how this new policy field can and should develop will want to read this book. The discussions are relevant to academics, researchers and policy makers overseas, particularly in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland and Sweden, where there is a high level of interest in this topic.

Will Paxton edited this volume whilst a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research. In the past, he has published on savings policy, volunteering and democratic participation, financial exclusion and poverty. Stuart White is Fellow in Politics at Jesus College, Oxford University. He researches in political theory and public policy and is the author of The Civic Minimum: On the Rights and Obligations of Economic Citizenship (2003) and co-editor of The Ethics of Stakeholding (2003, with Keith Dowding and Jurgen De Wispelaere). Dominic Maxwell is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Before joining IPPR he was a Research Assistant for a Labour MP, and has previous experience at HM Treasury and Progress.

Publisher's website:

Third editor's address: "Dominic Maxwell"


9. New Discussion Papers

The USBIG Discussion Paper Series is an online series of unpublished academic papers on the basic income guarantee or the state of poverty and inequality for the purpose generating discussion of the papers in advance of publication. New papers are listed in the USBIG Newsletter. Links to all papers in the series and the instructions for authors are online at New papers this month are:

No. 139: “A proposal to establish a social fund in the USA to eliminate poverty through a tax surcharge on households earning incomes of more than $100,000 per year”

Abe Bloom and Steve Bloom

No. 140: “Employment and Disability: Some Emerging Questions”

Jennifer Mays

No. 141: “Faint Praise for a Chimera: Selectivity versus Universalism in Social Policy”

John Tomlinson

No. 142: “A Declaration of Independences”

Stephen C. Clark

ABSTRACT: A Basic Income, shared equally among all citizens, funded as follows: 5% National Sales Tax, 1% National Property Tax, 15% National Income Tax, No Exemptions, No Deductions. Local, State, and National Governments share equally, 1/3 each on a per capita basis, 5% National Sales Tax, 1% National Property Tax, 15% National Income Tax, No Exemptions, No Deductions. This would make the tax burden equal everywhere: 10% National Sales Tax, 2% National Property Tax, 30% National Income Tax, No Exemptions, No Deductions. This would provide universal economic security, and unavoidable taxes

No. 143:"National Sales Tax: Making a Basic Income Guarantee Palatable to the Powerful”

Maria A. Janicke and Ellen A. Hadley

No. 144: It’s Time to Think BIG: How to Simplify the Tax Code and Provide Every American with a Basic Income Guarantee”

Allan Sheahen

ABSTRACT: This proposal dramatically simplifies the tax code and shows how the United States can afford to provide a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) to every citizen. A BIG would virtually end hunger and poverty in America and provide economic freedom and security to everyone.

No. 145: “Fund BI not from income but from outgo”

Jeffrey J. Smith

ABSTRACT: The only example of BI is Alaska sharing oil rent. It contradicts the prevailing assumption that a social stipend must come from redistributing income. Actually, an income supplement could, and should, come from redirecting outgo, i.e., spending. That is, instead of paying owners for never-produced land, pay ourselves. We could pay land dues into the public treasury according to the value of our claimed nature – sites, resources, EM spectrum, ecosystem services, etc – and get rent dividends back in equal amounts to members of society. Not only is doing so more equitable – no one made nature, all of us need her, and all of us create her market value – but sharing land value is also more efficient than redistribution. Redistributing income requires us to tax earned income in order to pay a basic income. Taxing the rich and the employed weigh heavily on any economy, discouraging work, savings, and investment, while inflating the price for land. And we don’t have a right to others’ earnings but only to society’s surplus, our commonwealth, all the money we spend on the nature we use. Unlike taxation, redirecting all the money we spend on nature – trillions of dollars annually in the US – stimulates more and more efficient production. It also, by generously lifting the income floor, closes the wide gulfs in income, wealth, power, social standing, and self-esteem. Sharing rent, unlike redistributing income, stands on both moral tradition and universal logic.

No. 146: "On Duty"

Karl Widerquist

ABSTRACT: A common objection to basic income is that people have duties to each other, such as helping the infirm or contributing to the social project. Often it is assumed that a person who lives entirely off basic income makes no contribution to the social product, but this ignores passive contribution. Basic income recipients have access to fewer natural resources than everyone else, and therefore, make property available to reward others for doing whatever society demands. If duties are capable of grounding a social responsibility to work, the connection requires a reason why this duty implies an active contribution. This article examines the case for a duty, and argues for three limits on a government’s ability to enforce active duties. First, the force must be necessary. Second, the duties must be applied as equally as possible to all people in every way. Third, if duties are necessary, society is in an emergency situation, and society as a whole has the responsibility to get out of the emergency as quickly as possible or to minimize its effects as much as possible. These limits imply that the existence of duties does not support the case for lifetime mandatory participation and against basic income. If any mandatory participation is needed in a society that provides equal freedom for all, it must take the form of national services in which everyone—rich and poor alike—performs the same duty for the same period of time for the same reward, receiving basic income as a national service pension.

No. 147: “Corporate Watch, Consumer Responsibility, and Economic Democracy: Forms of political action in the orbit of basic income"

Sandra Gonzalez Bailon and David Casassas

The political power of private corporations has grown in the last decades as much as the inability of the States to interfere. The control of the public sphere has progressively fallen in the hands of private factions that deprive citizens of their right to control their rulers, with the consequent cut in their freedom and autonomy. Still, certain forms of resistance have emerged to refill with politics what once was seen as mere market exchanges. Campaigns of consumer and stakeholder activism have forced many big companies to introduce in their discourse concepts such as social responsibility, business ethics, environmental policies, community development or corporate governance. Despite the hypocrisy of the means, these campaigns allow citizens to be belligerent with their goals: in exchange for a good image (in exchange for higher sales), corporations are forced to adopt measures that protect their products from consumers’ ethics; and consumers manage to conquer this way a bit of the terrain stolen from their sovereignty. The will that citizens once expressed with their votes is now being expressed from sports departments, petrol stations and supermarket tills. The aim of this paper is to find the point of convergence between these strategies of corporate watch and the proposal for a Basic Income. Exercising the citizenship in the world being built by big corporations demands a material autonomy to decide in the marketplace what cannot be decided anywhere else. A Basic Income promotes, to begin with, the expansion of this new power of political expression beyond the middle classes: it makes it as universal as the vote was once made. The effects that, in the long run, would follow the introduction of a Basic Income are surely as radical as irreversible in the configuration of new relations of power. But these lines do not aim that far: they intend to highlight the symmetry that exists between a new way of social protest and the support promised by the introduction of a Basic Income. The argument unfolds as follows: first, a summary is given of the strategies that, since the mid nineties, have been used systematically by the corporate watch initiatives. All these strategies require the complicity of citizens in their consumers’ role. Then, the results of these campaigns are assessed, with special attention to the discourse on corporate responsibility echoed today by most companies. Finally, the political implications of this discourse are evaluated and the points of convergence between the consumer ethic and the Basic Income proposal, highlighted.

No. 148: “The Poverty of Politics”

S.A. Butler

'The Poverty of Politics' is a paper which takes off from a critique of the proposition, advanced in Lawrence M. Mead's The New Politics of Poverty, that welfare policy ought to return to 'the competence assumption' he identifies as underlying the programs of the New Deal. My critique begins with John Rawls's account of liberalism and Philippe van Parijs's related argument for a basic income. This contextualization is necessary for liberal debates around welfare conditionality, debates which take as given the notion of 'work', moving on to questions of responsibility and entitlement. I argue that, by doing philosophy in our politics, we gain a better understanding of the sorts of politics assumed in our terminology. My proposal is that any program of welfare conditionality ought to be based on a broader, reflective notion of work, including such aspects as Eva Kittay's 'care work' and Karl Marx's 'labor of individuation'.


12. New Links


11. Links and Other Info

For links to dozens of BIG Websites around the world, go to, and click on "links." These links are to any website with information about BIG, but USBIG does not necessarily endorse their content or their agendas.


Editor: Karl Widerquist
Research: Paul Nollen
Copyediting: Copyediting: Mike Murray and the USBIG Committee
Thanks for help with this issue to: Thanks for help with this issue to: Yannick Vanderborght

THE U.S. BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE (USBIG) NETWORK publishes this newsletter. The Network is dedicated to promoting the discussion of the 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: 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.

As always, your comments on this newsletter and the USBIG website are gladly welcomed.


-Karl Widerquist, Coordinator, USBIG.