USBIG NewsFlash is both the newsletter of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee
(USBIG) Network and the U.S. edition of the Basic Income Earth Network’s
NewsFlash. The USBIG Network (www.usbig.net) 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 go to: http://www.usbig.net/newsletters.php.
For questions, contact the editor, Karl Widerquist <Karl@Widerquist.com>.
1. Editorial: Allan Sheahen, the steeplechase runner of the BIG
movement, has died
2. CNN and The Blaze duel over Basic Income
3. Peace and Freedom Party Endorses Basic Income
4. BIG News From Around the World
6. Recent Features on BI News
7. BI Literature
9. New Links
10. More news, links and other info
Allan “Al” Sheahen was an author, an athlete, a disc jockey, a promoter, a publisher, and a long-time campaigner for the basic income guarantee (BIG). He died at his home in Sherman Oaks, California on October 29, 2013 after battling myelofibrosis (a slow-moving bone-marrow disease) for over ten years.
Sheahen is known in the movement for BIG as a tireless, long-term campaigner for BIG. He helped to found the USBIG Network. He helped keep the idea alive during the era in which it fell out of mainstream politics in the United States. And he wrote some of the best introductory books on BIG.
He was born in June 28, 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to California in 1957. His first book on BIG, Guaranteed Income: The Right to Economic Security (Gain Publications), was published in January of 1983—perhaps the nadir of the BIG movement in the United states.
BIG, under various names including the guaranteed income, had been a major topic in mainstream American politics from the mid-1960s to the mid-70s when it was seen by many people across the political spectrum as the obvious next step to improve the welfare system. However, BIG dropped out of favor in the late-70s when new right politicians such as Ronald Reagan found success vilifying the poor as a lazy rabble. Supporters of the welfare system went on the defensive and stopped looking for new ideas, except perhaps for those that placated the new right’s desire for stringent work requirements.
Into that void, Sheahen’s 1983 book argued that it made so much more sense just to put a floor under everyone’s income. He raised all the objections of the other side. He asked the toughest questions. He answered them with knowledgeable but disarmingly simple, compelling prose that anyone could understand. Many “BIGists” believe this book is still the best available introduction to BIG, with the possible exception of his 2012 book.
In the political climate of 1983, Sheahen’s book was widely ignored.
Sheahen did not stop. He was a journalist, and he wrote a long string of editorials on BIG and other topics in publications across the country. Over the years he wrote for Time, the Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Daily News, the Huffington Post, and many other publications.
In 1999, the BIG movement began to revive in the United States. A group made up mostly of east coast academics established the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). Sheahen quickly joined. He not only became a leader of the organization, but also, along with Robert Harris, Francis Fox Piven, and others, he gave the new movement for BIG a connection with the movement of the 1960s and 70s.
As a leader of USBIG, Sheahen stepped up his work. He attended and presented new ideas at the annual USBIG Congresses—now know as North American BIG (NABIG) Congresses—and at the biannual BIEN Congresses. In 2004 he coauthored the paper, “A Proposal to Transform the Standard Deduction into a Refundable Tax Credit,” which was the basis for a bill introduced into the U.S. Congress as “H.R. 5257 (109th): Tax Cut for the Rest of Us Act of 2006.” The idea of the bill was simple: replace the standard tax deduction with an equivalent-sized refundable tax credit, and in the process introducing a small BIG. The preamble to the bill states simply, “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a basic income guarantee in the form of a refundable tax credit for taxpayers who do not itemize deductions.”
Sheahen not only coauthored the paper on which the bill was based; he also lobbied for the bill. He made several trips to Washington and met with any Member of Congress or staffer who was willing to talk about the idea. He found a Member of Congress to introduce the bill and at least one other to sign on as cosponsor. But the bill did not get out of committee and expired at the end of 109th Congress. It has not as yet been introduced.
Sheahen’s next major project was a new book, The Basic Income Guarantee: Your Right to Economic Security (published June 19, 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan). It was largely an update of Sheahen’s 1983 book, but this time it was put out by a major publisher with greater distribution. According to former U.S. Senator and former Democratic nominee for president, George McGovern, “This book is a great idea - brilliantly stated. Some may think it's ultra-liberal, as they did when I proposed a similar idea in 1972. I see it as true conservatism - the right of income for all Americans sufficient for food, shelter, and basic necessities. Or, what Jefferson referred to as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The book came out at a time with growing interest in BIG. It continues to sell well, and it is the most popular item in Palgrave’s book series, “Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee.” Sheahen followed up the book with a speaking tour and a large number of editorials in major newspapers. As late as August of 2013, less than 90 days before his death, Sheahen was on television, radio, and the print media campaigning for BIG. Right up to the end, after more than 30 years in the fight, Sheahen was one of the hardest working people in the BIG movement.
When he wasn’t working on BIG,
Sheahen was an author, a disc jockey, a publisher, an announcer, and a competitor
in and leading organizer of Masters Athletics—athletics for men and women
over 35 years old. He was active in Masters Track and Field for decades, and he
was so important to the movement that when he died, Mastertrack entitled their bibliography, “A giant has died: Al Sheahen was
our chronicler and conscience.” According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he
served ten years as the Treasurer of the World Association of Veteran Athletes.
He founded the
magazine National Masters News and served as its editor for nearly four
decades. According to The Los Angeles Daily News, in 1998,
he was inducted into the Masters
Track and Field Hall of Fame. His favored events were the 400-meter hurdles
and the 3000-meter steeplechase—longest obstacle-jumping event in
running. A long-distance obstacle race is a fitting metaphor for Sheahen’s
three-decades of work for the BIG movement. The goal was far; the obstacles
were many; and Sheahen ran on and on.
-Karl Widerquist, Mojo’s Coffee House, Freret Street, New Orleans, LA, April 2014
Personal note: I’ve worked with Al for nearly 15 years in USBIG, in BIEN, on the BIG Bill, and in Palgrave-Macmillan book series. At times he’s been a colleague, a mentor, and an inspiration—both from his hard work and from ability to communicate difficult ideas in an easily understandable way. It is a sad duty to write about his death.
For more on Al Sheahen and his work on Basic Income, see the following links:
The USBIG Network will organize a tribute to Al Sheahen at the Thirteenth Annual North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress, which will be held on June 26 in Montreal—a preconference workshop of the 15th International Congress of the Basic Income Earth Network, Friday June 27th to Sunday June 29th, 2014, McGill Faculty of Law, Montreal, Quebec.
Ken Stone, “A giant has died: Al Sheahen was our chronicler and conscience.” MasterTrack, October 31, 2013.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Obituary: Allan John ‘Al’ Sheahen.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nov. 3, 2013.
The Los Angeles Daily News. “Ode to Al Sheahen, a long time Daily News letters contributor.” The Los Angeles Daily News. October/31/13.
USBIG, “Allan Sheahen tours to promote his book, the Basic Income Guarantee: Your right to economic security.” BI News, July 11, 2013.”
USBIG, “Allan Sheahen’s BIG tour continues.” BI News, July 21, 2013
VIDEO: Bloomberg national television discusses BIG, July 23, 2013
VIDEO: Huffington Post, 17-minute video discusses BIG: “America The Poor,” August 24, 2013
Allan Sheahen, “Fulfilling One Of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dreams: A Basic Income Guarantee.” International Business Times, August 20, 2013. (This is probably Sheahen’s last published article.
Al Sheahen and Karl Widerquist, “A Proposal to Transform the Standard Deduction into a Refundable Tax Credit.” USBIG Discussion Paper No. 93, August 2004 (Revised, October 2004).
This article was later revised and
combined with a historical discussion of BIG in the United States, and
Karl Widerquist and Allan Sheahen, September 3, 2012. “The Basic Income Guarantee in the United States: Past Experience, Current Proposals” in Basic Income Worldwide: Horizons of Reform, Matthew Murray and Carole Pateman (eds.) New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 11-32
Articles by and about Al Sheahen on BI News.
The growing debate on basic income has reached CNN this week and prompted a response in the Blaze (the libertarian-conservative news network founded by talk radio personality, Glenn Beck). On April 14, David R. Wheeler praised basic income. The article prompted more than 10,000 comments on CNN.com in the first three days after it’s publication.
By April 16, Antony Davies & James Harrigan responded in the Blaze with an article entitled, “Sorry CNN and David Wheeler, but a ‘Basic Income’ Wouldn’t End Poverty.” However, the title of this article is deceptive. Although the authors do criticize some aspects of Wheeler’s article, most of Davies and Harrigan’s article actually praises basic income as an improvement on the existing welfare system. The authors write, “people would no longer be penalized for trying to raise themselves out of poverty. On that level, at least, this would be a better welfare policy.”
This debate is a marker of the enormous increase in attention to BIG that is underway right now in the world’s media. As attention to BIG increases, so do attacks on it.
Wheeler is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Asbury University and a regular contributor to CNN.com, The Atlantic, and other publications. Antony Davies is associate professor of economics at Duquesne University. James R. Harrigan is a fellow of the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State.
Antony Davies & James Harrigan, “Sorry CNN and David Wheeler, but a ‘Basic Income’ Wouldn’t End Poverty.” The Blaze. April 16, 2014
David R. Wheeler, “What if the government guaranteed you an income?” CNN.com, updated April 14, 2014.
BI News has learn that the Peace and Freedom Party added the following demand to its Platform: "A Universal Basic Income with full social benefits as a basic human right” at its March 22 Central Committee meeting in Culver City, CA. Peace and Freedom is the largest socialist party in the United States with more than 70,000 registered members.
The Summary Platform of the Peace and Freedom Party is online at: http://www.peaceandfreedom.org/home/about-us/platform/summary-platform
A general election was held in Québec (Canada) on April 7th, 2014. The Parti Libéral du Québec (PLQ), under leading of Philippe Couillard, won the elections, and now has 70 seats at the National Assembly - enough to form a majority government. On April 23rd, 2014, the new PM Philippe Couillard officially unveiled his cabinet, with no less than 26 ministers. Among them is Franćois Blais, who has just been elected as a new MP for the PLQ (in the electoral district of Charlesbourg, in Quebec-city). Blais will be the Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity in the Couillard government.
Franćois Blais - formerly Dean of Faculty at Laval University, Québec - is a long-standing advocate of basic income, and a Life Member of BIEN. In 2001, he published an introductory book on basic income in French, which was translated into English in 2002: "Ending Poverty. A Basic Income for all Canadians" (Lorimer Publishing).
Basic income, however, was not part of the PLQ platform for this general election. It is doubtful that Franćois Blais, as a Minister of Employment, will be able to put it on the agenda. On April 24, 2014, the daily Le Devoir wrote: "Philippe Couillard appointed Franćois Blais as his Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity. Blais, formerly Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Laval University, is above all an advocate of a guaranteed minimum income. However, the Prime Minister did not give a mandate to the new Minister to implement this ambitious reform".
Article in Le Devoir (in French)
CBC report (in English
Politicians and major European organisations working in the fields of health, poverty, democracy, education and the environment will discuss the potential benefits of unconditional basic income at the European Economic and Social Committee on Thursday, 10 April 2014. The conference will also mark the launch of a new network, Unconditional Basic Income Europe, which formed around the European Citizens Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income (ECI for UBI) last year. Citizens from 25 European countries have collaborated to hold this conference.
Entitled ‘Unconditional Basic Income: Emancipating European Welfare’, the conference will bring together activists, politicians, organisations and interested individuals to highlight the potential benefits of this idea. UBI gained an unprecedented amount of press coverage last year, and was backed by over 300,000 supporters across Europe during the ECI for UBI.
During its yearlong run the number of countries involved with this European Citizens’ Initiative swelled from 13 to 25. "As momentum built in the last two months of the collection period of the ECI on UBI, signatures doubled," said Klaus Sambor, general organiser of the ECI for UBI. The conference will celebrate organisers’ achievements during this ECI with reports from several of the countries involved, including the latest developments of UBI campaigns within their borders.
There will also be presentations from Guy Standing about a recent pilot project in India, Philippe van Parijs about his proposal for a ‘Eurodividend’ to be paid to all EU citizens, Ronald Blaschke of Netzwerk Grundeinskommen Germany on UBI’s potential to ameliorate hidden poverty. Others including Sian Jones of the European AntiPoverty Network and Plamen Dimitrov, President of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria will speak about UBI’s beneficial effects on health, the environment, democracy and social solidarity.
The conference’s moderator will be Karl Widerquist, coChair of the
Basic Income Earth Network
and editor of BINews.org. “With the
UBI movement,” Widerquist writes, “people are beginning to realise that there
is no freedom without freedom from poverty, and there is no freedom from
poverty without unconditional access to the basic necessities of life.”
Title of the Conference: “Unconditional Basic Income: Emancipating
Time and place: Thursday 10 April 2014 (9.30 – 17.30) European Economic and Social Committee, Van Maerlant Building 99 rue Belliard, 1040 Brussels (Room VM3, 2nd floor)
Registration required by 5pm, Monday 7 April: please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
For more information see: http://basicincomeeurope.org
Or contact: Barb Jacobson +44 7985 670 688
Campaigners are aiming to build upon the 285,000 signatures collected by a recent official EU effort, targeting the recruitment of a further million supporters using the website Avaaz. Standing at around 62,000 signatories at the time of writing, when the petition reaches its target it will be delivered to the European Commission.
For more information see:
Avaaz/Koen van H., “Our Chance to End Poverty”, Avaaz, 30th December 2014
On April 12th, a new milestone was reached by the basic income community on Reddit, aka /r/BasicIncome, with its surpassing of 10,000 global subscribers. On April 12th of last year, the number of subscribers was twelve.
Reddit is among the top most visited sites worldwide, with traffic last year exceeding 731 million unique visitors and 56 billion page views. Self-titled as “The Front Page of the Internet”, Reddit exists for the aggregation of links and text posts, all of which are voted up or down by its global community of registered users, such that popular posts rise and unpopular posts fall, with the additional ability of everyone to comment on everything. Many of the articles, images, and videos that end up being shared virally on the Internet, are discovered hours, days, or even weeks earlier as a popular post on Reddit. Such posts number in the millions and are categorized into “subreddits” which are the areas of interest any registered user can create on the site about anything.
The “BasicIncome” subreddit was created on 14 September 2012 where it did not reach 100 subscribers until the following year on 19 July 2013. Since then, /r/BasicIncome has experienced exponential growth, surpassing 1,000 subscribers on 23 September 2013, followed by 5,000 subscribers last month on 4 March 2014. Now with over 10,000 subscribers, it is currently ranked in the top 2,000 of all subreddits, of which there are over 340,000 total and growing daily.
An example of what has made this rate of growth possible is the news headlines Bill Gates recently made when speaking at the American Enterprise Institute. In emphasizing the coming replacement of jobs by technology within the next twenty years and how he believes people are not prepared for that kind of loss of demand for labor, a great amount of discussion occurred on Redditin multiple subreddits from a multitude of posted links, of which some made it to the front page where a single link can quickly garner hundreds of thousands of views. The resultant spike in traffic produced 745 new subscribers in a single day, /r/BasicIncome’s current single day record, andover 1,500 new subscribers that week.
Reflecting the convergence of political perspectives around the idea of basic income, /r/BasicIncome has written in their rules and guidelines that they are a “non-partisan subreddit” that does not support “any specific policy, political party or ideology (other than basic income).” As their subscriber numbers continue to grow, the /r/BasicIncome community on Reddit is already discussing means of organizing and achieving actionable goals of furthering the global conversation and attaining worldwide awareness of the idea.
For more information, see:
“/r/BasicIncome Metrics,” Redditmetrics.com, April 10, 2014. http://redditmetrics.com/r/BasicIncome.
Erik Martin, “Top Posts of 2013, Stats, and Snoo Year's Resolutions,” Redditblog.com, December 31, 2013. http://www.redditblog.com/2013/12/top-posts-of-2013-stats-and-snoo-years.html.
Julie Bort, “Bill Gates: People Don't Realize How Many Jobs Will Soon Be Replaced By Software Bots,” Business Insider, March 13, 2014. http://www.businessinsider.com/bill-gates-bots-are-taking-away-jobs-2014-3#ixzz2yQHHK2fx.
Robert Ghiz, the Premier of Prince Edward Island (PEI), might—or might not—be interested in a BIG pilot project in the provides. He announced in the provincial legislature on March 27 that he is interested in having a pilot project on “the Guaranteed Livable Income” (GLA) in PEI, according to reports from both the Charlottetown Guardian and CBC News. He said he will not move toward formal preparation right now, but he is currently discussing how it would work. He hopes that after national elections this fall, the new government will be interested in a pilot project, possibly in PIE.
GLA is a common word for BIG in Canada, and Ghiz made his remarks in context of two studies about BIG, but it is not certain that whether Ghiz has a genuine BIG in mind for the possible pilot. According to the Charlottetown Guardian, Ghiz clarified that a GLA would not mean everyone would get a salary from government. “If you’re still capable of working, you’re not going to qualify for a guaranteed livable income if there’s a job available to you, it’s for those people in our society that need help.” That statement conflicts with BIG in either the form of a negative income tax or an unconditional basic income. So, it is at this point unclear what Premier Ghiz means by GLA.
For more on this issue see the following articles:
Teresa Wright, “Guaranteed livable income a possibility for P.E.I., premier says,” The Guardian (Charlottetown, PEI, Canada), April 03, 2014.
CBC News “Guaranteed livable income plan possible, Ghiz confirms: Premier would like to see P.E.I. as centre of pilot project,” CBC News, Apr 04, 2014.
On Saturday 1st March the Green Party Spring Conference passed the following resolution:
We call upon [Green Party Executive Committee] to establish a working group (WG) drawing on expertise in the fields of taxation, social security and any other relevant fields, to calculate a Citizen’s Income at a level that is reasonable and affordable. We also call for a second WG to be established to create and propose a strategy to raise public awareness and support for a Citizen’s Income. We also call on Green Party Regional Council to ensure that a Citizen’s Income is included in the manifesto for the next General Election in 2015
The motion’s proposer, Alison Whalley, spoke extensively about Citizen’s Income (a form of BIG, also known as Unconditional Basic Income) in her address to the conference. At the same conference, Barb Jacobson, a housing and benefits adviser, gave a speech entitled “poverty is political,” in which she also spoke extensively on Citizen’s Income. According to Jacobson, “most crucially, Citizen’s Income enables us to decide how to use our time – it allows us to be free of stress, overwork, humiliation, and the bureaucratic nightmares that I encounter every week.”
For more information about the conference see the CIT Newsletter: http://www.citizensincome.org/resources/Newsletter20142.htm
Following the lead of Pirate Party’s in other countries, the Belgian Pirate Party has endorsed a basic income of 1,500 Euros per month. Pirate parties support civil rights, direct democracy, and participation in government. Their name derives from their support of the reform of copyright and patent law, free sharing of knowledge (open content), information privacy, transparency, freedom of information and network neutrality. The Belgian Pirate Party will take part in national elections for the first time this May.
For more information see:
Expatica, “1,500 euro basic income for all.” Expatica, 07/April/2014.
Colin Clapson, "1,500 euro basic income for all." Flanders News, 06/April/2014.
[F. H. Pitts]
Australia’s Pirate Party is considering adopting basic income as part of its tax platform, policy development documents posted online suggest. The draft framework proposes that the basic income could be delivered through the introduction of a negative income tax. However, their website advises that the policy is not yet finalized and represents neither the party’s present views nor their future intentions.
For more information see:
Pirate Party Australia, “PDC: Taxv2 policy working group”, The Pirate Party, Australia, 18th March 2014
At the end of January Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn regained a place in the German parliament with the Green Party. He had served as member of parliament from 2008 until 2013, but this year he took over from Priska Hinz, an opponent of Basic Income.
A key batttleground is HartzIV, the basic unemployment benefit in Germany. Strengmann-Kuhn has called on the government to make big changes to the current system, with latest figures showing increasing numbers of recipients receiving cuts to their benefits.
As a co-founder of the German BIEN, Strengmann-Kuhn has numerous Basic Income-related publications and will argue for it amongst policy makers.
Herbert Wilkens, “Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn wieder Bundestagsabgeordneter [Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn again a member of the Bundestag]”, Netzwerk Grundeinkommen, February 21 2014. https://www.grundeinkommen.de/21/02/2014/wolfgang-strengmann-kuhn-wieder-bundestagsabgeordneter.html
Christoph Cuntz, “Erneut als Nachrücker in den Bundestag [Again as successor in the parliament]”, Oberhessische Zeitung, January 8 2014. http://www.oberhessische-zeitung.de/politik/hessen/erneut-als-nachruecker-in-den-bundestag_13764451.htm
Markus Sievers, “Mehr Sanktionen gegen Hartz-IV-Bezieher [More sanctions against Hartz IV recipients]”, Berliner Zeitung, March 16 2014. http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/wirtschaft/strafmassnahmen-mehr-sanktionen-gegen-hartz-iv-bezieher,10808230,26571650.html.
On 1 May 2014 at 1200 Eastern
Time (GMT-05:00) people across the world together plan to post to Facebook,
Twitter and Tumblr hundreds of messages simultaneously in support of basic
income in celebration of May Day and International Workers' Day.
This action is being organized by the basic income community on Reddit and will be accomplished via Thunderclap, a "crowdspeaking platform" website where people can donate their social media reach on the above major social media platforms to collectively reach a greater number of people all at once than could usually ever be accomplished individually. This kind of action is referred to as "simultaneous scale" and functions similarly to Kickstarter, where a minimum number of participants are needed to sign up their accounts in order for any of the accounts to send out the message. It is an all or nothing action where if the goal isn't reached, no messages will be sent. With enough participants however, successfully reached goals make possible chosen keywords to trend on Twitter, which can lead to even greater reach of potentially millions of people. The current record for greatest reach goes to the Thunderclap for the first ever World Humanitarian Day which amplified its message to over one billion people thanks to the donations of their social media reach by celebrities like Rihanna and Lady Gaga, and businesses like Coca-Cola and MTV.
For more information, go to: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/10928-mayday-we-need-basic-income or the basic income community at .
"Case Study: World Humanitarian Day," Thunderclap.
Jeff Bercovici, "Thunderclap, A New Tool For Amplifying Your Tweet Into a Sonic Boom," Forbes, 31 May 2012.
Professor Guy Standing, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth
Network (BIEN) and author of several books, including The Precariat: The New
Dangerous Class (2011) will be doing an AMA on Reddit on 5 May 2014 at 1100
AMA stands for "Ask Me Anything" and provides the opportunity for someone to choose to answer any and all questions from the Reddit community, one of the world's most highly viewed websites with tens of millions of users. The /r/IAmA subreddit is one of Reddit's top ten most popular communities with over 5.3 million subscribers and a history of hugely popular interviews from the likes of Bill Gates to Arnold Schwarzenegger to President Barack Obama to more recently Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones with over 76,000 upvotes and almost 14,000 comments. A popular AMA on Reddit has the potential to bring a great deal of awareness to anything an interviewee may wish to promote, making AMAs an increasingly popular avenue for successful online promotion. The Basic Income community on Reddit has over 10,000 members. Standing’s AMA will draw interest from and possibly bring attention to that subreddit.
For more information, go to: www.reddit.com/r/IAmA or the basic income community at www.reddit.com/r/BasicIncome.
On Wednesday the 9th of April, Room for Discussion fostered an economic debate on basic income with Guy Standing—a British professor in Development Studies at SOAS (University of London) and one of the founders of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) advocating a European petition on basic income.
Who: Guy Standing
What: A Universal Basic Income
When: Wednesday 9 April 2014, 12.30h-13.30h
Where: Amsterdamse Academische Club, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 235, Amsterdam
More information: http://roomfordiscussion.tumblr.com/post/81390901273
Enno Schmidt will speak at BIEN's Congress from June 27th through the 29th. Schmidt is an activist and co-founder of the Initiative Basic Income in Switzerland and president of the Cultural Impulse Switzerland Foundation. Schmidt is known for his 2008 film "Basic Income – a Cultural Impulse," which has had a major influence in the basic income debate. The film is in German, but it is available with closed captions in English and in other languages.
Born 1958 in Osnabrück (Germany), he studied painting and art theory at the Academy of Fine Arts in Frankfurt am Main. Schmidt is a recipient of the Frankfurt Art Prize. He became a Managing Director and shareholder of the Enterprise Economy and Art – Extended GmbH and a Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes University. He contributed to creating the Future Foundation Social Life under the umbrella of the Trusteeship Office of the GLS Bank in Bochum, Germanyand held a teaching position at the Institute of Entrepreneurship, University of Karlsruhe. Living in Basel, since 2006 Schmidt has been a spokesperson for the initiative, author, filmmaker and presenter.
More information is available at: http://biencanada.ca/congress/keynote-speakers - enno
[Jason Burke Murphy]
Speaking at the BIEN congress will be Roberto Gargarella. He is Professor of Constitutional Theory and Political Philosophy at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. He will shortly take up a post as Leverhulme Trust Visiting Fellow at the Institute of the Americas, University College London. He is an expert on comparative constitutional political theory.
The Basic Income Earth Network Congress will be held in Montreal from June 26th through 29th. For more information on Roberto Gargarella, go to: http://biencanada.ca/congress/keynote-speakers - roberto.
Werner Rätz, of Attac Germany’s working group enough for all, gave a lecture on 10 April in Brussels entitled, “UBI, Health, Degrowth.” According to Ratz, although the subjects of health and degrowth are closely linked to UBI, the UBI-movement has paid low attention to them up to now.
The Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) Working Group for a Livable Income will host a Community Forum on the Basic Income Guarantee on Thursday, May 1, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the O'Leary Community Centre in Charlottetown, P.E.I. This meeting has been rescheduled; it has originally been planned for Thursday, April 24
Basic Income Guarantee (BIG)
Thursday, May 1, 6:30 to 8:30
O’Leary Community Centre,18 Community Street, Charlottetown, P.E.I.
For more information see:
Darlene Shea, “Tonight's guaranteed income community forum in O'Leary postponed.” Journal-Pioneer. April 24, 2014
Nigel Armstrong, “Workshops focus on basic income guarantee idea.” The Guardian. April 24, 2014.
The PEI Working Group for a Livable Income believes that Prince Edward Island would be an excellent home for a Basic Income Guarantee pilot project. The three community workshops that they are planning will give people a chance to learn more about BIG, and offer their ideas about how it might work, and why they think it’s important.
Each workshop will start at 6:30 p.m. and run until 8:30 p.m. There is no cost involved, and refreshments will be offered. Here are the dates:
Tuesday, April 22 – École Saint-Augustin, 2244 Church Rd (Route 243), South Rustico
Wednesday, April 23 – Silver Threads Club, 78 Main Street, Souris
Thursday, April 24 – O’Leary Community Centre, 18 Community Street, O’Leary
For more information, go to the
workshop website: http://www.cooperinstitute.ca/content/page/front_news/id/172
Call Cooper Institute, 894-4573
Friday 6th June 2014, 10.00 - 17.00, British Library Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom.
The British library will host this one-day conference in association with the Citizen's Income Trust. The conference aims to explore, analyze and debate the potential social, economic and labour market advantages of a having a Citizen's Income in the UK. A Citizen's Income is defined as 'an unconditional, automatic and non-withdrawable payment to each individual as a right of Citizenship' Confirmed speakers include Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party, Dr Tony Fitzpatrick, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, John McDonnell, M.P. and Professor Guy Standing, Professor of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies.
This event is free, but registration is essential as spaces are limited. To reserve a place please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information see the British Library’s forthcoming events calendar: http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/bldept/socsci/events/socscievents.html
This London Futurists Hangout On Air assembles an international panel of writers who have important things to say on the subject of the future of work: James Hughes, Martin Ford, Gary Marchant, and Marshall Brain. The panellists will be debating:
Š Are contemporary predictions of technological unemployment just repeating short-sighted worries from the 19th century “Luddites”?
Š What scope is there for a “Basic Income Guarantee” to address the needs of everyone who will struggle to find work in the new age of smarter robots?
Š What lessons can be learned from history, and from local experiments in different parts of the world?
Š How soon should society be preparing for the kinds of major changes that new generations of robots will bring?
The speakers will respond to live questions from viewers all over the world. Viewers of the live broadcast on Google+ will be able to vote in real time on questions and suggestions to be discussed by the panellists as the Hangout proceeds. Viewers can give ‘+1’ votes to the suggestions they most like.
Title: “Hangout on Air: Hughes, Brain @ Robots, unemployment, and basic income”
Date & time: Sunday, May 11, 2014 - 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Guy standing will launch his new book, A precariat charter: From denizens to citizens, at the University of London on May 6. Professor Emeritus John Weeks will chair the event.
Date: Tuesday 6 May 2014
Time: 6-8pm, including reception
Location: Brunei Gallery Building, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Thornhaugh Street.
For more information contact: Guy Standing <email@example.com>
At a seminar at the University of London on 5 March Guy Standing reported the results of a Citizen’s Income pilot project in which he has been involved in India over the past five years. In recent decades, India has relied on subsidised rice, wheat, sugar and kerosene to reduce poverty, but about three-quarters of the money allocated to the programme never reaches the people for whom it is intended. So an alternative method has now become essential. Cash transfers are the obvious solution, and for the pilot project it was decided that universal, individual, unconditional monthly payments would be the model to be tested. Guy Standing worked with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) on the pilots with finance provided by UNICEF.
There were three pilots. An initial small project in Delhi offered residents of a low-income area to choose between continuing with the subsidised goods or taking a cash transfer of equivalent value. . About half chose the Citizen’s Income. But after a few months of experience, over 20% of those who initially chose the subsidised food and kerosene asked to swap to the Citizen’s Income. All those who had taken the cash wished to remain with it.
The second pilot covered 20 villages in Madhya Pradesh. In eight villages every individual was paid a monthly Citizen’s Income while continuing to receive the subsidised food and kerosene, if they had been receiving them. Initially, each man and each woman received 200 Rupees a month, and each child 100, paid to the mother or surrogate mother. Subsequently, the Citizen’s Income was raised to 300 rupees per month for each adult, and 150 for each child up to the age of 14. These amounts were approximately one third of subsistence income. Twelve similar villages were taken as control villages in what was a modified randomised control trial, enabling the evaluation of the impact to compare individuals over time and with others like them who were not receiving the Citizen’s Income.
A third pilot was conducted in a tribal village, where every adult and every child received 300 or 150 rupees respectively. A second structurally similar tribal village was taken as the control village for comparative analysis.
In each of the 22 villages, a baseline survey (census) was undertaken and then evaluations carried out at six, twelve and eighteen months. In the villages in which a Citizen’s Income was received residents were required to open bank accounts within three months, and over 96% of them did so, the remainder being helped afterwards.
In the villages in which residents received the Citizen’s Income:
Š Latrines were built or improved;
Š Housing quality improved;
Š Mosquito nets and repellents proliferated;
Š Child weight-for-age moved closer to the normal distribution, and girls in particular benefited;
Š Diets improved, with more fresh fruit and pulses being consumed;
Š There was a lower incidence of illness;
Š Spending on medical care and on schooling increased;
Š 48 disabled people went to hospital when they were ill (and only two in the control villages);
Š Secondary school enrolment outstripped enrolment in the control villages, particularly for girls;
Š School performance rose;
Š Indebtedness fell, and some men managed to escape from debt bondage. In the local naukar system, someone in debt has to work for the person to whom they owe money.
Particularly important results in relation to the critic-isms sometimes levelled at a Citizen’s Income were:
Š Alcohol and tobacco use did not rise;
Š There was a general increase in economic activity, particularly amongst women;
Š The purchase of productive assets increased: goats, chickens, bullocks, buffaloes and sewing machines;
Š More people in the Citizen’s Income villages increased their earned incomes than did those in the control villages. (An increase in work days was mainly generated by increases in second main economic activities and by a shift to own-account labour).
Š Child labour shifted from external wage labour to work with adult relatives in own-account farming: a form of labour that is less disruptive to schooling.
What is particularly significant about these results is that they were obtained with a Citizen’s Income that was only about one third of subsistence income.
Questions and discussion followed the presentation.
Seminar led by Guy Standing, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, on the 5th March 2014.
A conference, entitled, “Citizen’s Income: A solid foundation for tomorrow’s benefits system,” will take place on Friday 6th June at the British Library (Euston Road, London) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Speakers already confirmed include Natalie Bennett (Leader of the Green Party), Dr. Tony Fitzpatrick (Nottingham University), John McDonnell MP, Professor Guy Standing (SOAS).
The event will be genuinely a conference, in the sense that participants shall be conferring with each other over particular issues that face the debate on Citizen’s Income and that would face the policy’s implementation. Political feasibility, the design and modelling of alternative schemes, and funding options, have already been suggested as topics that require in-depth discussion.
Organizers ask people to register their interest in attending by sending name and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, June 26, the day before the Basic Income Earth Network Congress in Montreal, there will be a North American Basic Income Guarantee (NABIG) Workshop.
The goal of this workshop is to bring together activists, scholars, and anyone with an interest in basic income to talk about whether and how basic income can be advanced politically, and how to address media and public perceptions of basic income.
This conversation should include people interested in reducing poverty and inequality, or sharing resources more equitably, or empowering workers (both wage workers and people doing unpaid work, care work, etc.), or sharing the burdens of carbon taxation by distributing carbon dividends, or reforming taxes by means of resource taxation and citizen dividends.
Members of USBIG and others interested in the topic are encouraged to attend the workshop, whether or not they plan to attend the BIEN Congress that follows. Those wishing to attend only the workshop need not pay the full conference fee for the BIEN Congress.
For more information, see the BIEN Congress webpage on the workshop: http://biencanada.ca/congress/nabig-workshop or contact Michael.email@example.com.
Registration is now open for the 15th BIEN Congress, scheduled to take place on 27-29 June 2014 at McGill University (Montreal) on the theme of “Re-democratizing the Economy.” Organizers have added several keynote speakers to their original list:
• Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), United Nations
• Roberto Gargarella, Professor of Constitutional Theory and Political Philosophy at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor at University College London
• Renana Jhabvala, President of the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), Bharat, India
• Stanislas Jourdan, Co-founder of the French Movement for Basic Income and Coordinator for Unconditional Basic Income Europe (UBIE)
• Enno Schmidt, Co-founder of the Initiative Basic Income in Switzerland and president of the Cultural Impulse Switzerland Foundation
• Joe Soss, Cowles Chair for the Study of Public Service at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
• Guy Standing, Professor in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and Co-President, BIEN
Registration info is available at http://biencanada.ca/congress/registration.
The conference program is online at http://biencanada.ca/congress/congress-program.
The “15th International Congress of the Basic Income Earth Network: Re-democratizing the Economy” has released its tentative program. The Congress will take place at McGill Faculty of Law, Montreal, Quebec from Friday June 27th to Sunday June 29th, 2014, and in addition the 13th annual North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress will take place at the same venue on June 26. BIEN has held conferences on basic income every two years since 1986.
The program is online at: http://biencanada.ca/congress/congress-program
All BI News features are online at: http://binews.org/ (click “features”).
Anne Miller, May 5, 2014
A seminar and round-table discussion entitled ‘Beyond Welfare Reform to a Citizen’s Income: the desirability and feasibility of a CI scheme’, was hosted by Jim Eadie, Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) on Wednesday 15 January at the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. Over 60 people attended, including four other MSPs and some Parliamentary Assistants. The majority of the participants were employees and activists in the Voluntary Sector, together with representatives from several Scottish churches, civil servants, academics, and some private individuals. […]
Keith McNeill, April 28, 2014
No doubt most Basic Income News readers are aware of an interesting intersection where the arguments for basic income overlap with the arguments on how to best control global warming. […]
Malcolm Torry, April 21, 2014
Discussions of the advantages of a universal unconditional and nonwithdrawable benefits will generally list both the lower marginal deduction rates that individuals would experience compared with those imposed by means-tested benefits, and such social benefits as a greater social cohesion generated by everyone receiving the same Citizen’s Income. What is not always recognised is that changes experienced by one individual might cause changes for another. […]
Scott Santens, April 14, 2014
The purchase of Oculus by Facebook for $2 billion is the new best example of the growing inequality inherent in 21st century capitalism – what Paul Mason describes as the The Fourth Wave. A few people just got really rich, while the thousands of people who helped build the company from nothing, through $2.5 million of crowdsourced capital and a thriving open-source developer community didn’t. […]
Ian Orton, April 7, 2014
The increasing use of conditional cash transfers (CCTs) has perhaps been one of the most significant additions to the social development agenda of late. CCTs are now key components of many governments’ poverty elimination programmes and feature centrally in the UN’s current Social Protection Floor initiative. The mainstream media has also taken note and lent support in favour of their adoption. […]
Geoff Crocke, March 28, 2014
Malcolm Torry, Money for Everyone: Why we need a Citizen’s Income, Policy Press, 2013. Malcolm Torry delivers a blockbuster argument in favour of a Citizen’s Income to wholly or partially replace current benefits. His book is well-researched, well-informed, well-written, [...]
Malcom Torry, March 21, 2014
David Reisman, The Social Economics of Thorstein Veblen, Edward Elgar, 2012. The dust jacket suggests that Thorstein Veblen’s writings are ‘difficult to read and understand’. Perhaps they are, but most of the many passages quoted in Reisman’s book are not. ‘The institutional structure of society [...]
CIT by Malcom Torry, March 14, 2014
Nathalie Morel, Bruno Palier and Joakim Palme (eds), Towards a Social Investment Welfare State? Ideas, policies and challenges, Policy Press, 2012. Is the welfare state a cost or an investment? To take two examples: unemployment benefit is a cost; [...]
In this short post the author cites the prospect of long-term technologically driven unemployment as a fundamental reason behind his endorsement of Switzerland’s basic income guarantee proposal.
Philip Khaled Brenan, “Switzerland, the Basic Income, and Technological Unemployment”, The Cat House, March 26, 2014.
SUMMARY: Retired psychiatrist
Dr. Gill Caradoc-Davies argues the term "child poverty" is
misplaced. Children are by their nature "embedded" in their
families, and to address child poverty it will be necessary for countries like
New Zealand to address poverty in its entirety. To accomplish that, the
author argues, a universal basic income is the best approach.
Dr. Gill Caradoc-Davies, "Urgent need to alter NZ's wealth", Otago Daily Times, March 28, 2014
SUMMARY: With technology increasingly taking the place of unskilled workers in particular, this article argues a basic income guarantee offers a way to provide a universal safety net that will enable us to adjust to the changing relationship between capital and work. The Swiss, the author claims, may be the first country to demonstrate adopting a BIG may be politically feasible.
Raphael Gray, "Learning to Live With Machines: We need to take the idea of a universal basic income seriously", New Statesman, March 26, 2014.
SUMMARY: This article states that a universal income would diminish rather than expand individual autonomy. The author argues for "focusing on the liberation of mutual aid" and returning to the development of lodges, fraternities and other civic organizations to escape careerism.
Ryan Calhoun, "The Universal Basic Income: Another Tool for Disciplining the Poor", Epoch Times, March 23, 2014
SUMMARY: This article contends that technological and economic changes have prevented Europe from solving its unemployment crisis. The continent has a glut of highly skilled and educated workers, but few places to put them. According to the author, an unconditional basic income would enable Europe to utilize its largely untapped human potential in ways it currently cannot, and with growing attention being paid to inequality, it may be getting to close to giving it a try.
Matthew Timms, "Will unconditional basic income solve Europe's problems?", World Finance, March 18, 2014.
SUMMARY: This blog post raises concerns about the feasibility of keeping a unconditional basic income guarantee unconditional for very long.
Jacob T. Levy, "A worry about basic income", Bleeding Heart Libertarians, March 18, 2014.
SUMMARY: In spite of significant productivity gains in recent decades, wages have remained largely stagnant. These gains have also translated into fewer workers to produce as much or more than they used to. Among the solutions the author asks us to consider as part of a more collaborative "sharing economy" is a universal basic income.
Arthur de Grave, "The Sharing Economy: Capitalism's Last Stand?", OUIShare, March 21, 2014.
SUMMARY: From fighting poverty
to simple human dignity, this post outlines some reasons Americans should start
giving a basic income guarantee some renewed consideration.
Lynn Stuart Parramore, "5 Reasons to Consider a No-Strings Attached, Basic Income for All Americans", AlterNet, March 17, 2014.
SUMMARY: In this paper Professor Toru Yamamori of Doshisha University explores the struggles and contributions of single mothers in the United Kingdom's basic income movement. This paper was first presented at the Seoul Basic Income International Conference 2010.
Toru Yamamori, "Missing Women: The Forgotten Struggles of Single Mothers for Basic Income", Academia.edu, January 27-28 2010.
David Jenkins with Basic Income UK makes the connection between long lines at local foodbanks and the need for a basic income guarantee.
David Jenkins, "Joining the Dots", Basic Income UK, April 16, 2014.
SUMMARY: GiveDirectly is a private charity that gives donations to people in impoverished African regions in essentially a BIG model: in cash with no strings attached.
David Ogul, “Delivering Charity Directly to the Hands of the Needy.” Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2014.
In this comment piece, John Harris of the Guardian suggests that the demand for a basic income should form a part of new centre-left political agenda better suited to the changed social and economic territory of the twenty-first century.
John Harris, “The Tories own the future – the left is trapped in the past”, The Guardian, 2nd April 2014.
ABSTRACT: This paper deals with the effects of implementing a basic income on the labor supply side. The German welfare as well as tax and social contributions system are investigated. The results clarify that the abolishment of the so-called unemployment trap due to a basic income policy is a decisive advantage of this approach. In order to demonstrate possible labor supply side reactions to a basic income policy, we use the neoclassical labor supply model and adapt it for our purposes. We compare the effects of implementing a basic income on different types of employees concerning their consumption preferences. We show that, even in the neoclassical labor supply model without intrinsic work motivation, the basic income increases the participation rate in the labor market. Furthermore, current employees are partially incited to increase their labor supply. Therefore, a basic income would not only reduce unemployment but could also expand the magnitude of employment.
Gilroy Bernard Michael, Heimann Anastasia, & Schopf Mark, 2013. "Basic Income and Labour Supply: The German Case," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 43-70, July.
SUMMARY: Every month the New Internationalist invites two experts to debate, and then invite readers to join the conversation online. This April Barb Jacobson and author and Francine Mestrum debate basic income. YES: Barb Jacobson is co-ordinator of Basic Income UK. A former member of Wages for Housework, she has been active in community organizations since 1991, mainly around housing and health. She works for the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association in central London. NO: Francine Mestrum has a PhD in social sciences. Her research concerns social development, poverty, inequality, globalization and gender relations. She is co-ordinator of Global Social Justice and represents CETRI (Centre Tricontinental) in the International Council of the World Social Forum.
Barb Jacobson and Francine Mestrum, “Should there be a basic income?” The New Internationalist Magazine, April 2014
According to this article, “The only reason standards of living are not improving is that productivity gains go almost exclusively to the top one percent. The only reason the economy is stagnant is because the average American doesn’t have enough money in his or her pocket. A Basic Income Guarantee solves both problems.”
Tom Streithorst, “The Road to Recovery: On the state of the economy and how to fix it.” Los Angeles Review of Books. March 20th, 2014
SUMMARY: This article argues that basic income is bad for the poor and for the economy in general. The author writes, “I have already pointed out how the guaranteed income plan, if adopted in the form that its advocates propose, would lead to wholesale idleness and pauperization among nearly all those earning less than the minimum guarantee, and among many earning just a little more. But in addition to the erosion of the incentive to work, there would be just as serious an erosion of the incentive to save. … It is not merely the effect of guaranteed-income proposals in undermining the incentives of those earning less than the guarantee that we need to be concerned about, but the effect of such proposals in undermining the incentives of those much further up in the income scale.”
Henry Hazlitt, “Incentives, Income, and Welfare.” Mises Economics Blog. February 7th, 2014.
SUMMARY: This article discusses the problems of wealth inequality discussed in Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Bruening suggests that a progressive wealth tax put into a sovereign wealth fund paying out a basic income should be a frontrunner as a solution to the problem Piketty points out.
Matt Bruenig, “On Piketty's Capital: The Sovereign Wealth Fund Solution.” PolicyShop, Demos. March 19, 2014.
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Democratic Wealth is a collection of essays that challenges the poverty of thinking around economic policy, particularly after the 2007 financial crash. It explores the renewed interest in republicanism and suggests this as a framework to shape an economy that serves the common good. It is a selection of articles from a series published by openDemocracy and Politics in Spires, a blog run by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
The book is split into three parts. The first, Taking Back the Economy, features contributions from Philip Pettit, Thad Williamson, Joe Guinan, Jessica Kimpell and others on republican thinking and the market. The second, Republican Economy in Practice, looks at application around the globe, including contributions on cooperatives, sovereign wealth funds, basic income, tax fairness and green solutions and discusses how to develop these models at scale. In the third, Republican Politics, contributors including Quentin Skinner, Alex Gourevitch and Karma Nabulsi discuss the politics of republicanism, from challenging the surveillance state to democratising the workplace and harnessing the demands of new social movements for freedom from domination by the one per cent. It ends with an afterword by James Meadway, senior economist at nef, on clearing a path for a better future.
It is available for free online
Stuart White and Niki Seth-Smith, Democratic Wealth: Building a Citizens’ Economy (E-book). Published by OpenDemocracy, 2014.
SUMMARY: Brazil’s Conditional Cash Transfer program was intentionally created as a step toward a basic income. In this article, Carlos Góes discusses the libertarian roots of Conditional Cash Transfer programs and why they work. Carlos Góes, originally from Brazil, is an economic analyst who lives in Washington, DC, where he works in the multilateral sector.
Carlos Góes, “Why Bolsa Familia Works.” No Se Mancha, March 19, 2014.
SUMMARY: This article uses the “surprising” results of Cherokee basic income to take a look at the convention (and conservative) approach to poverty. The author argues, “almost every single anti-poverty effort is supposed to work this exact same way … by increasing so-called human capital … Walk yourself through the process that leads from increasing human capital to decreasing poverty. It goes like this: increasing the human capital of poor people will cause them to have a greater productive capacity, which will cause them to get better jobs, which will cause them to get higher pay, which will cause them to have more money, which will cause them to not be poor anymore. Talking about human capital obscures the mechanism of this conservative approach to poverty reduction, but that mechanism is ultimately increasing the cash incomes of poor people. You cannot consistently believe that 1) increasing human capital will make poor people less poor, and 2) increasing cash transfers will not make poor people less poor.”
Matt Bruenig is a journalist who write about politics, the economy, and political theory, primarily with a focus on the set of interlocking issues that affect poor and working people. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, The American Prospect, Salon, The Week, Demos’ Policy Shop, Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Guardian, Forbes, NY Magazine, Mother Jones, Slate, Washington Monthly, Think Progress, Roosevelt Institute, Dissent Magazine, Jacobin Magazine, and elsewhere. He has lately written several articles on BIG.
Matt Bruenig, “A Cherokee Tribe's Basic Income Success Story.” Policy Shop, Demos, January 19, 2014
SUMMARY: Although this article doesn’t mention basic income by name, it argues that direct payments are a powerful tool to combat income inequality and crippling unemployment.
Ryan Cooper, “A Simple Way to Ease Our Economic Woes: Give Every American $2,000.” Washington Monthly, March 6, 2014. This article original appeared in the Washington Monthly and was reposted by Alternet.
SUMMARY: This opinion piece considers basic income as a solution to a more precarious labor market. Sarah Jaffe is a staff writer at In These Times and the co-host of Dissent magazine's Belabored podcast. Her writings on labor, social movements, gender, media, and student debt have been published in The Atlantic, The Nation, The American Prospect, AlterNet, and many other publications, and she is a regular commentator for radio and television.
Sarah Jaffe, “The End of Jobs?” In These Times, Mar 21, 2014
SUMMARY: According to this article what some people have called “Hayekian Socialism” is not socialism at all, since there is no state ownership of the means of production. Instead, Nobel Prize-winning economist, F.A. Hayek argued that society should provide a guaranteed minimum income for its citizens.
Mike Munger, “Libertarian Mungerfesto: Part V–Hayekian Socialism.” Bleeding Heart Libertarians. March 16, 2014.
SUMMARY: This article asks, in a time of emerging technologies, while artificial intelligence and adaptability of robots is getting better, a new problem may come up: will machines monopolize all active positions in our society? Under the name “universal income,” it considers basic income as one possible solution. This article was written in French and translated into English by Cyril Gazengel.
Marc Roux, “The Labor Transition: Shall we prepare for an “end of work”?” Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Mar 14, 2014
SUMMARY: This article does not directly mention basic income, but the arguments within in for moving in that direction are clear. The authors argue, “Cash grants to the poor are as good as many traditional forms of aid when it comes to reducing poverty. … Fears that poor people waste cash are simply not borne out by the available data.” They argue that traditional forms of assistance waste a lot of money that direct cash grants do not.
Christopher Blattman and Paul Niehaus, “Show Them the Money: Why Giving Cash Helps Alleviate Poverty.” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2014 Issue.
Matthew Yglesias, “Fight Poverty by Giving Poor People Money.” Slate, January 19, 2014.
SUMMARY: This piece argues to those opposed to redistribution in general that redistribution without intrusive regulation of the poor (i.e. BIG) is better than redistribution with regulation of the poor (i.e. the familiar welfare system).
Jacob T. Levy, “An argument about regulation.” Bleeding Heart Libertarians. February 4, 2014.
SUMMARY: This blog reacts to the large and growing wealth inequality in Britain, now at the point at which the wealthiest five families control the same amount of wealth as 12.6 million people put together. The author expresses dismay that the country could let this happen after coming together to create the post-war welfare state, and suggests a basic income financed by land and Tobin taxes as a solution.
Jax Blunt, “The one on inequality, basic income and anger.” Making It Up. April 21, 2014.
[Jason Burke Murphy]
The executive director of the Citizen's Climate Lobby, Mark Reynolds, has written an article for the Salt Lake Tribune calling for a carbon cap, fees, and a Basic Income Guarantee. "Cap and Dividend" would require permits be auctioned in order to limit carbon pollution. The dividend would not be large but it would make sure the cap not have a regressive effect. Once a small dividend is implemented, it may provide a rallying point for those who want a larger guaranteed income.
Mark Reynolds, “Op-ed: Time to tax carbon and give taxpayers the money.” The Salt Lake Tribune Apr 18 2014.
SUMMARY: In this blog post, author Bob Adelmann offers a critique of President Obama’s proposal to double the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program. The EITC was modeled after economist Milton Friedman’s “negative income tax” idea. Currently the EITC offers workers with children a tax credit of just over $500 on incomes of up to $6,570 according to the author, but the tax credit begins to decline once incomes reach $8,220.
Bob Adelmann, “President Proposes Doubling Tax Subsidy for the Poor”, The New American, March 13, 2014.
SUMMARY: The PBS NewHour's "Making Sen$e" column gives us more from their interview with Libertarian-leaning economist Veronique de Rugy. Excerpts were found in the PBS video we posted earlier. The editor notes that de Rugy "doesn't sound that different from Graeber".
Véronique de Rugy, “What’s the welfare initiative uniting liberals and conservatives?” PBS News Hour, April 16, 2014.
SUMARY: The Swiss native and Harvard Business School professor suggests that Europeans and Americans have differing beliefs about the causes of rising income inequality. Because Europeans are more likely to believe that wealth is attributable to luck and inheritance, they are more likely to support redistributive policies such as the proposed Swiss basic income guarantee.
Felix Oberholzer-Gee, “Will a guaranteed income ever come to America?” PBS Newshour, April 7, 2014
SUMMARY: interviewee, conservative blogger Megan McArdle, argues against the Basic Income Guarantee, saying that it couldn’t replace the existing social welfare system, as some of her fellow conservatives suggest. Instead, she says it would end up doubling the federal budget. And at the same time, because the U.S. would have to halt immigration from poorer countries, she fears it would increase global poverty.
Megan McArdle, “How a basic income in the U.S. could increase global poverty.” PBS News Hour.” [a PBS Interview with Megan McArdle], April 18, 2014
AUTHOR'S SUMMARY: We should look again at our welfare system and consider the idea of a citizen's or basic income - a minimum survival payment granted to everyone - in place of means-tested benefits
Hannah Fearn, “How about a 'citizen's income' instead of benefits?” The Guardian, 8 April 2014.
SUMMARY: This article discusses “Modern Monetary Theory” (MMT), an economic school of thought within the Post Keynesian tradition. Most MMT theorists favor a government guaranteed job. This essay discusses the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) as an alternative. Some MMT theorists favor the idea, but most believe BIG would create more inflationary pressure than a guaranteed job.
Rebecca Rojer, “The World According to Modern Monetary Theory.” The New Inquiry, April 11, 2014.
Following up to their 9-minute story on basic income, the PBS News Hour has published a text interview with David Graeber on the topic of basic income. Graeber, a professor of anthropology and the London School of Economics, is a leader of the Occupy Movement, and he has recently become an outspoken advocate of basic income. Paul Solman’s conducted the interview in which Graeber discusses how a basic income would liberate people from wage slavery.
Paul Solman, “Why America’s favorite anarchist thinks most American workers are slaves [interview of David Graeber].” The PBS News Hour, April 17, 2014.
SUMMARY: This article argues that Basic Income proponents claim to advance the cause for the disadvantaged, but in fact they block strategies that would really help the one billion most disadvantaged people on the planet, concluding, “Do we see pure evil here or not?” Thomas Cool is an econometrician and teacher in mathematics in Scheveningen, Holland.
Thomas Cool, “The pure evil of a Basic Income.” Boycott Holland, April 20, 2014.
SUMMARY: Philippe Van Parijs is a Belgian philosopher and professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL). He talked to EurActiv’s Tanja Milevska. In this interview given after the conference on the “Unconditional Basic Income” (UBI) organised in the European Economic and Social Committee, Van Parijs argued that the EU should put in place such a basic income for all of its citizens, to help it escape the crisis, and to show that it is a community that “cares” for all its members.
Tanja Milevska, “Van Parijs: An unconditional basic income in Europe will help end the crisis [Interview].” EurActiv, 11/04/2014.
SUMMARY: This article gives an extended report on the April 10 conference, dedicated to the Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) in Europe and on the movement for UBI connected with the conference. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted the conference, which gathered well-known writers, philosophers and activists to reflect on the possibilities to introduce the UBI at the EU level.
Tanja Milevska, “EU ‘has the power’ to put in place a universal basic income.” EurActiv, 14/04/2014.
Antony Davies & James Harrigan, “Sorry CNN and David Wheeler, but a ‘Basic Income’ Wouldn’t End Poverty.” The Blaze. April 16, 2014
SUMMARY: Bill Jordan makes the case for a global Basic Income, an idea that has finally come of age. He writes, “For 40 years now I have been advocating for an unconditional Basic Income (BI) – a regular state payment to each citizen of the affluent societies, regardless of work status or household role, also called ‘Citizens Income’. During this time, the arguments in its favour have enormously strengthened. What seemed in the 1970s to be long-term threats to employment security, income equality and free civic participation, have become grim realities, especially for the youngest generation.” Bill Jordan is Professor of Social Policy at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom.
Bill Jordan, “Free money is no longer the stuff of utopia.” New Internationalist, March 3, 2014.
This article has received more than 10,000 comments in the first three days since it was Posted. The author, David R. Wheeler, argues that the basic income guarantee is a simple solution to unemployment and underemployment, that it is cheaper than our current social safety net, and that it is gaining adherents on both sides of the political spectrum. The story also includes a pictorial history of inequality in America. Wheeler is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Asbury University and a regular contributor to CNN.com, The Atlantic, and other publications.
David R. Wheeler, “What
if the government guaranteed you an income?” CNN.com, updated April 14, 2014.
According to the author, “One major difference that exists within the proposal of an Unconditional Basic Income to every individual and the Living Income Guaranteed, is that Basic Income focuses on Demanding the right to life, that is: demanding to the current government within the current system as it currently exists to provide the money – which we already give in the form of taxes – as a basic income, and that’s it. This elemental mechanism overlooks the necessity to address the structural problems that the system is founded upon, such as the lack of structures and mechanisms in which the profits that are usually amassed only by a few in our societies are given back to the society in a sustainable and supportive manner.”
Living Income, “To Demand Change or to Create Solutions for Change?” Living Income, March 6, 2014.
ABSTRACT: This paper discusses strategies for providing a social safety net and argues that the Basic Income Grant (BIG) is the best way forward for Namibia. BIG is a regular, unconditional income given to all individuals as a right of citizenship. This paper draws on international experience from countries (such as the United States, Brazil, India, Kenya, and others) that have experimented with BIG or employed some form of cash transfer. It compares these experiences with the more traditional targeted approach, in which recipients are required to work unless they can show they are unable to work or unable to find work. It discusses the successes and weaknesses of various approaches and the pros and cons of implementing unconditional cash transfers versus targeted programs. It assesses the potential financing of a fiscally sustainable BIG and the impact of BIG on poverty and inequality for Namibia.
Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University. He holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory from Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He was a founding editor of the journal Basic Income Studies. He has published articles in journals such as Political Studies; the Eastern Economic Journal; Politics and Society; and Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. He has published six books including: Independence, Propertylessless, and Basic Income: A theory of freedom as the power to say no (author), Basic Income: An Anthology of Contemporary Research (co-editor); and Exporting the Alaska Model: Adapting the Permanent Fund Dividend for Reform around the World.
Karl Widerquist, “The Basic Income Grant as Social Safety Net for Namibia: Experience and lessons from around the world,” in Social safety nets in Namibia: Assessing current programmes and future options, Research Department of the Bank of Namibia (editor), Windhoek, Namibia: Bank of Namibia, September 26, 2013, pp. 43-67
SUMMARY: This issue of the Citizen’s Income Newsletter includes conference announcements, editorials, news, opinion, and book reviews.
Citizen’s Income Trust, Citizen’s Income newsletter 2014, Issue 2.
SUMMARY: In this video Malcolm Henry, author of the book Our Money, explains how we might eliminate our reliance on debt to fuel our economy through what he calls a "negative interest rate", and use the dividends earned to finance an equitable guaranteed income for every citizen.
Malcolm Henry, "Crazy Money", Youtube, March 7, 2014
Video: “Unconditional basic income ‘will be liberating for everyone’”
SUMMARY: In this brief interview Barbara Jacobson, one of the organizers of the European Citizens’ Initiative, explains why a basic income guarantee is good for society as a whole, not just for those struggling to survive on a low income.
World Finance, “Unconditional basic income ‘will be liberating for everyone’”, World Finance, Youtube, March 24, 2014.
AUTHOR’S SUMMARY: Living in poverty in Prince Edward Island is not pretty, and it is not necessary. Hear the voices of Prince Edward Island women talking about their experience living in low income. See photos of "our reality" taken by Prince Edward Island women who are seeking a good livelihood. Find out why we need a basic income guarantee for Prince Edward Island.
Campaign for a Basic Income Guarantee for PEI (C-BIG PEI), “Why Basic Income? Campaign for a Basic Income Guarantee for PEI.” Vimeo, April 24, 2014.
On April 9, Room for Discussion hosted a special session about the Universal Basic Income. With guests Guy Standing (University of London) and Paul de Beer (University of Amsterdam), interviewers, Donald Kreiken and Alwin Lijdsman discussed the pro's and con's of the basic income, its feasibility, and other topics.
Donald Kreiken & Alwin Lijdsman, “Room for Discussion presents: The Universal Basic Income with Guy Standing and Paul de Beer.” Room for Discussion, YouTube, Apr 9, 2014.
The U.S. Public Broadcasting System has run a 9-minute piece on Basic Income in its show News Hour. The “Making Sense” economics correspondent reports on the Swiss basic income referendum and explains that the idea is gaining traction across party lines in the US, although proponents differ about how and if a basic income guarantee would work.
Paul Solman, “Idea of paying citizens a yearly stipend is gaining support in Switzerland.” PBS Newshour, April 7, 2014
SUMMARY: This video is from a conference in Brussels organized by Unconditional Basic Income Europe. Philippe Van Parijs, Chair of Advisory Board of BIEN and a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain speaks on “Euro-Dividend: An example for an partial basic income in Europe.” Guy Standing, Honorary Co-President of BIEN, speaks on “What can we learn from Namibian and Indian experiments with unconditional cash transfers?” The video was recorded on April 9, 2014. The Moderator is Karl Widerquist, co-chair of BIEN and editor if BInews.org.
VIDEO: UBIE Conference: Philippe Van Parijs and Guy Standing on the growing UBI movement. YouTube, posted April 18, 2014.
SUMMARY: Switzerland could soon adopt an Unconditional Basic Income or UBI which means every adult national would receive a monthly paycheck of approximately $2,800 from the government. The money is guaranteed regardless of employment status. Proponents say UBI would end poverty. Opponents worry it would harm Switzerland's competitiveness. In this episode, the Stream speaks about this issue with: Stanislas Jourdan, Coordinator, Unconditional Basic Income Europe, Ash Navabi, Blogger, Mises Institute Canada, Enno Schmidt, Co-founder, Basic Income Initiative, Switzerland, Francine Mestrum, Founder, Global Social Justice.
The Stream, “Income for All: Could adopting unconditional basic income end poverty?” AlJazeera. Broadcast March 20, 2014.
The Stream’s website is: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201403200004-0023573
This episode of the Stream is online in full on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfU0g5h6KSk
This page contains a calculator which can be used to design a guaranteed basic income (another word for “basic income guarantee” or “negative income tax”) in the United States, using hard Census data and spending data from the Congressional Budget Office. In its basic form, the tool only requires two inputs to calculate the costs of various forms of a guaranteed basic income: (1) the size of guaranteed basic income (in dollars) for every American over the age of 18 years old and (2) an effective tax rate to limit those benefits as income is earned.
In its advanced form, the tool allows readers to pick and choose from line items in the CBO’s 2014 Fiscal Outlook. It automatically tallies that spending and compares proposed levels to the cost of the currently active programs in the United States. The homepage includes an extensive discussion of how it works and the methodology used to create it.
The calculator’s home page is: http://dqydj.net/a-guaranteed-basic-income-cost-calculator-solving-poverty-in-america/.
A link directly to the calculator is: http://dqydj.net/scripts/fullhtml/2013negativeincometax.html.
For up-to-the-day news on BIG, see Basic Income News at
www.BInews.org. 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
The USBIG NewsFlash
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Research: Paul Nollen
Thanks to everyone who helped this issue.
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. More news about BIG is online at BInews.org.
You may copy and circulate articles from this NewsFlash, 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 NewsFlash and the USBIG website are gladly welcomed.
-Karl Widerquist, editor