USBIG Newsletter Vol. 7, No. 39, May-June 2006

This is the Newsletter of the USBIG Network (, which promotes 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 would like to be added to or removed from this list please email:

Table of Contents:

1. Congressional support for the BIG Bill doubles
    How individuals can support the bill
2. John Kenneth Galbraith dies
3. Basic Income Studies releases its inaugural issue
4. Sixth Annual USBIG Congress, New York, February 2007
5. New political party advocates BIG in the Congo
6. Namibian cabinet rejects BIG
7. Alaska Permanent Fund hits new high
8. Upcoming events
    Group Travel to the BIEN Congress in Cape Town, South Africa
9. Recent events
10. New members of USBIG Network and Board of Advisors
11. Media response to Plan proposed by Charles Murray
12. New publications
13. New links
14. Links and other info

1. Congressional support for the BIG Bill doubles

On May 2nd, 2006, Representative Robert Filner (Democrat, California) introduced the Tax Cut for the Rest of Us Act of 2006 as House Resolution 5257. As reported in the March-April Newsletter, this Act would transform the standard income tax deduction into a refundable tax credit of $2000 for all Americans who choose not to itemize their deductions.

According to Filner, this bill “will not only simplify the tax code, but put more money into the pockets of poor Americans. For 25 years, refundable tax credits--such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the additional child tax credit--have proven to be simple, effective ways to help the poor. The logical next step is to transform the standard deduction and personal exemptions into a refundable Standard Tax Credit (STC) of $2,000 for each adult and $1,000 for each child. The STC will provide all the poor with a small but badly needed tax credit, and give a tax cut to virtually everyone who chooses not to itemize their deductions. Transforming the standard deduction into a refundable tax credit will not eliminate poverty, but it will be an enormous benefit to the poor who were completely overlooked by the Bush tax cuts. The poor pay sales taxes, property taxes, and many other taxes, but because they do not pay very much in income tax, they have little to gain from tax simplification unless it includes something like the STC.”

A second member of Congress, Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (Democrat, Illinois) has signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill. Al Sheahen coordinates an ad hoc group of people who have organized to support the bill. They have been lobbying organizations and members of Congress to get behind the bill.

How individuals can support the bill

The political action group, RESULTS, has gotten behind the bill and has created a way for supporters to email their representatives to urge them to support the bill. People who wish to send an email to their representative in support of the BIG bill can do so by filling out an on-line form at: People who would like to help organize support for the BIG Bill may contact Al Sheahen at

2. John Kenneth Galbraith dies

John Kenneth Galbraith, economist and long-term advocate of basic income died on April 30, 2006. He was 97 years old. He is best-known for his books the Affluent Society and the New Industrial State. He was a professor at Harvard, Princeton, and Cambridge. He was U.S. Ambassador to India. He was editor of Fortune magazine. During the Second World War, he was in charge of price controls for the entire U.S. economy, and he published more than 1,000 articles. And, in his spare time, he wrote novels.

He was one of the economists who brought the guaranteed income to the attention of U.S. politicians in the 1960s and 1970s, and he reiterated his support for the idea as late as 2002, when he was interviewed by Esquire magazine. In an address to the London School of Economics in 1999, Galbraith said that poverty was one of the most important pieces of unfinished business from the Twentieth Century, “The answer or part of the answer is rather clear: everybody should be guaranteed a decent basic income. A rich country such as the US can well afford to keep everybody out of poverty. Some, it will be said, will seize upon the income and won't work. So it is now with more limited welfare, as it is called. Let us accept some resort to leisure by the poor as well as by the rich.”

The Esquire interview is on the web at:


3. Basic Income Studies releases its inaugural issue

Basic Income Studies (BIS) is the first academic journal devoted to research into basic income. The editors will release its first issue in June 2006 on line at Volume 1, issue 1 of BIS includes the following contributions:

Research Articles:
× Joel Handler and Amanda Sheela Babcock, “The Failure of Workfare: Another Reason for a Basic Income Guarantee”
× Michael Howard, “Basic Income and Migration Policy: A Moral Dilemma?”
× Yannick Vanderborght, “Why Trade Unions Oppose Basic Income”

Retrospective: “A Capitalist Road to Communism – Twenty Years After”
× Reprint of Robert van der Veen and Philippe Van Parijs, “A Capitalist Road to Communism”, with
× A new set of comments by G.A. Cohen, Andrew Williams, Doris Schroeder, Catriona McKinnon, Harry F. Dahms, and Erik Olin Wright, and
× Two new replies by Robert van der Veen and Philippe Van Parijs.

Book Reviews:

× Richard Caputo reviews “John Cunliffe and Guido Erreygers, The Origins of Universal Grants”
× Alexandra Couto reviews “Tony Fitzpatrick and Michael Cahill, Environment and Welfare: Towards a Green Social Policy”
× Colin Farelly reviews “Brian Barry, Why Social Justice Matters”
× Cristian Pérez Muñoz reviews “Guy Standing, Beyond the New Paternalism: Basic Security as Equality”

BIS is constantly looking for research articles and book reviews. Please get in touch with the editors at or the book review editor at if you are interested in contributing. BIS is published by The Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress), sponsored by Red Renta Basica (RRB) and supported by BIEN and USBIG.

4. Sixth Annual USBIG Congress, New York, February 2007

The USBIG Network will hold its Sixth Annual Congress in conjunction with the Eastern Economics Association Meeting, February 23-25, 2007, at the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan Hotel in New York City. The deadline for presentation proposals is Oct 27, 2006. Speakers include Dalton Conley, Stanley Aronowitz, and Eduardo Suplicy. Dalton Conley is the director of the Center for Advanced Social Science Research and professor of sociology and public policy at New York University, and he is the author of Honky, Being Black—Living in the Red, and the Starting Gate. Stanley Aronowitz is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York and author or editor of twenty three books including, Just Around Corner, How Class Works, The Last Good Job in America, and The Jobless Future. Eduardo Suplicy is a member of the Brazilian Senate and author of From the Distribution of Income to the Rights of Citizenship. The call for proposal will be out soon.

5. New political party advocates BIG in the Congo

The "Parti Réformateur Pour le Congo" (PRPC), a small Kinshasa-based political party, has signed an agreement with the Belgian political movement Vivant, led by businessman and BIEN Life-member Roland Duchâtelet. Now officially called PRPC-Vivant, this party has designed a platform which includes the proposal of introducing a modest basic income in Congo. In the implementation stage, the level of this so-called "Revenu de Base" should be established at EUR200 yearly (100,000 Congolese Franks). For further information:
-From BIEN

6. Namibian cabinet rejects BIG

Denver Isaacs, writing for the Namibian (Windhoek), reports that the Namibian Prime Minister met with the Basic Income Grant (BIG) Coalition in May, and informed them that the Cabinet had rejected the idea. Bishop Zephania Kameeta, who represented the coalition, took issue with Prime Minister Nahas Angula's use of the biblical verse "in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread" (Genesis 3:19), as justification for not accepting the BIG idea. He compared the government’s subsidies of foreign corporations to reports of Namibians living in a dumpsite searching for food amongst medical waste dumped there. "Namibians are not lazy to work with sweat on their face," he said, "The question is rather, when are we prepared to change the structural injustices of the economy by giving resources to the people directly instead of giving them to exploitative foreign investors building and dumping sweatshops?"

7. Alaska Permanent Fund hits new high

According to the Anchorage Daily News, the Alaska Permanent Fund’s (APF) value rose above $35 billion for the first time last month. The APF supports the Alaska Dividend program, which provides a cash dividend of about $1000 to every Alaska resident. The fund’s managers attribute most of the recent growth to investment in foreign stocks, although U.S. stocks and real estate investments have also done well. This increase in the fund is apart from the increased tax revenue brought to the state by the recent increase in oil prices. According to the UPI, this tax revenue could leave the state with as much as $2.4 billion dollars in unexpected revenue this year, a portion of which will go into the Permanent Fund. According to the UPI, “But some experts say Alaska is too addicted to oil money -- and the spigot is slowing. About 1 million barrels of oil per day are coursing through the trans-Alaska pipeline -- only half the peak rate in the 1980s.” The proposed natural gas pipeline would add to the Permanent Fund, but oil and gas contributions to the fund are expect to gradually slow, and eventually returns on the funds investments will become the greatest source of growth in the fund unless additional revenue are found. Some supporters of the APF model suggest that revenue from taxes on other natural resources such as mines, fisheries, and land value should be added to the fund.

8. Upcoming events

Guaranteed Livable Income Summer Workshop:
Money, Technology and the Work Ethic
Victoria, British Columbia
Saturday, July 8 -- 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This workshop is being organized by Livable Income For Everyone (LIFE). It will include three sessions, each with a 20-minute presentation followed by questions. The sessions will cover the topics of Money and the Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI), technology and GLI, and the work ethic and GLI. Speakers include Matt Barker, mechanical engineer technologist, and Matt Fair, composer of the audio documentary “The World Owes You A Living.” Attendance is limited to 20 participants; Email: to register. Admission is free (donations are welcome).

Basic Income and the crisis of the wage economy
Frankfurt Am Main, Germany, July 19, 2006

A large conference on basic income at the University Frankfurt Am Main, with the following speakers: Philippe Van Parijs (Louvain & Harvard), Claus Offe (Berlin), Ulrich Oevermann (Frankfurt), Georg Vobruba (Leipzig), and businessman Götz Werner (Karlsruhe). For further information:
-From BIEN

Basic Income Seminar in Stockholm
Saturday August 19, 2006, 10 am - 4 pm
The Swedish Green Party is organizing a seminar on basic income in Stockholm. By inviting a number of distinguished social scientists the organizers hope to stimulate a broad discussion -- against the backdrop of general elections in mid-September -- about basic income. Confirmed speakers include Carole Pateman, Professor of Political Science at UCLA and author of The Sexual Contract, and Karl Widerquist, Faculty Fellow at Tulane University and author of Property and the Power to Say No. The event is an initiative of Carl Schlyter, a Green Party Member of the European Parliament. For further information contact Valter Mutt, assistant to Carl Schlyter, at:

Group Travel to the BIEN Congress in Cape Town, South Africa

November 2-4, 2006, Cape Town (SA)
The Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI) will host the Eleventh International Congress of the Basic Income European Network (BIEN) on November 2-4, 2006 at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa. This is BIEN’s first Congress since becoming a global network in 2004. Conference organizers are currently accepting proposals for papers and panels. The deadline for proposals is July 15, 2006. Information and forms are available on the website: (also accessible via For information contact:

For many of us, we are planning our trips to BIEN and South Africa.  As an option I am arranging a group rate to Cape Town with accompanying lodging from a travel agency.  The advantages of this are the potential savings for each of us.  However, to get the group rate we have to travel and lodge at the same times.  This means that if you want to arrive earlier or depart later, you will be on your own.  As of right now nothing is confirmed and can other options be worked out. The prices are based upon 20 travelers, 5 nights hotel, and transportation between hotel and airport.  Also, your individual airfare to Atlanta is not included and can be arranged with the travel agency.  Dates of travel are arrival in Cape Town on 10/31 and depart 11/5.

Airfare (direct) from Atlanta to Cape Town = $1345
Lodging at Cape Town Hollow = $475 per person (based upon double room),
Single supplement - $185

If you have an interest in this overall, please let me know.  I am still working on other pricing options and group deals.  Please contact me at if you are interested.

9. Recent events

The Citizen's Stake at IPPR in London
On April 19, 2006, the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) and The Children's Mutual organized a Conference on Citizens Stake: Exploring the future of universal asset policies. This event examined asset-based welfare in connection with a wide range of issues, from tax policy to childcare. Key questions that this event asked included: How far can an asset-based approach replace existing welfare provision? Can asset-based policies be paid for from taxing "common assets", inheritance, or land value? How and should the state promote the responsible use of universal capital grants? How might asset-based welfare improve the work-life balance and support careers? The main speakers were: Nick Pearce, Director, Institute for Public Policy Research; Sue Regan, Chief Executive, Resolution Foundation; Dr Stuart White, Tutorial Fellow in Politics, Jesus College, University of Oxford; David White, Chief Executive, The Children's Mutual. For further information: Ruth Eldridge
-From BIEN

Meeting on basic income in Buenos Aires
On May 13, 2006, the Red Argentina de Ingreso Ciudadano (REDAIC, Argentine Basic Income Network) held its second Annual Meeting. It was an open meeting to discuss key issues regarding the Basic Income debate in Argentina. The meeting was in three parts: a presentation, a round table and an open discussion. The first part consisted of a presentation by Rubén Lo Vuolo to explain what REDAIC is. The round table developed the topics Ingreso Ciudadano, Trabajo y Movimientos Sociales (Basic Income, Employment and Social Movements) with the participation of Pablo Bergel from REDAIC, Joaquín from the Movimiento Teresa Rodríguez and Tomás Raffo from CTA (Argentinean Workers Central). Most of the meeting consisted of an open discussion about Basic Income in Argentina, its possibilities and its difficulties; the fight for a Basic Income and the fight for employment; Basic Income as a step towards social change and Basic Income in the context of other social movements such as gender or environmental movements. The main conclusions from the meeting's debates will soon be available on
-From BIEN

10. New members of USBIG Network & Board of Advisors

The USBIG Network welcomes two new members to its Board of Advisors. Heather Boushey is a Senior Economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Her work focuses on the U.S. labor market, social policy, and work and family issues. She is a co-author of The State of Working America 2002-3 and Hardships in America: The Real Story of Working Families. Nicolaus Tideman is a Professor of Economics at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He received a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago in 1969. He is the author of more than 80 scholarly articles on issues such as taxation of land, voting theory, and political philosophy.

Two new members have joined the USBIG Network in the last six weeks. The new members of the network are Anson Chong of Fern Forest, Hawaii and Michele Lewis of Villa Julie College in Maryland. Membership in USBIG is free and open to anyone who shares its goals. There are now 115 members of the USBIG Network.

11. Media response to the Plan proposed by Charles Murray

Several newspapers and magazines have printed articles responding to Charles Murray’s proposal to replace the welfare system with a $7,000 basic income guarantee plus health insurance. Technology, Commerce, Society Daily, ran two articles by Tim Worstall entitled “The Unemployment We Need” and “Bureaucrats Helping the Poor? Or Themselves?.” The author writes, “One of the things I love about the whole idea is the way in which just about everyone is going to say it's impossible, immoral, fattening or possibly, horror upon horrors, likely to increase teenage smoking.” Worstall’s articles can be found on the web at:,

Samuel Brittan, a prominent British BIG supporter and columnist for the Financial Times wrote about Murray’s proposal in a Financial Times column entitled, “Surprising case for basic income” on April 20th. Brittan points out how basic income appeals to different people in different ways, “I was originally attracted to basic income as a way of divorcing capitalism from the puritan ethic and allowing young people or creative artists to opt out from the rat race. Mr. Murray on the other hand finds numerous, ingenious arguments whereby an unconditional payment of this kind might help restore the work ethic and traditional values”

Articles on Murray’s book have also appeared in the Economist magazine (“The Battle of Ideas” on March 23), the National Review, the L.A. Times, Commentary Magazine, and the New Republic.


12. New publications

When Welfare Disappears: The Case for Economic Human Rights
Kenneth J. Neubeck (New York: Routledge, 2006).
This new book offers a history of welfare, a portrayal of welfare recipients, and an understanding of the diverse characteristics of lone-mother-headed families affected by welfare reform. Author Kenneth J. Neubeck offers a comparison of other industrialized nation’s welfare policies compared to ours, and presents a new argument for curtailing the end of welfare as we know it: the case for respecting economic human rights. Kenneth J. Neubeck is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Connecticut. The co-author of Welfare Racism.

Women’s Economic Justice Report on Guaranteed Livable Income
Women's Economic Justice Project
This 72-page report, released on April 29, 2006, documents over 40 interviews held with women between September 2005 to April 2006. It also contains the article “The Strong Case for a Guaranteed Livable Income;” data on women's income specially acquired for the project from Revenue Canada; and where to learn more or get involved. This project was funded by Status of Women Canada, BC/Yukon Region. Copies of the report can be obtained by calling +1-250-383-7322 or by emailing:

Faint Praise for a Chimera: Selectivity versus Universalism in Social Policy
John Tomlinson New Community Quarterly, volume 4, Issue 1, 2006, pp 54-60.
This article investigates current Australian social policy directions by looking beneath the stated intent of the Government’s programs. In recent years, the Australian Federal Government has announced: the “work till you drop” policy which is supposed to stave off the demographic tyranny of an aging Australia; an expanded mutual obligation program which would, in Minister Mal Brough’s (2001) words, “flush out dole bludgers”; compelling single parents to work instead of staying home to look after their children; slashing the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) combined with forcing young Aborigines to leave their remote homelands to get training (Karvelas 2005); and plans to stamp out ‘malingerers’ from amongst the ranks of disability support pensioners. The article interrogates the ideological, metaphorical, mythological and the present-day aspects of this Government’s "social policy chimera". It uses the insights gained to argue for a Basic Income supplemented with a Job Guarantee. Journal's website: Author's address:
-From BIEN

The impact of basic income on the propensity to work: Theoretical issues and microeconometric results
Claude Gamel, Didier Balsan, and Josiane Vero, Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 35, Issue 3, June 2006, pp. 476-497. First author's address:

In France, there is much debate about "minimum social benefits", and basic income is still perceived as too daring a proposal, in particular because it is believed to encourage idleness. How can we predict how individuals would use this unconditional income? As regards low wage earners, we look first at the uncertainties surrounding the economic theory as to the behavioral changes that this could induce. This is followed by an econometric study of answers given in 2000 by a panel of poorly qualified young adults who had recently become employed : this indicates that the payment of a monthly allowance of  approximately 300 Euros would not result in a massive withdrawal from work. Integration through employment means more than just receiving a wage, and disconnecting work from income rarely encourages individuals to "experiment" with other types of social integration.
-From BIEN

Reforming Family Transfers in Southern Europe: Is there a Role for Universal Child Benefits?
Manos Matsaganis et al. (2006), Social Policy and Society, Volume 5, Issue 2, 2006, pp 189-197.
As reported by BIEN, this paper examines the effect of income transfers to families in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal using a benefit-tax model. The distributional impact of actual programs is shown to be weak, hence the scope for reform great. As an illustration, the European benefit-tax model EUROMOD is used to simulate universal child benefits equivalent to those in Britain, Denmark and Sweden. The anti-poverty effect of such benefits is found to be in proportion to their fiscal cost. A key finding is that replacing current policies by universal child benefits may not reduce the number of children in poverty by much, and could even raise it. This can happen if current policy provides relatively generous assistance to a large number of low-income families (as in Italy, where family allowance is income tested and categorically targeted). Combining a universal (if low) income base with targeted policies could be an effective way to reduce child poverty in southern Europe at a reasonable cost to the tax payer. Journal's website:

Labor misses the point and the Liberals just don’t get it
John Tomlinson, Online Opinion
This article addresses basic income in the current Australian political climate. Tomlinson argues, because a Basic Income is paid to all permanent residents, irrespective of employment or any other social status, it is superior to the existing targeted, means-tested income support system. It is more efficient than Earned Income Tax Credit schemes, which penalize families when their hours of employment drop below 20 hours per week. Because it is paid up front rather than in inverse proportion to other earned income, it is more streamlined than Negative Income Tax. A smart treasurer, Tomlinson concludes, would introduce this in the 2007-8 Budget. This article is available on line at: The author’s email address is:

Basic Income Guarantee Pamphlet
The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network

At the USBIG Conference in Philadelphia this year, the USBIG Network distributed two new brochures explaining and arguing for BIG. Interested parties may have free copies to pass out at local meetings, events, etc. One brochure is six sides and highlights the advantages of a BIG. The other brochure is eight sides and goes into more detail on the history and benefits of a BIG. To order (free), contact Al Sheahen, PO Box 2204, Van Nuys CA 91404, or email to:

13. New links

The German website “unternimm die zukunft has several articles in English about the basic income guarantee at:

The Australian website “EarthShare has an audio interview with Alanna Hartzog in which she discusses the link between human’s rights to the Earth and the basic income guarantee. The website also has several of Hartzog’s PowerPoint presentations that formed the basis of her presentations at the USBIG Congress in February and for her Australian lecture series. Earthshare is on the web at: For a direct link to the audio go to:

Una sola multitudine: Struggles for Basic Income and the common logic that emerged from Italy, the UK and Japan
Toru Yamamori; on-line at:
On April 30th, 2006 at Keynes Hall, King’s College, Cambridge (UK), Toru Yamamori presented this paper, which is now available on the web. Abstract: "All of us are guaranteed to Basic Income without any condition!” This is the demand called by various names: Basic Income / Renta Basica, Citizen’s Income / Reditto di Cittadinanza / Guaranteed Income / Revenu Garanti /  Revenu D’Existence / Allocation Universelle, etc. Michel Hardt and Antonio Negri describe this demand as one of three programs of the multitude. This paper is written as a response to the three following situations: First, critiques against Hardt and Negri do not understand this demand properly. Second, while recent developments within academic literature concerning this demand should be welcomed, the fact that one of roots of the demand is radical grassroots’ movements in 1970s is usually ignored with a few exceptions. Third, while experiences of Lotta Feminista, Autonomia Opereia and other spontaneous movements in Italy are recognized as an example of people making such demands among participants of this conference, experiences outside of Italy are might not recognized as such. The argument goes as follows: the author starts by introducing current academic discourses on this demand (Section 2). This helps to point out misunderstandings within the critiques against Hardt and Negri. Then the argument by Hardt and Negri are introduced with a brief reference to struggles in Italy in 1970’s (Section 3). Then some points of skepticism concerning Basic Income are overviewed (Section 4). Is Basic Income the cunning of Empire? It might be, so the context of the introduction of Basic Income is crucial. Thus we can learn from the struggles for Basic Income. The author looks at the experience in the U.K. (Section 5), and in Japan (Section 6).

Freedom, Not Full Employment (Freiheit statt Vollbeschaeftigung)
This Frankfurt-based German group was founded in 2003. It has since run poster campaigns in subway stations in several German cities and participated in numerous discussions on television and elsewhere to promote the idea of an unconditional basic income. The website includes a translation of the group’s “theses” in English (as well as French, Spanish, and Italian versions), a list of events in which the group has participated, and a list of future events. The group has also made available numerous texts which group members have written on the idea of an UBI. Their newsletter now reaches close to 650 subscribers.
Email: Axel Jansen (

14. Links and other info

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

The USBIG Network Newsletter
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Research: Paul Nollen
Copyediting: Mike Murray and the USBIG Committee
Thanks for help with this issue to: Al Sheahen, Cindy L'Hirondelle, Brad Nelson, Leonard Butters, and Axel Jansen.

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:

You may copy and circulate articles from this newsletter, but please mention the source and include a link to If you know any BIG news; if you know anyone who would like to be added to this list; or if you would like to be removed from this list; please send me an email:

As always, your comments on this newsletter and the USBIG website are gladly welcomed.

-Karl Widerquist, Coordinator, USBIG.