USBIG NEWSLETTER VOL. 5 NO. 27 MAY-JUNE 2004
This is the Newsletter of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (http://www.usbig.net), which promotes the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a policy that would unconditionally guarantee a subsistence-level income for everyone. If you would like to be added to or removed from this list please email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
8. NEW LINKS
The USBIG Network has existed for nearly five years without a formal membership until now. As a result of discussions at the last two USBIG general meetings, we would like to introduce a procedure by which people can formally become members. Membership in USBIG is free and open to anyone who shares it goals. Members are entitled to have their names listed in the USBIG membership list, to participate in the yearly general meeting, and to receive the USBIG Newsletter (although it is not necessary to be a member to receive the newsletter). To become a member go to http://www.usbig.net, click on “become a member of USBIG,” and follow the instructions.
New York, NY, March 4-6, 2005
Featured speakers: Philippe Van Parijs, Wade Rathke, and Eduardo Suplicy
The Fourth Congress of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network: The Right to Economic Security will be held in conjunction with the Eastern Economics Association Annual Meeting in New York City at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in Midtown Manhattan, Friday March 4 to Sunday March 6, 2005. The Congress is co-sponsored by the Citizen Policies Institute. USBIG is 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.
Featured speakers confirmed so far include Philippe Van Parijs, Wade Rathke, and Eduardo Suplicy. Philippe Van Parijs is a philosopher and social scientist at the Catholic University of Louvain in Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium. He is the author of Real Freedom for All: What (if anything) can justify capitalism? and What’s Wrong With a Free Lunch? He is the secretary of the Basic Income European Network, and has been a leader of the growing movement for BIG in Europe for nearly twenty years. Wade Rathke is union organizer and activist and a prominent leader in the living-wage movement. He is the director of the Tides Foundation; the Chief Organizer of Local 100 of the Service Employees International Union (New Orleans), AFL-CIO (the largest union in the Southern United States); and Founder and Chief Organizer of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which is the nation's largest community organization of low and moderate-income families, with over 250,000 members organized into 750 neighborhood chapters in more than 60 cities across the country. Eduardo Suplicy is a Brazilian Senator and sponsor of the new law that will begin phasing in the world’s first national basic income guarantee in Brazil next year.
TO PROPOSE A PRESENTATION, send a proposal including the following information to Karl@Widerquist.com:
2. Job Title (if applicable)
3. Affiliation (if applicable)
4. Address including City, State, Zip Code (Postal Code), and Country
5. Telephone number
6. Email Address
7. Title of the presentation
8. Abstract (summary of 50 to 150 words)
The Deadline for submissions is November 7, 2004. Everyone who attends the conference must register with the EEA and pay the discounted conference free of $45. For the complete call for papers see the USBIG website (http://www.usbig.net).
TENTH CONGRESS OF THE BASIC INCOME EUROPEAN NETWORK:
19-20 September 2004 Barcelona, Spain
The Right to a Basic Income: Egalitarian Democracy
The 10th BIEN Congress will be held within the framework of the Dialogue on "Human Rights, Emerging Needs, and New Commitments" of Barcelona's Universal Forum of Cultures. The location is a huge new site developed along the sea, to the East of the Olympic Village, within easy reach of the city centre by public transport. The BIEN congress proper will take place on Sunday the 19th and Monday the 20th of September. But all participants are strongly encouraged to take part in the parts of the Dialogue that are common to the various events before and after our congress. Information about the program is on the BIEN website, http://www.basicincome.org or from the conference organizer, Jose Antonio Noguera <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FREIBERG, GERMANY 25 June 2004: PROSPECTS FOR BASIC INCOME IN GERMANY
An expert meeting, followed by a public panel, on basic income in the context of Germany's present social policy debate is being planned in the mining town of Freiberg in former East Germany, with a view to developing a German basic income network. For further information: Ronald Blaschke and Jens-Eberhard Jahn <email@example.com>
PARIS, 24 June 2004: LE DIVIDENDE UNIVERSEL
A one-day conference on the "universal dividend", organised at the Assemblee nationale by Christine Boutin, the French deputy and chair of the Forum des Republicains sociaux (a component of Jacques Chirac's right-of-centre presidential majority) who authored in 2003 a report advocating the introduction of a universal basic income. A background paper for this conference is available (Le Dividende Universel: conjuguer le respect des personnes et la croissance économique. Paris, Forum des Republicains sociaux, 2004, 30p.). It advocates the introduction of a monthly basic income of Euro 300 in France. It refers to several normative and pragmatic arguments, and deals with key objections (work ethic, reciprocity...). The document also includes a short scenario for the concrete implementation of the "universal dividend". For further information and registration: firstname.lastname@example.org
DUBAI, THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, March 26-31: The Annual Meeting of Globalization for the Common Good included a presentation of “Citizens Dividend: a rent dividend for all” by Jeff Smith, president of the Forum on Geonomics, www.geonomics.org
BERLIN, 15 May 2004: Workshop "Mindesteinkommen fur alle"
Workshop organized at Berlin's Technical University by Katja Kipping, acting chair of the PDS, the mainly East German ex-communist party. The aim is "to make a guaranteed, sufficient and unconditional minimum income mehrheitsfahig, i.e. capable of being supported by a majority. For further information: "Kipping, Katja" <Katja.Kipping@slt.sachsen.de>
ISTANBUL, 21-22 May 2004: “Basic Income: Overcoming Insecurity in a Globalizing World”
The workshop is being organized by the "Social Policy Forum", a research and policy center recently established at Bogazici University in Istanbul. Promoting the idea of Basic Income, almost unknown in Turkey, is among the objectives of the Forum and the workshop is designed to this end. For further information: Ayse Bugra <email@example.com>
The first six members of the USBIG Network’s honorary board of advisors are Stanley Aronowitz, Carole Pateman, Francis Fox Piven, Senator Eduardo Suplicy, Philippe Van Parijs, and J. Philip Wogaman. Stanley Aronowitz is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Urban Education at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been a union organizer for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers and the CUNY and is a leader of the Professional Staff Congress (the CUNY faculty and staff union). He is the author of 15 books including The Jobless Future. Carole Pateman is a Political Science Professor at UCLA. She is recognized as one of the world’s leading political theorists specializing in areas of democratic theory and feminist theory. Among her publications are Participation and Democratic Theory and The Sexual Contract. Francis Fox Piven is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of several books including Regulating the Poor and Poor Peoples’ Movements. Eduardo Suplicy has been a member of the Brazilian Senate since 1990. He is one of the founders of Brazil’s now ruling labor party. He has been an activist for the Basic Income Guarantee throughout his political career, and introduced the bill which has recently become law authorizing the phase-in of BIG beginning in 2005. Philippe Van Parijs is a philosopher and social scientist at the Catholic University of Louvain. He is the author of several books including What’s Wrong With a Free Lunch? and Real Freedom for All: What (if anything) can justify capitalism?, which made a strong case for a basic income guarantee and has been hugely influential in philosophy and political theory. J. Philip Wogaman is Professor of Christian Ethics, Emeritus, Wesley Theological Seminary; President of the American Theological Society; and author of many books including Guaranteed Income: The Moral Issues.
DOES SHE EXPLOIT OR DOESN’T SHE?
USBIG Discussion Paper No. 85, May 2004
Karl Widerquist, Oxford University
ABSTRACT: Several authors have voiced the “exploitation objection” to the basic income guarantee. This paper is directed at Gijs Van Donselaar’s version of this objection which relies heavily on his definition of exploitation: A exploits B if A is better off and B worse off than either of them would have been if the other did not exist. Part 1 explains Van Donselaar’s argument. Part 2 argues that Van Donselaar’s conclusion that a basic income is exploitive relies on holding recipients responsible for the level of scarcity in the world. Part 3 argues that Van Donselaar’s conclusions come from treating work rents inconsistently with other rents. Part 4 argues that a principled choice for or against parasitism cannot be made, because parasitism cannot be clearly identified or eliminated. In a large number of plausible cases the existence or nonexistence of exploitation is unknowable. It is not certain that work makes a person innocent of exploitation or whether living off basic income makes one guilty and therefore there is no necessary connection between Van Donselaar’s principles and the responsibility to work.
-To see the full text go to http://www.usbig.net and click on “discussion papers.”
A RETROSPECTIVE ON THE NEGATIVE INCOME TAX EXPERIMENTS
USBIG Discussion Paper No. 86, June 2004
Robert Levine et al
ABSTRACT: The United States government conducted 4 negative income tax (NIT) experiments between 1968 and 1980. The NIT is the form of basic income guarantee that was a popular policy alternative in the 1960s and ’70s. At the First Congress of the USBIG Network, several scholars including five economists who helped to conduct the original experiments gathered to discuss the results. This paper is taken from that session. It includes six sessions. Robert Levine, of the Rand Corporation, discusses the political background of the experiments. Harold Watts, of Columbia University, explains the make-up of the experiments. Robinson Hollister, of Swarthmore College, explains the findings of the experiments, Walter Williams, of the University of Washington, discusses the use and misuse of experimental information. Alice O’Connor, of the University of California-Santa Barbara, discusses the political ramifications of the experiments. Karl Widerquist, of Oxford University, adds an introduction and conclusion.
-To see the full text go to http://www.usbig.net and click on “discussion papers.”
FRANKMAN, Myron J. World Democratic Federalism. Peace and Justice Indivisible, London: Palgrave, March 2004, 232 p., ISBN 1403934924, £45.00. (Author's address: Myron Frankman <firstname.lastname@example.org>.)
Myron Frankman is professor of development economics at McGill University (Montreal). In this bold book, he sets out a package of institutions that would serve sustainability, democracy, equal opportunity, diversity and peace in the context of unprecedentend globalisation. The package includes global public finance, a single world currency and a planet-wide citizen's income, all within the context of democratic federalism extending from the local to the global.
SENNETT, Richard. Respect in a World of Inequality. New York & London: Norton, 2003, paperback 2004, 288p., $14.95.
In order to respect its beneficiaries, a modern welfare state must achieve "caregiving without compassion". This position is ascribed by American sociologist Richard Sennett to Hannah Arendt, in her critique of St Augustine's conception of caritas, but also to "a vigorous if varied band of welfare reformers who subscribe to various versions of 'basic incomes policy'" The simplest version proposes "to provide young people with a sum of money to be used for education or the purchase of a house, or simply to be saved for later use. This is the proposition put forward by the American jurist Bruce Ackerman and now enacted into law in Great Britain. More radical proposals envision true income support. The Dutch social reformer Van Parijs and the German sociologist Claus Offe argue that the state should provide an income to all citizens sufficient to let them purchase education and health care if they wish to do so; the basic income continues throughout a person's life, and so replaces state pensions. In the most radical version, everyone receives a basic income grant, regardless of whether he or she needs it; 'means testing' disappears." (pp. 140-141). Thus, "some strategists of welfare reform have tried to imagine the provision of care divorced from sentiments of compassion. They do not want the provision of care to succumb when compassion burns out." But Sennett is not quite convinced: "most people cannot accept the provision of care as a neutral function" (p. 150).
ZAKARIA, Fareed. The Future of Freedom. Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. New York: Norton, 2004, 295p., $14.95.
In 2003, the editor of Newsweek International (and Harvard-trained political scientist) published a controversial best seller arguing that "what we need in politics today is not more democracy but less". This second edition contains an afterword on Iraq ("The 51st state"). Oil wealth, Zakaria argues (against the Bush administration's repeated declaration) is not an asset for democratic stabilisation, but a handicap. To reduce this handicap "perhaps the best approach is to create a national trust into which all oil revenues flow". One version of it is Alaska's dividend scheme, which "distributes its oil revenues directly to its residents, bypassing the corruption usually created by leaving it in the hands of governments or oligarchs. This is a variation of land reform, redistributing wealth broadly, which was crucial in spurring democracy in Japan and almost all other feudal societies. I would prefer to create pension accounts with the money so that it boosts Iraqi savings rather than goes towards immediate consumption." (p.260) Not a particularly original contribution to the debate, but a nice illustration of how the idea of a universal basic income becomes popularised.
FREEDOM INSTEAD OF FULL EMPLOYMENT, GERMANY
After having posted large posters advocating an unconditional basic income in the Frankfurt underground in November 2003, the association "Freiheit statt Vollbeschäftigung" (Freedom instead of Full Employment) has organized a similar campaign in Berlin in the second half of May 2004. In this connection, they were also invited to take part in a live discussion on German TV on 2 May 2004 and published an article in the national daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and an interview in the Kölner Stadtanzeiger on 26 May 2004. These publications triggered many reactions. On 2 June 2004, a first meeting of the association was also organized in the city of Dortmund. And the web site now includes a document with in-depth answers to "frequently asked questions".
For further information: www.freiheitstattvollbeschaeftigung.de
and "Sascha Liebermann" <S.Liebermann@freiheitstattvollbeschaeftigung.de>
THE U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS has a brief (two-and-a-half-minute) and powerful slide show that very effectively breaks down what a federal poverty line income does (and doesn't) buy. http://www.nccbuscc.org/cchd/povertyusa/tour2.htm
ECONOMIC REFORM AUSTRALIA is a non-party-political organisation whose long-term objective is to achieve a socially, environmentally and financially sustainable economic system. It has endorsed a basic income guarantee on its list of policy priorities: http://homepages.picknowl.com.au/ERANet/erahome.htm.
FOR LINKS TO DOZENS OF BIG WEBSITES AROUND THE WORLD, go to http://www.usbig.net, and click on "links." These links are to any website with information about BIG, but USBIG does not necessarily endorse their content or their agendas.
THANKS TO: Jeff Smith, Karyn Slutsky, the BIEN Committee, and the USBIG Committee
THE U.S. BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE (USBIG) NETWORK, 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.
USBIG organized by a seven-member Coordinating Committee including Karl Widerquist (Coordinator) Al Sheahen (Public Relations Coordinator, email@example.com), Steve Shafarman (Activist Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org), Michael Lewis (Politics Committee Coordinator), Fred Block (at large), Eri Noguchi (at large), and Robert Harris (at large). Information on BIG and USBIG can be found on the web at: http://www.usbig.net.
If you know any BIG news; if you know anyone who would like to be added to this list; or if you would like to be removed from this list; please send me an email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
As always, your comments on this newsletter and the USBIG website are gladly welcomed.
-Karl Widerquist, coordinator, USBIG. Karl@Widerquist.com