USBIG NEWSLETTER Vol. 13, No. 64 Spring 2012

This is the Newsletter of the USBIG Network (, 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:



1. Twelfth North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress Announced for 2013
2. ALASKA: Interesting times for Alaska’s Fund and Dividend
3. EDITORIAL: Report from the NA-BIG Conference
4. NAMIBIA: BIG Coalition appeals for donations to keep basic income pilot project going
5. Alaska-style dividend under discussion in at least five states and nations
6. BIG news from around the world

A. INTERNATIONAL: GlobalMay Manifesto of the Occupy Movement endorses BIG
B. INDIA: Basic Income Pilot Project makes progress
C. BRAZIL: Basic Income in Quatinga Velho celebrates 3-years of operation
D. UNITED STATES: IEET Poll of Readers Find Strong Support for Universal Basic Income
E. GERMANY: Pirate party enters Saarland state parliament
F. EUROPEAN UNION: European Citizens’ Initiative for basic income
G. SWITZERLAND: An Initiative to Establish Basic Income for All
H. SWITZERLAND: Huge media attention for petition in favor of a basic income referendum
I. FINLAND: Launch of a basic income citizens’ initiative
J. SPAIN: Basic Income becomes a growing demand in the Occupy movement

7. Upcoming events
8. Recent events
9. Recent publications
10. Recent opinion pieces on BI News
11. Recent external blogs
12. New links
13. New video links on BI News
14. Writers needed (for BI News, the BIEN NewsFlash, and the USBIG Newsletter)

15. Links and other info

1. Twelfth North American Basic income Guarantee Congress Announced

The Twelfth Annual North American Basic Income Guarantee (NABIG) Congress will be held on May 9-11, 2013 in conjunction with the Eastern Economic Association's Annual Meeting at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, New York City. Almaz Zelleke, of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network, will organize the Congress.

The NABIG Congress is a joint project of Basic Income Canada Network / BIEN Canada and the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network. The conference takes place annually, alternating between the two countries. The congress brings together academics, students, activists, policy analysts, government officials, low-income people, and others interested in exploring the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG), a government-ensured guarantee that all citizens unconditionally receive an income sufficient to meet their basic needs.

The call for proposals will be released soon. The deadline for proposals will be sometime before the end of this year.

Please save the dates of the Congress: May 9-11, 2013

The call for proposals will be released soon. The deadline for proposals will be in October. For more information about the Congress, see the USBIG website: or email: Almaz Zelleke <>.

2. ALASKA: Interesting times for Alaska’s Fund and Dividend

[Karl Widerquist – USBIG – May 2012]
Alaska’s basic income is cursed with interesting times. The Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) is a small, variable basic income given yearly to every Alaskan who meets the state’s residency requirement. The size of the dividend is determined by several different factors, all of which are facing increased uncertainty and possibly moving in different directions.

The PFD is financed not by current oil revenue, but by past oil revenues that have been saved and invested in the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF). The size of the dividend depends on the returns to the fund’s investments and on the size of the fund, and the size of the fund in turn depends on the international market price of oil, the amount of Alaskan oil sold on the international market, and the tax rate on oil companies selling Alaska’s oil. Those four factors (among others) affect the size of the dividend, and all of them seem to be moving in different directions and facing increasing uncertainty right now.

Oil prices and returns to the fund’s investments have been high recently, helping bring the APF’s principal to record high levels. According to Amanda Coyne of the Alaska Dispatch, the fund ended March with $41.5 billion—the highest month-end figure to date. The state is expected to deposit nearly $1 billion into the APF this year. But while oil prices are high, oil exports from Alaska are declining; the governor of Alaska is pushing for lower taxes on oil exports; and the rate of return on the APF’s investments is facing increased uncertainty in the next few years.

To begin, consider the APF’s rate of return. According to Pat Forgey, of the Juneau Empire, executives of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC) expect lower earnings for the rest of this year, and perhaps for several years, thanks to the outlook for stocks, bonds, and real estate. Alaskans have come to expect a very healthy return of 8 percent or more, but Forgey quoted Greg Allen, of the advisory firm Callan Associates, “Getting a 5 percent (real) return is going to require people to take more risk than they’re used to.” The APFC has a strong responsibility to avoid unnecessary risks with the people’s APF, and so they are likely to stick with a more conservative investment strategy. Lower returns will translate into lower dividends over the coming years even if oil revenues remain constant.

And oil revenues are not likely to remain constant. Alaska’s oil exports (measured in barrels of oil) have been gradually declining for 20 years, but rising oil prices have kept the state’s oil revenues up. The increase in oil prices in the first months of 2012 have been an enormous help to the state’s fiscal position. Oil revenues have also been increased by higher tax rates on oil companies, enacted in 2008. But the gradual decrease in the number of barrels exported each year will sooner or later outstrip the effect of higher revenues per barrel of oil, and the effects of the decline might be felt sooner rather than later.

According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner state projections indicate that declining revenues could put the budget into deficit within the next three years. For most states a budget surplus with a possible deficit three years off would be a great fiscal position. But Alaska is used to budget surpluses, and because oil is by far its main source of revenue, any decline in oil output is worrying.

Alaska governor Sean Parnell has responded to the prospect of declining oil exports by asking the legislature to decrease oil taxes. The idea is that lower taxes will encourage greater oil exports. The difficulty with this strategy is that to increase oil revenue lower taxes would not only have to increase oil exports but increase them so much that the greater number of barrels exported makes up for the smaller revenue on each barrel. It’s a questionable strategy that has certain benefits only for oil companies. Other oil exporters with high oil taxes find oil companies willing to drill and sell it. There are other things the state could do to encourage greater oil exports, such as introducing use-it-or-lose-it leases. Current law allows oil companies to lease the right to drill for oil in a certain area and then choose not to do so. Many leases today are simply sitting unused.

In sum, at the moment we have: oil prices up; returns on investments up (for now); oil taxes probably going down; and oil exports down. All that could change, in the short and medium term. The only certainty is that oil exports will eventually decline over the long term, because there is only so much oil in Alaska. It seems that the downsides are looking larger than the upsides at the moment, but I make no prediction of whether the APF and PFD will be up or down in the next few years.
-Karl Widerquist Tel Aviv, May 2012

Recent articles on the APF & PFD include:
Forgey, Pat (Feb. 24, 2012) Juneau Empire, “Permanent fund warned of lower earnings”
Pat Forgey (February 23, 2012) Juneau Empire, “Permanent Fund to continue securities lending: Alaska protected from risks, advisers tell fund trustees”
Pat Forgey (February 23, 2012) Juneau Empire, “CIO suggests new permanent fund options: Investment chief Jay Willoughby says state should capitalize on fund's strengths”
Maureen Farrell (February 29, 2012) CNN Money Markets, “Alaska's oil windfall”

Amanda Coyne (Apr 20, 2012) “Alaska Permanent Fund makes a comeback as markets rebound,” Alaska Dispatch.
Kevin Olsen (April 23, 2012) “Alaska Permanent Fund nets 1.9% return over 9 months”
Pensions & Investments (PI online):

Lisa Demer (February 27, 2012) “Alaska Legislature: Senate panel tackles multiple amendments to oil tax bill”
Anchorage Daily News:

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Editorial Board (March 4, 2012) “Deficits loom: Alaska’s cash will erode quickly in coming years,” Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

3. EDITORIAL: Report from the NA-BIG Conference

[Karl Widerquist – USBIG – May 2012]
The Eleventh North American Basic Income Guarantee (NA-BIG) Congress took place at the University of Toronto on May 3-5, 2012. I had the privilege of attending this conference. It provided an unusual opportunity for me to go to a NA-BIG Congress purely as a participant, because I had almost nothing to do with the organization of it this year.

The theme of the Congress was "Putting Equality Back on The Agenda: Basic Income and Other Approaches to Economic Security for All." It began—unusually for a conference primarily dedicated to examining basic income—with two skeptics explaining what was wrong with the basic income as a solution to current problems in the United States and Canada. I applaud these participants for speaking their mind in an auditorium full of basic income supporters. It was kind of strange to begin with the skeptics—rebutting an idea that hadn’t yet been presented at the conference—but it worked very well to keep the basic income supporters on their toes throughout the conference.

The organizers invited two speakers to focus on the problems of poverty and inequality rather than specifically on basic income as a proposed solution: Charles Karelis (Research Professor of Philosophy at The George Washington University and author of The Persistence of Poverty: Why the Economics of the Well-Off Can't Help the Poor) and Richard Wilkinson (Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School and co-author of The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better). Even though these speakers’ remarks were not directly about basic income, they were valuable to the conference, because they show the need to do something about poverty and inequality in the world today. It’s the work of a conference like this to see if basic income can help solve the problems researchers like these have identified.

One featured speaker, Erik Olin Wright (of the Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin - Madison, author of Envisioning Real Utopias, and American Society: How it Actually Works), brought the congress back to focus on basic income, but he did not support the common version of the basic income proposal—a basically unregulated economy with basic income as its one central progressive reform. He argued that basic income would only succeed if it were part of a major reform of the economic system.

One of the most pertinent presentations was given by Evelyn Forget (Professor, University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine, author of a major forthcoming study on Mincome: the Manitoba minimum income experiment). She has been working for several years to recover and analyze data from the Canadian Negative Income Tax experiment, known as Mincome. The experiment was conducted by the Canadian Federal government in the late 1970s, but it was cancelled before the data was analyzed. Only now, thanks mostly to Evelyn Forget, are the findings of the experiment becoming fully available. She finds that the experiment had many benefits for recipients including, for example, improved school attainment among children and improved health outcomes for all family members.

Senator Art Eggleton, former mayor of Toronto, concluded the conference with a practical discussion of how to put BIG on the political agenda in North America.

The parallel sessions provided a wide range of discussion about BIG. These sessions were especially valuable for me because I was able to attend two sessions and a dinner dedicated to providing feedback to me on chapters of the book that I am currently polishing for publication. The book makes a freedom-based argument for an unconditional income from the perspective that the imposition of rules, including the rules of property, make the poor unfree in very important ways. Basic income is both compensation for the imposition of these rules and a necessary institution (in modern industrial society) to maintain each individual’s status as a free person with the power to accept or reject active cooperation with other willing individuals. The sessions I participated in helped me formulate this argument and to present the book as a work of political philosophy.

For me, the Congress was also an opportunity to reconnect with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. I have now been to six BIEN Congresses and all eleven NA-BIG Congresses. I believe there are only three of us who have been to all eleven Congresses (the other two being Jeff Smith and Al Sheahen). Every Congress is a little different. Some themes recur every time, but I’m always confronted with new ideas.

One welcome addition to this Congress was the presence of a significant number of people who are on disability or other forms of public assistance. This group brought the discussion back to practical issues every time, providing a skeptical view of nearly all the ideas presented. I hope we can get someone from this group to be a featured speaker at an upcoming NA-BIG or BIEN Congress.

The North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress is a joint project of the USBIG Network and the Canadian Basic Income Guarantee. It takes place in Canada and the United States on alternating years. Next year’s Congress will be in New York City in February (see announcement above).
-Karl Widerquist, Nicosia, Cyprus, May 2012

For more information on this past conference go to:
Papers from the Congress will be online as part of the USBIG Discussion Paper Series at:
Information about next year’s Congress will soon be online at:

4. NAMIBIA: BIG Coalition appeals for donations to keep basic income pilot project going

The Basic Income pilot project that has been running for more than three years in Otjivero, Namibia may have given its last grant payment. The Basic Income Grant (BIG) Coalition, which has run the project since 2008, is running out of money. It has put out an international call for donations to keep the project going. If it doesn’t receive sufficient funds, payments made earlier this year will be the last.

The project targets nearly 1000 people in the small town of Otjivero in rural Namibia. Organizers originally planned the project to last for two years, but when they saw the positive effects of the policy, they decided to keep it going as long as they could or until the government introduced a nationwide BIG. The results point to a significant drop in child malnutrition, improved access to education and positive performance and output, increased small business activities, improved access to ARVs for HIV+ residents and better community cooperation.

If you are interested in donating to the project, the organizers provide the following instructions:

All amounts are welcomed. You can either give a once-off donation directly or instruct your bank to make a debit order for a minimum of N$100 over 12 or 24 months. Please pay your contribution into either one of the following bank accounts:
Namibian account:
Account name: Name of Bank: Account number: Branch number: Branch name:
ELCRN - BIG Namibia First National Bank 62146088457 281972
Windhoek Commercial Suite
European account in Germany:
Account name: Reference: Name of Bank: Account number: Branch Number (BLZ) BIC:
For more information contact:
Blumhardt-Gemeinde HD-Kirchheim BIG Namibia H+G Bank Heidelberg 100 027 61
672 901 00 GENODE 61 HD 3 DE66 6729 0100 0010 0027 61
Or visit the BIG coalition’s website at:

For more news about the project, see the following stories:
Sasman, Catherine (2 March 2012) “Namibia: Basic Income Grant Project Money Runs Dry,” The Namibian:
Namibian Basic Income Grant Coalition (May 2012) “The Basic Income Grant (BIG) is Government’s Responsibility.” Online at:

5. Alaska-style dividend under discussion in at least five states and nations

[Karl Widerquist – USBIG – May 2012]
Although Alaska’s basic income, the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD), has had great success for the past 30 years, it is yet to be imitated. Many resource-exporting nations around the world have sovereign wealth funds (a pool of state-owned investments in private assets accumulated from past trade surpluses). But so far, the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) is the only sovereign wealth fund paying a regular dividend. Discussion of an Alaska-style dividend has occurred intermittently in various spots around the world over the years without any states so far making significant moves toward actually doing it. But that could be changing.

Discussion of an Alaska-style dividend now seems to be on the rise around the world. Just within the last three months discussions have gone on in Iraq, Libya, North Dakota, Western Australia, and Alberta, all of which are currently experiencing—or expecting to experience soon —major resource windfalls.

The most serious discussion at the moment seems to be happening in Iraq. Now that violence has settled down, the country is on the way to regaining its position as one of the world’s largest oil exporters. But, because many Iraqis live in poverty, the issue of providing a resource-financed dividend, along the lines of Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, has returned to high-level political debate in Iraq, according to Aminah al-Thahabi, writing for Niqash: briefings from inside and across Iraq. The issue is so well-known that most major factions up to and including parties in parliament have a position on it. Supporters of the dividend argue that it would help fight the resource curse and ensure that all Iraqis benefit from the country’s oil industry. Opponents argue that a dividend could feed inflation and that the money could be better spent helping people indirectly by improving Iraq’s infrastructure, much of which is still in disrepair after years of sanctions and war.

Johnny West, of OpenOil consultancy, calculates that Iraq can afford “a dividend, starting at $220 per capita in October 2012 and rising with expanded production.” West argues Iraq’s resource-dividend potential is so strong that “poverty could be abolished inside two years, and that, just as important, it would unleash such interest and attention from the public that governance in the oil industry would never be the same again.”

Like Iraq, Libya is a potentially oil-rich nation in which large numbers of citizens live in poverty, thanks, in part, to conflict and dictatorship. In a recent Business Week editorial, Brian Bremmer argues that an Alaska-style fund and dividend could help Libya escape the resource curse, which plagues many resource exporting nations, including Libya during the Qaddafi regime. Bremmer argues that Libya’s Sovereign Wealth Fund became a plaything for Qaddafi’s family. Devoting fund returns to dividends would keep the Sovereign Wealth Funds in the public eye and might make Libya’s investments less vulnerable to corruption.

In Western Australia, Larry Graham, a former member of the state parliament, recently wrote an opinion piece arguing that the burning political question facing Western Australia right now is how to share the benefits of the coming resource boom. He argues that the state could do no better than to imitate Alaska by creating a sovereign wealth fund that pays a yearly dividend.

North Dakota is also on the cusp of an oil boom with new oil drilling quickly getting underway. In a recent opinion piece in the Bismarck Tribune, Vernon Peterson argues that North Dakota should take “a prudent look at Alaska’s Permanent Fund and Dividend.” Citing the enduring popularity of the Alaska Dividend, Peterson argues that a North Dakota Permanent Fund and Dividend would aid cash-strapped families and individuals. He indicates that the people of North Dakota, not just the Legislature, should have the opportunity to decide how to spend a small portion of the oil windfall.

In Alberta, the second-largest party in the provincial assembly supports an Alaska-style dividend. This party, the Wildrose Party, which holds 17 of 87 seats in the Alberta legislative assembly, is a recently formed conservative party that exists only in Alberta. In their platform for the elections held on April 23, 2012, the Wildrose party endorsed a policy in which the Alberta Heritage Fund (the state’s sovereign wealth fund) would pay a yearly dividend of about $300 to every Albertan. The Heritage Fund paid a one-time dividend several years ago, but that move has been widely dismissed as an election-year gimmick. Despite earning significant returns over the years Alberta’s Heritage Fund has failed to build up nearly the principal of the Alaska funding (closing at only $15.4 billion at December 31, 2011), largely because the legislature has dipped into the fund for ad hoc spending. The difference in success between Alaska’s and Alberta’s sovereign wealth funds might indicate the value of a regular dividend.

At least one resource-exporting nation has recently introduced a basic income. Iran pays a monthly ‘cash subsidy’ of about US$40 to every citizen, which comes out to $480 per year for a single individual and $2,300 to a family of five (see story below and Hamid Tabatabai’s opinion piece on BI News). This amount is extremely significant for low-income families in Iran. But unlike the five proposals discussed above, Iran’s basic income is financed by current revenues rather by a sovereign wealth fund, and so it is hard to say that Iran’s policy is an Alaska-style dividend.

The possibility of other states and nations imitating aspects of Alaska’s Fund and Dividend system is the subject of two books published this year by Palgrave Macmillan. Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend: Examining its suitability as a model (released in March 2012) and Exporting the Alaska Model: Adapting the Permanent Fund Dividend for Reform around the World (due to be released in August 2012). These two books examine the strengths and weaknesses of the fund and dividend in Alaska and discuss the possibility of imitating that combination of programs in a range of states and nations including Vermont, the United States (as a whole), the South Sudan, Iraq, and several others.

Angela Cummine, of Oxford University, has studied existing sovereign wealth funds around the world and found considerable reluctance on the part of managers of existing funds to use the returns to fund an Alaska-style dividend. However, the recent increase in discussion among newly-resource-rich nations and nations that have had recent regime changes might indicate that the prospects for introduction of the world’s second Alaska-style dividend are increasing.
-Karl Widerquist, Jerusalem, Israel-Palestine, May 2012

For more on the above proposals, see the following:

Aminah al-Thahabi (April 12, 2012) “The resource curse: will ordinary Iraqis ever see their oil money?” Niqash: briefings from inside and across Iraq.
Johnny West (September 19, 2011), “Give it Back! Direct Citizen Oil Dividends in Iraq, Why Not?” The Huffington Post.
Graham, Larry (2012) “We should get a direct dividend from boom”

The West Australian, April 10, 2012
Winnipeg Free Press staff (April 3, 2012) “Alberta party plans to share wealth if elected,” Winnipeg Free Press:
Vernon Peterson (March 15, 2012) “How about doing it the Alaskan way?” The Bismarck Tribune.
Brian Bremner (April 03, 2012) “Sovereign Wealth: Alaska's Answer to the Dreaded Resource Curse.” Business Week.
Hamid Tabatabai, “Iran’s Citizen’s Income Scheme and its Lessons” BI News

6. BIG news from around the world

A. INTERNATIONAL: GlobalMay Manifesto of the Occupy Movement endorses BIG

[BI News – March 2010]
According to the Guardian Newspaper (UK), the Global Occupy Movement has released a three-point manifesto, in which it endorses a universal basic income guarantee. In the preamble to what the authors call the “GlobalMay Manifesto,” includes the following: “The statement below does not speak on behalf of everyone in the global spring/Occupy/Take the Square movements. It is an attempt by some inside the movements to reconcile statements written and endorsed in the different assemblies around the world. The process of writing the statement was consensus-based, open to all, and regularly announced on our international communications platforms. It was a hard and long process, full of compromises; this statement is offered to people's assemblies around the world for discussions, revisions and endorsements. It is a work in progress. … We want another world, and such a world is possible.”

The manifesto contains three basic points, each with several bullet points below it. The main points are:
1. The economy must be put to the service of people's welfare, and to support and serve the environment, not private profit. We want a system where labour is appreciated by its social utility, not its financial or commercial profit.
2. To achieve these objectives, we believe that the economy should be run democratically at all levels, from local to global. People must get democratic control over financial institutions, transnational corporations and their lobbies.
3. We believe that political systems must be fully democratic. We therefore demand full democratisation of international institutions, and the elimination of the veto power of a few governments. We want a political system which really represents the variety and diversity of our societies.

Underneath point 1, the fourth bullet point reads, “Every human being should have access to an adequate income for their livelihood, so we ask for work or, alternatively, universal basic income guarantee.”

The full text of the manifesto is online at the Guardian’s website and on the GlobalMay website:
And on the GlobalMay website:

B. INDIA: Basic Income Pilot Project makes progress

[Wolfgang Müller – BI News – March 2010]

The Basic Income pilot project in India, conducted by the Self Employed Women's Association and the India Development Foundation, has been making progress and may provide interesting statistical data in the future, according to information by Guy Standing, professor of economic security at the University of Bath and honorary co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN). Standing has also operated as advisor for the project. The project consists of three components:

1) The aim of the first component is to explore effects of unconditional cash transfers on a larger scale. 4,000 individuals in eight villages have been given a monthly unconditional cash transfer for 12 months regardless of their poverty status, employment status, age and gender. The setup of the trial also includes control villages to measure occurred effects. Because inhabitants of these control villages do not receive any cash transfers, these villages enable researcher to recognize effects of performed cash transfers in implemented surveys. One survey was conducted in the beginning, a second one in the middle of the trial. A third and final survey is planned to conclude the first component of the project.

2) This part of the project aims to compare effects of unconditional cash transfers and subsidized ration shops. In the beginning of the project, participants were given the choice between both. They have then received support in accordance to their choice for one year. Occurred effects have been monitored in both groups.

3) The third component of the project focuses on effects of an unconditional basic income in a tribal village. Every inhabitant has received a monthly paid cash transfer. Two surveys are part of this component. One survey was conducted before cash transfers were performed. The second survey will be conducted in June. A comparison of both surveys will then disclose effects of an unconditional basic income.

Related information can be found at:

C. BRAZIL: Basic Income in Quatinga Velho celebrates 3-years of operation

[USBIG – May 2012]
Recivitas has been running a privately funded basic income for a small, impoverished rural community in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil for three years now. Recivitas was founded and is run by Bruna Augusto Pereira and Marcus Vinicius Brancaglione. The project pays 30 Brazilian Raeis (about US$15) per month to people in the community of Quatinga Velho, Sao Paulo, Brazil. This amount of money sounds very small to people from industrialized countries, but it has a large impact in a rural area of Brazil.

The coordinators have verified gains in nutrition, clothing, living conditions, health (especially in children), construction of new housing, and improvements to existing ones. In informal interviews, the coordinators have noticed increased self-esteem and social interaction, reduction of social insecurity, and rising expectations of the future, especially regarding children. They noted that they have not observed increased use of alcohol or illicit drugs; significant changes in labor relations, birth, migration or emigration, or generation of political relations and economic dependency.

Although the project leaders are examining the effects of the local basic income, the coordinators of the project told USBIG that the point of the project is not to study BIG. They are already convinced that model has been proven effective; they want to put it into practice. The goal is to put the policy in place. If governments are not ready to do it on a national scale with tax funding, Recivitas is attempting to do it on a small scale with private funding.

The organizers intend to expand the project and keep it going indefinitely. If you would like to donate to the project, contact Recivitas at:

D. UNITED STATES: IEET Poll of Readers Find Strong Support for Universal Basic Income

[Wolfgang Müller – BI News – March 2012]


The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) published a poll about the question “Do you believe in a universal Basic Income Guarantee?  What amount would be satisfactory?” on March 24, 2012. It resulted in a support of a basic income of more than fifty percent. Unfortunately, there is no information about the number of respondents. More information about the result, however, can be found at:


E. GERMANY: Pirate party enters Saarland state parliament

[Wolfgang Müller – BI News – March 2012]


The Pirate Party in Germany achieved another success. It gained 7.4 percent in their first participation in the Saarland state election on March 25, 2012 and entered the federal state parliament thus. The German Pirate Party has become known for its support of an unconditional basic income as solution for the heavily criticized existing German social system. 


More information about the Pirate Party and the election can be found online at:


F. EUROPEAN UNION: European Citizens’ Initiative for basic income

European Citizens’ Initiative for the introduction of the Unconditional Basic Income in all member states of the European Union

[BIEN - May 2, 2012]

The preparation process of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) for an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) again made some progress. During a meeting that took place in Brussels on 26-27 April 2012, an agreement was reached on a concrete wording proposal, and a Citizens’ Committee of representatives from 14 member states (although the minimum requirement is only 7 member states) was founded. This Citizens’ Committee is now planning the national as well as the country-overlapping (i.e. EU-wide) preparations for a UBI campaign, and for the registration of the ECI with the European Commission. All these preparations will be discussed in detail and coordinated during the next meeting of the Citizens’ Committee on 7-8 July 2012 in France, to be able to start with the official collection of signatures right after the registration through the European Union.

A video interview, in which Klaus Sambor (coordinator of the Attac group for an unconditional basic-income (UBI) guarantee talks about the campaign to for a European Citizens Initiative, is online at:

For further information email: Klaus Sambor, klaus.sambor -at-

G. SWITZERLAND: An Initiative to Establish Basic Income for All

[May 7, 2012: Stanislas Jourdan for BI News and for Global voices]
An initiative to establish a new federal law known as “For an unconditional basic income” [fr] was formally introduced in Switzerland in April. The idea, which consists quite simply of giving a monthly income to all citizens that is neither means-tested nor work-related, has generated commentary throughout the Swiss blogosphere.

The Swiss referendum process is a system of direct democracy that enables citizens to call for legislative change at the federal or constitutional level. If the initiative to introduce a basic income gathers more than 100,000 signatures before October 11, 2013, the Federal Assembly is required to look into it and can call a referendum if the initiative is judged to be credible.

On his blog, Pascal Holenweg explains what it's all about [in French, translated here]:

“The grassroots initiative “for an unconditional basic income” proposes that “the establishment of an unconditional universal benefit” be written into the federal constitution which would “allow the entire population to lead a dignified existence and participate in public life”. The law will address financing and set the amount of the benefit (the proposers suggest around 2,000-2,500 Swiss francs per month (or 2,200-2,700 US dollars per month), which is about the same as the maximum current social security payment, but they have not written this into the text of the initiative). The basic income does not come with any conditions attached: it is not subject to any means testing. It is universal (everyone will receive it) and egalitarian (everyone will receive the same amount). It is also personal (it is paid out to individuals, not households). It is not income to replace a lost salary. Rather, it replaces all inferior income support (unemployment benefit, pensions, family allowance, student grants, disability payments). How will it be financed? Through direct taxation of income and wealth, indirect taxation on consumption (VAT), taxing financial transactions, and most especially through the reallocation of resources currently allotted to financing state pensions and unemployment payouts, social security and other welfare payments lower than the amount of the basic income.”

On his blog, Fred Hubleur makes the point [in French translated here]:

The important thing is that this revenue is fixed for everyone without there being a requirement to work; that's right, it is income without employment. This might seem shocking. But at its heart it is an entirely defensible idea. On the one hand, we are fighting against poverty and insecurity, there will no longer be a need for social security to bolster other incomes, and dozens of different and unwieldy benefits. This unconditional income is equally good news for innovation and creativity. (…) We have also made a paradigm shift that dyed-in-the-wool capitalists might find alarming: the liberation of working man, returning him to his status as homo sapiens over that of homo travaillus (ed's note:  Homo travaillus is a play on word to describe the working man) which holds such sway in our society.

The original French version of this article is online at:
The text of the initiative [in French] is online at:
Another article (in English) on the Swiss BI initiative is online at:

H. SWITZERLAND: Huge media attention for petition in favor of a basic income referendum

[BIEN - April 16, 2012]
As BI News earlier reported, Switzerland is starting a petition for a referendum on basic income with a big party in Zurich. [1] BI News also reported that, last year in June, the National Council of Switzerland rejected a parliamentary initiative on unconditional basic income. [2] On 12th April 2012, a press-conference on launching the basic income petition was held in Bern. After this the media response in Switzerland has been huge. Even TV broadcasted news and reports which mentioned the petition for BIG referendum.[3] Some articles are also available in English.[4]

Obviously, not all articles argued that the idea is reasonable, but some did, and some reported neutral while providing pro and contra positions. However, some articles were not well researched, and gave the impression that journalists had not properly understood some basic facts.[5]

It remains to be seen if the initiative will accomplish at least 100,000 valid signatures within 18 months, and if further reports are published in the international press.

[3] (German) and (German)

[5] In a illustrative article, for instance, BIEN-Switzerland is presented as BIEN itself, whereas it is only one of the numerous recognized national networks:

An article from Inside Zurich discussing the initiative is online at: News from Switzerland:


I. FINLAND: Launch of a basic income citizens’ initiative

[BIEN – April 2012]

Finland’s basic income network has just launched a campaign for a citizens’ initiative for a universal basic income on March 28th, 2012, in Helsinki. The Citizens’ Initiative Act came into force in Finland at the beginning of March 2012, but since appropriate online service for collecting signatures is still missing, only preliminary supporters are being gathered. Citizens’ initiatives can be sent for parliamentary handling if they are signed by 50,000 people. The citizens’ initiative asks for a basic income which corresponds to the minimum level of current basic social security benefits, to be granted on an individual basis to all adult permanent residents in Finland. The initiative was drafted by a working group of people from different political parties and NGO’s. Due to this initiative and other campaigns, basic income has recently become a hot topic in the Finnish media and political activism.

See also;
Basic income network Finland:
A newspaper article (in English) on this initiative:

J. SPAIN: Basic Income movement grows: Reports from USBIG and RRB

Basic Income becomes a growing demand in the Occupy movement
[USBIG – May 2012]
According Daniel Raventos and Julie Wark, of the Spanish Basic Income Network, the demand for a universal basic income is growing quickly, and the Spanish Occupy movement is now working hard to explain its principles to the public. For example, on Sunday May 13th, 1,000 people attended a workshop on the theme of basic income. Pablo Yanes of the Basic Income Earth Network believes that this is an indication of growing acceptance and massive support for basic income in Spain. According to Yanes, “I think basic income actually is in that country not just an academic issue but increasingly a social and political one.”

15-M movement (“indignados”) anniversary

[Red Renta Básica - May 22, 2012]
Given the gravity of the present social situation, an increasing number of activists from different social movements, unionists and citizens are coming to the conclusion that Basic Income is a proposal to be taken seriously. An outstanding example of this is the 15-M movement in Spain (in reference to the first massive demonstration of May 15th, 2011; also known as “indignados” movement).

Within the framework of the activities celebrating its first anniversary, a five-point programme was formulated: 1) not a single euro more to be spent on rescuing banks; 2) decent public education and health services; 3) rejection of job insecurity and austerity measures; 4) decent, guaranteed housing; and 5) universal basic income.

Many people have helped to organise talks on Basic Income given by some members of the Red Renta Básica (Edgar Manjarín, David Casassas and Daniel Raventós) as part of the 15-M anniversary activities in Barcelona. Basic income was presented as a measure not only to combat poverty, but also to foster bargaining power and therefore effective freedom of all working populations. These took place in the Plaça de Catalunya with very large audiences, exceeding one thousand people in some cases.

For further information about the BIG movement in Spain, see:
And the following article by Raventos and Wark:

7. Upcoming events

BIEN Conference 2012 in Munich (DE): website and call for papers

[USBIG – May 2012]
The 14th Congress of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) will take place on September 14 to 16, 2012 in Munich, Germany. The website is : The deadline for proposals has passed, but it is still possible to register to attend. The conference program will be on the website soon. Confirmed speakers include:

Baptiste Mylondo, a French philosopher and political scientist; Bruna Augusto Pereira, activist and coordinator of ReCivitas (Brazil); Claus Offe, professor of sociology, Hertie School of Governance (Germany); Guy Standing, professor in the department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath (United Kingdom); Min Geum; founder of the Basic Income Korean Network; Philippe Van Parijs; professor of philosophy at Universite catholique de Louvain (Belgium); and Tereza Campello, Minister for Social Development and Combating Hunger (Brazil).

The debate about an unconditional basic income has attracted public attention in a number of countries in recent years. Financial, debt, and ecological crises are causing growing numbers of people to look for political alternatives to the existing economy and the way income is distributed within it. With the debate entering this crucial phase, the 2012 BIEN Congress will discuss possible pathways and barriers towards establishing and implementing Basic Income.

The conference will focus on the following questions: What could a specific roadmap to Basic Income look like, nationally and internationally? What contribution could pilot projects make towards the implementation of Basic Income? Which reforms would need to be prioritized? What barriers need to be overcome, and how? Is there evidence for broader public support for a basic income? What are current Basic Income debates and social movements focusing on? What political and civil society alliances are possible and potentially productive? How do Basic Income debates relate to the current financial and debt crisis? Could a Basic Income contribute to combating the effects of this crisis and prevent future crises? What criteria would the concept of Basic Income have to meet to make such a contribution? How does Basic Income relate to the ecological crisis? How could it contribute to an alternative, more sustainable economy and way of life? Which conceptual design would be most appropriate from that perspective? Which versions of Basic Income are viable (with respect to the ecological, social and economic crises), affordable, and politically feasible? What is the normative justification for Basic Income, and what goals does it aim to achieve? How do these goals respond to current economic, environmental and social problems?

The conference aims to present an opportunity for an open, interdisciplinary discussion of the problems and questions surrounding Basic Income. The above questions are not intended to set strict boundaries, but to facilitate open and thematically wide-ranging discussions.

Further information on the conference fee, accommodation, and travel can be found on the website:

BELFAST, United Kingdom, 7 June 2012: Justice through unconditional basic income? A debate on European Social Policy

[BIEN - May 15, 2012]

The European Foundation Centre (EFC) is holding its 23rd annual general assembly and conference in Belfast this year, and the topic of the conference is “Peace for Social Justice – A Role for Foundations?” As one of 236 EFC members from 40 countries around the world, the Koerber Foundation is organizing a session about social justice and basic income: “Justice through unconditional basic income? A debate on European Social Policy”

Massive protests against growing social inequality and unemployment have erupted all across Europe lately. Young Europeans in particular are calling for radical political change and a new strategy for social justice. At the same time, the EU has set five ambitious objectives to be reached by 2020 – reducing the number of people in poverty by 20 million is at the top of this agenda. How can Europe reach this ambitious goal and further foster social justice?

This session aims to discuss whether the unconditional basic income can be a means of European social policy, a way to reduce social imbalance throughout Europe and a possibility to save expenditure within the European social welfare systems. More generally the session will focus on the effectiveness within the EU to develop and implement a common strategy and common standards in the field of social policy.

The session will allow for interaction between an outstanding social policy, social partnership and socio-economic expert and young citizens from several European countries, who are affiliated to FutureLab Europe, an initiative of the European Alliance for Democratic Citizenship, coordinated by the Körber Stiftung, and to the young European online magazine Europe&Me.
Further information:

8. Recent events

TOKYO (JP), 28 January 2012: Basic income and the crisis

[BIEN – April 2012]
This conference took place at the Maison Franco-japonaise in Tokyo. Two speakers dealt with the issue of the potential of a basic income in times of economic crisis, and in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake in Japan. Yannick Vanderborght (Professor of Political Science at Louvain University and Facultes Saint-Louis, Brussels, Belgium) gave a talk entitled ‘Le revenu d’existence: une reponse adequate aux crises et catastrophes?’ Fumio Iida (Professor of Political Theory at Kobe University, Japan) talked about “Basic income: a Japanese version?” The conference was organized by Thierry Ribault (CNRS, Institut francais de recherche sur le Japon, Maison franco-japonaise Tokyo), in cooperation with Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, Scientific Research A, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Project Title: A Comparative Analysis of the Needs-Participation Oriented Welfare Systems in the Era of Aging Society. Chief Investigator: Yutaka Tejima, Professor of Medical Law, GraduateSchool of Law, Kobe University).

Further information (in French and Japanese) at

NAMUR (BE), 17 March 2012: Basic income and solidarity

[BIEN – April 2012]
At the initiative of several green movements, this event (among other things) included a projection of “Basic Income”, the documentary by Daniel Hani et Enno Schmidt, and a debate between basic income supporter Philippe Defeyt (former leader of the green party Ecolo) and basic income critic Bernard Friot (French sociologist and expert in issues of social protection). This event took place in Namur, Belgium on March 17, 2012 between 2:30PM and 10PM. Location: Faculté de médecine, Place du Palais de Justice, 5000 Namur.
Further information:
Or contact: Michèle Gilkinet <>

PARIS (FR), 31 March 2012: The right to a basic income

On March 31, 2012, a collective called POURS (“Pour un revenu social” – “for a social income”) organized a large conference on basic income as a guaranteed right to existence. Details : 9h30-18h, 31 March 2012, La Maison de l’Arbre – 9, rue François Debergue – 93100 Montreuil (Métro 9- Croix de Chavaux).

See also

9. Recent publications

Raventos, Daniel & Wark, Julie (2012), ‘Taking It to the Streets in Spain. Indignation, Basic Income and the First Social Law’, Counterpunch, May 14th, 2012
[BIEN - May 16, 2012]
This new paper by Daniel Raventós and Julie Wark is published by the influential left-wing political newsletter Counterpunch (USA). According to Raventós and Wark, the Spanish citizens have taken to the streets and squares in great numbers to demand their rights. In this context, the idea of a basic income is now widely discussed. “The demand for a universal basic income”, the authors write, “is growing so fast that the Occupy movement is now working hard to explain its principles to the public. For example, the Barcelona Acampada has a program of twenty workshops to be held in the plaça de Catalunya and three of these are devoted to basic income, understood as a human right. On Sunday afternoon (13th May) 1,000 people attended a workshop precisely on this theme.”
The article is online at:

Daniel Raventos and Julie Wark, “General strike in the kingdom of Spain: the political economy and basic income”, 30 March 2012
[BIEN – April 2012]
On March 29, 2012, a general strike was organized in Spain. At this occasion, Daniel Raventos and Julie Wark published a short document in which they link the demands of Spanish workers to the idea of a basic income. The authors ask: “Would it be madness, in these times, to propose that every member of the population should have his or her material existence guaranteed by means of a completely unconditional cash transfer? By a basic income?”
The full English version is available at:
This paper was also published at:

Lovett, Frank (2010), A General Theory of Domination and Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[BIEN - April 30, 2012]
In this book, Frank Lovett (Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, USA) argues that “societies are just to the extent that their basic structure is organized so as to minimize the expected sum total domination experienced by their (present and future) members, counting the domination of each member equally” (p.190). Chapter 7 of the book explores the implications of such a conception of justice. Among them, the idea of an unconditional basic income is carefully discussed by the author. In particular, Lovett tackles the issue of the optimal level of the grant, “a more difficult problem than one might expect” (p.200).
Publisher’s page:

De Wispelaere, J. and Stirton, L. (2012), ‘A disarmingly simple idea? Practical bottlenecks in the implementation of a universal basic income’, International Social Security Review, 65: 103–121.
[BIEN - April 16, 2012]
This article by Jurgen De Wispelaere (Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada) and Lindsay Stirton (University of Sheffield, United Kingdom) considers the implementation of a universal basic income, a neglected area in basic income research. The authors identify and examine three important practical bottlenecks that may prevent a basic income scheme from attaining the universal reach desired and proclaimed by its advocates: i) maintaining a population-wide cadaster of eligible claimants ensuring full takeup; ii) instituting robust modalities of payment that reach all intended beneficiaries; and iii) designing an effective oversight mechanism in a policy context that actively opposes client monitoring. De Wispelaere and Stirton argue that the implementation of universal basic income faces unique challenges that its proponents must consider carefully.
The ariticle is online:

Healy, Sean, Sandra Mallon, Michelle Murphy and Brigid Reynolds. (2012) Socio-Economic Review 2012, Shaping Ireland’s Future: Securing Economic Development, Social Equity and Sustainability. Dublin, Social Justice Ireland. ISBN No. 978-1-907501-06-7 First Published April 2012
In its latest Socio-Economic Review (2012) entitled Shaping Ireland’s Future: Securing Economic Development, Social Equity and Sustainability, the NGO Social Justice Ireland shows that over 700,000 people (among them, 200,00 children) are living in poverty in Ireland. The report was released on April 10, 2012, and one of its co-authors, Sean Healy, was interviewed by the daily The Irish Times. The newspaper briefly focuses on the fact that this new report recommends that Irish policy makers “introduce a basic income system to replace social welfare and income tax credits”. According to the report, a basic income system “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 recognises the right of every person to a share of the resources of society.” (p.93). The full report is available in PDF at:
The Irish Times article:

DEUTCHE WELLE: Basic Income in the German Web-TV Deutsche Welle, “A Basic Income for All: Can We Afford It?”

[Wolfgang Müller – BI News – May 2012]
Basic Income was a recent topic in the German Web-TV network "Deutsche Welle." Herbert Wilkens, economist and an advocate of the basic income, took the opportunity and presented the idea of an unconditional basic income.
The show – in English – can be found online at:,,15879017,00.html
The part about Basic Income starts at 00:17:30.

BIRNBAUM, Simon (2011), ‘Should surfers be ostracized? Basic income, liberal neutrality, and the work ethos’

Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, November 2011, vol. 10, no. 4, 396-419. See:
Neutralists have argued that there is something illiberal about linking access to gift-like resources to work requirements. The central liberal motivation for basic income is to provide greater freedom to choose between different ways of life, including options attaching great importance to non-market activities and disposable time. As argued by Philippe Van Parijs, even those spending their days surfing should be fed. This article by Simon Birnbaum (Department of Political Science, Stockholm University) examines Van Parijs’ dual commitment to a ‘real libertarian’ justification of basic income and the public enforcement of a strong work ethos, which serves to boost the volume of work at a given rate of taxation. It is argued (contra Van Parijs) that this alliance faces the neutrality objection: the work ethos will largely offset the liberal gains of unconditionality by radically restricting the set of permissible options available. A relaxed, non-obligatory ethos might avoid this implication. This view, however, is vulnerable to the structural exploitation objection: feasibility is achieved only because some choose to do necessary tasks to which most people have the same aversion. In light of these objections, the article examines whether there is a morally untainted feasibility path consistent with liberal objectives.

Hansen, James, “Game Over for the Climate,”
The Opinion Pages, the New York Times, May 9, 2012.
[USBIG – May 2012]
This opinion piece endorses the Tax-and-Dividend approach to global warming without using that name for it. The author writes, "We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month." This strategy, obviously, includes a basic income. The full text is online at:

Hyslop, Katie “What About Just Guaranteeing Everyone a Basic Income?”

15 May 2012,
[USBIG – May 2012]
This opinion piece argues that a BIG could almost erase poverty in Canada. It presents evidence from the Negative Income Tax experiments and from the history of the guaranteed income movement. It’s online at:

Storlund, Vivan (December 2011) “Basic Income: How it fits in the Policy Framework for Green Jobs” in Saviour Rizzo (ed.) Green Jobs From A Small State Perspective. Case Studies From Malta, Belgium: the Green European Foundation, pp. 55-66.
[BI News – May 2012]
The basic argument in this paper is based on the premise that when green is the qualifying criterion for work rather than profit or economic growth, the world of work and the economic scenario in which it has to operate assume a different dimension. The focus of this new dimension is here placed on work performed in the intersection between employment and entrepreneurship. This is a grassroots level hibernation sphere for innovation and thus also a fertile breeding ground for green jobs. A green job in this context is being associated with meaningful work. What makes work meaningful is its potential to enable the worker to participate meaningfully and creatively in the life of society in less materialistic ways. This does not however mean that the instrumental value of work has to be ignored. In whatever perspective work is perceived it ultimately has to assure one’s survival and well being. Herein lies the principle of basic income. This paper challenges the conventional economic theory of pay and argues that a national and/or macro policy of basic income can be very conducive to the creation and sustenance of green jobs.
The book can be downloaded as a PDF at:
A review of the book is online at:

Woolsey, Robert. Interview with Cliff Groh: Alaska’s Dividend a policy of plenty

KCAW Radio, May 8, 2012
[USBIG – May 2011]
Cliff Groh is an expert on the Alaska Permanent Fund and one of the authors of Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend and Exporting the Alaska Model (both Palgrave-Macmillan 2012). The text and audio of the interview are online at:

Smith, Jeffery J. (2011) “What is a Citizens Dividend?” Geonomics: The Citizens Dividend Liberates Everyone
[USBIG – May 2011]
This web page provides an introduction to the Citizens Dividend—a resource rent tax financed basic income. It’s online at:

Glaeser, Edward (2012) “Cash Is Better Than Food Stamps in Helping Poor”, February 28, 2012
[USBIG – May 2012]

In an opinion piece on, prominent Harvard economist Edward Glaeser writes, “Redistribution has costs . . . but it also has benefits, particularly by creating a society with less painful poverty. . . . I won’t try to convince you that the U.S. should do more or less for its poorer citizens. I am interested in a better-designed welfare system.” Glaeser concludes, “By combining our aid programs and primarily giving cash, we can have a more efficient welfare system that provides more freedom and better incentives for aid recipients.” The article is online at:

Graham, Larry (2012) “We should get a direct dividend from boom”

The West Australian, April 10, 2012
[USBIG – May 2012]
Larry Graham, a form member of the Western Australian State Parliament, states in this opinion piece that the burning political question facing Western Australia right now is how to share the benefits of the coming resource boom. He argues that Western Australia could do no better than to imitate Alaska by creating a sovereign wealth fund to finance a yearly dividend for everyone in the state. The piece is online at:

Coren, Michael (2012) “Should Companies Pay To Use Our Common Resources?”

Co.Exist, March 8, 2012
[USBIG – May 2012]
This opinion piece argues for a resource dividend on the grounds that even the poorest among us own a share of the Earth’s resources, which are commonly claimed as private wealth. The article cites Peter Barnes’s work on this issue.
It’s online at:

Citizen’s Income Newsletter 2012, issue 2.

London: Citizen’s Income Trust
[USBIG – May 2012]
The Citizen’s Income Trust (BIEN’s affiliate in the United Kingdom) has release its second issue of the year. The issue includes news, editorials, and reviews. It is online in html, PDF, and MS Word formats at:

Harrop, Andrew (2012) The Coalition and Universalism: Cuts, targeting and the future of welfare.

United Kingdom: the Fabian Society
[Citizens Income Trust – May 2012]
The Fabian Society has published The Coalition and Universalism: Cuts, targeting and the future of welfare, by Andrew Harrop. ‘Universal provision funded by proportionate or progressive taxation actually leads to a transfer from richer families to poorer ones. ... on average the amount redistributed to the poor actually decreases as welfare states become more targeted. Any increase in redistribution from an increase in targeting is clearly outweighed by the smaller expenditure that is associated with the lower willingness to pay of targeted welfare states. This confirms the hypothesis that strategies of targeting result in welfare states that do less redistribution to the poorest than strategies of universalism’ (pp.2, 9).


Namibian Basic Income Grant Coalition (2012) “The Basic Income Grant (BIG) is Government’s Responsibility”
Namibian Basic Income Grant Coalition, March 1, 2012
[Citizens Income Trust, May 2012]
On the 1st March the Namibian Basic Income Grant Coalition published a press release [entitled “The Basic Income Grant (BIG) is Government’s Responsibility”] relating to the recent two year Citizen’s Income pilot project in two Namibian villages (reported in the Citizen’s Income Newsletter, issue 2 for 2009): ‘Despite the positive results, the Namibian government has still not committed itself to the introduction of a BIG [Basic Income Grant: Citizen’s Income] in Namibia. Instead, senior government leaders have raised concerns that the grant would make people lazy and dependent on hand-outs. Such perceptions are rooted in prejudices rather than being based on the evidence provided by Otjivero! We wish to point out that the BIG Coalition arranged for many Namibians, including Members of Parliament (MPs), to visit Otjivero and to witness the developments there first-hand. The honourable MPs were free to assess the impact of the BIG themselves and they were impressed with the results achieved in Otjivero. However, they preferred to express their views in private instead of speaking out publicly in support of a national BIG.’

Brewer, Mike, James Browne and Wenchao Jin, (2012) “Universal Credit: A Preliminary Analysis of its Impact on Incomes and Work Incentives”

Fiscal Studies, vol. 33, no. 1, 2012, pp. 39-71
[Citizens Income Trust – May 2012]
Research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that ‘Universal Credit will strengthen financial work incentives for some people, as intended, but weaken them for others. In general, incentives to work will be strengthened for the main earner in a family who works part-time or has low earnings, and will be weakened for those with higher earnings and for second earners in couples’ and that ‘moving from the current system of benefits and tax credits to a single benefit will require major administrative and IT changes. It is noteworthy that the government is attempting this at a time when spending on benefit administration (and public service spending generally) is being cut; the fact that such a major reform is being attempted at a time when benefit entitlements are being cut, overall, rather than increased, also increases the political risks to its implementation.

Lyssandra Sears (2012) “Give everyone a state income: proposal,” The Local: Switzerland’s news in English, 12 April 2012 09:57

[USBIG – May 2012]
This newspaper article reports on the Swiss effort to raise enough signatures to trigger a referendum on basic income. The effort is supported by high-level politicians as well as by BIEN-Switzerland. The movement needs 100,000 signatures to put the referendum on the ballot.
The article is online at:

10. Recent opinion pieces on BI News

BI News publishes regular opinion pieces at: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. They do not represent positions endorsed by BIEN or its affiliates. Below are the headlines of the BI News opinion pieces that have come out since March. Links to the full text are included:

OPINION: Iran’s Citizen’s Income Scheme and its Lessons
[CIT by Hamid Tabatabai - May 21, 2012]
In December 2010, Iran became the first country in the world to establish a nationwide Citizen’s or Basic Income scheme. Interestingly, the scheme did not emerge by design but by default: it was the by-product of an effort to reform an outdated system of price subsidies that concerned primarily fuel products. A basic income proved to be the most practical way of compensating the population for the loss of subsidies that had been costing some US$100-120 billion a year. […]

OPINION: Universal and Guaranteed Income? A Matter of Basic Rights

[BIEN by Emanuele Murra - April 30, 2012]
The idea of a regular income that allows people to plan and fulfill a life project is a certainly linked to the topic of job market reform. However, these two issues do not overlap. The reform of job contracts, new economic incentives, liberalization and tax exemptions can make the job market more efficient, but all [...]

OPINION: BRICS should evaluate cash transfers

[BIEN by Guy Standing & Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy - April 9, 2012]
The BRICS Heads of State Summit in Delhi this week presents an excellent opportunity to launch some joint initiatives that would help promote the aims of the meeting, security and stability. Among those, one stands out that could easily be sidelined. The leaders of India, Brazil, China, Russia and South Africa face a common challenge [...]

OPINION: The Sad But Predictable Downfall of the Cato Institute

[USBIG by Almaz Zelleke - April 2, 2012]
The Cato Institute, a non-partisan Washington, D.C. think tank founded in 1977 to promote and disseminate libertarian views, is in danger. Due to a highly unusual and, in hindsight, highly unfortunate shareholder structure for a non-profit, it finds itself at risk of a hostile takeover by two of its co-founders, billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch [...]

Opinion: Resistance against Basic Income

[BIEN by Joerg Drescher - March 26, 2012]
Most readers here will agree, that Basic Income would be a good way to solve many problems which exist in our societies, but why is the idea not supported by the populace? Even worse! It seems there is a strong resistance against. Isn’t it strange, that an idea, which suggest to benefit every individual, cannot [...]

11. Recent external blogs


Rall, Ted (2012)“You’re Not Underemployed. You’re Underpaid: The Case for Shiftlessness”

The Rall Blog, March 7th, 2012
[USBIG – May 2012]

In this blog, Ted Rall endorses a Basic Income Guarantee. It’s online at:


12. New links

New Interactive Webpage about Basic Income

[Wolfgang Müller - April 11, 2012]
A small group of individuals active in art, design, film and politics has launched a new webpage with the idea of introducing the idea of an unconditional basic income to its visitors interactively. More than 40 clips cover various aspects and answer questions about the unconditional basic income. The webpage is only available in German so far, but any clip can be watched with English subtitles. Click “CC” (Subtitles) in the menu-bar of the clip to watch them with English subtitles.

The webpage can be found online at:

The Ecovaproject project includes articles on basic income

[USBIG – May 2012]
The Ecovaproject has webpages in 6 different languages examining “a green path towards a future of peace, leisure & abundance.” Founded by Rafael Staelens in 2008, the website begins with an endorsement of an unconditional basic income, which it calls a “springboard for human dignity.” It is online at:

13. New video links on BI News

Interactive video suite on Basic Income

[BI News – May 2012]
A group of individuals (calling themselves BGEinteraktiv) in Frankfurt, Germany have finished an interactive documentary about the basic income guarantee (BIG). This project allows the viewer to explore 45 different video clips, each containing answers to a question that the creators have asked different people. The videos are in German, but English subtitles are available.
The trailer is at this link:
The full documentary is will be online at:
For more information contact Caspar Priesemann at:


Etopian News interviews Klaus Sambor discusses the Unconditional Basic Income ECI

[USBIG - May 7, 2012]

Klaus Sambor, coordinator of the Attac group for an unconditional basic-income (UBI) guarantee, talks about the campaign to qualify a European Citizens’ Initiative that would implement such a program in the European Union, recorded from Austria on May 6, 2012.


James Robertson – It’s Our Money Anyway

[USBIG, link posted April 10, 2012]
James Robertson talks frankly about democratising our money supply. Money as debt is not sustainable.


CRAPITALISM (iatrogenic vs. livable economics)

[USBIG – March 2012]
This online slideshow proposes basic income as a solution to what it calls “crapitalism,” the use of resources to produce crap products and services. It’s produced by Livable Income For All ( It’s online at:


14. Writers needed (for BI News, the BIEN NewsFlash, and the USBIG Newsletter)

Volunteers are need to write for BI News, the BIEN NewsFlash, and the USBIG Newsletter. The news you read here is all written by a group of volunteers. We need more writers for our team. As a writer you get: byline, feedback on your writing, and a chance to help the global basic income movement. If you’re interested, please email

15. Links and other info

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

The USBIG Network Newsletter
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Copyeditor: Mike Murray and the USBIG Committee
Research: Paul Nollen
Special help on this issue was provided by: Tim Widerquist, Jeff Smith, Steve Shafarman, Myron Frankman, and Claudia and Dirk Haarmann.

The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network publishes this newsletter. The Network is a discussion group on basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a generic name for any proposal to create a minimum income level, below which no citizen's income can fall. Information on BIG and USBIG can be found on the web at: More news about BIG is online at

You may copy and circulate articles from this newsletter, but please mention the source and include a link to 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.

Thank you,
-Karl Widerquist, editor