USBIG NEWSLETTER VOL. 3, NO. 17, AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2002
This is the Newsletter of USBIG, (http://www.usbig.net) a network promoting the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States--a policy that would unconditionally guarantee a subsistence-level income for everyone. If you'd like to be added to or removed from this list please email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. PRIME MINISTER OF MOZAMBIQUE ENDORSES BIG
2. DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS FOR THE 2003 USBIG MEETING IS OCT. 8, 2002
3. 2000 SOUTH AFRICANS DEMONSTRATE FOR BIG
4. FRONT RUNNER IN THE BRAZILIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE ENDORSES A BIG
5. BIEN HOLDS ITS 9TH CONGRESS IN GENEVA, SEPTEMBER 12-15
6. ARONOWITZ MAKES BIG A CAMPAIGN ISSUE IN NEW YORK STATE
7. INTERVIEW WITH PHILIPPE VAN PARIJS
8. NEW PUBLICATIONS
9. UPCOMING EVENTS
10. NEW DISCUSSION PAPERS
11. NEW LINKS
12. LINKS AND OTHER INFO
1. PRIME MINISTER OF MOZAMBIQUE ENDORSES A BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE
Mozambican Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi--speaking, he said, for the president and the government of Mozambique--endorsed the basic income guarantee as a long-term goal. Mocumbi made the announcement at the Ninth Congress of the Basic Income European Network (see article 5 below) in Geneva on Sep. 13, 2002. He gave no timetable for implementation of basic income in Mozambique, and stressed that a number of factors, including the extreme poverty of his country and the unjust international economic order, make it difficult to implement the plan at this time. However, he said that Mozambique could become the first country to benefit from such a program and hinted that a pilot program may begin as early as next year. In any case, Mozambique is currently the only government to commit itself to the idea in principle. AllAfrica.com quotes Mocumbi as saying, “The BIEN project, particularly the component that seeks to ensure a minimum income to guarantee school attendance, represents an innovative perspective which should be integrated into the national poverty reduction strategy. It is not an isolated initiative, but should be viewed as a mechanism to mobilize additional resources to complement and accelerate the poverty reduction activities that are already under way.”
For more on Prime Minister Mocumbi’s speech go to AllAfrica.com:
2. THE DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS FOR THE 2003 USBIG MEETING IS OCT. 8, 2002
February 21-23, 2003, the Crowne Plaza Manhattan Hotel, 1605 Broadway between 48th and 49th Streets in New York City
The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network will hold its 2003 meeting in conjunction with the Eastern Economics Association meeting in Manhattan on February 21-23. Scholars, activists, and others are invited to attend, to submit papers, and to organize panels in any discipline. Paper submissions are welcome on topics relating to the Basic Income Guarantee or to the state of poverty and inequality. Suggested topics include the political economy of BIG; the history of BIG; gender, family, and labor market issues and BIG; and empirical issues of BIG and of poverty. The purpose of the conference is discussion, and all points of view are welcome. This meeting will be an opportunity to interact with economists who have been surprisingly receptive to BIG over the years, but it will not limit the range of topics discussed at the USBIG meeting. The EEA will handle registration and logistics, and anyone attending the USBIG conference is welcome to attend any of the EEA sessions, but the USBIG meeting is entirely autonomous in content and will maintain its interdisciplinary character.
To present a paper, send a proposal including the following information to Karl@Widerquist.com:
2. Title (if applicable)
3. Affiliation (if applicable)
4. Address including City, State, Zip Code (Postal Code), and Country
5. Telephone number
6. FAX (if available)
7. Email Address
8. Paper Title
9. Abstract (of 50 to 200 words)
The Deadline for submissions is Oct. 8, 2002.
Anyone who submits a paper must also be available to chair a session and/or to act as discussant. Anyone who wants only to chair a session or act as a discussant should email their name, affiliation, and contact information to Karl@Widerquist.com.
Proposals for sessions should include all of the above information for each paper as well as the title for the session itself, plus the names, affiliations, and contact information of the participants. Given the time constraints, panels should usually contain three presentations, although it is possible to squeeze in four, and panel discussions can include more. Proposals for PANEL DISCUSSIONS (that do not include formal paper presentations) should include a title and topic of the panel, and all of the information above, except no paper title or abstract is needed.
Everyone who attends must register with the EEA. Indicate on your registration form that you will be attending the USBIG conference and you can register at the members’ price ($45 in advance and $60 on site) without paying the EEA membership fee (saving $50). This saves more than half the price of the regular EEA registration fees. Check the EEA website (http://www.iona.edu/eea/) for more information about registration.
3. 2000 SOUTH AFRICANS DEMONSTRATE IN FAVOR OF BIG
Two thousand South Africans linked arms in support of the Basic Income Grant on September 3, 2002 during the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. The “BIG Link” was a 1.8-kilometer human chain connecting the plush Sandton Convention Center, where the Johannesburg Summit was being held, to the high-poverty neighborhood of nearby Alexandra. The Link concluded with the handing over of a memorandum (calling for a basic income grant of R100 per month for all South Africans) to ANC Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, who promised to pass it on to President Thabo Mbeki. The BIG Link was organized by the BIG Coalition of South African, which has been building support for BIG in the last year. Demonstrators all wore T-shirts reading, “BIG beats poverty.”
4. FRONT RUNNER IN THE BRAZILIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE ENDORSES A MODIFIED BIG (Reported by BIEN)
After his predicted victory in the primaries against Senator Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy, the leader and presidential candidate of the Workers' Party (PT), Luiz Inacio a Lula, is leading in the polls in the campaign for Brazil's presidential election of October 2002. The "Social Inclusion" Chapter in Lula's Government Program, as made public at the end of July 2002, includes a Guaranteed Minimum Income Policy strongly influenced by Senator Suplicy's tenacious advocacy. The concrete proposals are quite a distance from a universal basic income paid to all Brazilians, but in line with the perspective developed in Suplicy's recent book (Renda de Cidadania. A saida è pela porta, Sao Paulo, 2002), the manifesto states: "The minimum income that our government proposes should be seen as a step in the direction of the implementation - when the fiscal conditions are ready - of a citizen's basic income". The dynamics of the presidential campaign, however, forces all candidates to put great emphasis on the creation of jobs.
5. BIEN HOLDS ITS 9TH CONGRESS IN GENEVA, SEPTEMBER 12-15
The Basic Income European Network, which has been promoting basic income in Europe since 1986, held its ninth international Congress at the International Labor Office in Geneva on September 12-15, 2002. Nearly 200 people attended from about 30 countries, and about 100 presentations were given. As someone who has participated in the last three BIEN conferences, I was impressed by the widening group of nations represented. There were more than 20 participants from the United States, including Scott Goldsmith, of the University of Alaska who discussed the Alaska Dividend as the world’s only existing basic income. There were a large number of participants from South Africa where BIG has growing grassroots support. There were also participants from throughout Europe, including Russia, and from nations around the world such as Peru, Venezuela, Columbia, Brazil, Mozambique, Senegal, India, and Bangladesh. Speakers included, Philippe van Parijs, of Catholic University of Louvain, Anthony Atkinson, of Nuffield College, University of Oxford, Lord Raymond Plant, of the University of London, Guy Standing, of the International Labor Organization, Brazilian Senator Eduardo Suplicy, Ron Dore, of the London School of Economics, Claus Offe, of Humboldt University, and many more.
6. ARONOWITZ MAKES BIG A CAMPAIGN ISSUE IN NEW YORK STATE
Stanley Aronowitz, distinguished professor of sociology at the City University of New York and Green Party nominee for Governor of New York State, has made BIG an issue in the campaign, and has endorsed a very substantial basic income. Here is his statement:
In 1994 Bill DiFazio and I published a book "The Jobless Future". It showed that the technological revolution of our time and the capitalist reorganization of work were making good jobs a subject for a historical museum, we argued that the only way out was to reduce working hours and institute basic income guarantees for all. At the same time, subsequent works I have opposed work experience programs under the so-called Welfare Reform Act of 1996 that require the chronically unemployed and underemployed to engage in minimum wage work in order to maintain government income assistance. These programs undercut living wages for these "jobs" and subordinate millions to make-work regimes. We noted that, given the stagnant economy, many in once-stable industrial and service occupations frequently found themselves jobless for long periods and that people over 50 had almost insuperable barriers to finding paid work, even as minimum wages.
We need basic guaranteed income for all--not only for the indigent--in order to raise the standard of living for all. While this proposal is a global program, the United States is one of the handful of advanced industrial countries that can afford to institute it now. Basic income should be at level commensurate with the current material culture, about $20,000 a year (equivalent to $10 an hour on a forty hour basis). There should be no work requirement to receive this benefit. Basic income guarantee could be financed through general revenues (I oppose special funds for public benefits such as are provided by the social security administration). But it would require the reprogressivization of taxes, rescinding the $1.5 trillion tax cut enacted by congress in 2001, and equally important, cutting back military expenditures to the pre-2001 levels.
Work programs for the jobless should be voluntary and should entail adequate publicly-funded child care, education and training opportunities and perhaps, most to the point, real jobs at living wages with full benefits.
7. INTERVIEW WITH PHILIPPE VAN PARIJS
by Pascal Couillard
It is often said, mostly by scholars, that the welfare states are in crisis. For some, the introduction of an unconditional basic income (UBI), an unconditional grant paid ex ante by the state (from the cradle until death or as a lump sum) to each citizen, would be the most effective way of reforming them. Philippe Van Parijs is certainly, with Claus Offe and Andre Gorz, one of the most prominent scholars to support this claim. Author of many books on distributive justice such as ‘Qu’est-ce qu’une societe juste?’ and ‘Marxism Recycled’, professor Van Parijs published many important books and articles defending this proposal and, always enthusiastic to provide ‘after-sale service’, replying to its critics. His most important contribution is certainly his book ‘Real Freedom for All’ (1995), deeply responsible for a renewal of the debate in the academic circles, in which he provides a powerful ethical justification for the introduction of the UBI. Philippe Van Parijs, one of the founders and the secretary of the Basic Income European Network, is professor of Economic and Social Ethics at the Universite catholique de Louvain (Belgium) and he has directed the Hoover Chair of economic and social ethics since its creation in 1991.
Pascal Couillard conducted this interview for USBIG. A native of Quebec City, he holds an M.A. in political science from Laval University in Quebec City and has been a researcher at the Catholic University of Louvain.
COUILLARD: A universal basic income is an income paid unconditionally to every citizen, on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. This idea is far from novel. Thomas Paine, for instance, in his ‘Agrarian Justice’ published in 1796, proposed the idea of an unconditional grant to every individual on reaching the age of twenty-one years old. How did you discover the idea of the UBI and what reasons motivated you to devote an important part of your academic career so far to defend it?
VAN PARIJS: I came to the idea in the early 1980s in two ways. First, as an active member of a green party, I was in search of a credible way of tackling unemployment in a context of fast productivity growth, without relying on the madness of ever faster output growth. Secondly, as a philosopher concerned to provide a grand vision of a possible and desirable future, I was in search of an attractive alternative to socialism, defined by the public ownership of the means of production, that would avoid socialism’s fatal shortcomings while remaining true to the underlying ideals.
COUILLARD: There are at least three ways to introduce the UBI. First, implement it directly at full scale; that is, at a highest sustainable level replacing many other actual redistributive schemes. Second, introduce it partially and gradually as proposed by Brazilian Senator Eduardo Suplicy and Canadian philosopher Francois Blais for instance. Third, through the back door by introducing individual refundable tax credits, thus transforming the UBI into a variant of the negative income tax as proposed by Milton Friedman. What is the strategy you favor? At what level would you envisage setting the UBI in the North American context?
VAN PARIJS: There is no general recipe, as circumstances vary greatly from one part of the world to another. For example, in the Brazilian context, a very modest negative income tax (not that different from Friedman’s) restricted to families and made conditional on their sending their (school age) children to school. In most European countries, on the other hand, such a scheme would take us far below what we have already achieved on the way to a genuine individual and universal basic income, for example in the form of an unconditional basic income or child benefit, and transforming household-based tax allowances into individual refundable tax credits may be the most promising next step. The only universal truth is that a big-bang introduction of a high basic income replacing all existing transfers will not happen and should not happen.
COUILLARD: At what level would you envisage setting the UBI in a country like the United States and how could it be financed?
VAN PARIJS: To give a precise competent answer to this question, one would need to study the detailed structure of both the tax system and the transfer system in those countries far more than I have done so far or shall ever do. I refer to Francois Blais’s book ‘Un revenu garanti pour tous’ (Boreal, 2001)
(English translation: “Ending Poverty: A Basic Income for All Canadians.” Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Lorimer Paperback, 2002) for a discussion of this issue in the Canadian case. In the US case, I believe that one intelligent next step consists in integrating the child-related dimension of EITC and of TANF into a universal child benefit system, with a small net cost and a significant impact on child poverty. But one should also use any opportunity for bending EITC in the direction of a genuine NIT for all households, for example by making tax cuts benefit every household in the form of a uniform refundable tax credits, rather than taxpaying households only through reduced tax rates.
COUILLARD: Feminists may agree that the UBI presents many advantages especially for women. Indeed, it would guarantee financial security to them, thus providing women a stronger bargaining power in the labor market and towards their life partners. However, some feminists object that the UBI might reinforce the traditional roles associated with gender by encouraging mothers to leave the labor market to take care of the children and the household for instance. Do you agree with that concern?
VAN PARIJS: I’ve always found it crucial to distinguish between measures that modify women’s choices by restricting their options and by expanding their options. Basic income is unambiguously of the latter kind, and like Greetje Lubbi, the chairperson of the Trade Union that spearheaded the campaign for basic income in the Netherlands in the 1980s, I find that there is something insulting about considering women, in particularly less-skilled women, to be less able than men to make a wise use of these expanded options.
This being said, I don’t regard it as desirable at all that many women should drop out altogether of the labour market. But nor do I regard it as having any likelihood, even with a pretty high level of basic income. It is, however, quite possible, that significantly more mothers than fathers will interrupt their careers for longer or reduce their working time owing to the security afforded by a basic income, in order to look after their children. If this happens, and is regarded as a major problem, then the solution should not be to deliberately shrink women’s options by refusing to introduce a basic income. It should rather be to supplement it marginally with schemes that will make it more sensible, or simply more possible, financially speaking, for the father than for the mother to stay home.
To illustrate, think of the following “virility premium”, which I have recently proposed in the Belgian context with my colleague Pascale Vielle. In Belgium, there is a very general voluntary career interruption scheme which gives a monthly uniform benefit of about 300 Euro (for up to 5 years) to workers interrupting their employment, or half the amount if they go from full time to half time. Over 90% of the workers with young children who take advantage of this scheme are women. To increase the proportion of men, we propose to double the amount for fathers of young children, with the supplement funded through a small increase of the tax on the income of all men.
COUILLARD: Others feminist also argue against the UBI because it would fail to recognize, in the relevant sense, the status of caring for one’s children. Indeed, they claim that the UBI would not provide a status socially recognized to mothers since it would be handed to them but also to surfers.
VAN PARIJS: I was convinced by the Italian sociologist Chiara Saraceno that an income transfer specifically targeted at those who do household work instead of paid work would be far worse than a basic income for three reasons: (1) it would give a further excuse to men for doing only a small part of household chores; (2) it would deepen the household trap for women, as they would lose this transfer when taking up employment; and (3) being paid unavoidably little (for fear of excluding low-skilled women from the labour market altogether), it would contribute to devaluating rather than revaluating household tasks.
COUILLARD: The United States and Canada are two countries that could afford to finance a substantial UBI. However, this proposition fails so far to attract enough political support in those countries to be considered an attractive alternative in the debates regarding the reform of redistributive schemes such as social assistance. In the United States, for instance, Richard Nixon’s ‘Family Assistance Plan’ wasn’t approved by the Senate and NIT experiments were fiercely criticized, mostly because of its negative effect on the supply of secondary earners. In Canada, the Macdonald Commission in 1985 proposed, among other things, a scheme similar to the UBI to replace existing social assistance schemes. The suggestion was criticized especially by the Canadian Left, which associated it to neoliberal policies. More recently, the Ottawa Citizen published in December 2000 an article claiming that Prime Minister Jean Chretien was considering ‘the creation of a cradle-to-grave guaranteed annual income program’. Chrétien publicly denied this allegation shortly after. How do you explain such political resistance towards the UBI?
VAN PARIJS: Any major reform of transfer systems, wherever it is proposed, is bound to arouse fears, both justified and unjustified, and hence resistance. It is the absence of any resistance that would need explaining.
COUILLARD: Many critics of the UBI, such as Brian Barry and Jon Elster, objected to (the highest sustainable) UBI, at least on ethical grounds, because it would institutionalize the possibility for some able-bodied people to live off the fruits of labor of others by receiving a share of the benefits of social cooperation without any contribution on their part, thus violating a requirement of reciprocity. Do you think that this objection explains why many politicians are so reluctant to support it a least explicitly?
VAN PARIJS: Yes, I do think that some ethical concern for reciprocity plays a significant role in the resistance of both public opinion and politicians, whether from the Left or the Right, to the idea of introducing an unconditional basic income, or even taking it seriously. I also think that, through all sorts of channels, it is right that reciprocity should strongly shape the distribution of rewards in a society. But it must operate on the background of a fair distribution of our common endowment, not through those having grabbed a handsome chunk of this endowment through the good jobs they occupy imposing on others, in the name of reciprocity, some nasty jobs they would not dream of doing themselves.
COUILLARD: There also seems to be some misunderstanding in political circles about the functioning and the implications of the scheme. How much of the opposition to UBI do you believe comes from the misunderstandings, and how can it be rectified?
VAN PARIJS: It is not always easy to make people understand, for example, that it may be better for the poor that the rich too should receive a basic income; or that it may be cheaper — in any sense that matters economically — to give to all than to give to some. Part of the answer to this problem is that academics working in this area should explain, and explain again, as didactically as they can. Another part of the answer is to work out a “incrementalist” strategy consisting of small steps that make more obvious sense to many, up to a point where a simplification of the patchwork of measures gradually put into place would yield a basic income for all at little or no cost.
COUILLARD: Do you find the same kinds of resistance in European countries?
VAN PARIJS: Yes
COUILLARD: In a federal state, the power to enact social policies is usually shared between the federal government and the federate states. In Canada, for instance, the federal level is responsible for the unemployment benefits while the provinces handle social assistance. Since those kinds of schemes would be replaced by the UBI, which level of government should be in charge of managing it? Do you expect more difficulties for the implementation of the UBI in federal countries than in countries with centralized governments?
VAN PARIJS: Unemployment benefits must not and will not be replaced even by a generous universal basic income. They must keep operating, with amounts adjusted, as job-seeking-conditioned, time-limited and earnings-related top-ups on peoples’ basic incomes. A federal structure with some transfer powers decentralised unavoidably creates coordination problems. One coherent distribution of competences, which I would favour, consists in having both the basic income (or “federal dividend”) and unemployment insurance organised at the federal level, while social assistance would be decentralised in both organisation and funding, within the framework of some general federally imposed standards and bearing in mind that the very existence of a federal basic income amounts to a significant co-funding of decentralised social assistance.
COUILLARD: Some might fear that once introduced and maintained at a substantial level, the UBI will constitute an additional factor attracting an overflow of (low-skilled) immigrants. Do you feel these concerns could damage the program? How could this problem be solved?
VAN PARIJS: Any guaranteed minimum scheme, not only of a universal type, raises this problem. It is pragmatically solved either by restricting immigration permits to people with a job and with skills in high demand, or by requiring several years of legal residence before qualifying. In the long term, however, just as one of the functions of Brazil’s modest minimum income schemes is to keep people in the countryside and reduce the swelling of urban favellas, a worldwide basic income will function to enable people to survive in the “peripheries” instead of putting an unsustainable pressure on the “centres”. Even more obstacles on the way of this really “universal” basic income than of a national one? No doubt. One more reason to start thinking about how to get from here to there.
8. NEW PUBLICATIONS (reported by BIEN)
BELORGEY, Jean-Michel. "Can Social Protection Respond to the Challenges of Precarious Jobs, Better Access to Employment and Equitable and Universal Decent Standards of Living? Lessons from the French Experience", in Hedva Sarfati and Giuliano Bonoli (eds.), Labour Market and Social Protection Reforms in International Perspective. Parallel or converging tracks?, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002 (ISBN 0 7546 1927 3 Paperback), pp. 311-347. As an adviser to former French prime minister Michel Rocard and socialist member of the French Parliament, Jean-Michel Belorgey was one of the main initiators of the French minimum income (Revenu Minimum d'Insertion - RMI), introduced in 1988. Currently a member of the Council of State (Conseil d'Etat), he is considered a prominent expert on the question of income security. In this chapter he examines several trends in the French labour market, including the expansion of atypical forms of employment and part-time work, and the emergence of a new class of working poor. He argues that the French social protection system has to adapt in order to deal with these new challenges. According to Belorgey, the alternative, which would consist in introducing a basic income for all must be rejected. For "it does not in practice make any economic sense once the question of its financing is taken into account" (323). If basic income is financed through a proportional income tax, "the allowance in practice becomes progressive in relation to income" (324); hence, Belorgey writes, it is no more "uniform". If it is financed through progressive income taxation, then it "fails to guarantee either the incentive to work or the redistribution effect" (324). Although a basic income is not an appropriate welfare reform, Belorgey suggests that an "allowance for single young persons" should be made available for the young persons not covered by any other benefit. In France, people under 25 are not entitled to the minimum income.
GEORGE, Robley. Socioeconomic Democracy. An Advanced Socioeconomic System. Westport (Ct) & London: Praeger (www.prager.com), 2002, 306p, ISBN 0 275 97376 X. (Author's address: GeorgeCSDS@aol.com.)
From his California-based Center for the Study of Democratic Society, Robley George has been working for many years to formulate and advocate his ideal of "socioeconomic democracy", culminating in the publication of this book. What does this ideal consist in? A model of society and the economy "in which there is some form of Universal Guaranteed Personal Income, as well as some form of Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth, with both the lower bound on personal material poverty and the upper bound on personal material wealth set and adjusted democratically by all". To justify his model, George draws on many traditions, including Rawlsian political philosophy and Islamic theology. His "Universal Guaranteed Personal Income" is the sort of unconditional citizen's income which has been the focus of the activities of BIEN, of which Robley George is a life member.
MILNE, Alan John Mitchell, Politics, Wellbeing and the Market, Houndmills: Palgrave, 2001, ISBN 0-333-71444-X
This essay on the welfare state and the market by Alan Milne (1922-1998), Emeritus Professor of Political Theory and Institutions at University of Durham (UK), was published posthumously by his son Alistair Milne (City University Business School) and Roger Crism (St Anne's College, Oxford). Its third chapter is entitled "Inequality, Property and the Idea of a Citizen's Income" (pp.66-97) and makes a vigorous plea for the introduction of a "Citizen's Basic Income" (CBI). "Universal allowances", he writes, are a better way to tackle poverty than means-tested allowances, "because they do not entail a low-income trap and are not socially divisive" (84). The level of the CBI should be sufficient to cover all an adult's essential needs, i.e. adequate food, clothing and shelter. Milne suggests the amount of EUR 400 per month. He also considers an alternative proposal which he calls the "Citizen's Basic Patrimony". Reaching the age of 18, each citizen would be entitled to a "once-for-all lump sum" of £130.000 (nearly EUR 210.000), irrespective of other wealth, income, and assets. Although Milne thinks that a regular payment of the CBI type is a more reliable way of preventing poverty, he nevertheless stresses that a Basic Patrimony scheme would spread capital in an innovative way and increase the opportunities for investment and entrepreneurship. Finally, the author also scrutinizes classic objections to the idea of a guaranteed income. "The proposal to introduce it is necessarily controversial", Milne concludes. "But we know that controversy is ineliminable in politics."
MINFORD, Patrick. "Basic income could prove an escape route from the benefits trap", in The Daily Telegraph 13 May 2002, also in Citizen's Income Newsletter 2, 2002, pp. 6-7. (Author's address: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Professor Minford, previously at the University of Liverpool and now at the University of Cardiff Business School, used to be an adviser to Margaret Thatcher. In this article in the conservative newspaper The Daily Telegraph, he points out that, with the latest reform by the UK's finance minister Gordon Brown, families with incomes as high as EUR 30.000 will receive a tax credit (at decreasing levels as the income rises). One implication is that "people right up to average incomes are now caught in a poverty trap", with effective marginal tax rates of 70% or so. As an alternative, Minford proposes to switch some of the Brown tax credits into a much expanded universal child benefit. "The dependency culture afflicting our inner cities is caused by high marginal tax rates on honest effort and retraining interacting with the untaxed gains from crime. Eliminating those high tax rates on our poorest citizens by moving further to a toughly-calibrated Basic Income would not cure dependency; but it would remove one of its key ingredients."
9. UPCOMING EVENTS
FIRENZE, Italy, 7-9 November 2002. European Social Forum. In the same vein as the Porto Alegre World Social Forum, this is the first European Social Forum. An attempt is being made to have basic income on the main discussion agenda. For more information, contact Bernard Guibert <email@example.com>.
ACTIVISM, IDEOLOGY, AND RADICAL PHILOSOPHY, The 5th Biennial Radical Philosophy Association Conference, November 7-10, 2002, Brown University, Providence, RI. This event will include a presentation by Michael Howard entitled, “Liberal and Marxist Justifications for Basic Income.” Look for more information at the RPA website: http://www.southwestern.edu/~musselmj/RPA.html
LEIPZIG, Germany 7-11 October 2002. Workshop on the proposal of an unconditional basic income for all citizens, organized by Manuel Franzmann and Sascha Liebermann, Universitat Dortmund, Department of Economics and Social Sciences, within the framework of the 31st Congress of German sociologists. For further information: Manuel Franzmann <firstname.lastname@example.org>, http://home1.tiscalinet.de/franzmann/
10. NEW DISCUSSION PAPERS
The USBIG discussion paper series makes available papers in progress about or relating to the Basic Income Guarantee as a forum for discussion in advance of publication. If you would like to submit a paper for this series, see the instructions for authors on the USBIG website (http://www.usbig.net).
A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ON THE NEGATIVE INCOME TAX EXPERIMENTS AND THEIR RELEVANCE TO THE PUBLIC POLICY DEBATE
Karl Widerquist, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, UK
USBIG Network Discussion Paper No. 38, September 2002
Between 1968 and 1980, The U.S. and Canadian governments conducted five Negative Income Tax experiments, which have been the subjects of more than 350 scholarly articles, several books, and hundreds of nonacademic articles. Most of the scholarly literature presented the results as demonstrating the practical feasibility of a guaranteed income, but most pundits and politicians believed they demonstrated that it breaks up marriages and destroys work incentives. This article reviews the literature on these experiments to consider why there is still so much disagreement about how the results should be interpreted.
11. NEW LINKS
FAIRTAX.ORG ENDORSES BIG
Although it’s easy to miss on their website, “fairtax.org” endorses a small basic income guarantee, which they call a tax rebate. The website advocates the restructuring of the tax system in favor of a single sales tax of 23%. To ensure that those who live at the poverty line pay no net taxes, they advocate a tax rebate for all citizens equal to 23% of the poverty level. This is essentially a small BIG with a break-even point at the poverty line. You can find out more about it at http://www.fairtax.org.
12. LINKS AND OTHER INFO
FOR LINKS TO DOZENS OF BIG WEBSITES AROUND THE WORLD, go to http://www.usbig.net, and click on “links.”
THE U.S. BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE NETWORK (USBIG), which publishes this newsletter, is dedicated to promoting the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a generic name for any proposal to create a minimum income level below which no citizen’s income can fall. Information on BIG and USBIG can be found on the web at: http://www.usbig.net. If you know any BIG news; if you have any comments on the newsletter or the web site; if you know anyone who would like to be added to this list; or if you would like to be removed from this list; please send me an email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
-Karl Widerquist, coordinator, USBIG.