USBIG NEWSLETTER Vol. 11, No. 57 Summer 2010

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

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. IRAN: On the verge of introducing the world’s first national basic income

2. TENTH ANNUAL North American Basic Income Congress: New York, NY, 2011

3. EDITORIAL: Lessons from Alaska

4. BIEN CONGRESS and General Assembly held in Sao Paulo

5. BRAZIL: BIEN delegation meets with President Lula

6. ALASKA: Permanent Fund Dividend payout is secure for 2010

7. MEXICO: Proposal for Federal District Constitution Calls for a Basic Income

8. GERMANY: Basic Income Movement Gains Strength

9. IRELAND: A new political party supports BIG

10. NAMIBIA: Labor union’s withdrawal from BIG Coalition sparks outpouring of defense for the BIG proposal

11. NEW PUBLICATIONS

12. NEW LINKS

13. NEW MEMBERS

14. LINKS AND OTHER INFO

 

 

1. IRAN: On the verge of introducing the world’s first national basic income

Iran is on the verge of becoming the first country to introduce a basic income. This dramatic development is happening with little international attention and for reasons that have little to do with the international discussion of basic income.

 

Iran is trying to get rid of a horribly inefficient system of implicit fuel subsidies. As one of the world’s largest oil producers, the Iranian government makes about $70 billion per year from the oil exports, but it loses an estimated $100 billion dollars per year (30% of its GDP) by directing its state-owned enterprises to sell various products, mostly gasoline, far below their international price. Thus, Iran’s system of subsidizing the consumption of fuel at home actually costs more than Iran makes exporting fuel abroad.

 

This system of subsidies is one of the main benefits Iranians receive from their government, and many Iranians have grown dependent on cheap fuel and other commodities. The government cannot get rid of the subsidies without providing something else for the people to cushion the blow. After several years of debate, basic income has emerged as the only realistic form of compensation for the withdrawal of subsidies.

 

Thus, basic income has arrived in Iran through the backdoor, sidestepping most of the issues usually discussed in the international debate. The money will come from eliminating obviously inefficient subsidies. The money should go to everyone, because everyone will suffer from the loss of the subsidies, and everyone has equal claim to own the state enterprises. The money can’t be targeted because the government doesn’t have the ability to collect the necessary information to ensure that targeting is accurate.

 

According to the new law, the government will use half of the increased revenue for other government services, and it will distribute the other half of the money directly to the people as a grant to all who apply. When fully phased in, that amount has the potential to provide a basic income of $60 per person per month ($720 per year) or more. This figure is still well below the poverty line, but it is a very significant amount. Iran has a per capita income of only $3,500 per year, less than one-tenth of Alaska’s per capita GDP of $42,000. Nearly 70 million people will be eligible for the Iranian basic Income, more than 100 times the number who receive the Alaska dividend. Considering also the enormous difference in the cost of living in the two places, it is clear than a $720 basic income in Iran will be more significant than the existing $1000 to $2000 dividend in Alaska.

 

There are drawbacks to the current plan. Although every citizen of Iran is entitled to the grant, the money will be paid to “heads of households,” who are overwhelmingly male. Thus, some men may have the power to keep their wives, children, and other dependents from benefiting from the grant. Also, foreigners living in Iran (mostly Iraqi and Afghan refugees) will not receive the grant even though they will suffer as much as other residents from the loss of the subsidy.

 

The phase-in is scheduled to begin sometime between September 2010 and March 2011. There is no clear word on how long the phase-in will take. The law has been passed; more than 90% of Iranians have already applied for their grants, but the Iranian political system is chaotic, and there could yet be substantial changes. We can’t be sure exactly what will happen until it happens. We can only wait and see.

 

The source for this article is “The ‘Basic Income’ Road to Reforming Iran’s Subsidy System,” by Hamid Tabatabai, paper presented at the 13th International Congress of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), June 30 – July 2, 2010. There is much more to this issue than I have had room to discuss here. For more information, or for a copy of that paper, please contact Hamid Tabatabai at hamtab@gmail.com.

 

 

2. TENTH ANNUAL North American Basic Income Congress: New York, NY, 2011

The Tenth Annual North American Basic Income Conference: Basic Income and Social Transformation will take place in New York City in February or March of 2011. Co-sponsored by the Income Security Institute, the USBIG Network, and BI/AU Canada.

 

The North American Basic Income Conference was originally 'the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network Conference,' and was organized by the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network. It expanded in 2010 to become a joint event of the USBIG Network and the Basic Income / Allocation Universelle Canada (BI/AU Canada). Since then, it has been a North American Conference held on alternate years in the United States and Canada.

 

We are currently in the process of finalizing the date and venue for the conference. As soon as we do, we will send out the call for papers. Scholars, activists, and others are invited to propose papers, and organize panel discussions on BIG or topics related to poverty and the distribution of property. All points of view are welcome. Proposals from any discipline are welcomed. Anyone interested in making a presentation or organizing a panel should submit a proposal to the chair of the organizing committee: Karl Widerquist: Karl@Widerquist.com.

 

Please include the following information with your proposal:

 

1. Name (of all participants)

2. Affiliation

3. Address

4. City, State/Province, Zip Code/Postal Code, and Country

5. Telephone, FAX

6. Email Address

7. Paper or Presentation Title

8. Abstract (short summary) of 50-150 words

 

More information and the call for papers will be released and up on the USBIG Website (www.usbig.net) soon.

 

 

3. EDITORIAL: Lessons from Alaska

 

At a time when progressive social policies are under attack across the industrialized world, the Alaska Dividend continues to be extremely popular. It distributes a yearly dividend to every man, woman, and child in Alaska without any conditions whatsoever. It has helped Alaska maintain one of the lowest poverty rates in the United States. It has helped Alaska become the most economically equal of all 50 states. And it has helped Alaska become the only U.S. state in which equality has risen rather than fallen over the last 20 years. Certainly Alaska is doing something right.

                  As newsletter editor for USBIG, I’ve followed the Alaska Dividend for the past ten years. I am currently in the process of co-editing a book on the dividend entitled Exporting the Alaska Model (Palgrave-MacMillan, forthcoming). In the process, I’ve learned several lessons that I believe are valuable to people interested in progressive social policy and the basic income guarantee.

                  The first and simplest lesson is that resource dividends are popular once they’re in place. I’ll talk about this more as I go.

                  The second and most important lesson is that the Alaska model can be exported. You might be tempted to think that anything connected with the Alaskan oil industry is an aberration; something possible only because of Alaska’s oil windfall. But you do not have to be resource rich to have a resource dividend. There are three reasons why I know this is true.

                  First, Alaska isn’t unusually rich. Oil has brought them from being one of the poorer states to being one of the wealthier states, but they are not the wealthiest state in the union. In fact, including the District of Columbia, Alaska ranks only tenth with a per capita GDP of about $42,000—only $2,500 higher than the national average.

                  Second, Alaska uses only a tiny fraction of its resource wealth to fund the entire dividend. Alaska has many valuable natural resources including forestry, fisheries, gold, land value, and so on. Only taxes on oil pay into the dividend. The taxes on oil drilling in Alaska are low by international standards. And, only one-fourth of the taxes on Alaska’s oil go into the fund that supports the dividend. Alaska used most of its oil windfall to give itself an enormous income tax cut. It went from having one of the highest state income tax rates in the United States to having no income taxes at all. And it funded the dividend from what was left over. If Alaska actually used its resources to support the dividend, there is no telling now high it would be. Leaving income taxes as they were and devoting all of the oil taxes to the fund would have made the dividend at least four times what it is now. Raising oil taxes and treating other resources the way Alaska treats oil would make it higher still.

                  Third, every country, state, and region has resources. Gary Flomenhoft estimates that Vermont (a state not known for resource wealth) could support a dividend larger than Alaska’s, if it made judicious use of resource taxes. The most resource-poor countries in the world are probably Hong Kong and Singapore, where millions of people are crowded together on a little island, and they have to import almost everything they consume. But these countries have fabulously valuable real estate. I wouldn’t be surprised if a tax on Singapore’s land could support something much larger than the Alaska Dividend.

                  All of this shows that Alaskans don’t have the dividend because they are resource-rich; they have it because they took advantage of the opportunity. This is the third lesson: look for opportunities. Again, the Alaskan experience is no aberration. Common resources are being privatized all the time all over the planet. Every new well that’s drilled is an opportunity to assert community control of resources. So is every new mine that’s dug and every new reserve that’s discovered.

                  Many other opportunities are less obvious. Recently, the United States government gave away the digital broadcast spectrum to television companies. If they had auctioned off leases to the highest bidder, they would have raised billions of dollars per year. The need to do something about global warming is another opportunity. Two strategies currently being discussed, “tax and dividend” and “cap and dividend” would make polluters pay for the damage they do to the environment and return the proceeds to everyone.

                  Of course, there is a danger in selling off resources and using the proceeds for the public benefit. People might then want to sell more resources to make more money. Once corporations have bought off the people, perhaps they can get away with doing even more damage to the environment. The solution to this problem is the fourth lesson: think like a monopolist. That is, once we assert community control of resources, members of the community need to remember that, as a group, they have a monopoly over those resources.

                  Monopolists maximize revenue, not by selling all they can at bargain prices, but by restricting supply, selling less at higher prices. One monopolist that we should take as a model is Johnny Carson. In the 1970s, he found himself to be the most popular entertainer on American television. He demanded and got a record high salary, but he didn’t stop there. He had his workload reduced from five to four days per week, and his vacation time increased to something like three months per year. He realized that his time was not only valuable when he sold it, but also when left it unsold. Our resources and our environment are valuable not only as items for potential sale; they are valuable just as they are. As community owners of our environment, thinking like the stockholders of a monopoly, we could have more money coming in at the same time that we also have larger parks, larger nature reserves, less pollution, and better resource management.

                  As for the danger that a dividend will buy off individuals’ environmental diligence, remember that polluters have been doing a job on our environment for thousands of years without buying off the people they harm. Nobody got a dividend when the Stone Age Maori hunted the New Zealand moa to extinction. Nobody got a dividend over the hundreds of years it took the fishing industry to slowly destroy the cod fisheries on the Grand Banks. Nobody gets a dividend for the arsenic in our water or the sulfur dioxide in our air.

                  The assertion of the community’s right to demand compensation for individual or corporate exploitation of our environment can actually be an important part of the solution to our environmental problems. The right to compensation is part of the right of ownership, and along with ownership comes the right to manage, regulate, and restrict access. Receiving payment for resources helps the members of the community think of themselves and joint owners of the environment with the power to command that tenants be good stewards of the environment.

                  This feeling of shared ownership is one of the reasons resource dividends tend to be so popular once they’re in place, leading me to the fifth lesson: build a large constituency. One way to build a constituency is through universal rather than targeted policies. Economically and philosophically speaking, I am indifferent between programs for all people and programs for all of the poor. As long as we permanently, unconditionally, eliminate poverty, I don’t care whether we do it through a targeted negative income tax or a universal basic income or any other system. But politically speaking, my observations have taught me that we are much more likely to eliminate poverty with universal programs, because universal programs build a large constituency that will protect the program from political attack. It is easy for politicians to single out the recipients of target programs, because they are a relatively weak and small.

                  Another way to build a constituency is to be significant. Insignificant gimmicky programs might be easier to pass, but they are also easier to cut when a less favorable administration comes into power. If a politician proposed cutting the Alaska dividend, every Alaskan would face loosing $1,000 a year or more for the rest of their lives. Whether that politician was promising a tax cut or some other spending program, they would put a universal constituency of Alaskans in the position where they would sacrifice something very significant for the uncertainty that the replacement will be delivered.

                  The British Labour Party recently failed to build a sufficient constituency to defend its “Child Trust Fund.” This program was intended to be universal. It was designed to ensure eventually that every native born British citizen would own something. But the government decided to phase-in universality by granting a small “baby bond” only to children born in or after 2002. Each child would receive a bond of 250 pounds at birth and another of 250 pounds at age 7. This investment would provide enough for a one-time dividend of perhaps 2000 pounds at age 18—hardly a life-changing amount.

                  When the new Conservative-Liberal-Democratic coalition government came into power, the Child Trust Fund was one of the first programs they announced they would eliminate. The only people directly harmed by the cuts are babies born after 2010. The loss will only be a small one-time dividend, and they won’t feel the loss in their wallets or be able to vote on it until 2028. It is not surprising that no significant opposition developed to the new government’s plan to scrap the Child Trust Fund. The previous government did not create a program that was significant enough to a significant number of voters to make it worth defending.

                  The companion to building a large or universal constituency in favor of a program is the sixth lesson: avoid creating an opposition. Policies, such as the minimum wage and rent control, put most of the burden on one, specific, easily identifiable group who will probably fight the program as long as it exists. Even programs financed by broad-based income tax can create an opposition if people connect the burden of paying taxes with programs they see themselves as unlikely to need. But the Alaska Dividend has virtually no opposition. No one has reason to feel burdened by its creation and continued existence. The yearly dividends are financed by the returns on state-owned investments. They don’t cut into anyone’s perceived ownership.

                  Of course the Alaska fund is created and continually enlarged by taxes (or “royalties”) on oil drilling. But the oil companies aren’t complaining. It was part of the deal they made to obtain the right to drill. Complaining about that now would be like complaining that they have to pay a price for the steel from their suppliers. It doesn’t make sense to complain about what is obviously an unavoidable cost of doing business. The state owns the oil fields. Anyone who wants to drill must pay. That’s just the way of the world. But notice how atypical that model is. Usually the state awards ownership of resources to corporations for free. Anyone who wants to use those resources must pay the corporations. And that’s just the way of the world. Policies like the Alaska Dividend remind us that its possible to change the way of the world.

                  There are times when corporations will fall all over each other to pay taxes. “Medical” marijuana producers in California are asking to be taxed so that they can be seen as legitimate businesses. Returning to the broadcast spectrum example, had the government sold it (instead of giving it away), they would have found many willing customers. Trying to impose those taxes now is more likely to create an opposition, but once we firmly establish the idea that taxes and regulations reflect community ownership and custodianship of the environment, there is little for an opposition to build around.

                  The Alaska dividend is not as large as it should be, but it has significant progressive effects, it works, and it’s popular. Perhaps it’s time to recognize it as a model we can build on.

-Karl Widerquist, Morehead City, North Carolina, August 2010

 

 

4. BIEN CONGRESS and General Assembly held in Sao Paulo

The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), of which USBIG is a national affiliate, held its Thirteenth International Congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 30-July 2, 2010. The Congress was attended by more than three hundred people from more than 30 countries around the world.

 

After the Congress, BIEN held its biennial General Assembly (GA) meeting. At the meeting, the Basic Income Korean Network applied for and received status as a national affiliate. BIEN now has 17 national affiliates around the world. Munich, Germany was chosen as the site for the 2012 BIEN Congress. The GA chose Eduardo Suplicy, Guy Standing, and Claus Offe as honorary co-presidents. The GA defined an honorary co-president as a past co-chair, who has agreed to remain active in the organization and who has been so approved by the GA. Philippe Van Parijs was reelected as the chair of BIEN’s International Advisory Board.

 

Elections for the BIEN Executive Committee (EC) Proceeded as fallows. Karl Widerquist and Elizabeth Van Niekerk were reelected as co-chairs. David Casassas was reelected secretary. Yannick Vanderborght was reelected as newsletter editor. Almaz Zelleke and Louis Haagh were reelected to the EC. Zelleke takes up the post of Treasurer-Regional Coordinator. Haag takes up the post of Regional Coordinator. James Mulvale and Pablo Yanes were elected as Regional Coordinators. The EC agreed to co-opt Andrea Fumagalli as a non-voting member of the EC who will also function as a Regional Coordinator. The Local Organizing Committee in Germany will later appoint an additional member of the EC to act as their representative.

 

 

5. BRAZIL: BIEN delegation meets with President Lula

 

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met with a delegation of BIEN members on June 29th, 2010 in Sao Paulo. The meeting was arranged by Senator Eduardo Suplicy, who has been an ally of President Lula throughout his term of office. The BIEN delegation included Senator Suplicy; Guy Standing, of the University of Bath (UK); Ingrid Van Neikirk, of the Economic Policy Research Institute (Cape Town, South Africa); Karl Widerquist, of Georgetown University-Qatar; Robert van der Veen, of Amsterdam University (the Netherlands); Bishop Kameeta, of the Lutheran Church of Namibia; Louise Haag, of the University of York (UK); James Mulvale, of the University of Manitoba (Canada); and David Casassas, of Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Catalan, Spain). Each of the BIEN delegates spoke for 5 to 10 minutes. President Lula spoke for more than a half hour. He reviewed his achievements in moving Brazil toward greater equality and social justice over his seven years as president. Although he did not promise to introduce basic income in his remaining time in office, he said that he has moved in that direction as quickly as was possible given the political, social, and economic conditions of Brazil at the time. He was optimistic that the Workers Party would retain the presidency in the upcoming elections and that his successor would move further in that direction.

 

 

6. ALASKA: Permanent Fund Dividend payout is secure for 2010

 

Healthy returns for the 2009-2010 fiscal year have ensured that the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) has enough money to pay out a dividend of about $1000 this year. The exact figure has not yet been released by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC). Pat Forgey, of the Juneau Empire, estimated last May 28th that the 2010 dividend would be approximately $1,171 for each Alaska resident. This figure is slightly less than last year’s $1,305, but it is still healthy by historical standards. It comes after fears during the financial crisis that the PFC would not be able to pay any dividends because of the large decline in the value of the fund since its high in 2008. After reaching $40 billion the fund declined to less than $28 billion in 2009. The fund has now recovered to $34.7 billion (as of July 29). The fund was created out of the state’s oil revenues. It is held in a diverse portfolio of investments. Each year returns from the fund are used to pay a dividend to every Alaskan resident.

 

Pat Forgey’s article on the 2010 dividend is online at:

http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/052810/sta_645916885.shtml

Up-to-date information about the fund and the dividend are available on the APFC website:

http://www.apfc.org/home/Content/home/index.cfm

 

 

7. MEXICO: Proposal for Federal District Constitution Calls for a Basic Income

The Federal District of Mexico, i.e. Mexico City, has been in a political transformation toward greater autonomy from the federal government and perhaps full statehood. The next step in this process might be the creation of a constitution for the city. On Tuesday, July 13th a broad group of civil and social organizations drafted a set of proposals for the statehood movement. It is called “Carta de la Ciudad de México por el Derecho a la Ciudad” (which translates approximately into, “Proposed Charter of Right for Mexico City”). This proposal might become the basis of a future constitution of the city. It was signed by hundreds of the civic leaders including the head of the city government, Jefe de Gobierno. Among the many points in the proposal, one is “promoting the establishment of basic income.” Although the inclusion of basic income in this proposal is a long way from the establishment of basic income in the city, its inclusion is extremely important for basic income movement in Mexico. This is the first time in Mexico that a proposal for basic income appears on a document of such relevance. According to Pablo Yanes, General Director of the Social Development Evaluation Council for Mexico City and president of the Mexican chapter of BIEN, “It is a good and important start for transforming basic income from an academic musing and public opinion issue into a programmatic and political demand.” For more information contact: Pablo Yanes pyanes2007@gmail.com.

 

 

8. GERMANY: Basic Income Movement Gains Strength

 

The basic income movement has gained strength in Germany recently. It is even gaining popularity among members of the right-of-center Christian Democrat Party. According to City Journal, Dieter Althaus, the former premier of the German state of Thuringia, leads a growing block of Christian Democrats who believe that basic income is the only way that Germany can meet its constitutional duty to provide material dignity for all cities without distorting the labor market. They also argue that basic income would save the state money and simplify its bureaucracy.

See: “German free marketeers turn to an innovative idea” by Cameron Abadi, City Journal, Spring 2010, vol. 20, no. 2: http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_2_snd-basic-income.html

 

 

9. IRELAND: A new political party supports BIG

 

The Irish Liberal Party is a small, new political party in the Republic of Ireland. According to the party’s website. “The party stands for the principles of individual freedom, respect for human rights, the rule of law, equality of opportunity, free and fair elections and multiparty-democracy, social justice, tolerance, free market economy, free trade, environmental sustainability and a strong sense of international solidarity.” Also according to the party’s website, “Our most important policies are our Social Justice policies of basic income for all and the introduction of the Land Valuation Tax.” The website’s elaboration of its basic income provision uses BIEN’s definition of basic income and includes a link to the BIEN website.

 

The party’s website is: irishliberalparty.org

The party’s endorsement of BIG is at the following page: http://irishliberalparty.org/page_1277298297057.html

 

 

10. NAMIBIA: Labor union’s withdrawal from BIG Coalition sparks outpouring of defense for the BIG proposal

 

The National Union for Namibian Workers (NUNW) announced in early July that it would withdraw from the Basic Income Grant Coalition. The Union’s Secretary General said that NUNW did not see income distribution, as per the BIG model, as a viable way to address poverty in the country. Many editorials followed with renewed support for BIG. For example, the Windhoek Observer, a Namibian Weekly, devoted a recent editorial to the current BIG debate in Namibia. It compares President Pohamba's remarks that BIG would encourage laziness to the famous apocryphal saying of the French Queen Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake.” Evidence from the recent BIG pilot project in Namibia is consistent with the contrary hypothesis that in places with deep poverty, cash grants stimulate people to work more by relieving them from the immediate needs that often keep them from engaging in productive activity.

 

Links to recent articles about BIG in Namibia are below.

 

“NUNW withdraws from BIG Coalition,” Richard Swartbooi, Namibian Broadcasting Company:

http://www.nbc.com.na/article.php?id=2404

“Let them Eat Cake,” Editorial, The Windhoek Observer:

http://basisinkomen.nl/wp/buitenlands-nieuws/president-namibia-laat-ze-maar-cake-eten/

“The NUNW and the Basic Income Grant,” Herbert Jauch, the Namibian:

http://www.namibian.com.na/news/full-story/archive/2010/july/article/labour-in-crisis-the-nunw-and-the-basic-income-grant/

“BIG: Time to separate fact from fiction,” by Lucy Edwards, May 28, New Era Online, 2010:

http://www.newera.com.na/article.php?articleid=11177

“Namibia: Social justice and solidarity – think 'BIG,'” Henning Melber, Pambazuka News, Issue 485, June 10, 2010:

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/65081

 “Academic justifies BIG,” Irene !HoaĎs, New Era Online, June 4, 2010:

http://www.newera.com.na/article.php?articleid=11293

 

 

11. NEW PUBLICATIONS

WRIGHT, Erik Olin, Envisioning Real Utopias, Verso, May 2010

 

Erik Olin Wright is a leading sociologist who has written about basic income for years. His new book, Envisioning Real Utopias, makes basic income a major part in Wright’s strategy for an emancipated society. According to the publisher’s website, “Erik Olin Wright’s Envisioning Real Utopias  is a comprehensive assault on the quietism of contemporary social theory. Building on a lifetime’s work analyzing the class system in the developed world, as well as exploring the problem of the transition to a socialist alternative, Wright has now completed a systematic reconstruction of the core values and feasible goals for Left theorists and political actors.”

 

Erik Olin Wright is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin. Information about the book can be found online at:

http://www.versobooks.com/books/tuvwxyz/w-titles/wright_e_envisioning_real_utopias.shtml

and

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/ERU.htm

 

 

HANLON, Joseph Armando BARRIENTOS, and David HULME, Just Give Money to the Poor, Kumarian Press, April 2010

 

The title makes this book’s connection to basic income obvious. According to the publisher, “Amid all the complicated economic theories about the causes and solutions to poverty, one idea is so basic it seems radical: Just Give Money to the Poor. Despite its skeptics, researchers have found again and again that cash transfers given to significant portions of the population transform the lives of recipients. Countries from Mexico to South Africa to Indonesia are giving money directly to the poor and discovering that they use it wisely – to send their children to school, to start a business and to feed their families.

 

Directly challenging an aid industry that thrives on complexity and mystification, with highly paid consultants designing ever more complicated projects, Just Give Money to the Poor offers the elegant southern alternative – bypass governments and NGOs and let the poor decide how to use their money. Stressing that cash transfers are not charity or a safety net, the authors draw an outline of effective practices that work precisely because they are regular, guaranteed and fair. This book, the first to report on this quiet revolution in an accessible way, is essential reading for policymakers, students of international development and anyone yearning for an alternative to traditional poverty-alleviation methods.”

 

Joseph Hanlon is a senior lecturer at the Open University in Milton Keynes. Armando Barrientos is a professor of poverty studies at the University of Manchester. David Hulme is a professor of development studies at the University of Manchester.

 

Publisher’s website for the book is at:

http://www.kpbooks.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=234740

 

 

BURNS, Melinda, “The Poverty Solution: Cash,” Miller-McCune: Smart Journalism Real Solutions, July 2, 2010.

 

This piece is an in-depth review article about Hanlon, Barrientos, and Hulme’s new book, Just Give Money to the Poor (see above). Melinda Burns wrote the article for the online magazine Miller-McCune. She cites evidence from the book showing that the growing use of direct cash transfers across the developing world is a new way to address poverty that confounds the “foreign aid industry.”

 

According to Burns, Brazil “provides pensions and grants to 74 million poor people, or 39 percent of its population. The cost is $31 billion, or about 1.5 percent of Brazil’s gross domestic product. Eligibility for the family grant is linked to the minimum wage, and the poorest receive $31 monthly. As a result, Brazil has seen its poverty rate drop from 28 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2008. In northeastern Brazil … child malnutrition was reduced by nearly half.”

 

Burns writes, “South Africa, one of the world’s biggest spenders on the poor, allocates $9 billion, or 3.5 percent of its GDP, to provide a pension to 85 percent of its older people, plus a $27 monthly cash benefit to 55 percent of its children. Studies show that South African children born after the benefits became available are significantly taller, on average, than children who were born before.”

 

According to Burns, “In Mexico, an average grant of $38 monthly goes to 22 percent of the population. The cost is $4 billion, or 0.3 percent of Mexico’s GDP. … Studies show that the families receiving these benefits eat more fruit, vegetables and meat, and get sick less often.”

 

These programs are not fully developed basic income plans. But they are broad-based direct cash transfers with limited conditionality. The authors of the book indicate that they are a serious step toward, and an indicator of the likely success of, a true basic income.

 

Find it at:

http://www.miller-mccune.com/business-economics/the-poverty-solution-cash-16977/

 

 

JENKINS, Hamish, Decent Work and Fair Globalization: A Guide to Policy Dialogue, United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service, May 2010

 

This 95-page book examines alternative economic strategies at national and international levels to meet the imperatives of full and decent employment. One of the strategies discussed is the basic income guarantee (BIG). It discusses evidence provided by the ILO for the efficacy of BIG and it includes a report on the BIG pilot project in Namibia. The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency program of the United Nations mandated to promote and develop constructive relations between the United Nations and civil society organizations. Hamish Jenkins is Program Officer of the Geneva office of the UN-NGLS.

 

The entire book or chapters of the book or briefs of each chapter of the book can be found online at: http://www.un-ngls.org/spip.php?page=decentwork

 

 

12. NEW LINKS

BIG PILOT PROJECT TV NEWS REPORT

Deutsche Welle-TV has produced a short documentary in English about the BIG pilot project in Otjivero, Namibia. You can access a video stream of the documentary at:

http://www.dw-world.de/popups/popup_single_mediaplayer/0,,5659896_type_video_struct_4756_contentId_4471162,00.html

Or you can download the video at:

http://dw-world-od.streamfarm.net/Events/mp4/gle/2010_06_07_22_30_namibiabasicincomeforall_sd.mp4

 

 

THE BIN ITALIA WEBSITE NOW SPEAKS MANY LANGUAGES

Thanks to automatic-translation technology, the website of BIEN’s Italian affiliate (BIN Italia) now offers all of its content in eighteen languages, including English, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovenia, Spanish and Swedish. BIN Italia is online at: http://www.bin-italia.org/

 

 

13. NEW MEMBERS

Thirteen new members have joined the USBIG Network in the last six months. The USBIG Network now has 212 members from 33 U.S. states and 27 foreign countries. Membership in USBIG is free and open to anyone who shares its goals. To become a member of USBIG go to www.usbig.net, and click on “membership.”

The new members of the USBIG Network are: Jim O'Reilly, Boulder, CO; Maria de Fatima Santana Chamusca, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Warren Chamberlain, Holliston, MA; Gabrio Rossi, Munich, Germany; Shawn A. Cassiman, Dayton OH; Lindsay Craver, Dayton O; Susmita Barua, Lexington, KY; Ben Wallace, St. Marys Bay, New Zealand; James Baughan, Norfolk, VA; Kevin Latchford, Clifton, VA; Gregory N. Southworth, Arlington, TX; Stephen Grubowski, Capistrano Beach, CA; Marcia Boruta, San Diego, CA.

 

 

14. LINKS AND OTHER INFO

For links to dozens of BIG websites around the world, go to http://www.usbig.net/links.html. 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
Special help on this issue was provided by Jeff Smith, Al Sheahen, Steve Shafarman, Buford Farris, Cluadia & Dirk Haarmann, Pablo Yanes

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: http://www.usbig.net.

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

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

Thank you,
-Karl Widerquist, editor
Karl@Widerquist.com