This is the Newsletter of the USBIG Network (, which promotes the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a policy that would unconditionally guarantee a subsistence-level income for everyone. If you would like to be added to or removed from this list please email:




California Congressman Bob Filner has agreed to reintroduce the Tax Cut for the Rest of Us Act (“the BIG bill”) in the 110th Congress. Filner first introduced the bill in the 109th Congress in May 2006. The bill redirects the Bush tax cut for the rich to a tax cut for everyone – with the largest benefits going to those who have the least income. It would transform the standard income tax deduction into a standard tax credit of $2000 per adult and $1000 per child. Al Sheahen of the Committee to Support the BIG Bill is coordinating the lobbying effort in favor of the bill. His plan is to lobby members of the House Ways and Means Committee before Filner reintroduces the bill. The BIG Bill Committee has put out a call for aid in its effort to drum up Congressional support. According to Al Sheahen, any amount of help supporters can give is a boost to the effort, “Whether you can do as little as emailing one Member of Congress or as much as visiting all 535 in their office, it would be a great help. Please contact me for information on how you can help support the BIG Bill.” You find out how you can help by emailing Al Sheahen at


The USBIG Network held its sixth annual Congress in New York City on February 23-25, 2007. The event was held in conjunction with the Eastern Economic Association’s Annual Meeting. About seventy academics and activists from as far away as New Zealand attended the Congress, which included sessions on the ethics of BIG; BIG as a financial reform; family, care work, and gender; the politics of BIG; the economics of BIG; and alternative anti-poverty programs. The Congress also included a presentation of the 2007 Basic Income Studies Essay Prize (see below).

Phil Harvey, of Rutgers Law School, and Karl Widerquist, of Tulane University, debated income vs. job guarantees. Although both Harvey and Widerquist saw merit in both approaches, Harvey favored job guarantees for their cost effectiveness, and Widerquist favored BIG for its greater impact on the freedom of the least advantaged.

Dalton Conley, of New York University discussed the need for programs to address wealth rather than income inequality. Annie Miller, a retired economics in Edinburgh, discussed the need to BIG as part of a larger strategy for gender equity. Stanley Aronowitz, of the City University of New York, discussed the need for BIG in a changing economy. Senator Eduardo Suplicy, of the Brazilian Workers Party, discussed the Brazilian plan to phase-in a BIG over the next several years. Fred Block, of the University of California-Davis, and William DiFazio, of St. John’s University, closed the conference with presentations on strategic options for BIG and progressive social policies in the coming years.


Basic Income Studies and the USBIG Network announced the winner of the 2007 Basic Income Studies Essay Prize at the Sixth Congress of the USBIG Network in New York on February 25, 2007. The Prize is awarded annually to a paper presented either at the BIEN Congress (even years) or at the USBIG Congress (odd years). The award is designed to encourage promising research on basic income and related policies. The BIS Essay Prize is awarded to an essay that exemplifies the high standard of quality and original basic income research that BIS hopes to promote. The Prize Essay and one essay worthy of honorable mention were selected by a two-judge panel of judges from Basic Income Studies and the USBIG Network.

The Prize Essay by Laura Bambrick, of Oxford University, is entitled, “A BIG Response to Wollstonecraft’s Dilemma.” The winning essay will be published in an upcoming issue of Basic Income Studies. The honorable mention essay by Richard Caputo, of Yeshiva University, is entitled, “The Death Knoll of BIG or BIG by Stealth: A Preliminary Assessment of BIG Political Viability around the Globe.”


NewsRoom Finland reports that the prime minister of Finland, Matti Vanhanen, of the Centre Party, said that the structure and level of basic security should be reappraised, and that the current wide range of benefits could be replaced by a basic income guarantee of about 600 or 700 euros per month. He argued, however, that BIG should be supplemented by incentives to encourage those capable of work to enter the labor market. According to NewsRoom Finland, “Mr Vanhanen's comment comes amid a clash between the Social Democratic Party [SPD], the Centre's main government partner, and the opposition Green League over guaranteed minimum income.” The Finnish Greens accused the Social Democrats of using made-up arguments to reject basic income. NewsRoom Finland reported on February 26, “Finland's opposition Green League on Monday accused the SDP of deploying trumped-up and populist arguments to reject the idea of a guaranteed minimum income. The Greens' critique was a response to a report by the Kalevi Sorsa foundation, an SDP-leaning organization, faulting a basic income scheme as promoted by the Green League. The leaders of the Green League said in a joint statement that the foundation's report played down problems related to social security. Ville Kopra, a researcher, says in the foundation's report that basic income could endanger both universal validity on the labor market and earnings-related unemployment security. The Greens say the Social Democrats' resistance to change is dividing people into two classes where only those in regular employment should enjoy sufficient basic security.”

Two reports are on line at:


According to, the Namibian Basic Income Grant Coalition has announced that it is raising funds for BIG pilot program. Namibia's Lutheran bishop Dr Zephania Kameeta has stressed the commitment of civil society to the fight against poverty in the country, despite criticism that the proposed basic income grant (BIG) they are advocating would encourage people to be lazy. An editorial supporting the pilot program is on line at:


According to the Toronto Star, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May propose the idea of a guaranteed minimum income at a party convention in Vancouver. But it is not simply a left idea, Conservative Senator Hugh Segal – a long-time proponent of a guaranteed annual income – told delegates to Toronto's city summit alliance conference in February that he believes Canada has the money to ensure every Canadian can live with dignity, "When we look at the billions we now spend on social policy, it's clear we have the capacity." The Toronto Star story is on line at:


Both the People's Budget Campaign coalition and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), have renewed their support for the basic income grant. A spokesperson for COSATU, Patrick Craven said that they were hopeful that BIG will be adopted at the African National Congress (ANC) policy conference in June 2007. However, Wendy Jasson da Costa of the Independent reports, “President Thabo Mbeki discarded any suggestion that a basic income grant was on the cards for impoverished South Africans. With a basic income grant, the government would effectively be ‘abandoning’ its citizens, he said. However, a ‘more targeted, more precise’ comprehensive social security system would definitely be implemented.” These could include the dole, but President Mbeki denied the ANC’s proposed social security reform was a way of introducing a basic income grant through the back door. Some elements within the ANC oppose Mbeki’s stance against BIG. These include not only COSTU but also the South African Communist Party and Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya support the adoption of the basic income grant by the ANC.
For further information is on COSATU’s BIG position is on line at:
Several articles are the BIG discussion are on line. See:


Several Germans have recently endorsed basic income. Ulrich Beck, prominent sociologist in Germany and author of "The Risk Society," and Kayja Kipping, chairperson of the left party PDS, have both endorsed basic income as a way to give workers greater negotiating power to demand more meaningful work. According to Kipping, many leftist are uncomfortable with BIG because they suffer from “work fetishism.” Asked to explain she replied, “Many think only paid work is a valuable contribution. The ideology ‘whoever doesn't work should not eat' is malicious. To me, this is a completely strange understanding of contribution. Persons in the arms industry do social harm through paid work. On the other hand, many activities that are not paid are important for society.” Vienna. Should basic security be only for persons willing to work and the needy? Ronald Blaschke , a philosopher, sociologist, educator, and spokesperson of the German Basic Income Network also argued for BIG and against work fetishism in an interview with Beate Lammer on

German businessman Gotz Werner argues has been arguing for basic income in recent years. He renewed his support for BIG in an interview with the daily die Tageszeitung, last November. The BIEN Newsletter published the following excerpts from the interview:
Journalist: You speak very positively. You own over 1700 drug stores. You have annual sales of 3.7 billion Euros. You are one of the 500 richest Germans.
Werner: That is untrue. Like almost all entrepreneurs, I wanted more and more in the past. Today maximizing meaning is my top priority.
Journalist: Do you see the world with different eyes?
Werner: I have read the classics, Goethe, Schiller. I understand my own success is not everything. I want to help others succeed. People are central, not business. I try to imagine a positive world.
Journalist: "Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come," you say.
Werner: Victor Hugo said that. I only quoted him.
Journalist: Is the time right for your idea?
Werner: At least the idea could be discussed at last. Two years ago that was something for a few experts. The halls are full when I give lectures today.
Journalist: What has changed?
Werner: The old political slogans have nothing to do with the world where people live. Unemployment grows despite temporary announcements of success. Unbridled growth damages our resources. If Angela Merkel would say "full employment" is possible, nobody would believe her any more…
Journalist: The unconditional basic income already has supporters in the parties - from left to right. Why is this?
Werner: Because this is the most radical form of socialism and the most radical form of capitalism. After one of my addresses, a listener wrote to me: "Your basic income model has reconciled my socialist heart with my neoliberal mind."

The full interview in German is available at:
An English translation is available at:
Other articles on BIG in Germany are on the web at:


Brazilian Senator Eduardo Suplicy, one of the strongest supports of basic income in any ruling government in the world, recently visited China and reports substantial hope for the future of basic income in China. Senator Suplicy spoke about basic income with several highly-placed officials in the Chinese government. He found that elements of universal, unconditional support exist in some current Chinese anti-poverty programs, and that there is some hope the China will move further in that direction. Suplicy also spoke with Professor Tian Xiaobao, who is considered to be the first economist in China, author of a 2006 book on Social Security in China.

According to Suplicy, “It was with Professor Tian Xiaobao that I had my longest and very productive three hour conversation. After explaining all the advantages of an unconditional basic income to him, after describing experience of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend System and the perspective of having such a system in Brazil, I asked him whether he considered possible to think about having the institution of an inconditional basic income for all 1 billion and 300 million or more Chinese in the future. Professor Tain Xiaobao answered that he considered the Basic Income a very sound and rational proposal, making sense and being consistent with the objective of building a harmonious society, such as advocated by Confucius 520 years before Christ. It is also consistent with the objectives of today's Chinese government. He told me, however, that to attain the objective of paying a basic income to all Chinese, it would be required a time of preparation for the next three quinquenal plans. Thus, a Basic Income would be desirable and possible in 2020.”


NEW YORK CITY (US), May 6-8, 2007: The basic income guarantee in international perspective
Richard Caputo is organizing a session on BIG within the framework of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University (New York City). The session will discuss, "The basic income guarantee in international perspective." The Conference is scheduled for 6-8 May 2007 at the Sheraton New York. Interested persons should contact Richard Caputo at

REGINA (CA), 6-8 June 2007: Economic Security for All in Saskatchewan: Weaving an Unbreakable Social Fabric.
This conference is organized by Prof. Jim Mulvale at the Department of Justice Studies of the University of Regina. Themes and topics submitted to discussion will include: re-establishing a strong social safety net, re-committing to the principle of universality in income support, health care, and access to education, ensuring a living wage for working people, moving toward a guaranteed annual income or "basic income" in Saskatchewan and Canada. For further information:
-From BIEN

MANCHESTER (UK), 3-5 September 2007: Workshop on 'Ethics, Work and Emancipation'
A workshop on 'Ethics, Work and Emancipation' is planned as part of the 'Workshops in Political Theory' Fourth Annual Conference that will be held at Manchester Metropolitan University, 3-5 September 2007. The goal of this specific workshop is to explore the possibility of, and the difficulties associated with realizing, emancipatory or meaningful forms of work in contemporary capitalist societies. Papers are welcomed from researchers working in the disciplines of political, social, and economic philosophy/theory. Key themes and areas of focus include: 1. Basic income and work: What is the relation between meaningful work and the basic income literature? Is the call for a basic citizen income at odds with, indifferent to, or, instead, a support to the demand for meaningful modes of human productivity? 2. The concept of mancipatory/meaningful work 3. The historical genesis of the concept of work 4. The ethics and morality of meaningful work, 5. The politics of meaningful work, 6. Work and the economy. Organizers: Keith Breen (Queen's University Belfast), Ruth Chenoweth (Royal Holloway College). If you are interested in presenting a paper in this workshop, please contact Keith Breen ( For further information, see
-From BIEN


COOK, Richard, “Time to Change America by Challenging Economic Fundamentals,” February 26, The Dissident Voice.
This article on economic and monetary reform discusses the American Monetary Institute and the American Monetary Act, along with the LaTourette-Kucinich proposal for an infrastructure bank, as well as the legislation on "A Tax Cut for the Rest of Us" written by Al Sheahen and Karl Widerquist of the USBIG Network. The article is on line at:

A BASIC INCOME COMIC STRIP: The Penny Family and the Guaranteed Minimum Income Program
This comic strip explains the rational and the operation of Brazil’s Basic Income program. It is on the web at:

KING, J. E. & MARANGOS, John (2006), 'Two Arguments for Basic Income: Thomas Paine (1737-1809) en Thomas Spence (1750-1814)', History of Economic Ideas, 14 (1), pp. 55-71. In the 1790s the radical thinkers Thomas Paine and Thomas Spence were among the first to advocate the payment of a basic income as a right to all citizens. In this paper J. E. King (La Trobe University, Australia) and John Marangos (Colorado State University, United States) outline Paine's position, as set out in The Rights of Man (1791-1792) and in Agrarian Justice (1795), and compare it with the case made by Thomas Spence in The Rights of Infants (1797). The authors show that their arguments were surprisingly complex, and included utilitarian grounds for supporting a basic income in addition to an assertion of the individual's right to existence and to a share in the produce of nature.
-From BIEN

ORSI, Cosma (2006), The Value of Reciprocity. Arguing for a Plural Political Economy, Roskilde (DK): Federico Caffè Centre Publisher & University of Roskilde, 138pp. In this essay, Cosma Orsi (Roskilde University, Denmark) argues that one of the most urgent challenges of our times is the need to "repair the social fracture" generated by the free market. Basic income is discussed (pp.106-111) as one of the elements of a package of measures that might contribute to reach this goal.
-From BIEN


The USBIG Discussion Paper series posts papers on BIG, related policies, and on the state of poverty and inequality. Papers from the USBIG Discussion paper series have been published in a large number of journals and magazines. Papers can be found on line at: New Discussion papers include:

No. 174 March 2007
Zelleke, Almaz, “Is ‘The Plan’ a Basic Income? An Assessment of Charles Murray’s Proposal to Replace the Welfare State with an (Almost) Universal Grant”

No. 173 March 2007
Quaraishi, Sabrina, “How Empowering Is Microcredit: A Look At Grameen Bank”

No. 172 March 2007
Tideman, Nicolaus, “The Ethics of Unequal Basic Income Guarantees”

No. 171 February 2007
Schenk, Nadine, “Political Decision Making and Agenda Setting in South Africa: Why the Basic Income Grant has not (yet) been accepted by government in South Africa”

No. 170 February 2007
Healy, Seán and Brigid Reynolds, “Making Tax Credits Refundable: A Pathway to Basic Income in Ireland?”

No. 169 February 2007
Sheahen, Al, “The Rise and Fall of a Basic Income Guarantee Bill in the United States Congress”

No. 168 February 2007
Wetzell, David L, “A New Kind of Index Fund Designed to Grow the Social Security Trust Fund”

No. 167 February 2007
Bambrick, Laura, “A BIG Response to Wollstonecraft’s Dilemma”

No. 166 February 2007
Lewis, Michael A., “What To Do About Care Work: Compensate Or Facilitate?”

No. 165 February 2007
Smith, Jeffery J., “Can a Citizens Dividend Replace Welfare?”

No. 164 February 2007
Todd, Christine, “Poverty Reduction and Welfare Provision for Single Parents in Aotearoa / New Zealand and the United States - A Comparative Analysis”

No. 163 February 2007
Farris, Buford, “Happy Workers, Welfare Queens, and Surfers: Images in the Debate Around a Guaranteed Income”

No. 162 February 2007
Caputo, Richard K., “The Death Knoll of BIG or BIG by Stealth: A Preliminary Assessment of UBIG Political Viability around the Globe”

No. 161 January 2007
Clark, Stephen C., “The Juarez Plan”

No. 160 January 2007
Cook, Richard C., “The Basic Income Guarantee and Monetary Reform: A Tale of Two Ideas”

No. 159 December 2006
Richa, “Looking at BIG from below”


CROCKED TIMBER BLOG DISCUSSES BIG: An interesting debate on BIG and Stakeholder Grants is running on the Crooked Timber blogsite. The discussion involves people using their own names and many of them are prominent social scientists. The discussion is based on proposals by Philippe Van Parijs, Anne Alstott, and Bruce Ackerman. Good references to factual information relevant to the BIG debate can be found in the discussion. The thread is on-line at:

MARSHAL BRAIN: Why Our Emerging Robotic Nation Needs a Basic Income Guarantee
Marshal Brain’s articles “Robotic Nation” and “Robotic Freedom,” as well as the book “Manna,” discuss the effects of the robotic revolution on the world Economy. Brain argues that robotics will create great new potential in the economy but will also displace tens of millions of workers making a basic income guarantee an economic imperative. On this website, Brain answers frequently asked questions about his proposals to provide all human beings with a basic income guarantee in order to facilitate our transition to a fully automated economy.

At 10am on February 14, 2007, Bill DiFazio interviewed Karl Widerquist and Michael A. Lewis on DiFazio’s radio program, City Watch on WBAI New York. The three discussed the basic income guarantee as a policy to address poverty in New York City. The program will be available in the WBAI archives on the web for 90 days following the original broadcast. Go to, click on archives, scroll down to February 14, and click on “City Watch.”


Seven new members have joined the USBIG Network since January. The USBIG Network now has 127 members from 28 U.S. states and 22 foreign countries. Membership in USBIG is free and open to anyone who shares its goals. To become a member of USBIG go to, and click on “membership.” The current members of the USBIG Network are:

Karl Widerquist, Cassopolis, MI; Eri Noguchi, New York, NY; Fred Block, Davis, CA; Michael A. Lewis, New York, NY; Steve Shafarman, Washington, DC; Brian Steensland, Bloomington, IN; Al Sheahen, Van Nuys, CA; Robert Harris, Roosevelt Island, NY; Philippe Van Parijs, Brussels, Belgium; Stanley Aronowitz, New York, NY; Carole Pateman, Los Angeles, CA; Frances Fox Piven, New York, NY; Eduardo Suplicy, Sao Paolo, Brazil; J. Philip Wogaman, Washington, DC; Chris LaPlante, Blacksburg, VA; John Marangos, Fort Collins, CO; Fransisco Sales, Carretera Mexico City, DF, Mexico; Manuel Henriques, Lisbon, Portugal; Amelia Baughman, Williams, AZ; Robert F. Clark, Alexandria, VA; Jason Burke Murphy, Saint Louis, MO; Joel Handler, Los Angeles, CA; Glen C. Cain, Madison, WI; Timothy Roscoe Carter, San Fransisco, CA; John Bollman, Bay City, MI; George McGuire, Brooklyn, NY; Adrian Kuziminski, Fly Creek, NY; Hyun-Mook Lim, Seoul, Korea; Kelly D. Pinkham, Kansas City, MO; Michael Murray, Clive, IA; Josep LI. Ortega, Santa Coloma, Andorra; Michael Opielka, Königswinter, Germany; Brenden Miller, Cambridge, MA; Myron J. Frankman, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Frank Thompson, Ann Arbor, MI; Harry F. Dahms, Knoxville, TN; Buford Farris, Bastrop, TX; Roy Morrison, Warner, NH; Robley E. "Rob" George, Manhattan Beach, CA, Almaz Zelleke, Brooklyn, NY; Gonzalo Pou, Montevideo, Uruguay; Elisabetta Pernigotti, Paris, France; Ross Zucker, New York, NY; Sean Owens, La Mirada, CA, Dean Herd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Hugh Thompson, London, UK; Jan van Knippenberg, Kinrooi, Belgium; Adam Csillag, Berlin, Germany; Steve Gazzo, Pittsburgh, PA; Mike Cottone, Weaverville, CA; Brigitte Sirois, Quebec, Quebec, Canada; Guy Standing, Geneva Switzerland; G. W. Putto, Den Haag, the Netherlands; Anonymous, Berkeley, CA; Pete Farina, Washington, DC; Robert Wirengard, Fair Share, Florida; Urban Boljka, Ljubljana, Slovenia; Ronal Cohen, Bennington, Vermont; H.T.L. Quan, Chicago, Illinois; Lourdes Maria Silva Araujo; Espirito Santo, Brazil; Patrick S. O'Donnell, Santa Barbara, California; Stephen Nathanson, Boston, Massachusetts; Jerey Vogt, Washington, DC; Justine Lam, Arlington, Virginia; Ricardo A. Bunge, San Antonio, Texas; Aziz Akgul, Ankara, Turkey; Judith A. Kaluzny, Fullerton, California; Leonard Butters, Spokane, Washington; Peter Christiansen, San Francisco, California; Kyle Patrick Meredith, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Benjamin Hyink, LaGrange, Illinois; Nancy Folbre, Amherst, Massachusetts; Noaki Yoshihara, Kunitachi, Tokyo; Bernard Mueller, Torrance, California; Zool (Paul Zulkowitz); Woodmare, New York; Amanda Reilly, Wellington, New Zealand; Adam Sacks, Lexington, Massachusetts; Mark Levinson, New York, New York Kathy Fitzpatrick, Grand Rapids, MI; Stephen C. Clark, Port Hueneme, CA; Cristian Pérez Muñoz, Sauce, Uruguay; Richa, Grand Rapids, MI; Floyd Robinson, Ann Arbor, MI; Bradley Nelson, Portland, OR; Mark Ewbank, Coventry, United Kingdom; Bernard Cloutier, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Mark Erickson, Skokie, IL; Dale Carrico, Oakland, CA; Joseph Meyer, St.Vith, Belgium; A.R. Rowe, Brooklyn, NY; Pius Charles Murray, Somersworth, NH; John D. Jones, Milwaukee, WI; Troy Davis, Williamsburg, VA; William E Fraser, Santa Cruz, CA. Twelve new members have joined USBIG since December 18, 2005. They are Luke Mead, Astoria, OR; Ori Lev, Baltimore, MD; Ralph Rostas, Chester, VA; Laura Cornelius, Woodbridge, VA; Dylan Matthews, Hanover, NH; John (Jack) O'Donnell, Millville, NJ; Stefano Lucarelli, Ancona, Italy; Richard Lippincott Biddle, Philadelphia, PA; Alanna Hartzok, Scotland, PA; Hank Delisle, Fukuoudai, Japan; Michael LaTorra, Las Cruces, NM; Mike Roberts, Rochester, NY, Anson Chong, Fen Forest, HI; Michele Lewis, Washington, DC; Heather Boushey, Washington, DC; Nicolaus Tideman, Blacksburg, VA; John Carroll, Edinburgh, IN; Rosalind Diana, Seaside Heights, NJ; W. Robert Needham, Waterloo, ON, Canada; Cedric Neill, Orlando, FA; Richard Cook, College Park, MD; Miroslav Turcinovic, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; William DiFazio, Brooklyn, NY; Angel Garman, Hugo OK; Karin Nyquist, Emmaboda, Sweden; Larry Dansinger, Monroe, ME; Richard G. Wamai Cambridge, MA; Melissa Farrell, Staten Island, NY.


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

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.

Thank you,
-Karl Widerquist, USBIG Coordinator.