This is the Newsletter of the USBIG Network (www.usbig.net), which promotes the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a policy that would unconditionally guarantee at least a subsistence-level income for everyone. If you would like to be added to or removed from this list please email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
1. EDITORIAL: CHANGING OF THE GUARD
AT THE USBIG NETWORK
2. BASIC INCOME STUDIES BEGINS ITS THIRD VOLUME
3. BIEN HOLDS ITS TWELFTH CONGRESS AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN DUBLIN, JUNE 2008
4. A NEW MOVEMENT LINKING CO2 LIMITS TO A SMALL BIG RECEIVES PARTIAL ENDORSEMENT FROM OBAMA
5. ALASKANS MAY GET A SECOND DIVIDEND THIS YEAR
6. U.S. SOCIALIST LEADER CALLS FOR A BASIC INCOME
7. BIG NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
A. The Namibian Pilot Project Found to Reduce Malnutrition in Children
B. Mongolia’s Ruling Party Promises to Set Up an Alaska-Style Dividend
C. Canadian BIG Supporters Organizing
D. Brazil’s Bolsa Familia Shows Signs of Success
E. Discussion of Negative Income Tax in Taiwan
F. Some Support For BIG Among German Politicians
G. Buthelezi and Other South African Leaders Support BIG
8. RECENT EVENTS
9. UPCOMING EVENTS
10. RECENT PUBLICATIONS
11. NEW LINKS
12. LINKS AND OTHER INFO
By Karl Widerquist, Visiting Lecturer, the
University of Reading (UK); USBIG
Newsletter Editor and former USBIG
This June, I was elected co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), which is the international BIG network with 16 national affiliates around the world. The USBIG Network is one of those affiliates. With that new job to do, I decided to step down as coordinator of USBIG, although I will remain closely involved with it. I will continue to edit the USBIG Newsletter and maintain the membership list. I will also continue to be a member of the BIG Committee.
Michael Howard, of the University of Maine, volunteered to take over the role of USBIG Coordinator starting in June 2008. His main duties as coordinator will be to handle inquiries, to maintain the USBIG.net website, and to coordinate the activities of the other members of the committee.
Michael Howard is a professor of philosophy at the University of Maine at Orono. He received his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Boston University. He is active in several societies including the International Institute for Self-management, the Radical Philosophy Association, the North American Society for Social Philosophy, and the Basic Income Earth Network.
Professor Howard specializes in social and political philosophy and teaches courses on justice, political and economic democracy, the history of philosophy and formal logic. He has published numerous articles (including several on BIG) and a book entitled Self-Management and the Crisis of Socialism, which includes several chapters on BIG. He has also published an anthology of readings entitled Socialism.
His research interests include social and political philosophy, workplace and economic democracy, basic income, global justice, and philosophy of social science. His articles on BIG include "Liberal and Marxist Justifications for Basic Income", "Basic Income and Migration Policy: A Moral Dilemma?", "Basic Income and Job Guarantees: Alternatives or Complements?", and "Basic Income and Cooperatives." He won the 2006 Basic Income Studies (BIS) Essay Prize for his presentation, "A NAFTA Dividend: A Guaranteed Minimum Income for North America," at the 2006 BIEN Conference in Cape Town. That article was published in BIS in 2007.
The role of USIG Coordinator—like all roles in USBIG—is a purely voluntary position. USBIG has no formal rules, structure, or budget. Its day-to-day operation is managed by the USBIG Committee—a group of volunteers including Steve Shafarman (Activist Liaison), Al Sheahen (Public Relations), Karl Widerquist (Newsletter Editor), Michael Lewis, Eri Noguchi, Almaz Zelleke, Fred Block, and the newest member Michael Howard (Coordinator). The membership of USBIG meets at each USBIG Congress. So far, every general meeting has endorsed the open structure of USBIG, although we expect that we will eventually create a formal structure.
If you would like to volunteer for USBIG please contact Michael Howard (Michael_Howard@umit.maine.edu). We are especially in need of people with web, communications, publicity, and fundraising skills, and we are open to ideas from people who want to get involved.
I have enjoyed my eight years as USBIG Coordinator. When we first organized the group, we took on only one modest goal—to try to increase discussion of basic income in the United States. With seven congresses, a book, nearly 200 discussion papers and I-do-not-know-how-many published articles, I think we’re succeeding in that goal. I hope we can take on more ambitious goals in the future. I have also enjoyed writing the newsletter. Thanks to the internet I have been able to send this newsletter out over the years from places as diverse as New York, Quebec City, Brussels, Tokyo, Cassopolis (Michigan), New Orleans, Oxford, and even from Kiruna (above the Arctic Circle in Sweden). I'm writing right now on board a train leaving Moosonee, Ontario. While I look forward to helping BIEN organize, I also look forward to continuing to write the USBIG Newsletter and to contribute to USBIG with Michael Howard as coordinator.
-Karl Widerquist, July 2008
Basic Income Studies
(BIS), the international academic journal of basic income research, has
published the first issue of its third volume, with which BIS expands
issues per year. The format of each issue will change slightly but the
articles published in the course of a year will be very much the same.
past, each issue included Research Articles, shorter Research Notes,
Reviews, and a Debate Section with several authors contributing short
on a single topic. Beginning with this volume, two issues per year will
Articles, Notes, and Book Reviews, while the final issue will be
to an expanded Debate with longer contributions by each participant.
The current issue includes the following articles:
Basic Income and the Labor Contract
How Cash Transfers Promote the Case for Basic Income
Basic Income and the Canadian Welfare State: Exploring the Realms of Possibility
James P. Mulvale
Book review of Joel F. Handler and Yeheskel Hasenfeld, Blame Welfare, Ignore Poverty and Inequality
Book review of Charles Murray, In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State
Book review of Paul Kershaw, Carefair: Rethinking the Responsibilities and Rights of Citizenship
This ariticles and all articles from past issues of BIS can be found online at www.bepress.com/bis/.
The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) held its
International Conference in Dublin, Ireland, June 20-21, 2008. The
local organizing committee was lead by Sean Healy with the support of
the Council of Religious of Ireland. The event was attended by 261
people from 23 countries as
as New Zealand, South Africa, and Argentina. More than 80 presentations
were given. Written remarks from 52 of those presentations have been
posted on the web so far.
The theme of this World Congress was Inequality and Development in a Globalised Economy: The Basic Income Option. The parallel sessions included panels on topics such as global justice, gender and care, migrants, the environment, routes to introducing Basic Income, and the experiences of many countries (from the global north and south), social justice and the meaning of life, freedom and reciprocity, the institutional implications of Basic Income, the economic implications of introducing a Basic Income, and detailed analysis on a variety of ways of funding Basic Income.
Plenary presenters included:
-Peter Townsend (London School of Economics)
-Michael Kitt (Government Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland)
-Carole Pateman (School of European Studies, Cardiff University, UK and UCLA, USA)
-Katja Kipping (Member of the German Parliament representing the Left Party)
-Hugh D. Segal (Senator, Canadian Parliament representing the Conservative Party)
-Pablo Yanes (The Mexican Basic Income Network)
-Charles M. A. Clark (Professor of Economics, St John's University, New York)
-Richard Caputo (Professor of Social Policy & Research, Yeshiva University, New York)
-Philippe Van Parijs (the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and Harvard University, USA)
-Guy Standing (the University of Bath)
The conference closed with the twelfth biannual General Assembly of BIEN’s membership. About 100 BIEN members attended. At the meeting, Guy Standing and Eduardo Suplicy stepped down as co-chairs and were both elected as honorary co-presidents. Along with Philippe Van Parijs (chair of BIEN’s International Board), Guy and Eduardo will be part of the public face of BIEN although they will no longer take part in the day-to-day running of the network.
Four national organizations applied for and became BIEN affiliates at the General Assembly, bringing the total number of BIEN affiliates to 16. The new BIEN affiliates represent the nations of Canada, Italy, Japan, and Mexico.
The General Assembly elected four women and four men to fill the roles of BIEN’s new Executive Committee (EC) for the next two years. The members of the new EC are Karl Widerquist, of the University of Reading-UK (co-chair); Ingrid Van Niekirk, of the Institute for Public Policy Research-University of Cape Town-South Africa (co-chair); David Casassas, of the University of Barcelona-Spain (Secretary); Yannick Vanderborght, of the University of Brussels-Belgium (NewsFlash Editor); Almaz Zelleke, of The New School-USA (Treasurer-Fundraiser-Regional Coordinator); Simon Birnbaum, of the University of Stockholm-Sweden (Website manager); Eri Noguchi, of the Association to Benefit Children-USA (Regional Coordinator-Fundraiser); and Louise Haag, of the University of York-UK (Regional Coordinator-Fundraiser). James Mulvale was co-opted by the committee to be a nonvoting member of the EC as an additional Regional Coordinator-Fundraiser.
The General Assembly chose Sao Paolo as the location for its Thirteenth Congress, which will be held in June or July of 2010. The organizer of the Sao Paolo conference (to be named later) will become a member of the BIEN EC.
BIEN has also recently announced its new website. The new site includes all the information from the old website in a more accessible and easier to navigate format. The site was designed by Rachel Collins under direction of the BIEN Executive Committee with special input from Karl Widerquist and Yannick Vanderborght. The website contains all the current and past BIEN NewsFlashes, and conference papers from this year’s BIEN Conference in Dublin as well as papers from past BIEN conferences going back to the late 1990s. Historical and current information on BI and BIEN are available on the site, and it has links to the websites of all BIEN’s affiliates, other BI organizations around the world, and another websites with information useful to people interested in Basic Income.
The new BIEN website, which includes further information about this year’s BIEN Congress and conference papers from this year and all BIEN conference since 1998, can be found online at www.basicincome.org.
For a direct link to the conference papers go to: http://corilist.hyperlink.ie/lt/t_go.php?i=93&e=MTc5MA==&l=-http--www.cori.ie/Justice/Basic_Income/62-Basic_Income/541-bien-world-congress-on-basic-income.
A new movement has sprung up recently that links
CO2 emissions with a small basic income. A Peter Barnes, Senior Fellow
of “On the
is promoting the “cap and dividend”, which is basically a resource
applied to CO2 emissions. Under the plan, the government caps CO2
the limited number of permits to the sellers of oil, coal, natural gas
other CO2-emitting products. The companies will pass the cost of the
onto consumers, so that each person pays proportionately to the amount
emissions they are responsible for. The government can further reduce
emissions each year, which will likely raise the price of permits. The
government redistributes the
from the auction equally to all citizens in the form of a monthly or
The dividend represents exactly one per capita share of the cost of the emissions permits. That means that a person who emits an average amount of CO2 receives back in her dividend just as much as she pays in higher fuel costs; a person who emits more than average pays more in higher fuel costs than she receives in the dividend; and a person who emits less than average receives more in her dividend than she pays in higher fuel cost. Therefore, cap and dividend redistributes from those who pollute more to those who pollute less. The dividend is also—of course—a small basic income guarantee.
According the CapandDividend.org, “Cap and dividend is a simple, market-based way to reduce CO2 emissions without reducing household incomes. It caps fossil fuel supplies, makes polluters pay, and returns the revenue to everyone equally.”
A similar proposal known as “cap and share” has also been proposed. Under this system, the government also caps emissions and creates permits to sell CO2-emmitting products. However, instead of auctioning them off, it sends an equal number of permits to each citizen. The citizens can sell them for the market price to a local bank or broker who will resell the permit to companies who sell fossil fuels. The citizen can instead destroy the permit and reduce emissions that much more. “Cap and dividend” directly creates a basic income guarantee through the dividend system. “Cap and Share” indirectly allows people the opportunity to receive a basic income guarantee by selling their emissions permits.
“Cap and Dividend” has gotten well-known politicians to endorse basic income, perhaps without even realizing it. Former Vice-President Al Gore and Former Treasury Secretary Robert Reich have both endorsed cap and dividend, and it is beginning to be discussed by legislators, a few of who have seen the connection with basic income. According to BIEN, Molly Scott Cato, the economics spokesperson of the Green Party of England and Wales has sought to make “Cap and Dividend” Green Party policy rather than “Cap and Share,” because the former would provide the basis of a Citizen's Income.
According to the Cap and Dividend website, "For some time, Barack Obama has supported a carbon cap and 100% auction of carbon permits. Now he’s calling for returning a ‘huge chunk’ of auction revenue to consumers to offset higher energy prices." Rolling Stone Magazine quoted Obama saying, "If we institute a cap-and-trade system, that’s going to mean higher prices for consumers, so a huge chunk of that has to go back to consumers in the form of rebates, so they don’t feel the pinch as badly.” Whether Obama's version of the tax rebate will take the form of universal grant remains to be clarified.
For further information: http://www.capanddividend.org/
UK-based project: http://www.capandshare.org/
Molly Scott Cato’s blog: http://gaianeconomics.blogspot.com/
David Roberts's three-part report is online at:
For more information, visit onthecommons.org or contact:
Kathleen Maloney, coordinator
On The Commons
PO Box 14967
Minneapolis MN 55414
Alaska governor Sarah Palin
proposing to give a second dividend of $1200 all Alaskans who are
the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend which will probably be worth about
this year. That would be a total of something in the neighborhood of
person or more than $13,500 for a family of five--about $800 dollars
more per person than the divdend has ever been before. Recent high
have created a mixed blessing for Alaska which provides two different
motivations for the Governor's proposal.
First, Alaskans pay a lot for energy. Although they export oil, they have to import gasoline because there are few refineries in the state. Alaska has an extremely low population densition so that most Alaskans find themselves driving or flying long distances on a regular basis. Of course, their cold climate makes them large consumers of energy. Second, most of the state’s tax revenue comes from taxes on oil, and the high price of oil has put the government in the enviable position of trying to decide what to do with its enormous budget surplus. The increase in oil prices has in this way simultaneously caused most Alaskans to have much lower disposable income and the Alaskan government to have a much higher disposable income. Therefore it makes a great deal of sense for the government to pay its citizens a dividend.
According to Gregg Erickson, one of the architects of the original Permanent Fund in 1982, state officials expect revenue of $15.9 billion for each of fiscal years 2008 and 2009. Gov. Palin's proposed budget calls for spending $8.8 billion per year. That is an enormous potential surplus of $7.1 billion. Dividing that money for each Alaskan, as Erickson recommends would create a one-time dividend of $10,757 plus the Permanent Fund for a total of more than $12,000 per person or the enormous sum of $60,000 for a family of five. It sounds outlandish, but all of that money comes from Alaska’s oil revenue and Alaska’s constitution states that every resident of Alaska equally owns Alaska’s resources. That huge payment would be no more than their ownership entitles them, but it is much more than they are likely to get.
Simply lowering taxes is a non-starter in a case like this. To see why, imagine the Exxon-Mobile Corporation was renting your back yard to make profits for itself. The company has recently made billions of dollars in profits despite the rent it pays you. Suddenly you find that you’re making much more money than you’re spending. You could probably think of many ways to use that money, but you would be very unlikely to give it to Exxon-Mobile. Just the same, the State of Alaska is unlikely to reduce its budget surpblus by lowering taxes on oil companies.
If the government simply donated the $7.1 billion surplus to the Permanent Fund it would increase the principal by nearly 20%, which would in turn increase the dividend every year from now on and eventually adding up to far more than $10,757 per person. One simple reform that has not yet been seriously considered in Alaska would be to mandate that all state budget surpluses be invested in the Permanent Fund. Given the current outlook for oil prices such a strategy would lead to large and permanent increases in the Alaska dividend within only a few years.
Instead, according to Erickson, $5 billion of this year’s surplus has already been devoted to a government rainy-day fund to be spent the next time the budget is in deficit. Most of the rest of the money is likely to go to other government projects. Governor Palin’s proposal for a $1200 one-time dividend represents only a small percentage of the oil-boom created budget surplus. Nevertheless, it is controversial, with legislators calling for many different ways to spend the surplus, and different ways of dealing with the high price of energy--some of which amount to subsidies to energy suppliers. Legislators rejected a smaller one-time grant of $500 per person in April. That grant, however, would have come out of the Permanent Fund causing all future dividends to be slightly smaller. The new proposal is an additional grant that is apparently not financed by taking money out of the Permanent Fund.
The Alaska Permanent Fund itself has had hard financial times recently. The decrease in the stock market has caused a significant drop in the value of its principal. The fund reached a high of $40 billion dollars last year, but it is now down to $37.65 billion. Oil prices of more than $100 a barrel have added new tax revenue to the fund, but state taxes on oil are low and the fund receives only 1/8th of those taxes. Also, the fund's accumulated principal is now so large that asset-price fluctuations often have a greater impact on the fund than new tax revenues. The actual size of the dividend is only slightly affected by short-term changes in oil prices or the value of the firms, because the dividend is calculated from a five-year average of returns to the fund’s assets. Fund managers credit diversification with reducing the impact of stock market declines on the fund. Only ten percent of the fund is invested in domestic stocks with ten percent more in foreign stocks. Much of the rest of the fund is in domestic and foreign bonds, which have performed much better over the past year.
For Gregg Erickson’s column go to:
Other sources include KTUU news and the Juneau Empire.
According to BIEN, Stewart A. Alexander, Candidate
President for the U.S. Socialist Party and the U.S. Peace and Freedom
that the American federal government “must develop programs to relieve
people from the tremendous debt burden that modern capitalism
creates.” It is necessary, Alexander argues, “to establish a Universal
Income (UBI) for all working people, and full comprehensive assistance
aging. Even though many socialists have called for a Universally
Personal Income (UGI), in the 21st Century it has become extremely
due to the multitude of failures inherent in a capitalist system.”
See Alexander’s post at:
The Namibian BIG Pilot Project is receiving
positive reports from the Namibian media and as
as Britain. The project
been running for six months (see previous issues of the USBIG
Newsletter). It gives 100 Namibian
(US$13) per month to each resident (under age 60) of the village of Otjivero. (Residents over 60
receive a larger retirement grant from an existing government program.)
Thirteen U.S. dollars does not sound significant to
industrialized nations, but considering the poverty level in Namibia it
important effects on poverty.
Observers have reported that most children no longer run around in rags. Parents have been able to pay their children’s school fees for the first time in years, which has allowed the local school to buy much needed supplies. The local medical clinic has seen an increase in visits because people are now able to afford the fee of 50 cents (U.S.) per visit. Residents living with HIV are now also regularly attending the clinic for counseling and life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs.
Perhaps the most important sign of the success of the project was reported by the Earth Times and repeated by the BBC: “In the past, the nurse had to call in an ambulance a couple of times a month to take malnourished children to the district hospital 70 kilometers away. Since the grant, this has not happened.”
On May 23, 2008, the BBC World News website published a piece by Frauke Jensen on the experiment, under the title: “Namibians line up for free cash.” “Economic activity,” Jensen says, “has picked up in the settlement since the beginning of the year and a grocery store, a hairdresser, a barber and an ice-cream vendor have opened for business. ‘The opponents of BIG always have the reasoning that people will become dependent,’ says Pastor Wilfred Diergaardt. ‘In fact, what we are seeing here is really lifting people up out of dependency into becoming human again’ ... If the pilot project succeeds within the next two years, BIG could become a national provision for all people under the pension age of 60. It could help balance one of the most unequal societies in the world.”
There was some worry that the BIG would cause an increase in black market sales of alcohol, a result the village residents have hoped to prevent. So, far there are no signs of new illegal drinking establishments in Otjivero.
The Basic Income Grant was recommended by a government commission in 2002, but the government passed on the idea citing the expense and the fear that citizens would misspend the additional money. The Namibian Basic Income Grant Coalition and Bishop Zephania Kameeta initiated the pilot project to demonstrate that BIG can be a useful tool to fight poverty in Namibia.
The project is funded entirely by private donations. If you would like to donate please contact the Namibian BIG Coalition at email@example.com, or go to the Basic Income Grant Coalition’s website (www.bignam.org) and download the pledge form with instructions on how to transfer money to the coalition’s bank account.
Additional articles can be found on line:
"'Now we can walk tall': BIG grant changing lives in Namibia," http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/207482,now-we-can-walk-tall-big-grant-changing-lives-in.html
Other Namibian news: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7415814.stm
Report by Wezi Tjaronda for New Era (Windhoek, Namibia) on May 7, 2008: http://allafrica.com/stories/200805070804.html
BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7415814.stm
Web: http://www.cdhaarmann.com/ and http://www.bignam.org/
The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP),
recently retained power in contested elections, has promised to set up
Alaska-style dividend program once it works out an agreement with
companies. According to the Associated Press, “The MPRP promised to
citizen a cash dividend of 1.5 million Tugrig
(US$1,300) once mining production starts. It will also set up a ‘Gift
Motherland’ fund similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund, which pays
the state's residents from oil revenues.” The main opposition party,
Mongolian Democratic Party, “promised to issue a ‘Treasure Share’ worth
million Tugrig dollars (US$860) to each
also would set up a public ‘Bayan Mongol’
Mongol) corporation to develop mining deposits and make all Mongolians
shareholders.” Implementation of either program is still years away at
Canada has seen growing interest in basic income
circles in recent years. Local activist groups in Victoria and Toronto
promoting a “guaranteed livable” or “citizen’s” income. In the last few
USBIG Newsletter has reported on activities in the Maritime Provinces,
Ontario, the Prairie Provinces, and British Columbia. Major political
from opposite ends of the political spectrum have been
favor of the idea in the past year. Senator Hugh Segal and former MP
Stackhouse, both of the Conservative Party, have written editorials
favor of a
negative income tax. Tony Martin, a member of the House of Commons from
left-of-center New Democratic Party, has spoken in favor of BIG. The
Party of Canada has committed in its political platform to pursue the
guaranteed income. Canada’s largest circulation daily newspaper, the Toronto Star, voiced editorial
support as early as 29 January 2007, arguing that “the idea of a
income should be part of the debate on how to fight poverty.”
With all of this interest in BIG across the country, Canada has not had a national network of BIG supports—until now.
The National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO) over the last year has investigated BI / GI approaches, and has promoted discussion of these models in a national face-to-face gathering last summer, and in several conference calls and on-line forums since then. NAPO is now involved with an effort to form a national network of people in Canada interested in Basic (or Guaranteed or Citizen's) Income / Allocation Universelle (in French), along the lines of other national groups affiliated with the Basic Income Earth Network. This network will include social movement groups such as NAPO, but will also seek to involve researchers, policy analysts, political advocates, and interested citizens with a common interest in the promotion of more universal and unconditional approaches to economic security. It will promote careful investigation and informed debate on diverse models and practical options for Guaranteed Income in Canada.
The organization had its first meeting at the BIEN Congress in June. It was attended by about 20 people including Senator Hugh Segal and Tony Martin, MP. The group voted unanimously to apply for (and was granted) BIEN affiliation under the tentative name of BIEN-Canada. The group appointed Jim Mulvale, of the Department of Justice Studies at the University of Regina, to head a provisional organizing committee.
A recent article by Senator Segal, entitled, “Guaranteed Annual Income: Why Milton Friedman and Bob Stanfield Were Right” was adapted from his presentation to the Fraser Institute’s Luncheon Series in Montreal, March 11, 2008. He defended Milton Friedman’s negative income tax proposal: “A modern, productive and economically value-added country requires a clear, efficient, sustainable and direct means of bridging citizens who fall behind …. When potentially, actually or previously productive citizens fall behind, they must have a bridge – a passageway, a “life-cost” allowance which sees them through the rough spots. The GAI-Negative Income Tax would and could do just that – and we should not dither on making it a real policy choice.”
One month earlier, according to BIEN, Senator Segal filed a motion asking that the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology “be authorized to examine and report on the implementation of a guaranteed annual income system, including the negative income tax model, as a qualitative improvement in income security, with a view to reducing the number of Canadians now living under the poverty line”.
Another conservative figure, Reginald Stackhouse, a former Member of the Federal House of Commons, now of the University of Toronto, published a column in The Toronto Star (February 17, 2008), arguing for basic income in Canada. "Some ideas are rejected in the public forum not because they have been tried and found wanting but because they have been found challenging and not tried. One of them is a proposal that can really make poverty history in this country—no, not by increasing any or all of our existing social programs. Just the opposite. They will be replaced by a basic income policy, a.k.a. guaranteed annual income or negative income tax. It will provide all Canadians with an annual income, regardless of what other income they enjoy, earned or unearned."
In March 2008, according to BIEN, NAPO engaged in a lively discussion with the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW, one of Canada's largest private sector unions, see http://www.caw.ca/). Rob Rainer, Executive Director of NAPO discussed BIG in an exchange with Laurell Ritchie, National Representative of CAW-Canada, who expressed concern about how guaranteed income could undermine efforts to improve labor standards including the minimum wage.
For further information on the exchange between Rainer and Ritchie contact: Rob Rainer: firstname.lastname@example.org or Laurell Ritchie: email@example.com
Reginald Stackhouse’s column is available at:
Senator Segal’s speech can be found on line at: http://www.irpp.org/po/archive/apr08/segal.pdf.
See also Segal’s website: http://sen.parl.gc.ca/hsegal/
To get involved with BIEN Canada or further Information about it, please contact: Jim Mulvale: phone, (+1) 306-585-4237; email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bolsa Família
Program (Family Scholarship Program), which was set up as a step toward
income for all Brazilians, constitutes one of the main instruments of
Lula da Silva to secure that all
Brazilians may be able to feed
themselves at least three times per day, to eradicate hunger and
poverty in Brazil. According to the law that defines the program, all
income per capita below R$120 have access
to the Bolsa Família.
(Currently US$ 1.00
is equivalent to R$ 1.72.)
BEIN Reports that families must show that their children up to six years of age are taking the vaccines recommended by the Ministry of Health, as well as visit the health posts to check their development and nutrition. The children above 7 must attend at least 85% of the classes in school. The parents, wherever possible, must endeavor to do literacy and professional improvement courses.
From March 17 of this year on, families meeting those criteria and also having adolescents of 16 and 17 years of age that attend at least 85% of school classes have the right to receive the Youth Variable Benefit (Benefício Variável Jovem) of R$30.00 for each one, with a maximum of two, that is, R$60.00. Therefore, now the Bolsa Família benefit may vary from a minimum of R$18.00 to a maximum of R$172.00 per family.
According to BIEN, in February 2008, there were 11.12 million families enrolled in the Bolsa Família Program. This is near 100% of the families that have monthly income per capita below R$120.00. Taking into account an average of 4 persons per family, this corresponds to about 44.4 million people or about one-fourth of the present Brazilian population of 186.5 million today.
Presently the Minister of Social Development is coordinating efforts with the Brazilian Army to reach and find all Brazilians who still do not have their Identification Card. The Government estimates that there may be 3 million Brazilians still without any registration. In 2007, the Brazilian government spent R$7.5 billion on the Bolsa Família Program. For 2008, with the adjustments in the benefit values, the Federal Government Budget estimates expenditures of R$11 billion on the program. There is a consensus among analysts that the Bolsa Família program among other policies, has contributed for diminishing the Brazil's "Gini Coefficient" (an international measure of inequality) from 0.563, in 2002, to 0.541, in 2006.
Senator Eduardo Suplicy of Brazil, who sponsored the legislation that created the Bolsa Familia, visited East Timor in June to discuss BIG with members of the East Timor Parliament. Brazil and East Timor have a special connection as Portuguese-speaking countries. This visit follows Suplicy’s visit to Iraq earlier this year to discussion BIG with government officials there. Suplicy has also been working towards the full implementation of BIG in Brazil.
According to a recent editorial in the Taipei
of the in-coming Taiwanese administration, especially Vice President
Vincent Siew and Minister of Finance Lee Sush-der,
have talked seriously about introducing a Negative Income Tax in
President Ma Ying-jeou included it in a
paper during the presidential campaign, although it was not a major
Neither social welfare groups nor labor rights groups have been
The plan under discussion is seen as a serious social welfare measure
the lines of the Negative Income Tax that was discussed in the United
the 1960s and 1970s. According to the editorial, entitled “Would
work?”, by Chou Li-Fang, “Initial estimates are that
households—3,200,000 people—would benefit from such a system, while the
government would have to spend an extra NT$25 billion per year.”
For the editorial go to:
For additional information go to:
BIEN reports, at the last small party congress of
Green Party Bettina Herlitzius and Gerhard
both members of the German Bundestag, presented the concept of an
They argued that despite increasing prices of oil and other resources
necessary to create further incentives to invest in green technologies.
Eco-taxes, however, also have a distributional effect. Households with
incomes have difficulty paying for higher energy-prices. In order to
this effect and to reward ecological consumer behavior, the Green
parliamentarians propose the redistribution of new and higher eco-taxes
monthly lump-sum payment to each citizen. Eco-tax revenue of 20 billion
Euro per year would finance payment to each
citizen of 20
Euros per month.
According to BIEN, Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn, member of the German Bundestag for the Green party, and Katja Kipping, member of the German Bundestag for the Left Party, proposed, independently of each other, the introduction of a Swedish-like guaranteed pension in Germany. Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn argued in the January edition of the scientific Journal of the German Old-Age Insurance that poverty among the elderly is likely to increase. In order to address this problem, he insisted on policy learning from Sweden. Katja Kipping’s similar proposal was heavily criticized by other members of the Left Party, Klaus Ernst and Michael Schlecht. They argued that Katja Kipping questions the core principles of the German welfare state, and that she would be ‘neoliberal’. Stephan Lessenich, Professor of Sociology at the University of Jena, reacted to this criticism and was surprised that a proposal which adds a redistributional element to the conservative pension insurance, comes under heavy attack by politicians of the Left Party.
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn, a Life-Member of BIEN, became a member of the German parliament on the 4th of January 2008. His predecessor resigned and Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn took over the mandate for the Green party. He is now speaker for foreign trade policy. Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn is also known for his academic research on the reform and funding of social security systems, as well as on poverty issues.
For further information on the Eco-Bonus:
The article of Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn in the Journal Die Deutsche Rentenversicherung: http://www.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de/nn_12448/SharedDocs/de/Inhalt/04__Formulare__Publikationen/03__publikationen/Publikationen/Fachzeitschrift__DRV/DRV__Hefte__Deutsch/2008/1/8__strengmann__kuhn.html
The article of Katja Kipping:
The article of Stephan Lessenich:
Further information on Strengmann-Kuhn: http://www.strengmann-kuhn.de/
the Inkatha Freedom Party, urged the ANC
to adopt the
Basic Income Guarantee. Speaking on the occasion of the budget vote of
Presidency, Cape Town, June 11 2008, Buthelezi said, “Will the
accept that a Basic Income Grant must be urgently introduced? Failure
to do so
will, I fear, result in the widespread rioting and looting that we have
witnessed in countries from Egypt to Indonesia. The consequences for
already fragile national unity are simply too terrible to comprehend.”
COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) opposed government proposals for a wage subsidy to help bring low-income workers into the economy. Instead, it called for the money to be used for the implementation of a basic income grant. The People's Budget Coalition, an important NGO, also reiterated its call for a basic income grant. The Black Sash, an important human rights lobbying group, reiterated its call for a “bold, comprehensive and sustainable plan to alleviate poverty,” including a Basic Income Grant.
For the full text of Buthelezi's reply to Mbeki's budget vote go to:
For the story on COSATU, go to:
For the People's Budget Coalition, go to:
For the story on Black Sash go to:
OSLO (Norway), 28 April 2008: Liberal Party
Seminar on basic
To date, the Liberal Party is the only political party in Norway that has included Basic Income (or "borgerlønn" in Norwegian), in its platform. It has proposed the introduction of a guaranteed basic income as a pilot project in several municipalities across the country. On April 28, 2008, the Parliamentary Group of the Liberal Party organized an open half day seminar with the title: "Basic Income in the fight against Poverty?" ("Borgerlønn som fattigdomsbekjempelse?"), where two Liberal party members of the Parliament were talking, in addition to two researchers, Nanna Kildal and Axel West Pedersen. For further information, see for instance: http://www.venstre.no/artikkel/12477
FRANKFURT (Germany), 28 April 2008: Lecture by Ulrich Oevermann
German Sociologist Ulrich Oevermann is currently teaching at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt, Germany. He is also a prominent member of the scientific advisory board of the German Basic income network. On April 28, 2008, he held a farewell lecture in which he analyzed the basic income proposal, before giving a theoretical summary of some insights of his own sociological research. The paper and an audio and video recording of this lecture are available at www.agoh.de.
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO, 23 February 2008: Public lecture on basic income
A social and feminist activist, Patricia Mercado reached national fame when standing as a candidate at Mexico's 2006 presidential election without the backing of one of the big parties. Her movement, Voz alternativa, has a feminist-green-left-liberal flavor and has been paying great attention to the proposal of universal basic income. On February 23, 2008, she organized and chaired a public lecture in Mexico City delivered by Philippe Van Parijs (Louvain & Harvard). An animated discussion followed.
A video of the event is online at: http://video.google.es/videoplay?docid=-1091293154525118475.
Third German Basic Income Congress: On the Way to
Income – Unconditional and Viable
October 24-26, 2008 in Berlin
The Berlin Congress will discuss a wide range of approaches to basic income, from philosophical concepts to practical policy proposals; from fundamentalist Marxist critiques of capitalism to market-oriented proposals for reform – all the way to neoliberal considerations. The Congress is organized in such a way as to encourage maximum participation, covering events in the fields of art, theatre, and music as well as practical workshops aimed at training proponents of basic income in public debate skills and sharpening their discussion abilities. The classic forms of lectures, panel discussions and workshops will provide information and broaden awareness of current problems and solutions in the debate on basic income. The tentative schedule offers more than ten main events such as lectures and panel discussions as well as 36 workshops to be held in two blocks of two hours each.
This year’s congress will take place in Berlin following past events in Vienna and Basel. As in previous years, the Congress is organized by the national Basic Income Networks in Austria, Germany and Switzerland jointly with the national chapters of ATTAC and BIEN Switzerland. The Congress will be preceded by a "Basic Income Week" throughout Austria, Germany and Switzerland, where the many local initiatives will organize a wide variety of events around the idea of basic income.
Information about the conference, including the tentative program, is available on the German Basic Income Network's website www.grundeinkommen.de.
DILEMMA: Reconciling the fairness and effectiveness of minimum income
in Europe, 2008, The Policy Press, 168 pages
According to the publisher, The activation dilemma by Amilcar Moreira explores the employment effectiveness of minimum income schemes, and provides the first comprehensive examination of its dependency on how the rights and obligations of the recipients are defined. The activation of social welfare recipients has been, and still is, a central issue in the development of social and employment policies in Europe. This ambitious book explores the employment effectiveness of minimum income schemes, and provides the first comprehensive examination of its dependency on how the rights and obligations of the recipients are defined. The book argues that the right to a minimum income can only be adequately justified with reference to the individual's right to personal development. Combining political theory and policy analysis, the author draws on evidence from eight different European countries to illustrate how it is possible to combine higher levels of employment effectiveness with the respect for recipients' right to personal development. Amilcar Moreira is a research fellow at The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing, Trinity College Dublin. His work has concentrated on the 'work versus welfare' nexus and explores the connection between political theory and policy analysis.
More information on the book is online: https://www.policypress.org.uk/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=1412&PHPSESSID=ef17661da1aaca0c12341113c91bee42
The book it is currently available with a 20% discount. The publishers would like, however, to offer USBIG members an additional discount of 30%. For information on how to receive the additional discount please contact Jessica Hughes (Jessica.Hughes@bristol.ac.uk) and ask for the discount code.
BASIC INCOME AND INCOME SUPPORT IN THE MODERN WELFARE STATE
Income Support Report
The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society
Papers from last October’s (2007) conference on Income Support and Basic Income are now online on the foundation’s website. Income support raises particularly interesting challenges for the formation of a modern social contract. Who should be assisted? What should be the level of assistance? How should eligibility be established? By examining three types of recipient—the unemployed, retired, and the disabled—these papers examine the prevailing policies and trends in Western countries, from the American model to the Scandinavian, including an assessment of the provocative proposal of a guaranteed basic income. Contributors include: Amir Paz-Fuchs, Peter Edelman, Amitai Etzioni, Charles Murray, Michael Opielka, Dalmer Hoskins, Avia Spivak, Frank Bloch.
Workshop Report: The Contract for Income Support and Pensions in the Modern Welfare State
A Community-Based Guaranteed Income
Jobs and Income Strategies for the Twenty-First Century
Guaranteed Income as a Replacement for the Welfare State
The Feasibility of a Basic Income
Pensions Crisis or Pensions Rethink
The Rise in Uncertainty and Reforms of Social Security Systems in Chile and Sweden
Disability Benefit Reform and the Contract for Income Support
Papers can be downloaded at: www.fljs.org/Socialcontract1
UNJUST DESERTS: How the Rich are Taking our Common Inheritance
Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly
Fall 2008 (forthcoming), New York: The New Press
According to the publisher: Warren Buffett is worth nearly $50 billion, but Buffett himself will tell you “society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I’ve earned.” Unjust Deserts offers an entirely new approach to the wealth question. In a lively synthesis of modern economic, technological, and cultural research, Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly demonstrate that up to 90 percent (and perhaps more) of current economic output derives not from individual ingenuity, effort, or investment but from our collective inheritance of scientific and technological knowledge: an inheritance we all receive as a “free lunch.” Alperovitz and Daly then pursue the implications of this research, persuasively arguing that there is no reason any one person should be entitled to that inheritance. Recognizing the true dimensions of our unearned inheritance leads inevitably to a new and powerful moral case for wealth redistribution—and to a series of practical policies to achieve it in an era when the disparities have become untenable. Alperovitz is the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and the author of America Beyond Capitalism. Lew Daly is a senior fellow at Demos and the author of God and the Welfare State.
FIVE INTERNATIONAL QUESTIONS FOR THE NATIONAL BASIC INCOME DEBATES
Adam Freeman, March 12, 2008
Published by “Carnegie Council: The Voice for Ethics in International Policy
According to Freedman, the idea of the "national basic income" (NBI) is energizing a growing number of political theorists, campaigners, and leaders with its promise of an alternative to the welfare state that is both fairer and more efficient. NBI proposals advertise their potential to achieve many things while relieving states and individuals of the expensive, intrusive, and often bewildering bureaucracy associated with welfare provision and means-testing. However, "the 'one-country-at-a-time' aspect of the agenda has a regrettable tendency to sideline international issues.” Freeman argues that issues of global justice and the idea of a global basic income (GBI) might be essential to getting the movement going.
The full text of the article is online at:
Author’s address: email@example.com
WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS: The Hope of Monetary Reform
Richard C. Cook, Fall 2008, Tendril Press
This book calls for a “real and positive revolution—to reform a broken monetary system, rebuild our public infrastructure, and develop an income assurance strategy that gives everyone a chance at a future that provides for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The income strategy is a national dividend tied to money creation. Richard C. Cook is a former government analyst who retired from the U.S. Treasury Department in January 2007. Since then he has been writing essays on monetary reform and the National Dividend. This Book is a collection of essays.
THE LITTLE EARTH BOOK
James Bruges; 2004, Published by the Disinformation Company Limited
According to the publisher, this book contains mini-essays about what is going wrong with our planet and about the greatest challenge of our century: how to save the Earth for us all. The U.K. edition has sold over 40,000 copies, and it is now out in the United States.
SHEAHEN, Allan (2008), ‘Poverty Grows. Does Anyone Care? Resurrecting the proposal for a guaranteed annual income’, Progressive Christian Magazine, 182 (2), March/April 2008, pages 20-24.
Poverty in the U.S. has grown by five million people since 2000 to 37 million. Does anyone care? John Edwards was the only presidential candidate who even mentioned poverty, and he quickly dropped out of the race. Many Americans may care, but don't know what to do about it. Congressman Bob Filner introduced the first basic income bill in the U.S .Congress which would give every American a minimum income of $2000 per year—not enough to end poverty but a big help to truly poor people. The bill didn't pass, but brought back the idea of a BIG to the national agenda.
Author’s address: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF STAKEHOLDING AND SOCIAL JUSTICE: The Foundations in Mid-19th-Century Belgium
John Cunliffe &, Guido Erreygers (2008), European Journal of Political Theory, 7 (2), 183-201.
In a few years around 1850, three little known Belgian writers put forward strikingly similar proposals on property regimes. Their prescriptions followed from a core belief that just property regimes should respect the natural right entitlement of each person to some share of material resources. Insofar as an unregulated market economy could not meet that criterion, the state should intervene to secure it. These proposals had little impact at the time, either intellectually or politically, and fell into obscurity. Nevertheless, they can be seen as a contribution to a distinctively Belgian school of 'liberal socialism', which sought to develop an intermediate position between the extremes of liberalism and socialism. In this respect, the proposals strikingly anticipated present-day controversies over stakeholding, even if much of that history was unknown to current advocates of the idea until after they had put forward their own proposals.
John Cunliffe, University of Warwick, email@example.com
Guido Erreygers, University of Antwerp, firstname.lastname@example.org
JUST DISTRIBUTION: Rawlsian Liberalism and the Politics of Basic Income
Simon Birnbaum (2008), Stockholm: Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science
Should liberal egalitarians endorse the idea of an unconditional basic income for all? This PhD thesis defends a politics of unconditional universalism, offering a liberty-respecting and non-perfectionist basis for maximin-guided policies. The argument starts off from a Rawlsian justification of basic income in the context of institutional ideal theory. This view is based on the aim of maximizing the prospects of the least advantaged in ways consistent with a robust protection of people’s effective freedom, the social bases of self-respect and access to meaningful activities at each stage of their lives. Birnbaum then moves on to specify such a position in response to objections based on ideas of fair cooperation and strong reciprocity. Linking John Rawls’ arguments on property-owning democracy to Philippe Van Parijs’ case for ‘gift-equalization’, the study defends the view that a basic income is not inherently exploitative or beyond the scope of justice. To the extent that unconditional universalism is tied to the idea of sharing gift-like resources, it is just a matter of distributing wealth to which nobody has a justified prior claim, not an unfair redistribution of labor income. Introducing a problem of feasibility, however, Simon Birnbaum also argues that unconditional wealth sharing may fail to meet liberal commitments and to counter structural exploitation unless constrained by other requirements of justice. The latter include a minimal autonomy constraint on maximin-objectives and the set of in kind transfers and social infrastructure needed to foster the activities and virtues on which the stability of this ideal relies. The thesis concludes with a study on the application of such standards to real-world conditions. It is argued that policy options combining a modest basic income with work-based social insurance and universal access to social services are more promising than strategies where a high basic income would replace core components of the welfare state.
For further information : http://www.diva-portal.org/su/theses/abstract.xsql?dbid=7385
Author's address: email@example.com
PLANNING FOR PROGRESS AND FAIRNESS
Conference of Religious of Ireland (2008), Dublin
The Justice Department of the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI) has published the 2008 edition of its annual Socio-Economic Review. This 233-page document entitled Planning For Progress and Fairness, contains detailed analysis on a wide range of issues including: the economic context, the social context, meeting commitments, establishing priorities, income distribution, poverty, taxation, work, public services, housing and accommodation, healthcare, education and education disadvantage, migration and intercultural issues, participation, sustainability, environment, rural development, the Developing World and values. One section of the review is entirely devoted to basic income. As CORI Justice has designed it, "a basic income system would replace social welfare. It would guarantee an income above the poverty line for everyone. It would not be means tested. There would be no “signing on” and no restrictions or conditions. In practice a basic income recognizes the right of every person to a share of the resources of society." Basic income, CORI argues, "ensures that looking for a paid job and earning an income, or increasing one’s income while in employment, is always worth pursuing, because for every euro earned the person will retain a large part. It thus removes the many poverty traps and unemployment traps that may be in the present system. Furthermore, women and men get equal payments in a basic income system. Consequently the basic income system promotes gender equality because it treats every person equally." The review can be accessed via the front page of CORI's website at www.cori.ie or directly from this link: http://www.cori.ie/Justice/32-News/514-cori-justice-publishes-annual-socio-economic-review2008
BASIC INCOME ENCYCLOPEDIA READY TO START
Belgian basic income activist Paul Nollen has launched a Wiki Basic Income Encyclopedia, and asks for the cooperation of all persons interested in basic income. The link is http://wiki.basicincome.be Everyone may work on the wiki, but it is necessary to subscribe to make changes. The way to work on the wiki is the same as in "Wikipedia". In order to start working on the wiki after logon http://wiki.basicincome.be/logon/ please visit the discussion page of the home page http://wiki.basicincome.be/wiki/Discussion%3AHomePage/ and the "starting a page" info: http://wiki.basicincome.be/wiki/Discussion%3AHomePage/#Starting_a_Page.
EDUARDO SUPLICY’S WEBSITE
Brazilian Senator Eduardo Suplicy is a long-time basic income advocate and Honorary President of BIEN. He now has his own website with information about basic income in both English and Portuguese, including a 30-minute video documentary of his recent trip to promote basic income in war-torn Iraq. It’s online at: http://www.senado.gov.br/eduardosuplicy
CITIZEN’S INCOME IN CANADA
A citizen's income website has been launched for Canada at: http://www.citizensincome.ca. Another website maintained by Canadian Social Research has a page dedicated to a "Guaranteed Annual Income" at: http://www.canadiansocialresearch.net/gai.htm.
CAP AND DIVIDEND and CAP AND SHARE
Information about “Cap and Dividend” and “Cap and Share” (discussed above) can be found online at the following websites:
Cap and dividend: http://www.capanddividend.org/
UK-based project: http://www.capandshare.org/ and http://www.capandshare.org/howitworks.html
Molly Scott Cato’s blog:
For more information, visit onthecommons.org or contact:
Kathleen Maloney, coordinator
On The Commons
PO Box 14967
Minneapolis MN 55414
WIN-WIN ECONOMICS ON THE NATIONAL DIVIDEND
A special issue (March 2008) of the online journal 'WIN WIN ECONOMICS' (USA) devoted to a discussion of a 'national dividend' proposal, which is a version of BIG. Articles in the issue are written by Susan Boskey and Richard C. Cook. Find Win-Win Economics on line at: http://community.icontact.com/p/qualitylifeplan
For a direct link to March issue to go: http://community.icontact.com/p/qualitylifeplan/newsletters/interview807/posts/5173839617548133125
TWENTY-THREE THESES ON BASIC INCOME
An English translation of an article on basic income by freelance researcher Theophil Wonneberger's is available in English from Portland Indy Media. This short, pithy article contains forceful arguments for BIG. It can be found on line at: http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2008/02/371801.shtml.
The original version (in German) is available at http://theophil.de/.
A new website, called “exclusivism,” is designed to help people recognize exclusivism as a vice. It argues against exclusivity in property ownership, against wage slavery, and for a program to “share the wealth” unconditionally.
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
The USBIG Network Newsletter
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Research: Paul Nollen and Yannick Vanderborght of the BIEN NewsFlash
Special help on this issue was provided by Ben Saunders, Jurgen De Wispelaere, Jeff Smith, and Jason Burke Murphy
The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network publishes this newsletter. The Network is a discussion group on basic income guarantee (BIG) in the
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