USBIG NEWSLETTER Vol. 10, No. 54 Fall 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. Call for Papers: USBIG/BIEN Canada
2. Call for Papers: Thirteenth International Congress of BIEN
3. Editorial: Small Victories
4. Mongolia Expected to Introduce the First National Basic Income in the World
5. Alaska Permanent Fund Distributes a BIG of $1305
6. Other BIG News from around the World
7. Upcoming events
8. Recent Events
9. Recent Publications
10. New Members
11. New Links
12. Links and Other Info

1. CALL FOR PAPERS: Joint Conference of the USBIG Network and BIEN Canada

Basic Income at a Time of Economic Upheaval: A Path to Justice and Stability?
A joint conference of the USBIG Network and BIEN Canada
Hosted by Centre de recherche en ethique de l’Universite de Montreal (CREUM)
University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Thursday & Friday, April 15-16, 2010

This two-day event will be the first joint conference of the two North American affiliates of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN)—the US Basic Income Guarantee network (USBIG) and BIEN Canada.

Prof. Guy Standing, of University of Bath, and Louise Haagh, of the University of York (UK), will give keynote addresses. Standing is a leading expert on basic income, economic development and the labor market. His presentation will be based on his new book, Work after Globalisation: Building Occupational Citizenship. Haagh is a world poverty, labour studies and social policy specialist working in the field of comparative labour market institutions, welfare regimes and the political economy of development.

The conference will also include a special roundtable with political experts and policy activists, including Senator Hugh Segal (Canada), Senator Art Eggleton (Canada), Sheila Regehr, Al Sheahen and Rob Rainer. A closing statement on the conference will be delivered by Senator Eduardo Suplicy (Brazil).

The conference will examine whether instituting an unconditional Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) as an economic floor, aimed at preventing those affected by the current economic upheavals from falling below what any modern democracy would consider a decent standard of living, constitutes a desirable and feasible option in Canada or the United States. The conference aims to compare the prospects and challenges faced by the BIG proposal in the context of both Canada and the US, two countries that share many similarities and yet are profoundly different in terms of their economic, social and political background.

The organizers invite panel presentations from academic scholars, practitioners and policy activists on a wide variety of topics dealing with the challenges of designing, promoting or instituting a BIG in the current economic climate in Canada or the US. Priority will be given to papers that explicitly discuss BIG in the context of either Canada or the US, or that compare the distinct prospects in both countries.

The Centre de recherche en ethique de l’Universite de Montreal (CREUM—The Center for Research in Ethics at the University of Montreal) will host the conference. The main language of the conference is English, but the organizers will try to accommodate French speakers as much as possible.

To submit a proposal, email a title and short abstract to by Friday 15 January.

The official call for papers and further information are posted on the BIGMontreal website at, which can also be reached by link for the USBIG website (

Admission is free. Everyone is welcome to attend, but pre-registration is required. Details about registration and other aspects of the conference will be announced on the conference website. If you have any additional questions, please contact the conference organizer: Jurgen De Wispelaere at

2. CALL FOR PAPERS: 13th BIEN Congress, Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 30 – July 2, 2010

The 13th International Congress of the Basic Income Earth Network: Basic Income – an Instrument for Justice and Peace will take place at the Universidade de Sao Paulo, in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 30, July 1-2, 2010. The Congress will explore the basic income option from the standpoint of its contribution to social justice and peace. This includes basic income as a means of reducing inequality and poverty, guaranteeing economic security in an increasingly insecure world and addressing citizenship rights directly.

Prospective paper authors are welcome to examine these issues from various standpoints – conceptual, philosophical, theoretical, empirical, political – taking into account local, global or comparative perspectives. The organizers invite paper and panel proposals on topics such as:
•    BI and the global financial crisis: challenges to and opportunities
•    Feasibility and financing issues at the local, national, regional, and global level (including political economy of financing, concrete experiments, and alternative revenue sources)
•    BI in comparative focus (Employment Guarantees, Stakeholding, Earned Income Tax Credit, Revenue Minimum d’Insertion, Bolsa Família, FTC, Solidariedad, Oportunidad. etc.)
•    BI and work (ethical, political, & empirical issues of the formal & informal labor markets)
•    BI and informal communities (migrant and immigrant communities, shanty towns, slums, “quilombos”, and rural villages)
•    Urban or rural issues and BI (violence, economic security, etc.)
•    BI and welfare (care, family policies, pensions, social services and the transition from conditional to universal programs)
•    BI and the contemporary discussions on development
•    BI: Left or right politics?
•    BI and democracy and justice (political, social, economic, and international issues)
•    BI as emancipation policy: breaking racial or ethnic prejudices and transforming gender relations?
•    BI and culture
•    BI in particular countries and regions, and regional integration

Scholars and practitioners are invited to propose panels and individual paper presentations for the Congress; different perspectives are welcome. Civil society organizations are encouraged to participate. Proposals for papers (by individuals or as part of a panel) should include the following information:
1.    Name
2.    Affiliation (if applicable) including job title and organization
3.    Address
4.    Telephone number (including international access code)
5.    Email address
6.    Title of the presentation/contribution
7.    Selected topic (either one of those listed above or the topic proposed for the respective panel)
8.    Abstract (summary of 800 to 1000 words)

Proposals should be emailed to

Panel proposals must provide all of the above information for each paper, plus a definite title for the panel, and a brief formulation of questions to be discussed (300-500 words). Papers may be written in any language but the abstract must be submitted in English. The working language of the Congress will be English. The keynote sessions will be in English or Portuguese with simultaneous translation.

The deadline for submission of papers and panel proposals is February 25th 2010. Acceptance of proposals will be communicated by March 25th, 2010 at the latest. This confirmation of acceptance will be provided earlier to those who submit proposals earlier. Details concerning registration, accommodation, etc. will be available at the Congress website, which can be accessed through the BIEN website:

3. EDITORIAL: Small Victories

The political barriers between the current situation in the United States and the implementation of a full basic income are daunting. On an international basis, the outlook is much brighter. As far as I can tell, there are more basic income projects underway or under discussion worldwide now than ever before. There are small, privately funded pilot projects going on in Namibia and Brazil. Thirty basic income supporters were elected to the German Bundestag in recent elections. The Nigerian government is considering a regional basic income in the Niger Delta area. The Mongolian government has recently pledged to introduce the world’s first national basic income. (See stories below.)

Just last week, October 29, 2009, I had the honor to be present when the city council of Santo Antonio do Pinhal, Brazil (a city of about 7,000 people in the State of Sao Paulo) voted unanimously to create a small basic income from local tourist revenue. What will come of this small, locally based income remains to be seen. But remember that the Alaska oil dividend was inspired by a local basic income introduced in a small town. And the Alaska dividend may prove to be an inspiration for similar programs in places as far away as Mongolia and Nigeria.
So, progress is happening worldwide. In America, however, it is important to focus on small victories. Politics is full of opportunities to change minds toward the ways of thinking that support basic income.

Two of the most compelling reasons to support basic income are the belief that people have an equal right to the world’s resources and the belief that everyone should have the right to meet their needs. Any policy that helps establish these norms moves us (however gradually) in the direction of basic income.

People don’t discover oil every day, but some kind of new government giveaway of natural resources does happen just about every day. Every new mine, well, or beach front hotel is an opportunity to establish the norm that people have a shared right to natural resources, and that they should be compensated if private firms want to privatize it.

Two years ago we missed an opportunity when the U.S. government gave away a substantial portion of the broadcast spectrum to a few corporations at no charge; and then allowed those companies to sell it back to us. But the issue isn’t settled. A recent study by the Consumer Electronics Association found that reallocating broadcast spectrum could yield cost savings of more than 1 trillion dollars. If and when that reallocation happens, we have the opportunity to press for auctioning off that spectrum and sharing the proceeds.

Several BIG-related campaigns are under way right now. The refundable child tax credit was won a few years ago. It is essentially a very small basic income for children, but only a portion of the federal government’s child tax credits are refundable. Several groups are pushing for a larger refundable credit. The cap-and-dividend approach to greenhouse gas reduction would establish a small basic income out of taxes designed to discourage the behavior that causes global warming ( Cap-and-Dividend is a live issue on Capitol Hill, and several Members of Congress have signed on.

Probably the biggest issue in U.S. politics right now is healthcare reform. The current debate is largely a debate over whether there should be a universal right of access to healthcare. Almost every other country has established that right in law, and the United States might finally join them this year. The versions of healthcare reform on the table right now are not as close to true universality as the healthcare systems exist in most other countries, but they clearly help to establish the norm that healthcare ought to be universal.

Once norms like this are established in law, they tend to become more popular. Although the creation of national health was controversial in many countries, I don’t believe that there is any country in the world that has the universal right to healthcare in which a majority of people would like to go back to a system in which some have health insurance and some don’t. Public education is far from equal, but few people today want to deny a basic education to the children of the poor as most countries did a hundred years ago.

Establishing a universal right to healthcare is not the same as establishing the norm that all people should have an unconditional right to other necessities, but it certainly brings us closer to that objective. The fight for universal healthcare is our fight.

-Karl Widerquist, editor
Begun in Santo Antonio do Pinhal, Brazil, October 29, 2009
Completed in Doha, Qatar, November 4, 2009


The Mongolian government has taken the initial steps to create a basic income in the form of an Alaskan-style resource dividend. That would make it only the second regular basic income in the world and the first on a national level. This action has received very little attention in the international media, probably because Mongolia is a small and isolated country. However, the resource dividend has the potential to become extremely significant for Mongolians.

Bloomberg News reports that the Mongolian government has pledged to set up a “sovereign wealth fund” using mining royalties from new gold and copper mines, which are expected to begin generating large tax revenues within the next three to five years. The fund is expected to distribute part of its revenue as an annual income to every Mongolian.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Mongolian Finance Minister Sangajav Bayartsogt, said that the government studied examples like the Alaska Permanent Fund when drafting the proposal.
Although the government has not yet published estimates of how large the annual income might turn out to be, this program could eventually make a large impact on Mongolians, because Mongolia is a small, poor country with a large amount of newly discovered resource wealth. During the elections this year, both parties discussed distributing as much as $1000US to each citizen. Although the government might not follow through with such a large grant, the size of the new mines brings this size of a dividend into the realm of possibility.

A $1000 dividend might not seem terribly significant in comparison to the Alaska dividend, which will be $1305 this year and reached a high of $3269 last year. But the potential impact of the dividend has to be looked at in relation to how wealthy the citizens already are. According to Bloomberg, per capita income in Mongolia is only $1,680US. According to the Bureau of Business & Economic Research, per capita income in Alaska is $44,039US. That means, the average Alaskan is twenty-six times wealthier (at current exchange rates) than the average Mongolian. A dividend of only $50 per year would have the same relative impact on the average Mongolian’s budget as Alaska’s $1300 dividend has on the average Alaskan’s budget. The impact of a dividend of $500 or $1000 could be astounding, but we should be cautious about expecting anything like this in the short run.

Even if the size of the dividend is uncertain, Eugene Tang of Bloomberg argues that there will be some dividend. The fund has been created, and the government has talked so much about distributing a dividend out of the fund that they can no longer afford the political cost of going back on their pledge to introduce it at some level.

Whatever happens, basic income supporters will probably want to keep an eye on developments in Mongolia.

For more information, see “Mongolia Fund to Manage $30 Billion Mining Jackpot,” by Bloomberg News, online at:
The Bloomberg reporter is: Eugene Tang <>


The Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) began distributing this year’s APF dividend on October 8. This year’s amount, $1305, is considerably less than last year’s bolstered dividend of $3200, but it is still a healthy size, thanks in part to the recovery of the stock market in the last six months.

According to SIT News, 628,499 Alaskans will receive the dividend this year.
The fund from which dividends are drawn has recovered to more than 33 billion dollars, after sinking to a low of 28 billion dollars earlier this year. This amount is quite a bit less than the $40 billion high the fund reached last year, but it is a healthy amount when looked at in the perspective of the entire history of the fund.

Despite the comeback of the fund’s investments, and despite a movement to a slightly more conservative investment strategy earlier this year, Alaskan lawmakers continue to question whether the investment strategy is conservative enough.

For stories on the permanent fund go to:
“Legislators skeptical of 'leading edge' model for asset allocation” by Pat Forgey of the Juneau Empire:
For an article on how Alaskans will spend their dividends. See: “Annual dividend for Alaskans will be $1,305” Cordova Times:
“2009 Permanent Fund Dividend is $1,305.00,”
“State prepares to distribute dividend checks,: by Pat Forgey of the Juneau Empire:
“Increase in PFD recipients has officials guessing why,” by Elizabeth Bluemink for the Alaska Daily News:

6. OTHER BIG NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD NIGERIA: Federal government considers a regional oil dividend

Several sources are reporting that the Nigeria federal government is planning to introduce a local basic income in the Niger Delta region. The plan is supposed to distribute 10% of the country’s oil revenue to the people of that region. The plan is at least partly a response to militant attacks on oil installations. Emmanuel Egbogah, the president’s special adviser on oil, told the Financial Times, “every citizen will say: ‘I own a part of this business.’” However, the BBC reports that the plan is likely to receive opposition from other regions, which will receive a smaller share of the benefits of the oil revenue if 10% of it goes to individuals in the Niger Delta region.

For more information see:
“Nigeria 'to give 10% of oil cash'” on BBC News (Oct 19):
“Nigeria Offers ‘Revolutionary’ Oil Deal to Niger Delta Region” on Chariman King:
“Nigeria offers ‘revolutionary’ delta deal,” by Tom Burgis:

SOUTH AFRICA: Basic income unlikely in KwaZulu-Natal
The Sowetan reports that a group called the South African Unemployed People’s Movement was threatening to “wreak havoc” unless the Province of KawZulu-Natal started distributing a BIG of 1500 Rand. However, according to South Africa’s Mail & Guardian (July 23, 2009), the Prime Minister of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, M. Zweli Mkhize, shrugged off suggestions of introducing a basic income grant, saying this would bankrupt government as it did not have available funds. "It is not affordable, it is not something that we are considering implementing as it would bankrupt government," he told the media.

See: “Give us a basic grant of R1500 or we’ll wreak havoc,”

CANADA: Christian organization calls for a basic income for all
Each year, the Canadian House of Commons Finance Committee asks Canadians to share their priorities and concerns for the federal budget. This year, the Christian organization Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) responded “by reflecting on the Biblical values of justice, love for neighbor and care for creation.” It argued that the Canadian economy should be “an economy of care.” In its submission entitled “Building an Economy of Care” (August 2009), CPJ argues in favor of a basic income for all Canadians: “Fairness is a fundamental Canadian value. Extreme income inequality means that some have all the wealth and opportunity, while others are barely subsisting. A Guaranteed Livable Income for all Canadians would ensure that all Canadians had enough income security to meet their basic needs, while offering the opportunity for a better life.”
-From BIEN

FRANCE: Capital grant for the youth discussed in official report
The idea of a “capital grant” is discussed in an official green paper entitled “Reconnaitre la valeur de la jeunesse” (“To acknowledge the importance of youth”), which was published by the office of the French Prime Minister on July 6, 2009. Currently, the French minimum income scheme is only paid to individuals who are more than 25 years old, hence the idea to launch a new program of financial support for young adults. Among the options available, the idea of giving a capital grant that could be used for various purposes is considered attractive, because it would ensure equal opportunities and autonomy. This universal cash grant could be complemented with a targeted scheme for the poorest.

The report (PDF) is available at:
See also :
-From BIEN

GERMANY: Campaign to vote for Basic Income at Federal elections
More than one hundred candidates for the Federal elections of September 27, 2009 supported the idea of a basic income. The German Netzwerk Grundeinkommen promoted these candidates in a number of constituencies with the slogan “Grundeinkommen ist wählbar” (You can vote for basic income).  Most of the candidates (59) belonged to the Green party “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen”, followed by 34 candidates with no party affiliation and 28 of the left wing party “Die Linke”. Among the candidates were Katja Kipping, who is the vice-chairwoman of the party “Die Linke,” and Susanne Wiest, who collected 50,000 signatures on a petition in favor of basic income submitted to the Bundestag in early 2009. She was standing in Vorpommern (the most Northern Land of former East Germany) and can be seen campaigning on She was not elected.

Thirty Basic Income-supporters got elected and are becoming members of the German Bundestag: 15 from the Greens, nine from the conservative party, five from "Die Linke" and one from the Social Democratic Party. None of the candidates with no party affiliation got elected. Among the elected candidates are the poverty researcher Dr. Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn of the Green party and the vice-chairwoman of the party “Die Linke” Katja Kipping. If the direct votes for all candidates are counted together 2,133,083 people voted for a basic income supporter in the German elections.

For further information:
-From BIEN

IRELAND: Late tribute to Maire Mullarney
On August 7, 2008, Irish activist Maire Mullarney died in Dublin, Ireland. A founding member of the Green Party, and a member of South Dublin County Council (1991-1999), she was also an early BIEN stalwart, and was involved in various campaigns in favor of basic income in Ireland and Europe. She wrote several papers on the topic, including one in Esperanto (1996).
-From BIEN
IRELAND: Social Justice Ireland
A new organization called Social Justice Ireland was launched on Monday September 7, 2009. Led by Sean Healy and Brigid Reynolds, Social Justice Ireland will take over the programs and projects run in recent decades by CORI (Council of the Religious of Ireland) Justice including its role in the Irish basic income discussion. The website ( will provide up-to-date material on the range of issues addressed previously on the CORI Justice website. You will find all the papers and related material from BIEN Congress 2008 on the new website. The work of CORI Justice has developed in recent years to involve many local groups and individuals throughout Ireland. The establishment of Social Justice Ireland is a logical step to reflect this broader involvement beyond the members of religious congregations. The new structure will reflect this development and will consolidate the work across the various categories of activity into the future.   

The new organization has the support of religious and lay people throughout Ireland. It describes itself as “working to build a just society where human rights are respected, human dignity is protected, human development is facilitated and the environment is respected and protected.” Membership of Social Justice Ireland is open to individuals (religious and lay) and to groups (organisations and congregations etc.) who support the basic thrust of the values and work that form the core of Social Justice Ireland.
For further information : Social Justice Ireland, Arena House, Arena Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland, Website:, Email:, Brigid Reynolds:, Sean Healy:
-From BIEN

EUROPEAN UNION: EAPN launches adequate minimum income campaign
On May 25, 2009, The European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) launched a website ( as part of the second stage of its Adequate Minimum Income Campaign. EAPN calls on all people who believe in providing everyone with the opportunity to live a dignified life to join the campaign by signing the appeal on the website.  According to Ludo Horemans, President of EAPN, “Minimum Income schemes are a lifeline for many people experiencing poverty, providing money for essentials and support to be active in society, as well as being essential tools to stabilize the economy and ensure a social response to the current economic crisis” As a key part of this campaign EAPN calls on the Member Sates and the EU Institutions to respect the commitment made in December 2008 Recommendation on Active Inclusion to recognize “the individual’s basic right to resources and social assistance sufficient to live a  life that is compatible with human dignity”.
-From BIEN

JAPAN: Small party puts basic income in its electoral platform
On August 30, 2009, general elections were held in Japan. According to Alex Martin from the Japan Times (August 8, 2009), the small New Party Nippon had included basic income in its campaign platform. It promised “several major policies, including the enactment of a monthly "basic income" allowance for all citizens”
Party’s website:
-From BIEN

SWITZERLAND: Basic income to be included in the Geneva Constitution?
On October 19, 2008, a Constituent Assembly was elected in the Geneva district (canton) of Switzerland. Its main task consists in discussing a new cantonal constitution, which is aimed at replacing the 1847 Constitution. According to the Newspaper Le Courrier (Geneva, July 29, 2009), BIEN Switzerland managed to collect 1,900 signatures for a petition in favor of the inclusion of the right to a basic income into the new constitution.
-From BIEN

NAMIBIA: Basic income pilot project discussed in major German magazine
On August 10, 2009, Der Spiegel, one of Germany major news magazines, published a long and favorable article on the Namibian basic income pilot project entitled “How a Basic Income Program Saved a Namibian Village”. “[I]t sounds like a communist utopia, but a basic income program pioneered by German aid workers has helped alleviate poverty in a Namibian village. Crime is down and children can finally attend school. Only the local white farmers are unhappy”, the author argues. The English version is online at:,1518,642310,00.html)

BIEN reports that the German television channel ZDF aired a special 9-minute documentary on the basic income pilot project in Otjivero-Omitara. You can watch the clip at: under: BIG money für alle or try the following direct link:
According to BIEN, the BIG pilot project also got good press coverage in the Stabroeknews, a newspaper from the Republic of Guyana. In its August 29, 2009 editorial, the Stabroeknews staff wrote the following: “What makes the Otjivero precedent so important is the very hopelessness of the village’s initial situation. In terms of developmental challenges, Otjivero is the New York of the developmental world. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. With a small tax increase, the government of Namibia could easily guarantee a monthly stipend for all its citizens, opening up a promising and almost completely new prospect for grassroots development, not just for Namibia but for every underdeveloped country in the world. While there are still, undeniably, very large problems which remain to be solved across the continent, the Otjivero project also offers a glimmer of hope that Africa’s future may not be irretrievably lost after all. ”

The BIG Coalition itself published a brief report on the project in The Namibian (August 7, 2009), focusing in particular on the situation of children. The authors conclude that “the pilot project in Otjivero-Omitara has proven the potential enormous positive developmental impact of a national BIG and the good news is that independent research has clearly shown that such a grant is affordable for Namibia.” See:

According to the New Era (Windhoek, August 19, 2009), Namibian trade union leaders under the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), threw their support behind the Basic Income Grant (BIG) concept in the framework of their Central Executive Committee. They resolved to “establish a high-level committee to initiate dialogue on BIG and related efforts with the Government and all social partners involved and relevant in this noble fight”.

The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) endorsed the Basic Income Grant at a recent Central Executive Committee. But the Prime Minister spoke against it during a meeting with the National Youth Council. These developments reflect the trend in both Namibia and South Africa in recent years. Ruling party governments have consistently opposed BIG, although it receives strong support from labor unions, churches, and the public.
If you would like to donate to the project, please contact Claudia & Dirk Haarmann <>.

NEW ZEALAND: Opposition Party Renews Endorsement of BIG
Democrats for Social Credit, a small party in New Zealand renewed their commitment to BIG at their party conference in September 2009. Point 6 of their 7 point plan to reform the financial system proposes to make debt free money available by a government run monetary authority, “in the form of a national dividend to every resident New Zealander.
For the party’s report on its conference, go to:

BRAZIL: Pilot Project completes its first year.
Last year, a small neighborhood of Mogi das Cruzes in the state of Sao Paulo became the first place in Brazil to implement a Basic Income of Citizenship (BIC). The project is the initiative of the two founders of a group called ReCivitas, Bruna Augusto Pereira and Marcus Vinicius Brancaglione dos Santos.

Brancaglione originally financed the project with his own money. Today, generous donations from individuals inside and outside of Brazil have enabled the project to expand considerable. It began with 27 recipients in October 2008. Today 65 residents receive BIC of R$30.00 (about $17.50US) per month. The size of the grant is small by U.S. standards, but it is significant in comparison to income of the recipients.

The BIC is distributed as an unconditional right; recipients do with it as they please. The six-month report on the project finds that the BIC has enabled recipients to consume better food, to discharge debt, to increase their savings, and to make use of transportation to search for employment.

Videos of meetings about the project are online at:
For more information, or instructions on how to donate, contact:


CALL FOR PAPERS: Basic Income Session at The Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) Conference
SSSP, an organization of applied sociologists/social scientists, will hold its annual conference in Atlanta in 2010. It will take place from August 13-15 and will be held at the Sheraton Hotel located at 165 Courtland Street NE, Atlanta, GA. One of the sessions is being organized by Michael A. Lewis of the Hunter College School of Social Work. The session is entitled "Contested Paths to Good Policy: Assets, Income, Jobs" and will focus on comparing and contrasting social policies intended to promote the right to work, the right to income, or asset development. Those interested in submitting an abstract should send it to by January 10, 2010.


NEW YORK CITY: Film, “The End of Poverty” by Cinema Libre
November 13, 2009, Village East Cinema, New York
A new documentary film, “The End of Poverty?,” produced by Cinema Libre and the Schalkenbach Foundation, premiered in New York on November 13 at the Village East Cinema. Narrated by Martin Sheen, this film is a documentary that asks why poverty still exists when there is so much wealth in the world. After premiering at the Cannes Film Festival last summer, the film has been invited to over 25 international film festivals. It illustrates the origins of poverty, not from the failures of poor people, but from an economic system that cherishes profits over life. Through interviews with internationally recognized experts including Nobel Prize winners Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz, as well as authors and activists such as Susan George, Eric Toussaint, John Perkins and Chalmers Johnson, the film shows how poverty is linked to colonialism, neo-colonialism and globalization while providing insight into current economic crises.

For more information contact: Cinema Libre Studio to; Cinema Libre Studio, 8328 De Soto Ave., Canoga Park, CA 91304.

NAMUR, BELGIUM: Debate on basic income: October 22, 2009
Philippe Defeyt, an economist and prominent figure of Belgium's francophone green party, debated the idea of a "universal grant" with Paul Palsterman from the Christian Trade Union confederation. Whereas Defeyt is a long-standing advocate of basic income, Palsterman has always been one of its most consistent opponents in the Belgian context. The debate took place at the University of Namur, Auditoire E1, Rue Rempart de la Vierge 8, at 7:30 PM. For further information:

TORONTO: Andrea Fumagalli speaks on Basic Income and the Crisis, October 14, 2009
Basic Income and the Crisis
A Presentation by Andrea Fumagalli
A Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry event
Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 7:00-9:00 pm
Andrea Fumagalli is Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Pavia (Italy). He also teaches political economy at Corso di laurea interdisciplinare in scienze multimediali, University of Pavia and advanced macroeconomics at Bocconi University. Professor Fumagalli is member of UniNomade Network, Vice-President of Bin-Italy (Basic Income Network, Italy), and a member of BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network). In his presentation, he discussed basic income security as a policy response to the inequalities inherent in contemporary cognitive capitalism. For more information contact:

OTTAWA, ONTARIO: BIEN Canada Symposium: October 1-2
Income Security for All Canadians: the Potential for a Guaranteed Income Framework for Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
BIEN Canada reports that their symposium, held in Ottawa on October 1 & 2 was a success.  The Research Forum featured presentations by Jurgen DeWispelaere of CREUM (Centre de Recheerche en Ethique de l’Universite de Montreal), Michelle Lasota of Informetrica, Andy Mitchell of the University of Toronto, and many others.  Speakers at the conference addressed a variety of aspects of how to ensure economic security for everyone in Canada and move the Guaranteed Income agenda forward. More information can be found on the BIEN Canada website. Photos of and a report on the conference are online at:; For additional information contact Mike McCracken at or Jim Mulvale at

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: American Monetary Institute Conference: September 24-27, 2009
Richard Cook was a policy analyst for the U.S. government from 1970 until 2007, his career included service with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, NASA, and the U.S. Treasury Department. His presentation at the AMI conference focused on an overview of the monetary reform movement, including Social Credit and the National Dividend.
Conference website:

KYIV (KIEV) UKRAINE: Symposium: September 16, 2009
Basic Income Guarantee: History, present and future
September 16, 2009, Hotel Ukraine, Instytutska Street 4, Kyiv, Ukraine
On the 16th September 2009 the first international symposium about the topic “Basic Income” took place in Kyiv in two languages: Ukrainian and Russian. This event was enabled by a donation from Germany within the international “Week of Basic Income”, which took place from 14. – 20. September 2009. Guests included Manfred Fuellsack (University of Vienna), Nazip Khamitov (National Academy of Science in Ukraine) and Joerg Drescher (Project Jovialism), as well as Olesya Storozhuk and Yulia Samus, who bridged the different languages and contributed to the discussion themselves. Texts of the speeches from the symposium can be found on the web in four languages (English, German, Ukrainian and Russian):


Possibilities and Prospects: The Debate Over a Guaranteed Income
Margot Young and James P Mulvale
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, October 30, 2009
ABSTRACT: The idea of a guaranteed income has a long and respectable history in Canadian political and economic thought. Recently, in the face of both wide criticism of the Canadian income security system and growing recognition of the unacceptability of current poverty rates, there has been a resurgence in calls for implementation of a Canadian guaranteed income. But the idea is a controversial one; progressive activists, academics, and politicians disagree about the desirability and the practicality of a guaranteed income. This report traces the history of guaranteed income proposals in Canada, reviews the arguments in favour and against, and suggests a number of other social welfare measures that should be central elements of any reform program, but that guaranteed income debates often ignore.
This paper can be read or downloaded at:

Saving Ghana from Its Oil: The Case for Direct Cash Distribution
Todd Moss and Lauren Young
Center for Global Development Working Paper 186, October 2009
ABSTRACT: Ghana can be considered a relative success story in Africa.   We cite six variables—peace and stability, democracy and governance, control of corruption, macroeconomic management, poverty reduction, and signs of an emerging social contract—to suggest the country’s admirable political and economic progress.  The expected arrival of sizeable oil revenues beginning in 2011–13, however, threatens to undermine that progress.  In fact, numerous studies have linked natural resources to negative outcomes such as conflict, authoritarianism, high corruption, economic instability, increased poverty, and the destruction of the social contract.  The oil curse thus threatens the very outcomes that we consider signs of Ghana’s success.  This paper draws lessons from the experiences of Norway, Botswana, Alaska, Chad, and Nigeria to consider Ghana’s policy options.  One common characteristic of the successful models appears to be their ability to encourage an influential constituency with an interest in responsible resource management and the means to hold government accountable.  The Alaska model in particular, which was designed explicitly to manufacture citizen oversight and contain oil-induced patronage, seems relevant to Ghana’s current predicament. We propose a modified version of Alaska’s dividend program.  Direct cash distribution of oil revenues to citizens is a potentially powerful approach to protect and accelerate Ghana’s political and economic gains, and a way to strengthen the country’s social contract.  We show why Ghana is an ideal country to take advantage of this option, and why the timing is fortuitous.  We conclude by confronting some of the common objections to this approach and suggest that new technology such as biometric ID cards or private mobile phone networks could be utilized to implement the scheme.

Progressive step or recipe for disaster?
Julia Ley
Sunday, November 1, 2009, the London Student
This article gives an overview of recent basic income movements in Europe

Why Austrian socialism?
Theodore Burczak
The Review of Austrian Economics, Volume 22, Number 3 (September, 2009)
Abstract: Socialist objectives can be achieved in a market context with the rule of law if market socialism were to take the form of competitive worker-owned and self-managed enterprises, supplemented by universally available welfare redistributions, which could include a basic income, universal capital grants, or education and health insurance vouchers.

Cut the roots of poverty with a living wage
Janice Harvey
The Telegraph-Journal, Wednesday October 21st, 2009
Janice Harvey, president of the New Brunswick Green Party, wrote a column for the Telegraph-Journal in which she called for a guaranteed income. She discussed the results of the Canadian negative income tax experiment conducted primarily in Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970s. According to Harvey, researchers found that the negative income tax improved community health and education indicators, and therefore reduced the cost of social programs. She concludes, “A guaranteed annual income, sometimes called a negative income tax, replaces all the piecemeal, ineffective measures now administered by provincial agencies …. It treats people with dignity and provides a basic level of well-being across the community without discrimination.”
The article is online at:
Janice Harvey’s email address is:

“The Northern Territory In(ter)vasion”
Online Opinion October 14th, 2009
This article looks at the Australian Federal Government’s intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, the quarantining of half of Aboriginal people’s welfare payments for approved purposes, and a school attendance requirement. It compares these policies with the Namibian Basic Income Grant.

A Common Sense Approach to Poverty
An interview with Canadian Senator Hugh Segal
By Michael Enright for CBC Radio One's The Sunday Edition
Monday, October 19, 2009
Conservative Senator Hugh Segal is one of the few voices speaking out on poverty issues at a national level in Canada. He is a strong supporter of basic income. A full transcript of that interview (made by the “Prairie Preacher”) is online at:

Why not just give cash to the poor?
Stephen Gordon
The National Post (Canada), August 24, 2009
Stephen Gordon, begins this comment writing “Here is what I would like some staffer to ask next time NDP strategists are kicking around ideas for goods to subsidise or services that governments provide at a discount in order to advance their agenda of reducing poverty and inequality: "Why don't we just give low-income households money and let them spend it on what they need most?"” The article is not so much about why basic income is a good idea, but why it is better than subsidizing target commodities so that low-income people can afford them.
Stephen Gordon is a professor of economics at l'Universite Laval in Quebec City, Canada.
This article is online at:

Work after Globalization: Building Occupational Citizenship, 2009
Guy Standing, Professor of Economic Security, University of Bath
Edward Elgar, Publisher
In this new book, Guy Standing has refined ideas he has been making since the inception of BIEN, in which he has seen basic income as part of a progressive strategy to replace social democracy. This book emphasizes that in a globalized society tertiary work styles are becoming the norm, in which forms of work other than labor are taking up an increasing proportion of time, conventional forms of social security are woefully inappropriate. A result of globalization and labor flexibility policies has been the growth of a new class, the global precariat. That is, people who are not necessarily in immediate economic distress but who are in precarious economic situations. Unless their insecurities, needs and aspirations are addressed, they will opt for political extremism. Yet, even since the financial crisis, chronic inequality is not being addressed. To combat this, and growing work-for-labor, and to give security to the precariat, a basic income is essential. Besides, Standing argues that a worrying feature of modern consumerism, with its squeeze on time, is that it has resulted in a loss of leisure, as defined by public participation in society. He concludes that the one form of ‘conditionality’ that could be a way of legitimizing basic income is that people as citizens agree to vote and to participate in political activity. In this, he is closer to Bruce Ackerman than to Tony Atkinson, since community labor would have distortionary effects in the labor market.

A Fair Economy: Beyond the Basic Income
Yoland Bresson
Published by “l’Esprit Frappeur” 2008
No abstract available. An Abridgement of this book as available for free online at:

CITIZEN’S INCOME TRUST (2009), The Citizen's Income Newsletter, Issue 3, 2009.
This issue of 20 pages contains a report on the seminar series that was coordinated by the CIT, and delivered in March this year. It also contains a major article that addresses the challenge of using ‘The Minimum Income Standards’ published by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2008 as a benchmark for a Full Citizen’s Income ( The MIS values enable one to adopt much more generous levels of CI than previously, for elderly people, those with disabilities, parents-with-care and carers-of-last-resort. The article proposes that able-bodied people of working age, without major caring responsibilities, or any obvious impaired ability to earn, would receive a Partial CI. It is claimed that this scheme is economically feasible.  This issue of the Newsletter ends with two ‘Viewpoints.’
The CI Newsletter is online at:
-From BIEN

RAVENTOS, Daniel & LO VUOLO, Ruben (2009), ‘Basic Income: good in the boom, essential in the crisis’, On Line Opinion. Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate, July 16, 2009,
Today’s economic crisis invites reflection on the role a basic income might play as an effective way of combating some of its worst effects, especially in protecting some of the hardest-hit groups, Daniel Raventos (Red Renta Basica, Spain) and Ruben Lo Vuolo (REDAIC, Argentina) argue.
Available at:
-From BIEN

A BIG Idea: A Minimum Income Guarantee: An Interview with Karl Widerquist
The Multinational Monitor, MAY/JUN 2009. VOL 30 NO. 3
Multinational Monitor (MM) is a monthly magazine (in print and online) devoted primarily to examining the activities of multinational companies. The magazine also covers issues involving labor, the environment, corporate crime, multilateral banks and development. In this lengthy interview, Widerquist answers the following questions:
What is a basic income guarantee?
MM:  What are the origins of the BIG concept?
MM:  Is it a concept designed for rich or poor countries?
MM:  How does it compare in terms of benefits and disadvantages to the idea of providing individuals, at birth or adulthood, with a lump sum endowment?
MM:  How does it compare to the U.S. Earned Income Tax Credit?
MM:  Are there examples of BIG policies being enacted? How have they turned out?
MM:  In rough terms, what levels of BIG payments do you propose for a rich country like the United States? For poor countries? Is the aim to provide a subsistence-level income from the BIG payment alone?
MM:  Should BIG payments be means tested? Does this consideration vary between rich and poor countries?
MM:  From experience and modeling, what impact would BIG policies have on poverty — taking into account that the answer necessarily depends on the details, including size of payment — in rich and poor countries? Are there particular gender components to such impacts?
MM:  From experience and modeling, what impact would BIG policies have on economic growth, and economic performance more generally?
MM:  How does society make a judgment that a relatively high level of payment for BIG is worth it? What mechanisms do you favor to raise funds for BIG policies?
MM:  Given the size of the financial commitment, is there inherently some trade off between adopting BIG policies, and investing in health, education, clean water, etc.? Or, stated differently, why should a country spend significant sums on BIG payments rather than investing in health, education, clean water, etc.?
MM:  An obvious criticism of BIG is that it provides payments to people without any test of “deservingness.” How do you respond to that critique?
MM:  Are there legitimate concerns that regular cash transfers will be spent in socially undesirable ways, for example on alcohol?
MM:  What is the level of political interest in BIG? In which countries is there interest in taking up or experimenting with the idea?
The interview is online at:


Seven new members have joined the USBIG Network in the last three months. The USBIG Network now has 189 members from 32 U.S. states and 256 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 seven new members of the USBIG Network are: Claudia Alejandra Mazorra Otero, Bogota, Colombia; Arjun Banker, San Francisco, CA; M. Radh Achuthan, Southampton, NY; Faith Van Horne, Columbus, OH; Karl Howeth, Lawton, OK; Jennifer "Jenni" Mays, Brisbane, Australia; Tamara Trout Samassekou, Louisa, KY.


The Brazilian group ReCivitas has a website with several videos on basic income. Most of the site is in Portuguese, but it includes a lecture in English by Karl Widerquist, entitled “Freedom as the Power to Say No.”
The Lecture is online at:

A Ukrainian group has created a website on basic income with articles, news, and multimedia presentations on BIG in several languages including English. The site is managed by Joerg Drescher (, and it is online at:

New York State currently spends roughly 20,000 US dollars per schooled child per year to support the public school system. An essay by Paul Fernhout suggests that the same amount of money be given directly to the family of each homeschooled child.
-From BIEN

Oxfam is hosting a Blog Debate on basic income, with respect to its role in combating poverty. Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT) Director, Dr Malcolm Torry has prepared a paper, “A Citizen’s Income:  part of the answer to poverty”. Another blogger will prepare an article on the case against basic income.
The debate is online at:

In a paper entitled ‘Citizen dividends and oil resource rents, a focus on Alaska, Norway and Nigeria’, Alanna Hartzok (Co-Founder and Co-Director of Earth Rights Institute, Vice President of the Council of Georgist Organizations, and UN NGO Representative for the International Union for Land Value Taxation) explores the oil rent institutions of Alaska, Norway and Nigeria with a focus on these questions: Are citizen dividends from oil rent funds currently or potentially a source of substantial basic income? Are oil rent funds the best source for citizen dividends or should CDs be based on other types of resource rents?

Katja Kipping, the Vice-Chairwoman of the German political party “Die Linke”, has published an online article on basic income in the framework of Znet’s series “Reimagining Society Project”. “The most logical answer to the insecurity caused by the precariousness and transformation of the world of work is an unconditional basic income.”, Kipping argues.

Moussa Haddadm of UK Poverty Post (an Oxfam website) began blogging on Citizen’s Income August 26th, 2009. The conversation includes articles by Colin Williams and Jan Windebank Dan Paskins, and Dr Malcolm Torry. It’s online at:


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 and the USBIG Committee
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, Jim Mulvale, Alanna Hartzok

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

Associate Professor in Residence, Philosophy
Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar
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