USBIG NewsFlash Vol. 15, No. 71, Jan.-Feb. 2014

The USBIG NewsFlash is both the newsletter of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network and the U.S. edition of the Basic Income Earth Network’s NewsFlash. The USBIG Network ( promotes the discussion of the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a policy that would unconditionally guarantee at least a subsistence-level income for everyone. If you would like to be added to or removed from this list please go to:
For questions, contact the editor, Karl Widerquist <>.

Table of Contents

1. Last chance to propose a presentation at the 2014 BIEN Congress
2. Editorial: The Basic Income Guarantee Becomes a Rorschach Test in the U.S. Media
3. News: European Citizens Initiative; Canadian polls; and more
4. Publications: increasing discussion
5. Events
6. Audio-Video
7. Recent Features on Basic Income News
8. New Links
9. Links and other info

1. Last chance to propose a presentation at the 2014 BIEN Congress

The last chance to proposal a presentation at the 2014 BIEN Congress is rapidly approaching. The deadline is January 31, 2014. Anyone interested should visit for more information or to submit a proposal.


The 15th BIEN Congress will take place on 27-29 June 2014 at McGill University (Montreal) on the theme of “Re-democratizing the Economy.” A pre-conference workshop focusing on political strategies for pushing BIG on the agenda in Canada and the United States will take place on 26 June as part of the 13th annual North American Basic Income Guarantee (NABIG) conference.


Featured speakers for the BIEN Congress 2014 include:


·        Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), United Nations

·        Roberto Gargarella, Professor of Constitutional Theory and Political Philosophy at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor at University College London

·        Renana Jhabvala, President of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Bharat, India

·        Joe Soss, Cowles Chair for the Study of Public Service at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

·        Guy Standing, Professor in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and Co-President, BIEN

·        David Stuckler, Senior Research Leader at University of Oxford and Research Fellow of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Chatham House


For more information or to submit a proposal go to:



2. Editorial: The Basic Income Guarantee Becomes a Rorschach Test in the U.S. Media

            The Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) recently became a part of a flurry of discussion on the internet and in the media, when Jesse A. Myerson, of Rolling Stone Magazine, included it in a list of “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For.” This ensuing discussion reveals a lot about the many different ways people see BIG.

            The other reforms on the list were a guaranteed job, a land value tax, a sovereign wealth fund, and a public bank. Myerson framed the reforms as liberal, progressive ideas that should be especially appealing to the more-free-thinking millennial generation.

            Soon after, Dylan Matthews, of the Washington Post, had the brilliant idea of reframing all five reforms as conservative proposals. Although his introduction clearly spelled out what he was doing, the reaction in comments and elsewhere was telling. Democrats tended to oppose the ideas, and Republicans tended to support them, even thought Democrats and Republicans who read Myerson’s piece had opposite reactions.

            Ezra Klein, also of the Washington Post, wrote an article discussing the inconsistent reactions attributing it to framing (people react differently to a questions depending on how it was asked) and to trust (as a shortcut for paying closer attention, people often react differently to ideas depending on who supports or opposes those ideas).

            A good example of framing came out between two other authors writing in response to Myerson. Before the two articles about framing were published, Matt Breuenig brought up Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend and made a favorable comparison between it and communism. John Aronno, of Alaska Commons, writing after but apparently without knowledge of the two articles about framing, responded to Breunig by arguing that the Alaska Dividend was not communism, but “the owner state.” That’s an excellent frame.

            Emily Swanson, of the Huffington Post, got into the discussion by conduction a poll, purported to show, “What People Really Think Of Rolling Stone's 5 Reforms For Millennials.” The poll could do nothing of the kind, but I’ll get to that. First, let’s see what it could do.

            Swanson asked, “Would you favor or oppose expanding Social Security to every American, regardless of age, to guarantee a basic income to every American?” She found, among Americans as a whole, opposition beat support by a margin of 54 to 35 percent. Among people under 30, the margin was narrower, 44 to 40 percent. BIG was favored by 53 percent of black Americans, 54 percent of Democrats, and 19 percent of Republicans.”


What does all this say about BIG and its political prospects?


            Start with Klein’s framing issue. Klein would be mistaken to attribute the difference in reactions solely to irrationality and intellectual laziness on the part of the readers of the two pieces. The two proposals were not identical. Matthews’s conservative version of the proposal stressed scrapping the welfare system and replacing it with BIG. Myerson said nothing about scrapping anything. Furthermore, Myerson stressed that the BIG should be enough for people to live on, while Matthews did not mention anything about how large it could or should be. It’s true that some BIGists—if I may use that term for supporters of BIG—propose replacing most or all of the welfare system with a BIG, and probably all BIGists agree that at least some welfare state programs can be replaced if the BIG is large enough. However, if a conservative stresses scarping just about everything the government is currently doing to help the poor to replace it with a BIG—of undetermined size—liberals have good reason to be skeptical. Similarly, if a liberal proposes an enormous new program without mentioning any disliked programs it could replace, people who believe in a smaller government sector have good reason to be skeptical.

            Even if the Matthews’s conservative version of Myerson’s reforms isn’t quite as telling as Klien makes it out to be, the framing and trust issues are real, and they certainly explain part of discrepancy Klein recognizes. This issue poses a challenge for BIGists. It has something to offend everyone. People to the left-of-center might see it as great help to the poor, but they might see it as an underhanded strategy to undermine what we are already doing for the poor. People to the right-of-center might see it as a more cost-effective alternative to the welfare state, but they might see it as a major expansion of it, and they might think it is an affront to the work ethic. In America, people to the left-of-center might think that too, and even if they don’t, they might think that they should back some other program not vulnerable to the anti-work ethic allegation.

            If both sides frame it in the way most favorable to them, perhaps a large coalition behind it is possible. If both sides frame it the way most negative to them, perhaps an equally large coalition against it is possible. Either way you present it, you risk one side tagging it as a proposal from that other untrusted side.

            Now turn to Swanson’s poll. The results are actually good news for U.S. BIGists. The idea has been so far off the political radar for so long, just the fact that somebody is asking the question shows progress. The 19-point margin of 54 to 35 is a large deficit to overcome, but it is not insurmountable. It puts BIG at about the same place same-sex marriage was in 2002.* Given the current early-stage of activism for BIG, we should expect a deficit to overcome.

            However, Swanson’s poll cannot tell us what people really think about BIG or any of the other reforms she asked about. Swanson was reacting to Myerson’s piece only. She was not reacting to the articles that revealed the enormous framing problem, and she made no attempt to address the framing issue. It would be interesting to see the results of polls framing the question differently. But even this couldn’t tell us what people really think. As Swanson admits, people tend to react negatively to proposals of an enormous change from the status quo. There is some reason why democratic governments have the programs they do at any given time, and hopefully this has something to do with their popularity. People, using caution, tend to be skeptical of major unfamiliar proposed changes to the political system. As people learn more about BIG—which hopefully they will—they’re beliefs will likely change and solidify. What happens then depends on many factors including the framing and trust issues that Klein discussed and hopefully also good argument and well researched evidence.

            All this discussion shows many options about how to promote BIG, but it doesn’t give any easy answer for what strategy will be most effective.

-Karl Widerquist, Doha, Qatar, January 27, 2014


* This according to Nate Silver:


Below are links to the articles related to the recent media discussion over this issue:


Jesse Myerson, "Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For: Guaranteed Jobs, Universal Basic Incomes, Public Finance and More," Rolling Stone, January 3, 2014.


Matt Bruenig, “A Spectre Is Haunting Alaska—the Spectre of Communism,” Policy Shop: Demos, January 5, 2014.


Matthew Bruenig, “Conservatives are losing their minds over economic reforms that already exist,” Salon, January 6, 2014.


Dylan Matthews, “Five conservative reforms millennials should be fighting for,” the Washington Post, January 7, 2014.


Ezra Klein, “The depressing psychological theory that explains Washington,” the Washington Post, January 10, 2014.


John Aronno, “Alaska's Permanent Fund Isn't Communism, It's the Owner State,” the Huffington Post, 01/13/2014.


Emily Swanson, “Here's What People Really Think Of Rolling Stone's 5 Reforms For Millennials,” the Huffington Post, 01/13/2014.



3. News




EUROPEAN UNION: More than 280,000 sign initiative asking the European Council to consider basic income


The European Citizens Initiative (ECI)(See Explanatory Note below) for Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) officially ended on Tuesday January 14th 23.59pm, after collecting at least 280,000 statements of support from EU citizens in 28 countries. The exact number won’t be known until collation and official verification of all online signatures and those on paper is completed in mid-February.


The initiative did not succeed in collecting the one million signatures required by the European Commission (EC) to win their consideration of UBI as a new form of ‘emancipatory welfare’.


“We would like to thank every single supporter who signed our initiative or promoted it,” said Klaus Sambor (Austria), general organizer of the European committee which coordinated this initiative in 28 European countries.


Last minute surge


During the final weeks there was a huge surge of support. In Bulgaria alone 30,000 signatures were collected in the last 5 days, thanks to an impressive last-minute push by Bulgaria’s leading trade union. “The case of Bulgaria reflects an overall intensification of interest in basic income leading to coverage in leading European media,” Martin Jordo (press officer, Sweden) said. Le Monde, BBC, El Mundo, Huffington Post, Al-Jazeera, RT’s Keiser Report, Portuguese and Bulgarian TV recently carried reports about unconditional basic income and this ECI for it.


While the official objective was not achieved, there are many reasons these supporters of a fairer and simpler social security system are happy. Six countries—Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Belgium, Netherlands and Estonia—reached their signature quotas, and one, Hungary, came very close to reaching theirs. “This ECI is only the start of a European movement towards an EU-wide basic income,” said Sambor. New groups have formed in many countries to support this campaign, and existing UBI networks were strengthened by it.


“The momentum generated this year will carry on in 2014 to promote unconditional basic income,” affirmed Stanislas Jourdan, organiser of the ECI campaign in France. A new pan-European network has now formed to pursue the same objective—to promote the practicality and benefits of implementing UBI throughout Europe.


ECI process ‘too cumbersome’


The organisers do not intend to launch another ECI in 2014, however. “The current rules are too cumbersome for grass-root groups like ours,” explained Stanislas Jourdan. The organisers said they lost two months of campaigning because of troubles with the implementation of the online collection system, a result of the complicated regulations for ECIs. A request to extend this initiative was turned down by the EC, although such extensions have been allowed by the EC for other initiatives in the past.


“We may consider using the ECI again in the future if the rules are simplified, and allow better preparation for the start date,” Jourdan said. He referred to the fact that the EU plans to reform the ECI process by 2015.


Plans for the future


To show the popularity of the basic income concept and to challenge the shortcomings of the ECI collection system, organisers have now launched an online petition in collaboration with, the leading political petition site in the world. (This can be found at:


"We want to play by the rules of the ECI, which is supposed to allow 12 months for the organisers to collect signatures,” Koen van Haalen (online petition coordinator, Netherlands) explained. “The combined results of the two petitions will be delivered to several EU authorities and politicians to support our claim that widespread public support for UBI is emerging.” The organisers are also exploring the possibility of using the signatures collected during the ECI for a standard petition to the European Parliament.


The organisers of this ECI will launch a new European campaign before the European parliamentary elections in May. National campaigns for unconditional basic income are also set to be launched simultaneously in several countries.


Further actions will be announced on the website for the Initiative: and the corresponding Facebook page:


For more information please contact the group’s press contact:

Martin Jordö <>




(Explanatory Note) The European Citizens Initiative was set up by the Lisbon Treaty as a vehicle for giving ordinary people more of a voice at the European Commission. Each one has to collect one million verified names, addresses, and depending on the country, birthdays or National identification numbers, with at least seven countries reaching their quota of signatures set by the EC. After making an application to EC to do an ECI, the start date is set on the date the ECI is accepted by the EC, regardless of whether the complicated online collection system needed for each one has been sorted out and approved for use by the EC and verification authorities in each nation. Even paper forms were not available until the online system was sorted out. In the case of the ECI for Unconditional Basic Income, this process took over two months after the official start date.


EUROPEAN UNION: 34 Members of the European Parliament call for support for the EU Citizens Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income

By Stanislas Jourdan, reprinted from


Twenty-nine members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from 12 different European Countries issued a joint statement (pdf) expressing their support for the European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) for Unconditional Basic Income. This calls upon the European Commission to assess the idea of reforming current national social security arrangements towards an unconditional basic income (UBI).


MEPs ask all Europeans to support this initiative. All EU citizens eligible to vote can support this ECI either via the internet ( or on paper. One million signatures are needed by 14 January 2014 to make sure it lands on the EC’s desk.


The current social security systems are demeaning and inadequate in addressing the roots of poverty, the MEPs emphasize.


“Unconditional Basic Income would transform social security from a compensatory system into an emancipatory system, one that trusts people to make their own decisions, and does not stigmatise them for their circumstances,” the statement says.


“We believe a new form of social security is urgently needed as social security systems in individual countries become increasingly conditional and punitive, they undermine individual dignity, form barriers to civic participation and deepen divisions in European society both across and within national borders.”


They also said this new form of social security is far simpler than existing (often chaotic and burdensome) systems, would help balance income disparities and could help mitigate the social and racial tensions caused by economic migration.




Martin EHRENHAUSER, independent (Austria)

Philippe LAMBERTS, Greens (Belgium)

Isabelle DURANT, Greens (Belgium)

Bart STAES, Greens (Belgium)

Nikola VULJANIĆ, Left (Croatian)

Olga SEHNALOVÁ, Social Democrats (Czech Republic)

Tarja CRONBERG, Greens (Finland)

Satu HASSI, Greens (Finland)

Catherine GREZE, Greens (France)

Eva JOLY, Greens (France)

José BOVÉ, Greens (France)

Karima DELLI, Greens (France)

Jean-Paul BESSET, Greens (France)

Nicole KIIL-NIELSEN, Greens (France)

Yves COCHET, Greens (France)

Malika BENARAB-ATTOU, Greens (France)

Michčle RIVASI, Greens (France)

Gerald HÄFNER, Greens (Germany)

Ska KELLER, Greens (Germany)

Nikos CHRISOGELOS, Greens (Greece)

Brian CROWLEY, ALDE (Ireland)

Emer COSTELLO, Social Democrats (Ireland)

Liam AYLWARD, ALDE (Ireland)

Nessa CHILDERS, independent (Ireland)

Sean KELLY, Christian Democrats (Ireland)

Pat the Cope Callagher, ALDE (Ireland)

Georges BACH, Christian Democrats (Luxembourg)

Claude TURMES, Greens (Luxembourg)

Carl SCHLYTER, Greens (Sweden)

Jean LAMBERT, Greens (UK)

Keith TAYLOR, Greens (UK)


UPDATE: As of today, 34 MEPs have signed the statement of support:

[update 29/11] Olga SEHNALOVÁ, Keith TAYLOR, Bart STAES and Yves COCHET also brought their support.

[update 30/11] Isabelle DURANT signed the statement

[update 05/12] Jean-Paul BESSET and Nicole KIIL-NIELSEN joined their support

[update 17/12] Hélčne FLAUTRE and Sirpa PIETIKAĎNEN joined their support

[update 25/12]Tanja FAJON signed the statement.

This article is reprinted from:


CANADA: Poll shows support for Basic Income Guarantee leads opposition by 4 percentage points


A new poll conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research found that support in Canada for a “guaranteed annual income” (GAI), a form of Basic Income Guarantee (BIG), leads opposition by a margin of 46 to 42 percent. An additional 6 percent of Canadians answering the poll said that their support for GAI would depend on how the policy was implemented. The remaining 5 percent had no answer or no opinion. Adding the people willing to support BIG under at least some circumstances increases the margin of support to 52-42.


This was the first national poll ever conducted in Canada on basic income guarantee. Of those surveyed, 19 percent answered that they strongly favor the policy; 27 percent somewhat favor; 17 percent somewhat oppose; and 25 percent strongly oppose the policy. Karl Widerquist, co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network said, “This is extremely important result. It is to my knowledge the first national poll showing more support for than opposition to a full-sized Basic Income Guarantee.”


Support was strongest in Quebec where an outright majority, 55 percent, of respondents favored GAI.


The poll was somewhat ambiguous about which form of BIG was being queried. The two major variants of BIG are basic income (BI) and negative income tax (NIT). BI gives a grant to everyone regardless of other income; NIT gives a grant only to those with low income and phases it out as income rises. One question in the poll asked whether economic assistance programs should be equally available to all or only to those most in need, and 65 percent of respondents favored universal availability. However the exact wording of the question on GAI was, “Some people believe the best way to help economically disadvantaged people is to provide them with something called a ‘guaranteed annual income.’ Would you favour or oppose a

guaranteed annual income policy for Canadians, to replace the current economic assistance programs?” The survey further explained, “This would involve every Canadian receiving a specific amount of money from the government each year, which would then be ‘clawed back’ with every dollar of income people

earn. Such a program is intended to ensure everyone has enough money for the basic necessities, and would replace other forms of economic assistance, like welfare and unemployment insurance.” If the grant is “clawed back” through taxes on income, while people still receive the grant, it is a basic income, but if it is “clawed back” by actually reducing the grant, it is a negative income tax.” Probably different respondents had different ideas about whether the GAI would fallow a BI or an NIT model.


The poll was a telephone survey of 1,501 Canadians (18 years and older) conducted between September 17 and October 13, 2013. The so-called “margin of error” of the poll was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, meaning that 19 times out of 20 a poll conducted in this manner would be within 2.5 percentage points of actual national opinion (assuming sampling is unbiased).


Canada will be the site of the 2013 Basic Income Earth Network conference: “15th International Congress of the Basic Income Earth Network: Re-democratizing the Economy,” Friday June 27th to Sunday June 29th, 2014. McGill Faculty of Law, Montreal, Quebec. Thursday June 26th, 2014, NABIG Preconference Workshop Day.


The survey report is online:

Environics, “Responsible Citizenship A National Survey of Canadians,”, October 31, 2013.


A report on the poll in the Toronto Star is also online:

Bob Hepburn, “New poll shows surprising support for anti-poverty plan,” the Toronto Star, December 12, 2013.


CANADA: Poll might indicate high-level political interest in basic income


As reported in BI News last month, a recent Canadian poll showed support for BIG leading opposition by a margin of 46-42. This result might not give strong indication of public opinion, because voters might not know very much about the policies in the poll. Their opinions are likely change significantly (either way) as they learn more about the policy.


However, the poll might give a small indication about interest in BIG in the Canadian Parliament. The poll was done for The Trudeau Foundation, which was established to carry on the legacy of Canada’s legendary Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau. One of his son’s Alexandre Trudeau is on the board of the Foundation. Another of his son’s, Justin Trudeau, is the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and quite possibly Canada's next Prime Minister. According to Rob Rainer, of the BIG Push Campaign, “That the basic income question made it into their survey suggests the Foundation is quite interested in the subject.” If the Trudeau brothers share that interest, or if organizations such as the BIG Push can capitalize on this potential support, BIG might become a prominent issue in the 2015 federal election, or possibly it will become an issue for a new Liberal government, which has a good chance of taking power in that election.


USBIG, “CANADA: Poll shows support for Basic Income Guarantee leads opposition by 4 percentage points.” BI News, December 13, 2013.


The survey report is online: Environics, “Responsible Citizenship A National Survey of Canadians,”, October 31, 2013.


CANADA: Basic Income Canada Network Releases the BIG Push Campaign Plan, January 13, 2014


Rob Rainer, on behalf of Basic Income Canada Network released the inaugural campaign plan for The BIG Push—an effort to move the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) into the political mainstream in Canada. See an earlier story that appeared on BI News on Nov. 17, 2013 (


The plan was approved last Thursday evening by the Board of Directors of BICN. It identifies 46 tactics supporting the three external campaign goals and three internal goals, the latter concerning team building, communications and fundraising. Much of the campaign effort in 2014 will be aimed at the Canadian federal parliament, working towards the 2015 federal election when there is opportunity to make basic income a prominent feature of that contest. According to Rainer, “There is ample work to be done in raising public awareness and building public support for a BIG. Happily, there are encouraging signs of growing awareness and materializing support.”


A modest budget of $300,000 for 2014 has been established in support of the plan. BICN expects that to reach this will require extensive fundraising, with expectation that much of the funding will materialize from individuals. They also aspire to raise funds from faith groups, unions and professional associations. According to BIEN, “Any leads for funding prospects and any support for helping us meet and surpass our revenue targets will be deeply appreciated.” Rainer writes, “If you have any questions about any aspect of the plan or would like further information, please contact me. Thank you for your keen interest in basic income: let's make 2014 a breakthrough year for basic income security for all Canadians.”


For more information:

See the BIG Push Campaign website:

Or the Campaign Plan and Budget (in PDF for):

Or contact: Rob Rainer, Director, The BIG Push Campaign at:



CANADA: Movement within the Liberal Party calls for a basic income pilot project

A group, working within the Liberal Party of Canada, is gathering support, hoping to get the party put the call for a basic income pilot project into the party’s official platform at the party’s convention in February 2014. The group is also willing to work with Canadians connected to other parties or without part affiliation.


More information about the movement go to:



CANADA: Green Party Endorses Basic Income

The Green Party of Canada has endorsed Basic Income in its platform, “Vision Green.” Section 4.12, “Eliminating Poverty,” endorses Basic Income in principle and supports a gradual transition toward a Basic Income with expanded conditional and categorical programs.

Section 4.12 of Vision Green is online at:


HUNGARY: Basic Income addressed by ruling and opposition parties

[Karl Widerquist]

A spokesperson for Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party called unconditional basic income (UBI) “dangerous brainstorming” in a recent press conference, according to Politics.HU. In response, the opposition Socialist party released a statement welcoming proposals of such as UBI. Although the Socialists stopped short of endorsing UBI, they indicated (quoting Politics.HU), “the government’s policies were ‘helping the rich, and increasing social gaps and poverty,’ in the light of which it was ‘no surprise’ that the ruling party rejected the idea.” Katalin Szili, head of the non-parliamentary Community for Social Justice party did endorse UBI.


The high level debate indicates the success of recent social activism for UBI in Europe. It has brought the issue into the political consciousness. The issue has gathered enough attention to inspire a survey by the Szazadveg Foundation. The survey found a large majority was skeptical about the idea.


For more on UBI in Hungary, see

MTI, "Basic income for everyone 'dangerous' idea, says Fidesz spokesman", Politics.HU, January 14, 2014.


MTI, "Majority of Hungarians reject basic income guarantee", Politics.HU, January 17, 2014.



4. Publications

Aurelie Charles, “Book Review: Money For Everyone: Why we need a Citizen’s Income”

Aurelie Charles, “Book Review: Money For Everyone: Why we need a Citizen’s Income,” London School of Economics Review of Books, December 5, 2013.


Alyssa Battistoni, “Alive in the Sunshine”

AUTHOR’S SUMMARY: There’s no way toward a sustainable future without tackling environmentalism’s old stumbling blocks: consumption and jobs. And the way to do that is through a universal basic income.

Alyssa Battistoni is an editor at Jacobin. Her work has appeared in Salon and Mother Jones, among other venues.

Alyssa Battistoni, “Alive in the Sunshine,” The Jacobin: a magazine of culture and polemic, Issue 13, undated, 2014.


Barbara Jacobson, “Social security without the surveillance”

Barbara Jacobson, “Social security without the surveillance”, Basic Income UK, January 13, 2014.


Blogistan Polytechnic Institute, "Basic Income Guarantee, Part I, II, & III

[Craig Axford]


In the first of a three part series on a basic income guarantee (BIG), the arguments in favor of the concept offered by advocates from across the political spectrum are highlighted.  The implications of BIG for tax policy, work, the welfare system, and the minimum wage are considered.  The article draws on data coming out of recent experimentation with BIG in Namibia to demonstrate positive impacts to productivity, health, and well-being.


Part II of the Blogistan Polytechnic Institute's three-part exploration of the basic income guarantee (BIG) takes on the proposal's critics.  This post selects a number of recent articles published challenging BIG and responds individually to each.  Potential negative impacts to work and productivity often suggested by BIG critics are considered, as are possible implications for immigration should Switzerland, the EU, or the United States adopt BIG.


To conclude its three part series on the basic income guarantee (BIG), Blogistan Polytechnic Institute's Morning Feature provides advocates with some possible stories they can share with others to communicate possible real world positive impacts BIG can have on people's lives.  Drawing upon Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick, this post reminds readers that the ideas that capture the public's imagination are "sticky" ones that are both simple and compelling.


Blogistan Polytechnic Institute, "Basic Income Guarantee, Part I: A BIG Idea Finds a Growing Consensus", Blogistan Polytechnic Institute, Morning Feature, December 12, 2013.


Blogistan Polytechnic Institute, "Basic Income Guarantee, Part II: A BIG Idea Draws Small Critics", Blogistan Polytechnic Institute, Morning Feature, December 13, 2013.


Blogistan Polytechnic Institute, "Basic Income Guarantee, Part III: Sharing a BIG Idea (Non-Cynical Saturday)", Blogistan Polytechnic Institute, Morning Feature, December 14, 2013.


Bruce Barlett, “Rethinking the Idea of a Basic Income for All”

[Craig Axford - USBIG and Aynur Bashirova - BIEN]


In this New York Times column Bruce Bartlett, former senior adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, provides a detailed overview of the history of the basic income guarantee idea and the arguments offered in its support.  Using the upcoming vote in Switzerland as an introduction to the concept, efforts to make BIG official policy during both the Johnson and Nixon administrations as well as arguments favoring grants to every citizen articulated by Thomas Paine more than two centuries ago are described.


Barlett also writes about modern activists for the basic income guarantee, such as Jessica M. Flanigan. As an activist, Flanigan has published many articles in support of the initiative in which she calls BI, negative income tax. According to her and her supporters, the BI is needed as compensation for the negative effects of property rights on ordinary citizens, especially young people, who are suffering due to past consequences not related to them.


Bruce Barlett. “Rethinking the Idea of a Basic Income for All.” The New York Times. 10th December 2013.


Citizens for Public Justice, “Infographic: Guaranteed Livable Income in Canada”

Citizens for Public Justice presents an “infographic” (an illustrated billboard) comparing Canada's current welfare system to a Guaranteed Livable Income.

Citizens for Public Justice, “Infographic: Guaranteed Livable Income in Canada,” Citizens for Public Justice, December 2013.



Emily Swanson, “Here's What People Really Think Of Rolling Stone's 5 Reforms For Millennials”

One of these proposed reforms is a basic income. The wording of the question was, “Would you favor or oppose expanding Social Security to every American, regardless of age, to guarantee a basic income to every American?”

The survey found, “Fifty-four percent of all adults polled opposed the idea, compared to 35 percent overall who said they supported it. Among people under 30, 44 percent of respondents opposed the idea, while 40 percent supported it. Forty-six percent of those making under $40,000 in household income, but only 24% of those making more than $100,000, said they would support expanding Social Security to everyone. Fifty-three percent of black respondents said they were in favor. The idea was supported by 54 percent of Democrats, 29 percent of independents and only 19 percent of Republicans.”

The story includes both text and a video interview with the polltaker, Emily Swanson.

Emily Swanson, “Here's What People Really Think Of Rolling Stone's 5 Reforms For Millennials,” the Huffington Post, 01/13/2014.


Danny Vinik, Three articles about BIG

Danny Vinik, “Here's Why Switzerland Won't Have A Basic Income Anytime Soon,” Business Insider, Dec. 31, 2013.


Danny Vinik, “Here's  Another Reason Conservatives Should Favor Giving Everyone A Basic Income,” Business Insider. December 19, 2013.


Danny Vinik, “Here's How The Government Could Make Sure That Everyone Gets At Least $US500 Per Month,” Business Insider. December 23, 2013.


David Spencer, “The case for working less”

Without mentioning BIG, this article argues for it. The article appears in Pieria, which has run several articles favoring BIG.

David Spencer, “The case for working less,” Pieria, Jan 22nd 2014.


Ed Dolan, “The Economic Case for a Universal Basic Income”

[Craigh Axford]

In this blog post economist Ed Dolan evaluates the effectiveness of a universal basic income using four common criteria: effectiveness at lifting everyone above the poverty line; the degree to which the program targets those who need it most; availability of work incentives; and, administrative efficiency.


Ed Dolan, “The Economic Case for a Universal Basic Income”, EconoMonitor, January 3, 2014..



Ed Dolan, “Could We Afford a Universal Basic Income”

[Craigh Axford]

With this post, Ed Dolan concludes the United States can provide a basic income guarantee of approximately $5,850 for every American with the exception of some current Social Security recipients.  This grant could be funded using only existing federal anti-poverty spending, excluding healthcare spending or money currently contributed to these programs by the states.

Ed Dolan, “Could We Afford a Universal Basic Income”, Economonitor, January 13, 2014.



Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, Race Against The Machine

Among the solutions the authors suggest in this book is guaranteeing every American a basic income.

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, Digital Frontier Press. 10/28/2011.


Frances Coppola, “The Changing Nature of Work”

SUMMARY: Frances Coppola explores how increasing automation is fundamentally shifting the nature of work away from 'making stuff' towards personal services.

Frances Coppola, “The Changing Nature of Work”, Pieria, May 13, 2013


Frances Coppola, “An Experiment with Basic Income”

[Craigh Axford]

This essay discusses the Speenhamland system of poor relief, begun in England in 1795 as an experiment in Basic Income.

Frances Coppola, “An Experiment with Basic Income,” Piera, Jan 12th 2014.



George Manbiot, “Communism, welfare state – what’s the next big idea?”

George Manbiot, “Communism, welfare state – what’s the next big idea? Any attempt to challenge the elite needs courage, inspiration and a truly groundbeaking proposal. Here are two to set us off”, the Guardian, April 1, 2013.



Guy Standing, “Job security is a thing of the past - so millions need a better welfare system”

Guy Standing, “Job security is a thing of the past - so millions need a better welfare system: Flexible labour markets have created a growing 'precariat', who should have the right to a basic standard of living,” The Guardian, 21 May 2013.


Guy Standing, “The precariat needs a basic income”

Guy Standing, “The precariat needs a basic income,” the Financial Times, Nov 21, 2013.


Guy Standing, “India’s Experiment in Basic Income Grants

Guy Standing, “India’s Experiment in Basic Income Grants,” Global Dialogue: Newsletter for the International Sociological Association Volume 3, issue 5, 2013.


Heteconomist, “Currency Viability In a Pure Income Tax Regime With a Basic Income”

Heteconomist, “Currency Viability In a Pure Income Tax Regime With a Basic Income,” Heteconomist, December 9,  2013.


Hugh Segal, “Scrapping Welfare: The case for guaranteeing all Canadians an income above the poverty line

Hugh Segal, author of The Right Balance: Canada’s Conservative Tradition (Douglas and McIntyre, 2011), is an Ontario senator and former president of the Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Hugh Segal, “Scrapping Welfare: The case for guaranteeing all Canadians an income above the poverty line,” Literary review of Canada, December 2012.



J.D. Longstreet, “Something B. I. G. Is Coming To America! Progressive/Commies Push For Solution To Income Inequality”

[Josh Martin]

Longstreet believes the Democratic Party in the U.S. will use the appeal of a basic income guarantee (BIG) to mobilize its voting base in the 2014 midterm election.  Progressives, Longstreet believes, will scream out for damaging levels of income equality propelled by the BIG.  Further, he claims that this BIG will give money to the lazy and undeserving.  Longstreet ends his article with a rousing cry for Republicans to fight back against the Democrat’s use of the “bully pulpit”.


J.D. Longstreet, “Something B. I. G. Is Coming To America! Progressive/Commies Push For Solution To Income Inequality,” Canada Free Press, January 7, 2014.


Jesse Myerson, "Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For: Guaranteed Jobs, Universal Basic Incomes, Public Finance and More"

[Josh Martin]


In this article, Myerson makes a call to arms for Millennials to stand behind five economic reforms: guaranteed work for everyone, a universal basic income, land-value taxes, more sovereign wealth funds, and public banks in every state.  According to Myerson, Millennials are disheartened by the economy and harbor “a level of suspicion” towards capitalism, leading to an “egalitarian impulse” that may translate into support for these reforms.


Jesse Myerson, "Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For: Guaranteed Jobs, Universal Basic Incomes, Public Finance and More," Rolling Stone, January 3, 2014.


Jess O'Connor, “The case for and against unconditional basic income in Switzerland”

[Josh Martin]


In this article, O’Connor begins with an explanation of the process behind Swiss referendums as well as recent issues that triggered referendums.  Particularly popular debates in Switzerland today focus on income inequality, O’Connor writes, partially because of the country’s lack of a minimum wage law while the top one percent own a third of the wealth.  Switzerland will vote on a referendum with the next few years on whether or not to implement a CHF2,500 per month universal basic income.  O’Connor then lists key arguments for and against the proposal.


Jess O'Connor, “The case for and against unconditional basic income in Switzerland,” EuropenCEO, January 10, 2014.


Jill Segger, “Growing pains”

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: “However much we disagree on how to achieve it, politicians promise the same thing – an economy that grows and grows forever. Jill Segger doesn’t buy it.” She considers basic income as a better alternative.

Jill Segger, “Growing pains,” Reform. May 2013.


John Courtneidge, “Co-operative Socialism”

In this blog, John Courtneidge outlines the Campaign for Co-operative Socialism for Occupy London Economics Working Group. According to Courtneidge, co-operative Socialism is the nonviolent, non-hierarchical alternative to capitalism and totalitarianism. He explains it with text and video. The discussion includes an endorsement of BIG.

John Courtneidge, “Co-operative Socialism,” Occupy London: An Occupier's Perspective, January 22, 2014.



John Danaher, four articles on basic income

This blogger has written four articles on basic income. Two from a libertarian perspective and one from a civic republican perspective.


John Danaher, “Pettit on Republicanism and the Basic Income,” Philosophical Disquisitions. December 20, 2013.


John Danaher, “Libertarianism and the Basic Income (Part Three),” Philosophical Disquisitions. December 18, 2013.


John Danaher, “Libertarianism and the Basic Income (Part Two),” Philosophical Disquisitions. December 17, 2013.


John Danaher, “Libertarianism and the Basic Income (Part One),” Philosophical Disquisitions. December 17, 2013.


Jordan Weissman, “Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Solution to Poverty

[Craig Axford]

SUMMARY: In his final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated for a universal basic income.  In addition to recalling King’s contribution to civil rights during the days surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it’s worth remembering his commitment to ending poverty as well.

Jordan Weissmann, “Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Solution to Poverty”, The Atlantic,  January 20, 2014.



Joseph Finlay, “Free Money for All - The Only Way Forward on Welfare”

[Josh Martin]

In this article Finlay summarizes a wide range of key arguments for the basic income and suggests the implementation of a Ł10,000 basic income for all adults in the UK as a solution to issues with current welfare spending.  Finlay then outlines a funding plan for the proposed reform.


Joseph Finlay, “Free Money for All - The Only Way Forward on Welfare,” Huffington Post, January 1, 2014.


Joshua McCabe, four essays on the Basic Income Guarantee

[Craigh Axford]

The following series of posts regarding a basic income guarantee were written by Joshua McCabe, a PhD candidate in the department of sociology at the University at Albany and an Adam Smith Fellow at the Mercatus Center.  All posts were written for the Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog.

Joshua McCabe, “The Positive Political Economy of the Basic Income Guarantee”, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, January 3, 2014.

Joshua McCabe,
“The Political Failure of Basic Income Guarantee in the United States”, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, January 6, 2014.

Joshua McCabe,
“Future Prospects for a Basic Income Guarantee in the United States”, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, January 7, 2014.

Joshua McCabe,
“Basic Income Roundup”, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, January 8, 2014.



Kristalle Ramlakahn, "Report suggests guaranteed minimum income in Nunavut"

[Craig Axford]


A report recently commissioned by Nunavut's Anti-Poverty Secretariat recommends adopting a minimum basic income guarantee to overcome the territory's 40% poverty rate.  The report points out that a basic income would not require people to divest themselves of almost all their assets and become desperately poor before they could qualify, therefore ensuring residents of this Arctic region have the resources they need to meet their basic needs.


Kristalle Ramlakahn, "Report suggest guaranteed minimum income in Nunavut", CBC News, December 10, 2013.


Lena Lavinas, “21st Century Welfare”


Summary: Latin America as laboratory for conditional cash transfers, fast becoming the hegemonic social-protection paradigm for the Global South. In a comparative survey, Lena Lavinas reveals the CCT model as a strategy for the financialization—not abolition—of poverty. The conclusion of the article compares CCTs to UCTs (Unconditional Cash Transfers).


Lena Lavinas, “21st Century Welfare,” New Left Review Vol. 84, November/December 2013.



Mark Macy, five articles on Basic Income in the Beacon

Mark Macy, “Fixing America (5): Basic Income and the Fertility Rate,” Macy Afterlife, the Beacon, 2013 December 22.


Mark Macy, “Fixing America (4): A Wrap-Up of Basic Income and Wealth Tax,” Macy Afterlife, the Beacon, December 14, 2013.


Mark Macy, “Fixing America (3): More Thoughts on Basic Income,” Macy Afterlife, the Beacon, 2013 December 5.


Mark Macy, “Fixing America (2): Basic Income, One Possible Solution,” Macy Afterlife, the Beacon, 2013 November 24.


Mark Macy, “Fixing America (1): The Problems,” Macy Afterlife, the Beacon, 2013 November 17.


Matthew Bruenig, “Conservatives are losing their minds over economic reforms that already exist” 

[Josh Martin]


Bruenig opens by highlighting the conservative backlash to Jesse Myerson’s article for Rolling Stone ( that listed five economic reforms all millenials should support: a job guarantee, a universal basic income, a land value tax, a sovereign wealth fund and state banks.  Conservatives quickly labeled these reforms as impossible, but Bruenig discredits this argument by providing real-world examples of each reform except the job guarantee.  Thus, Bruenig claims these reforms are not as farfetched as conservatives believe.



Matthew Bruenig, “Conservatives are losing their minds over economic reforms that already exist,” Salon, January 6, 2014.


Matt Bruenig, “The Basic Income Should Not Replace All Other Programs”

Matt Bruenig, “The Basic Income Should Not Replace All Other Programs,” Demos: Policy Shop, November 20, 2013.



Matthew Yglesias, “Martin Luther King's Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income”

Matthew Yglesias, “Martin Luther King's Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income,” Slate, Aug. 28 2013.



Megan McArdle, “Four Reasons a Guaranteed Income Won't Work”

Megan McArdle, “Four Reasons a Guaranteed Income Won't Work,” Bloomberg Opinion, Dec 4, 2013.


Mike Konczal, “Guest Post: Max Sawicky on the Liberal Case Against a Universal Basic Income”

Mike Konczal, “Guest Post: Max Sawicky on the Liberal Case Against a Universal Basic Income,” Next New Deal. December 17, 2013.


Moises Velasquez-Manoff, “What Happens When the Poor Receive a Stipend?”

[Michael W. Howard]

In this column, Velasquez-Manoff summarizes ground-breaking research by Duke University epidemiologist Jane Costello and UCLA economist Randall Akee on the effects of regular unconditional cash disbursements to every member of the North Carolina’s Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, as equal shares of some of the profits of their casino. After five years, by which time the yearly profits per person amounted to $6000, the number in poverty declined by half, a surprising result for Costello. “The expectation is that social interventions have relatively small effects,” Costello told Velasquez-Manoff. “This one had quite large effects.” Other effects included decline in minor crimes by youth, increase in high school graduation rates, and, especially when the income arrived early in a child’s life, better mental health in early adulthood. The study thus tends to support the view that poverty can cause mental illness, rather than poverty being explained by mental illness. It is thought that the income facilitated better parenting by reducing the stresses of poverty. Even income arriving for 12 year olds, according to Akee, has benefits that in five to ten years exceed the cost of the extra income.

            Velasquez-Manoff does not mention the relevance of this study for basic income policy, but it is particularly relevant. First, even major studies like the Mincome pilot program in Manitoba were of fixed length. Critics could say that behavior was affected by the expectation that the income would end. Here, the payments are ongoing. Second, the payments, although not sufficient to cover basic needs, are substantial. By 2006, the yearly stipend had risen to $9000 per person. So, unlike Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, these payments have been a more substantial percentage of individual incomes among poor families. Yet, as basic income advocates would expect, there appears not to have been a substantial work disincentive. Rather, the steady supplements to wages have relieved the stresses of seasonal, irregular employment, with numerous benefits to family and community life and this, as Charles Karelis has argued, in The Persistence of Poverty, enables work. Akee “calculates that 5 to 10 years after age 19, the savings incurred by the Cherokee income supplements surpass the initial costs — the payments to parents while the children were minors.” 

            The study also raises interesting questions. The source of the funding is a business owned by the tribe; it is a “bottom up” initiative. Would it make a difference to the outcomes if the source were publicly owned resources, or tax revenues? Not all of the casino revenue went to cash payments. Some went to infrastructure and social services. Were the positive outcomes due to the complementarity of these policies? Could there have been better outcomes if more had been spent on in-kind goods, or if more had been disbursed in cash? Whatever the answers, this study shows the positive potential of substantial universal unconditional cash payments in the fight against poverty.


Moises Velasquez-Manoff, “What Happens When the Poor Receive a Stipend?” Opinionator, New York Times, January 18, 2014.


EDITOR'S NOTE: In reaction to Velasquez-Manoff's article, several other authors wrote articles about the project, some making the connection to BIG:


Matt Bruenig, “A Cherokee Tribe's Basic Income Success Story,” Policy Shop, January 19, 2014.


Jared Bernstein, “The Transfer of Income to Poor Families with Children Can Be An Investment with Long Term Payoffs,” On the Economy, January 19th, 2014.


Dave in Northridge, “What Happens when Poor People get Cash? An Empirical Study,” Daily Kos, Jan 20, 2014.



Ned Resnikoff, “Four ways Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to battle inequality”

Ned Resnikoff, “Four ways Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to battle inequality,” MSNBC, 01/19/14.


Rutger Bregman, “Why we should give free money to everyone”

Author’s summary, “We tend to think that simply giving people money makes them lazy. Yet a wealth of scientific research proves the contrary: free money helps. It is time for a radical reform of the welfare state.”

Rutger Bregman, “Why we should give free money to everyone,” de Correspondent, December 2013 (undated).

Translated from Dutch by Tabitha Speelman.


Shawn Gude, “In Defense of ‘Entitlements’”

Shawn Gude, “In Defense of ‘Entitlements,’” Jacobin: A Magazine of Culture and Polemic, December 17, 2013.


Stephan Faris, “The Swiss Join the Fight Against Inequality”

[Craigh Axford]

SUMMARY: The Swiss have a long history of referendums that lead to change not only at home, but abroad as well.  Recently they passed a referendum giving shareholders greater say over executive compensation, and though a proposal to cap executive salaries to 12 times that of the lowest paid worker recently failed, it is an idea that has made its way into at least one European party’s platform.  According to this article, with a vote set for later this year on a basic income guarantee, the Swiss may be having an impact again.

Stephan Faris, “The Swiss Join the Fight Against Inequality”, Bloomberg Businessweek, January 16, 2014.


Stephanie Nolen, “What would Robin Hood do: How cash handouts are remaking lives in Brazil”

[Craigh Axford]

This story takes a look at the remarkable changes that have taken place within Brazil since the implementation of the Bolsa Familia grant program ten years ago.  According to the article, “Between 2003 and 2009, incomes of the poorest Brazilians grew seven times those of rich citizens.” In addition, school attendance is up and infant mortality has declined significantly.

 Stephanie Nolen, “What would Robin Hood do: How cash handouts are remaking lives in Brazil”, Globe and Mail, December 28, 2013.



Thomas G. Clark, “The What is…? Series, Number 14: What is…Universal Basic Income?”

According to the author, the objective of this series is to try to explain seemingly complex socio-economic theories and concepts in everyday language and show how these concepts are being misused, abused and ignored by governments and powerful international organisations.

The article briefly defines basic income, explains a list of arguments in favour and a list of arguments against. It then discusses basic income’s relationship with several political ideologies including socialism, left- and right libertarianism, and free market capitalism.

Thomas G. Clark, “The What is…? Series, Number 14: What is…Universal Basic Income?” Another Angry Voice, October 13, 2013.



Tom Streithorst, “Moral Aspects of Basic Income”

Tom Streithorst, “Moral Aspects of Basic Income,” Pieria, December 18, 2013.


U.S. “Libertarians” debate basic income

[Karl Widerquist and Aynur Bashirova]

The success of the Swiss petition drive has created to a great deal of media attention to the issue of basic income. This discussion has penetrated libertarian circles in the United States. So-called “libertarians” support strong, private property rights with little or no taxation, regulation, or redistribution. Although Some readers might be surprised to learn about it, a few libertarian thinkers going back at least 70 years has favored some for basic income guarantee. Many libertarians are attracted to basic income’s potential to streamline, simplify and replace complicated welfare-state programs. Two recent articles, one by Matt Zwolinski for and one by Matthew Feeney for Reason magazine argue in favor of BIG. Tyler Cowen writes a much more skeptical article for Marginal Revolution. But even his skeptical arguments are based mostly on the political difficulty of sustaining commitment to replace other policies by basic income. Many pro-market writers do wholly oppose basic income. An article by Jim Manzi in the National Review (back in 2011) provides one example.


Lars Christensen, argues “There is a Pragmatic (but not a Libertarian) Case for a ‘Basic Income Guarantee’”. This article, published in the Market Monitarist, presents Milton Friedman’s idea of “negative income tax” in light of the arguments about BI brought forward by his friend Matt Zwolinski. Friedman had monetarist and liberal society ideas and one of his suggestions that attracted the author was the suggestion of negative income tax. His friend Zwolinski believes that BI needs to be directly distributed to poor as money check without conditions because there is a higher chance that the marginalized groups of society had ancestors that suffered from social injustices and they need to be compensated for that. Throughout the article, Christensen argues that he agrees with the general idea of BI, as proposed by Friedman and Zwolinski, but at the same time, he does not believe in the change of the monetary system in order to redistribute the income and neither thinks that it is as easy to do as it is presented.


The articles and blogs from this perspective include:


Andrea Castillo, “Libertarians for (Better) Welfare,” the Umlaut, November 26, 2013.


Ash Navibi, “Against ‘The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income,’” Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada, December 6, 2013.


Chris Pacia, “Libertarians For A Guaranteed Minimum Income?” Escape Velocity, December 5, 2013.


Lars Christensen. “There is a Pragmatic (but not a Libertarian) Case for a ‘Basic Income Guarantee’”. The Market Monetarist, 8 December 2013.


Matthew Feeney, “Scrap the Welfare State and Give People Free Money: A guaranteed income would reduce the humiliations of the current welfare system while promoting individual responsibility.” Reason, November 26, 2013.


Matt Zwolinski, “The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income,” December 5, 2013.


Matt Zwolinski, “Why Did Hayek Support a Basic Income?”, December 23, 2013.


Tyler Cowen, “What are some of the biggest problems with a guaranteed annual income?” Marginal Revolution, November 14, 2013.



5. Events


LONDON: People’s Parliament to host session on Citizens Income at the House of Commons


TITLE: “Citizen’s Income: A minor policy change that would transform our society”

SPEAKERS: Guy Standing and Malcolm Torry

TIME & DATE: “Tuesday 4th March. 6.30pm – 8.30pm

LOCATION: Committee Room 5, House of Commons

Tickets are available here:


A Citizen’s Income is an unconditional, nonwithdrawable income for every individual as a right of citizenship. The withdrawal of means-tested benefits as earned incomes rise means that far too many households receive almost no benefit from additional earnings. A Citizen’s Income would change that and would therefore enable families to climb out of poverty. There is very little now that binds every individual into society. Everyone would receive a Citizen’s Income, creating a new social belonging. The labour market gives few choices to most individuals. A Citizen’s Income would increase people’s power in the labour market, and would enable both employers and workers to negotiate the employment patterns that they want.


Professor Guy Standing, SOAS, University of London, and author of The Precariat: The new dangerous class, will tell us how the need for a Citizen’s Income is increased by the growth of the precariat in the UK and elsewhere. Those in the precariat typically face economic uncertainty and pervasive poverty traps and precarity traps that remove incentives to labour and work. A Citizen’s Income is the only feasible way to provide basic socio-economic security, and would make a modest but sustainable contribution to the reduction of the high and rising level of income inequality.


Professor Standing will also be able to report on the stunning results of Citizen’s Income pilot projects in Namibia and India.


Dr. Malcolm Torry, Director of the Citizen’s Income Trust, Senior Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics, and author of Money for Everyone: Why we need a Citizen’s Income, will explain how a Citizen’s Income would have significant beneficial effects for individuals and for society, and that it is an entirely feasible policy because it could be paid for by reducing tax allowances and means-tested benefits. No additional public expenditure would be required, and on day 1 few households would notice much financial difference. It’s in the weeks, months and years after that that individuals, families, and society as a whole would experience life very differently.


For more information go to:



GENEVA, Switzerland: Piloting Basic Income in India: A Transformative Policy?


In what may be a unique social experiment, three pilot basic income schemes were conducted in India between 2010 and 2013, in which over 6,000 men, women and children received universal, equal and completely unconditional monthly cash payments. At this talk, Guy Standing reports on the main outcomes, looking at the effects on sanitation, nutrition, health, schooling, economic activity, women’s status, specific vulnerable groups, and social attitudes more broadly.


The results are based on data generated by a multi-round evaluation and a modified randomized control trial methodology, in which those receiving the basic incomes were compared with others not receiving them. A second parameter for comparison was the presence or absence of a collective body, or "Voice organization", representing the interests of the vulnerable in the villages studied.


Speaker: Guy Standing, a British economist, is Professor of Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is former Director of the Socio-Economic Security Programme of the International Labour Organisation.

Discussant: Sarah Cook, Director, UNRISD

Moderator: Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert, Officer-in-charge, UNOG Library


Location: UNOG Library Events Room (B-135)

Palais des Nations, Door 20, Geneva, Switzerland

More information:



WONKBLOG BEBATES: “We’re debating a universal guaranteed income”


Ezra Klein hosted a debate over whether basic income is a good idea for making a more efficient and fair welfare state--or a nutty European fantasy. The debate began at 6:30pm on Tuesday December 3 at the DC Improv: 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW.


More info:


Four videos from the debate are online at:


6. Audio-Video



AUDIO: Martin Ruhland, “Basic Income - The Song”

Martin Ruhland, “Basic Income - The Song,” YouTube. Undated (2013).


AUDIO: Vimeo, “Money for Everyone. Why Do We Need a Citizen's Income - Author Interview with Malcolm Torry,”

Vimeo, “Money for Everyone. Why Do We Need a Citizen's Income - Author Interview with Malcolm Torry,” Vimeo, undated (2014).



VIDEO: Barbara Jacobson discusses Basic Income on RT Network

In this interview, Barbara Jacobson discusses basic income in general as well as the Swiss and European initiatives.

The Keiser Report, “A Fitzrovia charity worker appeared on a financial news television programme this week to talk about a guaranteed citizen’s income.” RT Network. Reposted with text by Fitzrovia News, January 1, 2014.


VIDEO: Unconditional Basic Income – a short introduction

MinuteVideos, “Unconditional Basic Income – a short introduction,” YouTube, December 27, 2013.


AUDIO: David Peck, “Rob Rainer on human rights and income security [Interview]”


Summary: In this episode Rob talks about human rights, basic income security and an approach to poverty that makes a whole lot of sense. Rob has 20 years of experience in not-for-profit leadership, primarily in environmental conservation and sustainable development and more recently concerning poverty in Canada. He has been described as a mentor who is “light on my feet” with respect to his capacity to initiate and make decisions. Through his new consultancy, CauseWorth Mission Impact, he is applying his experience, knowledge, skills and contacts in support of organizations involved in social justice, social service, personal development, conservation and environmental protection.


David Peck, “Rob Rainer on human rights and income security [Interview],” Face2Face, August 30, 2013.


VIDEO: Chirs Hayes, “Money for being a US citizen?”

This video is a group discussion in which host Chris Hayes talks to his panel about the idea of giving Americans money just for being citizens. The discussion is inspired mostly by Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend.


Chirs Hayes, “Money for being a US citizen?” All In With Chris Hayes, MSNBC Television, January 7, 2014.


VIDEO: Sahar Habib Ghazi, “Unconditional Basic Income for All Europeans”

Sahar Habib Ghazi, “Unconditional Basic Income for All Europeans,” Global Voices, 20 December 2013.


VIDEO: Johnny West, "Give It Back! Oil and the Smart Citizen Dividend"

Summary, “Why can’t Nigeria be like Norway? With 20 years experience in and around the oil industry journalist and consultant Johnny West claims a simple policy tool, that can switch the situation of countries in which natural resources are produced and which, as a consequence, suffer from conflicts, war and corruption.”


Johnny West, "Give It Back! Oil and the Smart Citizen Dividend," TEDx, November 21, 2011.



AUIDO: David Graeber & Barbara Jacobson on: Unconditional Basic Income

In this audio, anthropologist David Graeber and activist Barbara Jacobson discuss basic income for nearly an hour. David Graeber is author of the influential book, Debt: the First 5,000 Years and a professor at the London School of Economics. Barbara Jacobson is one of the leaders of the European Citizens Initiative for Universal Basic Income.


“David Graeber & Barbara Jacobson on: Unconditional Basic Income,” Occupy London TV, YouTube, December 26, 2013.



VIDEO: Volunteers of America! ThinkBIGamerica!

In this video--recorded an Open Mike at the Historic Taos Inn in Toas, New Mexico on December 16, 2013--the vocalist talks, raps, and signs about the Basic Income Guarantee, declaring it a new revolution. After the music, text appears on screen calling for an amendment to the U.S. constitution to provide a basic income guarantee.


The video is on YouTube:




AUDIO: Caleb Brown: “Libertarians for a Guaranteed Minimum Income? Interview with Matt Zwolinski”

This 12-minute, 48-second video discusses the libertarian (pro-market) case for basic income.

Caleb Brown: “Libertarians for a Guaranteed Minimum Income? Interview with Matt Zwolinski,” The CATO Institute Daily Podcast, December 5, 2013.


VIDEO: “Wonkblog Bebates: We’re debating a universal guaranteed income”


The Washington Post’s Wonkblog Debates recently hosted a debate about the universal basic income. The following four videos from that debate were post on the Washington Post’s online television station on December 5, 2013:


VIDEO: A world without workers, but universal basic income

VIDEO: Tax subsidies versus cash subsidies

VIDEO: Basic income versus a social safety net

VIDEO: With a basic income, what’s the incentive for low-wage work?

They can be found at:



7. Recent Features on Basic Income News

All features are online at:


OPINION: “The Liberal Case for a Basic Income”

Almaz Zelleke January 27, 2014


OPINION: “A Suggestion for All”

Marina Pasetto Nóbrega & Francisco G. Nóbrega January 13, 2014


OPINION: “The Christmas Basket”

Diane Pagen January 6, 2014


Review “Malcolm Torry, Money for Everyone: Why we need a Citizen’s Income”

CIT January 3, 2014


OPINION: “Basic Income and the Ukrainian Revolution”

Joerg Drescher December 30, 2013


“Review: Danny Dorling, The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality”

CIT December 27, 2013


“Review: Alberto Minujin and Shailen Nandy (eds), Global Child Poverty and Well-Being: Measurement, concepts, policy and action”

CIT December 20, 2013


Review: “Kevin Farnsworth, Social Versus Corporate Welfare: Competing Needs and Interests within the Welfare State”

CIT December 6, 2013


All features are online at:


8. New Links

Reddit: Basic Income FAQ


This page is a wiki for the extensive basic income discussion on It is incomplete, but is editable by anyone who we haven't banned. Reddit writes, “feel free to add useful information to this page.” The wiki include some material cut and pasted from other sources, such as Basic Income News.


Reddit: Basic Income FAQ:



The Global Change Alliance: Basic living standard for all

The Global Change Alliance endorses back income at this page:


Roosevelt Institute’s Basic Income Calculator

Starting with the current U.S. Federal budget, this webpage allows people to estimate the size of a Basic Income they might want and which taxes they would raise or which programs they would replace. It is still in beta test mode, but it yields interesting results.


Mike Koncza, “Beta: Universal Basic Income Calculator,” The Next New Deal: the Blog of the Roosevelt Institute, May 14, 2013l

Essay explaining the calculator:
Direct link to the calculator:


PolicyShop as a simpler (less detailed) basic income calculator allowing the person to choose only the level of spending (not the source of funding) and find the corresponding level of BI, its total cost, and its impact on poverty (also for the United States): Matt Bruenig, “How a Universal Basic Income Would Affect Poverty,” Policy Shop. October 3, 2013.


Malcolm Henry, Views from the Boatshed

This blog has a lot of posts about basic income, all of which can be found at the following tag:



The Living Income Guaranteed Proposal

A website called promotes a proposal called “the Living Income Guaranteed.” Although similar to basic income, this proposal has some significant differences. According to the website, “The Living Income Guaranteed is the provision of an actual ‘Living Income’ for each eligible citizen – an income that provides a reasonable level of financial security so that everyone may lead a dignified life. Unlike the Basic Income Grant proposals, the Living Income Guaranteed is not unconditionally provided but is allocated through a means-test. The Living Income Guaranteed is a social security ‘net’ available to all; on an as-needed basis.”


The LIG proposal is online at:

More info as at:


9. Links and other info

For up-to-the-day news on BIG, see Basic Income News at 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 NewsFlash
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Research: Paul Nollen
Thanks to everyone who helped this issue.

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

You may copy and circulate articles from this NewsFlash, 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 NewsFlash and the USBIG website are gladly welcomed.

Thank you,
-Karl Widerquist, editor