USBIG NEWSLETTER Vol. 10, No. 53 Summer 2009

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 at least 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. Joint USBIG/BIEN-Canada Conference to be Held in April 2010
2. Brazilian President Lula to speak at BIEN 2010
3. Editorial: The Economic Lesson of 1938
4. Alaska Permanent Fund Rebounds as Managers Reorganize Investment strategy
5. U.S. Senator introduces a bill to implement BIG—in Iraq
6. Gonzo journalist, Ian Murphy, interviews Karl Widerquist
7. Tribute to Brian Barry
Peter Townsend Dies
9. Gerald A. Cohen Dies
10. Groups in several countries take action to promote BIG
11. Other BIG News from around the World
Recent Publications
Upcoming Events
Recent Events
New Links
16. New members
Links and Other Info

1. Joint USBIG/BIEN-Canada Conference to be Held in April 2010

The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG) and its Canadian counter-part, BIEN-Canada, are preparing to announce a joint conference to be held in Montreal in the spring of 2010. The official announcement and an open call for participation will be released as soon as the date is confirmed. Jurgen de Wispelaere will organize the conference, which will be held at the University of Montreal. The conference will be the Ninth Congress of the USBIG Network and the first full conference of the BIEN-Canada Network.

For more information contact:
Karl Widerquist <> (USBIG)
Jim Mulvale <> (BIEN-Canada)
Jurgen de Wispelaere <> (Conference organizer)

2. Brazilian President Lula to speak at BIEN 2010

The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) is preparing its next Congress, to be held on July 1st and 2nd, 2010, at the University of Sao Paulo. Professors Lena Lavinas and Fabio Waltenberg have been appointed Executive Coordinators. They will be the focal point for four committees (funding, executive, academic, and communication), as well as the contact with BIEN's Executive Committee. An e-mail account has been created ( A detailed call for papers will be released soon. The main theme of the congress is "Basic Income: An Instrument to Attain Justice and Peace". The President of Brazil, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, has already accepted the invitation to present the Opening Lecture of the Congress in the morning of July 1st 2010.

3. Editorial: The Economic Lesson of 1938

If I use the phrase “lesson of 1938,” most people will probably think about Britain’s unsuccessful attempt to avoid war with Nazi Germany by giving away a piece of Czechoslovakia. There are important lessons in that event, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

1938 was also an important year in American economic history, and the economic lesson of that year is relevant to our handling of the global recession today. By 1938, the Great Depression had been going on for eight years. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs had been stimulating the economy for five years, and they began to show significant signs of working. Industrial production and national income were coming back up. Employment was going back down. The economy appeared to be just about out of the depression—

—and then—

Roosevelt and Congress decided to balance the budget. They raised taxes. They reduced government spending. They contracted the money supply, and helped send the economy back into depression, where it remained for three more years. Unemployment was still 10 percent when the United States entered World War II at the end of 1941. At that point the government started spending massive amounts of money. They worried less about the budget deficit and more about spending what it takes to do the job. The depression disappeared almost overnight.

The economic lesson of 1938 is that the government cannot balance the budget during a major recession—even in the early stages of recovery. A depressed economy needs a stimulus. Although politicians usually won’t say it out loud, a stimulus often requires not only spending but deficit spending. One of the things that turn a financial crisis into a recession is that people and businesses stop spending in a reinforcing cycle. They can’t afford to spend because they’re not making money. They’re not making money because no one else is spending. Only the government has the size and budget flexibility to break the cycle. In a financial recession, concern for the government’s budget deficit can wait.

The government can get away with deficit spending because the government budget doesn’t work like an individual’s budget or even a corporation’s budget. Government creates the money supply; its spending is not limited to what it takes in or what it can borrow. If you or I spend more than we should, we will go broke. If the government spends more than it should, it will create inflation. If inflation becomes a problem, we can take action, but for now it is not a major concern.

We should be more concerned with making sure that the direct beneficiaries of government stimulus are the people most in need. Too often the government stimulates the economy by helping corporations (such as investment banks, automobile manufacturers, and defense contractors), telling us that the stimulus will indirectly make its way to help those who actually need help.

A more effective way to stimulate the economy and help people is with universal programs. Universal healthcare or a universal basic income guarantee would be excellent ways to do so.
-Karl Widerquist, Doha, Qatar August 9, 2009

4. Alaska Permanent Fund rebounds as managers reorganize investment strategy

The Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) has rebounded slightly after taking an unprecedented loss of more than 25 percent last year. By the end of its fiscal year on June 30, it was down (only) 17 percent. At the same time, APF managers have reorganized the fund’s investment allocation strategy toward safer investments.

The APF finances the Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD), the only existing basic income guarantee in the world today. Oil tax revenues go into the fund, and each year part of the return is distributed as a dividend to all Alaska residents.

The fund reached an all-time high of $40 billion just before the market began to slide a year ago, and the state paid out the largest dividend in the APF’s history. Earlier this year the fund fell to about $28 billion. At that time there was some worry whether the fund had enough money to pay any dividend at all. Now that the fund has rebounded to over $31 billion, it is more certain that the state will be able to pay out a dividend. The Fairbanks News-Miner speculated that the dividend would be in the neighborhood of $1200 per person ($4800 for a family of four).

The uncertainty over the past year about the size and even possibility of a dividend has brought great criticism of the APF’s investment strategy and of the system it uses to calculate the dividend (See USBIG Newsletter, Spring 2009). The fund’s managers recently announced a new investment allocation strategy, which is significantly more conservative than the old strategy. The biggest change is that the fund has reduced its “company exposure” (the amount it invests in stocks, corporate bonds, and private equity) from 63% to 53% of the fund’s total value.

Under the new strategy, the rest of the fund is allocated to hedge funds and distressed debt (21%), real estate (18%), government and non-corporate bonds (6%), and cash (including short-term investments—2%).

Managers say this change is a long-term investment strategy, and claim that it is not a response to recent criticism or an effort to time the market. Nevertheless, Michael J. Burns, director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, was quoted as saying, “We made the major move almost at the right moment.”

The Alaskan government has so far made no move toward a more conservative payout strategy for the dividend (see USBIG Newsletter, Spring 2009). They will continue to calculate dividends based on the average return over the last five years rather than changing to a system that calculates dividends based on a fixed percentage of the market value of the fund.

Several news stories about recent developments in the fund are online: “Permanent fund director: reorganizing may boost check amounts” by Jason Lamb:

Fairbanks News-Miner: “Permanent Fund regroups: New categories help evaluate risk” by Steve Frank

Fairbanks News-Miner: “Alaska Permanent Fund dividend amount might be bigger than expected” by Rena Delbridge:

“Alaska permanent fund rebound softened by trustee board's decision”
By Pat Forgey, Juneau Empire

“Alaska blazes new trail in risk-based investing: Permanent Fund changing asset allocation criteria”
By Timothy Inklebarger, Pensions and Investment

“Our view: Steady as she goes: Cool, caution should rule Permanent Fund strategy”
Editorial, Anchorage Daily News

“Permanent Fund rebound may clear way for dividend”
By Pat Forgey, Juneau Empire

“Permanent fund overhauls asset allocation and adds new terminology”
By Dermot Cole, Alaska NewsMiner

“This year's lower dividend is projected at $1,400”
Anchorage Daily News

“Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. reorganizes asset allocation, approves manager search”
The Journal of Commerce

5. U.S. Senator introduces a bill to implement BIG—in Iraq

Many people believe that the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend is an idea ready to export—a model that should be copied around the world. Two U.S. Senators have gotten the idea that the Alaska model is ready to be copied, not by the country over which the U.S. Senate has jurisdiction but by Iraq instead.

Last January, John Ensign (Republican-Nevada) introduced the “Support for Iraq Oil Trust Act” of 2009. According to the official summary of the bill, it would force the U.S. State Department to present a plan for an oil trust fund (based on the Alaska model) to the Iraqi government, and it threatens to reduce U.S. aid to Iraq if the U.S. Secretary of State fails to do so.

The bill picked up one cosponsor, Senator Evan Bayh (Democrat-Indiana). No further action has been taken on the bill since it was referred to committee in January, and probably the bill will die in committee.

But the bill has received negative attention from press in the Persian Gulf region. Saadallah Fathi, writing for (based in Dubai) sees the bill as an effort to pressure the Iraqi government to adopt a policy that is not well-suited for Iraq’s situation.

Whatever the value the Alaska model might have for Iraq, this bill is probably the wrong way to export the idea. The U.S. government could make a greater effort to lead by example. If the Alaska Permanent Fund is a model to be copied, the Senate might consider copying the model itself by creating a Federal U.S. Permanent Fund. Copying the model yourself seems much more reasonable than trying to influence someone else (a sovereign foreign government) to copy the model.

The United States is resource-rich. It has the potential to create a very large Alaska-style fund using taxes on resource exploitation, such as mining, drilling, forestry, carbon emissions, and real estate. If the senators are right that the Alaska-model is ready to be copied, they might consider implementing it first in their own jurisdiction.

For Saadallah Fathi’s article in the Gulf News, go to:

6. Gonzo journalist, Ian Murphy, interviews Karl Widerquist

Ian Murphy is a gonzo journalist for the website, In his interviews of academics, activists, and political actors, he asks them offbeat questions that can bring out a serious issue, provide some entertainment, or both. He interviewed Karl Widerquist in issue #137, and asked questions, such as “What is BIG and how will it destroy America’s values?” and “What happens when people spend their basic income on crack and lottery tickets?” Yet, he turned it into a very favorable article about BIG. Widerquist’s answers are online at:

7. Tribute to Brian Barry

by Philippe Van Parijs

This tribute appeared in Issue 57 of the BIEN NewsFlash. It is reprinted here in full

Brian Barry died in London on the 10th of March 2009 at the age of 73. He was one of Britain's most prominent political philosophers, with a teaching career that took him to the Universities of Essex, Oxford, British Columbia and Chicago, the European University Institute, the London School of Economics and Columbia University. He also became, in the last two decades of his life, one of the most sophisticated and forceful advocates of a universal basic income.

In September 1989, Brian Barry accepted an invitation to attend a conference on the ethical foundations of basic income at the University of Louvain. His assignment was to comment on John Baker's "egalitarian case for basic income" and his conclusion at the time was unequivocally expressed in the title of his chapter in the collective volume that grew out of the conference: "Equality yes, basic income no" (Barry 1992). A couple of years later, however, he delivered a fiery plea for basic income to a neo-liberal audience at the University of Kiel (Barry 1994). From then on, he became a very consistent, articulate and unusually vigorous advocate of basic income (1996, 1997, 2000). In 2006, in his characteristically despondent style, he even concluded his last seminar at Columbia University by stating that only two important things happened in political philosophy in the course of his career: the publication of Rawls's Theory of Justice and the debate on basic income.

Brian Barry was not exactly an easy person nor a charitable critic. Some of his book reviews will be remembered as among the least forgiving in the history of political philosophy. But he was also an incredibly sharp thinker who alerted the philosophical profession to many emerging big and difficult issues, such as intergenerational and global justice, long before they became commonplace. Moreover, as forcefully expressed in his last book (Barry 2005), he was one of those philosophers who believe that their job is not limited to exegetical quibbles and analytical hair splitting, but that they have a role to play in making our world more just.

Brian Barry was a great political philosopher, an invaluable ally on several fronts, someone for whom I have had, ever since I had the privilege of having him as my first Oxford supervisor in 1974, great admiration and great affection.

The basic income movement will miss him greatly, but it will keep benefiting from the stunning strength of his thinking and of his support.
-Philippe Van Parijs, May 2009

Further reading:
Barry, Brian. 1992. "Equality yes, Basic income no", in Arguing for Basic Income. Ethical Foundations for a Radical Reform (P. Van Parijs ed.), London: Verso, 128-40.
Barry, Brian. 1994. "Justice, freedom, and basic income", in The Ethical Foundations of the Market Economy (H. Siebert ed.), Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr & Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 61-89.
Barry, Brian. 1996. "Real Freedom and Basic Income", Journal of Political Philosophy 5, 242-276; also in Real Libertarianism Assessed. Political Theory after Van Parijs (A. Reeve & A. Williams eds.), London : Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, 53-79.
Barry, Brian. 1997. "The attractions of basic income", in Equality (J. Franklin ed.), London: IPPR, 1997, pp. 157-171.
Barry, Brian. 2000. "Universal Basic Income and the Work Ethic", in Boston Review 25(5), 14-15; also in P. Van Parijs & al. What's Wrong with a Free Lunch?, Boston: Beacon Press, 2001.
Barry, Brian. 2005. Why Does Social Justice Matter?, New York: Wiley.

8. Peter Townsend dies

Long-time BIG supporter, Peter Townsend died in June 7, 2009 at age 81. He was a sociologist, a professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, an emeritus professor at the University of Bristol, and joint founder of the Child Poverty Action Group.

According to Tom Clark, of The Guardian Newspaper, Townsend “became a public figure in the 1960s when, together with Brian Abel-Smith, he ‘rediscovered’ British poverty, a problem then often complacently discussed in the past tense …. Despite its huge significance, however, this work was merely one aspect of a career of many parts, mixing politics and advocacy with an extraordinary range of research. Townsend railed against the narrowness of modern academic life, covering everything from children's rights to nursing homes, at some times soaring to adopt a global perspective, at others diving to analyse, for instance, the social effects of shopping centres in Manchester. But a single thread tied the strands of his work together - concern about inequality.” According to Clark, Townsend’s “work has informed almost all academic research on poverty since.”

Townsend was a supporter of BIG as it changed names and went in-and-out of favor over the years. He spoke at the 2008 BIEN Congress in Dublin.

Articles about Peter Townsend’s life are online at:

9. Gerald A. Cohen dies

Gerald A. “Jerry” Cohen, one of the leading political philosophers of his generation, died this month of an apparent stroke. Although Cohen wrote only a small amount on the topic of basic income, he influenced the debate in two ways. First, his books, such as Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality, stop short of arguing for an unconditional basic income, but make a strong case linking access to resources to personal freedom which others have used to support basic income.

Second, he was a colleague of Robert van der Veen and Philippe Van Parijs when they proposed basic income in 1986. Cohen was skeptical about the idea, but he was willing to discuss it regularly at meetings of the September Group—a yearly informal gathering of egalitarian philosophers. One reason basic income has become such a widely discussed topic in philosophy is that Cohen saw their justification for it as a topic worthy of serious scrutiny.


Obituaries are extremely difficult to write—especially in a small field in which I know so many of the people involved. Brian Barry, Peter Townsend, and Jerry Cohen were all people I knew, and all people whose work I had respected, and Jerry was also a personal mentor.

He was loved and respected by his students and colleagues. He was an egalitarian philosopher who lived egalitarianism in his personal life. He died suddenly and unexpectedly at age 68, only a little more than a year after retiring from his position as the Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at All Soul’s College, Oxford University.

In 2008, a year before his death, more than one hundred people gathered in Oxford for Cohen’s retirement conference. He said at that time that he was ready for retirement. He had completed his major works; he would perhaps put out a few manuscripts that had been lying unpublished, but no more than that. A year later, about six weeks before his death, I had lunch with Jerry. He was in good health and good form. Despite what he said at his farewell conference, he was working on a new idea that he thought might turn into a new book. He knew that he had made his mark, but he was never out of ideas.
-Karl Widerquist, in flight over the Atlantic, August 6, 2009


10. Groups in several countries take action to promote BIG

52,000 German Citizens sign a Petition for BIG

More than 52,000 German citizens signed an online petition to the German Federal parliament (Deutscher Bundestag) for the introduction of a basic income. The petition was initiated by Susanne Wiest, who wasn’t politically active in any organisation lobbying for a basic income. The petition demands the introduction of an unconditional basic income in Germany. In a statement introducing the petition, Susanne Wiest argues for a basic income of about 1500 Euro for all adults and 1000 Euro for each child. The basic income should be financed by consumption taxes only. Given the fact that the petition received widespread support, the Petition Committee of the German Bundestag is now required to discuss the petition. The committee has the option to convene a hearing or to make recommendations as to whether the Bundestag should take action on the matter. Several prominent basic income supporters, such as Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn (member of parliament for the Green Party), Goetz Werner (entrepreneur) and Katja Kipping (member of parliament for the Left Party) and several organizations, such as the Netzwerk Grundeinkommen and Attac Germany reacted to the petition.

Link to the petition:;sa=details;petition=1422
Links to reactions to the petition:
-From BIEN

“Everyone a King” Demonstration for Basic Income in Switzerland

In 1995, Belgian social scientist Walter Van Trier published a PhD thesis on basic income entitled "Everyone a King." On May 1st, 2009, Swiss basic income supporters held a street demonstration echoing this famous title. In a lighthearted piece of street-theater, demonstrators used toy crowns to crown the heads of hundreds of passersby in Lorrach near Basel, Switzerland. The demonstrators asked the passersby what they would do if they had an unconditional guaranteed income for life.

The English version of the video is online at:
For further information:


Italians call for an EU-wide guaranteed income

According to the BIEN Newsflash, the Basic Income Network (BIN) Italia, BIEN’s Italian affiliate, and ten other Italian associations have launched a call for a guaranteed income in Europe on the occasion of the elections of the European Parliament (June 2009). Their main goal was to foster the discussion about basic income in Europe, but they mainly focused their action on the Italian candidates, asking them to promote a debate on basic income within the EU institutions.
The call is online at:

BIG debated in Spain

BIEN reports: Red Renta Básica, the Spanish affiliate of BIEN, has issued a manifesto entitled “A Basic Income in the Current Situation of Economic Crisis.” The manifesto has quickly spread into all Spanish-speaking countries and has been translated into many other languages. The manifesto states the essential features of Basic Income and underlines their importance in an economic crisis context, where poverty and social exclusion increase and traditional measures fail to give a comprehensive and effective response to old yet hard-hitting social problems. The English version of the manifesto is online at:;

Daniel Raventós, President of Red Renta Básica, has published an article in Spanish massive circulation newspaper El País on “A Minimum to Survive in Times of Crisis” ( Daniel Raventós and Rubén Lo Vuolo, President of BIEN’s Argentinean affiliate (Red Argentina de Ingreso Ciudadano - Redaic) have written a joint piece on “Basic Income in Times of Grave Economic Crisis” that can be found at

In parallel with the manifesto and articles, on April 28, 2009, a debate on Basic Income took place in a plenary session of the Spanish Parliament, which decided to create a Parliament sub-commission to study and evaluate the political justification and, especially, the feasibility of basic income in Spain. This has been the result of the efforts of a set of coalitions of left-wing parties, who have supported Basic Income for many years. Although the Socialist Party does not endorse Basic Income in full, it believes that such a measure has important things to offer and hopes to use the Sub-Commission as a space to clarify some relevant aspects of this proposal. Finally, right-wing parties oppose Basic Income but support the creation of the Sub-Commission, which they see as an opportunity to promote other measures. The full transcription of the session at Parliament can be found in pages 1-7 of the PDF file at


11. Other BIG News from around the World

Libyan leader Moamar Gaddafi calls for Alaska-style oil-dividend

According to, Libyan President Moamar Gaddafi recently called for the country to distribute nearly all of Libya’s 32 billion dollars annual oil revenue in a cash dividend to the country’s 5 million citizens. That comes to an annual dividend of more than $6,000 per person—or $24,000 for a family of four. In a country with a per capita GDP of less than $14,000, a $6,000 basic income is extremely significant. If introduced, it would be the first full basic income in the world. That is, the first basic income large enough that a person could live on it if necessary. However, also notes that this is not the first time Gaddafi has made radical proposals about distributing oil wealth directly to the people. Gaddafi has been the Libyan dictator for more than 30 years; it would seem that he could introduce the policy if he chooses. Whether he will turn his words into action remains to be seen.

An article about Gaddafi’s speech is online at:

Iranian Presidential Candidate supports oil dividend

Reformist Mehdi Karroubi, aged 72, was speaker of the Iranian parliament from 1989 to 1992. He was a candidate for the General election of June 12th, 2009. According to the BBC, during an electoral debate on television M. Karroubi strongly criticized President Ahmadinejad’s economic policy and said that, if elected, “he would distribute Iran's profits from oil production to everyone over the age of 18.”
-From BIEN

German Green Party backs basic income for children

According to BIEN, at the May 2009 congress of the German Green Party (May 2009), the delegates voted on the manifesto for the upcoming federal elections. They voted for the introduction of a new child benefit which would replace the existing transfer schemes to families. The new unconditional child benefit will be sufficient for the child to live on and subject to income taxation. The delegates also approved the introduction of a guaranteed minimum level in the pension insurance for all citizens and a new system of financial support for students incorporating a basic income. In the same vein, several associations, such as the Arbeiterwohlfahrt, the Trade union of teachers and employees in the educational sector (GEW) and pro familia, have united to lobby for the introduction of a new benefit for children, called Kindergrundsicherung. It would amount to 500 Euro for each child up to the age of 27 and would be counted as income and subject to income tax.

A synopsis of the Green party resolutions which are relevant from a basic income perspective:
See also:

Conservative Canadian Columnist Endorses BIG

BIEN-Canada Reports: Father Raymond J. de Souza is a conservative columnist in the right-leaning National Post. On 21 May 2009, he wrote on piece called “A ticket out of poverty” in which he endorsed guaranteed income. An excerpt:

“Why not turn to an old idea whose time may have now come? Hugh Segal, our local Senator here in Kingston, Ontario, made his case for a negative income tax -- or guaranteed annual income -- a few weeks ago when giving the annual public policy lecture at Queen's University's School of Policy Studies. The negative income tax (NIT) is a rather simple social policy concept: There is an income floor, set somewhere above the poverty line, and if your income for whatever reason fails to reach it, the government sends you a cheque to bring you up to that level. If you earn above that amount, then you pay taxes on the progressive scale as per usual.”

The full article can be read at:


12. Recent Publications

RIZZO, Tino (2009), “The End of Jobs,”, July 18, 2009 has an article by Tino Rozzo, entitled “The End of Jobs” online. The article argues for a basic income on the grounds that machines are replacing labor on a massive scale. You can find it at:

TERWITTE, Johannes (2009), Should proponents of basic income advocate basic income social experiments in Germany?, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin: MPP Thesis, May 2009 (Advisor: Claus Offe). Author's address:
The author argues that basic income social experiments (a specific type of pilot project) are a very useful tool for meeting a number of strategic challenges currently confronting basic income (BI) supporters. Firstly, such experiments are the best available method for starting to address the fundamental lack of knowledge which currently exists regarding the consequences of a BI introduction. Secondly, social experiments are useful because they help to overcome the discursive impasse which is partly a result of the current lack of knowledge. They could help to move the currently stuck debate and – most importantly – show great promise for shifting the burden of proof back to the defenders of the status quo. Lastly, the author finds ethical objections to BI social experiments to be insubstantial and ascertains the feasibility of BI social experiments in the German context.
Available online at:
-From BIEN

VAN DONSELAAR, Gijs (2009), The Right to Exploit. Parasitism, Scarcity, and Basic Income, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Hardback, 208 pages
In 1895 an English farmer diverted the course of a stream that was flowing through his land, thereby cutting off the supply to the water reservoir of the neighboring community. The courts established that it had been his purpose to "injure the plaintiffs by carrying off the water and to compel them to buy him off." Regardless of what the law says, most people will feel that the farmer's intentions were morally unjust; he was trying to abuse his property rights in order to take advantage of others. Yet, as Gijs van Donselaar explains, the major traditions in the theory of economic justice, both from the libertarian right and from the egalitarian left, have failed to appreciate the moral objection to exploitative behavior that this case displays. Those traditions entertain radically opposed views on how private property should be distributed, but they do not consider the legitimacy of constraints on the exercise of property rights - however they are distributed. The book demonstrates how this failure clears the way for a recent egalitarian argument, gaining in popularity, for a so-called unconditional basic income. If all have an initial right to an equal share of the resources of the world, then it soon seems to follow that all have a right to an equal share of the value of the resources of the world, which could be cashed in as a labor-free income. That inference, the author argues, is only valid if moral behavior similar to that of the farmer is tolerated. Van Donselaar argues that, ultimately, a confusion about the nature and value of freedom of choice is responsible for the odd conception of private rights in resources that would justify exploitation. Gijs Van Donselaar is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

THE CITIZEN’S INCOME TRUST: The Citizen’s Income Newsletter
Issue 3, 2009, The Citizen’s Income Trust
The Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT) Newsletter has released it its third issue for 2009. Articles in this issue include:

“A report on a seminar series coordinated by the Citizen's Income Trust”
By Jurgen De Wispelaere and Anne G. Miller
The report includes summaries of presentations made by four speakers who discussed basic income at universities around the United Kingdom. Prof. Bill Jordan, University of Plymouth, presented 'Citizen's Income and the Crash: Credit, Debt and the Citizen's Income', on 4th March 2009 at the University of York. Dr. Louise Haagh, of the University of York, presented 'Citizen's Income, Varieties of Capitalism and Occupational Freedom' on 10th March 2009 at the University of Nottingham. Dr. Stuart White, of the University of Oxford, presented 'Basic Income versus Basic Capital: Can We Resolve the Disagreement?' on 20th March 2009 at Queen's University Belfast.

“Main article: Minimum Income Standards: A Challenge for Citizen's Income”
Anne G. Miller
Abstract: The objective in this paper is to design a Citizen's Income (CI) scheme where the primary purpose is to prevent poverty, based on the benchmarks provided by the Minimum Income Standards. It is expected to result in a large measure of redistribution. It also provides a novel 'Quick Calculator Table' for estimating a ball-park figure for the personal income tax rate that would be required to finance a given CI scheme, if it were financed from a hypothecated personal income tax system, in which all personal incomes from all sources were taxed at the same tax rate, and there were no personal allowances, tax reliefs, exemptions, or other tax expenditures.

The CIT Newsletter also includes news and book reviews. It is online at:

13. Upcoming Events

BIEN Canada Colloquium, Ottawa October 1-2, 2009

BIEN-Canada (the Canadian Affiliate of the Basic Income Earth Network) will hold a colloquium entitled, “Income Security for All Canadians: A Workshop to Explore the Potential for a Guaranteed Income Framework for Canada” at the Dominion Chalmers United Church 355 Cooper Street, Ottawa, Ontario. Featured Speakers confirmed so far include Senator Hugh Segal, Senate of Canada; Jurgen De Wispelaere, Editor, Basic Income Studies; Sheila Regehr, National Council of Welfare; Rob Rainer, Canada Without Poverty; Mike McCracken, Infometrica; Pat Evans, School of Social Work, Carleton University; Chandra Pasma, Citizens for Public Justice; and Jim Mulvale, University of Regina
For more information, contact:

14. Recent Events

Basic Income Workshop at the Canadian Social Forum

BIEN Canada organized a workshop at the Canadian Social Forum held in Calgary, Alberta on 19 - 22 May 2009. The workshop was entitled “Guaranteed Income: A Path to Economic Security?” It was moderated by Mike McCracken of Informetrica, and featured a presentation by Chandra Pasma of Citizens for Public Justice and Jim Mulvale of the University of Regina. Various models, approaches and examples of basic/guaranteed income were presented in some detail, and led to lively and thoughtful discussion.

The BIEN Canada session attracted over 40 people (filling the room to capacity) despite the fact that is was scheduled in the same time slot as a dozen other workshops. The audience included a Member of Parliament, a Senator, and leaders from the social policy community in Canada. The discussion that followed the presentation was thoughtful and lively. The following day, at the concluding plenary session of the Forum, Senator Hugh Segal made a strong case - as he did at the 2008 BIEN Congress in Dublin - for a negative income tax version of guaranteed income for Canada.

For more information or to receive a copy of the PowerPoint slides from the Workshop, contact

The Citizen’s Income Sessions at the SPA Conference, Edinburgh, June 29-July 1, 2009

The Citizen’s Income Trust—BIEN’s affiliate in the United Kingdom—organized several sessions on basic income at the Social Policy Association’s 43rd annual Conference at the University of Edinburgh June 29 – July 1, 2009. The conference included the following presentations:

Jurgen De Wispelaere, “Basic Income: Reconsidering the Administrative Factor”
Anne G. Miller, “A taxonomy for the design of personal income tax and benefit systems”
Karl Widerquist, “What Does Prehistoric Anthropology Have to Do With Modern Political Theory?”
Bill Jordan, “Citizen’s income and the crash: credit, debt and the citizen’s income”
Guy Standing, “Stabilisation grants: averting recessions equitably and efficiently”
Joel Handler, “The rise and spread of workfare, activation, devolution and privatization, and the changing status of citizenship”
Maria Iacovou, “Citizen’s income: relaxing the assumptions”

For more information: or contact the organizer Anne G. Miller <>.

Symposium on basic income Herzogenrath, Germany May 16-17, 2009

BIEN reports: The main goals of this symposium were to foster the cooperation of European basic income supporters, to establish a Europe-wide basic income debate, and to identify strategies to put basic income on the political agenda. The conference provided a stimulating weekend of dialogue and mutual learning. The symposium was the last part of a series of EU-funded events, which had started with the week of Basic Income in September 2008 and the 3rd Basic Income Congress in Berlin in October 2008. About 40 invited participants (social scientists, Members of the European Parliament, activists, members of social associations and the church) from seven European countries discussed the overarching theme of how to bring "Basic Income on its way to Europe." All of the participants agreed on the importance of true European exchange on basic income and the need to create reliable structures of mutual learning about strategies, obstacles and organizational terms. Another topic discussed was the importance of European institutions: the diversity of Europe in terms of social security systems and the limited power of the EU in the field of social policy left quite a few queries if there could be a common European strategy of Basic Income supporters. In spite of this diversity and the obstacles it leads to, the symposium ended with a resolution to the European commission.
Conference website:

Conference on the dignity of the elderly, Prague, Czech Republic, May 25-26, 2009

This conference was organized within the framework of the Czech Presidency of the European Union, with the support of the European Commission. Yannick Vanderborght (BIEN and Louvain University, Belgium) was invited to give a talk on "The idea of a general income" during the opening plenary session. His presentation was focused on how basic income debates can inform discussions about the future of public pension plans, especially through the implementation of basic pension schemes.
For further information:

Basic Income: Approaches, Experiments and Developments around the World, Santiago, Chile, July 12-16, 2009

A panel on Basic Income entitled “Basic Income – Approaches, Experiments and Developments around the World” was held at the 21st Congress of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) in Santiago, Chile on July 12-16, 2009. Participants included Carole Pateman (UCLA), Matthew Murray (Cardiff University), David Casassas (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona), and Louise Haagh (University of York). This panel discussed some of the ways in which Basic Income can be a method of empowering citizens socially, politically and economically around the world. This panel also explored Basic Income as a device for realizing equality within states and how these aims affect schemes of institutionalization. The panel raised issues for the institutionalization of Basic Income given differences between citizens in abilities and initial social standing.
For further information:

15. New Links

DEFINE.COM has created a page with an extensive article on BIG. is a website that discusses potential solutions to social problems. It is maintained by Ken Meyering <>. The BIG article can be found at:

Crooked Timber has a new blog discussing the Namibian Basic Income Experiment

Crooked Timber is a widely-read political and academic blog with posts written mostly by academics. It was rated by the Guardian Newspaper (UK) as number 33 on a list of the world’s 50 most important blogs. Ingrid Robeyns is a professor in Practical Philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam and a regular contributor to Crooked Timber. Her most recent article (June 2, 2009), entitled “The Basic Income Grant Experiment in Namibia,” is a well-informed discussion of the Namibian experiment to date. It has received 27 comments from readers so far. You can find it online at:

French Universal Dividend

Maurice Druon, an important figure in France's political and cultural circles, died on April 14, 2009. In her tribute to Druon, French Minister Christine Boutin stressed the fact that he had been a faithful advocate of basic income in recent years.
-From BIEN

New Zealand's welfare mess

According to Susan St. John, “A comprehensive review of the welfare state in New Zealand for the 21st century social and economic conditions is well overdue. Longer term reform may also involve the use of basic income ideas such as provided by refundable tax credits".
-From BIEN

Belgian tribute to Thomas Paine

Dirk Verhofstadt is a prominent and influential member of the Belgian liberal think-tank "", and the brother of the former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. On June 8th, 2009, he gave a lecture on Thomas Paine in the "Liberal Archives" in Ghent. The fact that Paine was in favour of a basic income was mentioned, and is also stressed in a recent column by Verhofstadt:
-From BIEN

Short essay on basic income

A short essay by Andrew Usher, online at
-From BIEN

16. New members

Three new members have joined the USBIG Network in the last three months. The USBIG Network now has 182 members from 32 U.S. states and 25 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; 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; 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; Bill McCormick, Grand Junction, CO; Rashida Ali-Campbell, Yeadon, PA; Lenny Krosinsky, Albuquerque, NM; Rachel Crutcher, Allen, TX; Julie Hendrix, Little Rock, AR; Annie Miller, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; Michael Howard, Orono, ME; Rae Amey, Los Angeles, CA; Colleen Chrisinger, Seattle, WA; Simon Peter Schooneveldt, Ashgrove, Australia; John Tomlinson, Deagon, Australia; George Misa, Auckland, New Zealand; Przemyslaw (Peter) Damian Maniecki, Longmont, CO; Michael Gene Frazier, Morehead, KY; Nathan W. Cravens, Woodbury, TN; Mark Gillespie, Kent, WA; Matthew C. Murray, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom; Alan Holmes, Buffalo, NY; John Jesse Heichert III, Elizabeth City, NC; Nato Welch, Victoria, British Columbia; Eron Lloyd, Reading, PA; Edward Miller, Mokena, IL Herbert Wilkens, Berlin, Germany; Jain Varinder, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India; Isis Leslie, Lubbock, TX; Garda Ghista, Highland Heights, KY; Chuck Augello, Randolph, NJ; Kathi Weeks, Durham, NC; Gabrio Rossi, Muenchen, Germany; Sugeng Bahagijo, London, United Kingdom; Bo Bao, Plano, TX; Brittney Bernice Johns, Camden, NJ; Murray Reeves, Stittsville, Ontario, Canada; Cynthia DiGeso, Roxbury, MA; David G. Lagerman, Plymouth, WI; Reimunch Achker, Puchheim, Germany; Frank Brennan, Bixby, Oklahoma; Robert C. Gumbs, New York, NY; Julia Willebrand, New York, NY; Edward T. Kennedy Minersville, PA; Alexander Link; Franfurt, Germany; Tony Garcia, Santa Cruz, CA; Carl R. Johnson, Kearney, MO; William Loughborough, Goldendale, WA; Lew Daly, New York, NY; Noah Zatz, Los Angeles, CA; Bruna Augusto Pereira, Vila De Paranapiacaba, Santo Andre, Brazil; Marcus Vinicius Brancaglione Dos Santos, Vila De Paranapiacaba, Santo Andre, Brazil; Steven Kovar, Berlin, Germany; Jakob Pavlovic, Borovnica, Slovenia; Joseph Buittice, Bessemer, MI; Gary D. Weir, Willis, MI; William C. Taylor, Sr., Rancho Cordova, CA.

17. 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
Copyeditor: Mike Murray
Research: Paul Nollen; and Yannick Vanderborght of the BIEN NewsFlash
Special help on this issue was provided by Jeff Smith, Jurgen de Wispeleare, Guy Standing, and Ben Saunders.

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, editor

Visiting Associate Professor of Philosophy
Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar
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