Universal Basic Income (UBI)


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Talking with Riane Eisler on Changing the Whole System RIANE EISLER | MARCH 16, 2016


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To Lift Quality of Life and Economy, Finland Champions Universal Basic Income Posted on Dec 6, 2015. By Jon Queally / Common Dreams

As a way to improve living standards and boosts its economy, the nation of Finland is moving closer towards offering all of its adult citizens a basic permanent income of approximately 800 euros per month.

The monthly allotment would replace other existing social benefits, but is an idea long advocated for by progressive-minded social scientists and economists as a solution—counter-intuitive as it may first appear at first—that actually decreases government expenditures and unemployment while boosting both productivity and quality of life.

And the idea, according to Irish writer and researcher Anne B. Ryan, author of the book “Enough Is Plenty,” is one that deserves much more serious attention and consideration that it currently receives. In this primer on the idea, Ryan explains the essential features and positive benefits of a universal basic income:

"Basic income is a regular and unconditional distribution of money by the state to every member of society, whether they engage in paid work or not. Basic income is always tax-free and it replaces social welfare payments, child benefit and the state pension as we currently know them. It also extends to all those who currently receive no income from the state. Ideally, a basic income would be sufficient for each person to have a frugal but decent lifestyle without supplementary income from paid work.

Basic income would bring into the security net all those not served by the current system: casual and short-contract workers who get no or limited sick pay, holiday pay or pension rights; self-employed people and business owners; those doing valuable unpaid work, including care, which adds value to society and economy. Basic income would increase everybody’s capacity to cope with financial shocks and uncertainties and would improve general quality of life, while supporting many different kinds of work, with or without pay.

Currently, those receiving welfare are badly served by the system: if they take paid work, especially low-paid or temporary, they often lose out financially, in a ‘benefits trap’. With basic income, there would always be a financial incentive for people to earn a taxable income, should a job be available. Employers would also welcome the ending of the benefits trap.

Why We Need a Guaranteed Income. Soon. The concept of a Basic Income in the U.S. goes back to Thomas Paine, one of the driving forces for independence and inequality during the American Revolution. More recently, it’s been supported by very non-liberal individuals like Fredrick Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Richard Nixon.

Back in the U.S., the Alaska Permanent Fund has thrived for 35 years, even with anti-socialist conservatives in power. Texas has long employed a “Permanent School Fund” to distribute funds from mineral rights to the public education system. Wyoming has used a similar “Mineral Trust Fund” to help eliminate state income taxes. Nebraska distributes low-cost electricity from a publicly owned utility. Oregon has used the proceeds from wind energy to return hundreds of dollars to households. Vermont has proposed “Common Assets Trust” to raise money from taxes on pollution and pay dividends to residents.

A recent study of 18 European countries found “increasing employment commitment as social spending gets more generous” — in other words, dividend payments encourage people to work harder, rather than the other way around. Now cities in the Netherlands are preparing similar experiments with such “basic income” payments. Citizens of Switzerland and Finland have voted in favor of basic incomes

The Brooks World Poverty Institute found that money transfers to the poor are used primarily for basic needs. Basic Incomes have been shown to lead to reductions in crime and inequality and malnutrition and infant mortality. With less stress at home, children do better at school. And overall economic growth occurs.

These results showed up in the aforementioned Dauphin experiment in Canada, where both hospitalizations for mental illness and high school dropout rates declined. The same results were documented for the recipients of casino payouts in Cherokee, North Carolina.

Positive outcomes are seen around the world. In Namibia, a two-year program yielded remarkable results, reducing poverty from 76% to 16%, child malnutrition from 42% to 10%, and school dropout rates from 40% to almost zero. A Unicef-funded study in India recorded the same positive health effects, with particularly noticeable improvements among the disabled population.

More Dutch Cities to Experiment With Universal Basic Income Posted on Aug 14, 2015. Taking the lead from the city of Utrecht, other Dutch cities are considering social experiments with basic income—an income unconditionally granted to all its residents on an individual basis, without a means test or work requirement.

As the Basic Income Earth Network explains, basic income is “a form of minimum income guarantee that differs from those that now exist in various European countries in three important ways: it is paid to individuals rather than households; it is paid irrespective of any income from other sources; and it is paid without requiring the performance of any work or the willingness to accept a job if offered.”


Dutch City of Tilburg

Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive activists delivered 125,000 signatures — enough to trigger a Swiss public referendum, this time on providing a monthly income to every citizen, no strings attached. Every month, every Swiss person would receive a check from the government, no matter how rich or poor, how hardworking or lazy, how old or young. Poverty would disappear. Economists, needless to say, are sharply divided on what would reappear in its place — and whether such a basic-income scheme might have some appeal for other, less socialist countries too.

The proposal is, in part, the brainchild of a German-born artist named Enno Schmidt, a leader in the basic-income movement... Schmidt told me. “What would you do if you had that income? What if you were taking care of a child or an elderly person?” Schmidt said that the basic income would provide some dignity and security to the poor, especially Europe’s underemployed and unemployed. It would also, he said, help unleash creativity and entrepreneurialism: Switzerland’s workers would feel empowered to work the way they wanted to, rather than the way they had to just to get by. He even went so far as to compare it to a civil rights movement, like women’s suffrage or ending slavery.

When we spoke, Schmidt repeatedly described the policy as “stimmig.” Like many German words, it has no English equivalent, but it means something like “coherent and harmonious,” with a dash of “beauty” thrown in. It is an idea whose time has come, he was saying. And basic-income schemes are having something of a moment, even if they are hardly new. (Thomas Paine was an advocate.) But their renewed popularity says something troubling about the state of rich-world economies.

And it’s not only in vogue in wealthy Switzerland. Beleaguered and debt-wracked Cyprus is weighing the implementation of basic incomes, too. They even are whispered about in the United States, where certain wonks on the libertarian right and liberal left have come to a strange convergence around the idea — some prefer an unconditional “basic” income that would go out to everyone, no strings attached; others a means-tested “minimum” income to supplement the earnings of the poor up to a given level.

The case from the right is one of expediency and efficacy. Let’s say that Congress decided to provide a basic income through the tax code or by expanding the Social Security program. Such a system might work better and be fairer than the current patchwork of programs, including welfare, food stamps and housing vouchers. A single father with two jobs and two children would no longer have to worry about the hassle of visiting a bunch of offices to receive benefits. And giving him a single lump sum might help him use his federal dollars better.

Even better, conservatives think, such a program could significantly reduce the size of our federal bureaucracy. It could take the place of welfare, food stamps, housing vouchers and hundreds of other programs, all at once: Hello, basic income; goodbye, H.U.D. Charles Murray of the conservative American Enterprise Institute has proposed a minimum income for just that reason — feed the poor, and starve the beast.

The left is more concerned with the power of a minimum or basic income as an anti-poverty and pro-mobility tool. There happens to be some hard evidence to bolster the policy’s case. In the mid-1970s, the tiny Canadian town of Dauphin ( the “garden capital of Manitoba” ) acted as guinea pig for a grand experiment in social policy called “Mincome.” For a short period of time, all the residents of the town received a guaranteed minimum income. About 1,000 poor families got monthly checks to supplement their earnings.

Evelyn Forget, a health economist at the University of Manitoba, has done some of the best research on the results. Some of her findings were obvious: Poverty disappeared. But others were more surprising: High-school completion rates went up; hospitalization rates went down. “If you have a social program like this, community values themselves start to change,” Forget said.

There’s a deeper, scarier reason that arguments for guaranteed incomes have resurfaced of late. Wages are stagnant, unemployment is high and tens of millions of families are struggling in Europe and here at home. Despite record corporate earnings and skyrocketing fortunes for the college-educated and already well-off, the job market is simply not rewarding many fully employed workers with a decent way of life. Millions of households have had no real increase in earnings since the late 1980s.

Paul Krugman: Sympathy for the Luddites Until recently, the conventional wisdom about the effects of technology on workers was, in a way, comforting. Clearly, many workers weren’t sharing fully — or, in many cases, at all — in the benefits of rising productivity; instead, the bulk of the gains were going to a minority of the work force. But this, the story went, was because modern technology was raising the demand for highly educated workers while reducing the demand for less educated workers. And the solution was more education.

Now, there were always problems with this story. Notably, while it could account for a rising gap in wages between those with college degrees and those without, it couldn’t explain why a small group — the famous “one percent” — was experiencing much bigger gains than highly educated workers in general. Still, there may have been something to this story a decade ago.

Today, however, a much darker picture of the effects of technology on labor is emerging. In this picture, highly educated workers are as likely as less educated workers to find themselves displaced and devalued, and pushing for more education may create as many problems as it solves.

Education, then, is no longer the answer to rising inequality, if it ever was (which I doubt).

So what is the answer? If the picture I’ve drawn is at all right, the only way we could have anything resembling a middle-class society — a society in which ordinary citizens have a reasonable assurance of maintaining a decent life as long as they work hard and play by the rules — would be by having a strong social safety net, one that guarantees not just health care but a minimum income, too. And with an ever-rising share of income going to capital rather than labor, that safety net would have to be paid for to an important extent via taxes on profits and/or investment income.

Fully automated luxury communism a post-work society, where machines do the heavy lifting and employment as we know it is a thing of the past... MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and James McAfee argue persuasively in their oft-cited _Second Machine Age_ that the robots are just getting started.

Basic Income is a human right! A report on the Demo in Berlin This was for the sixth annual march for basic income, organised by the Netzwerk Grundeinkommen (German Basic Income Network) with support from the German Pirate Party, Greens, and the Die Linke (Radical Left) Party.

There were also about 25 people there from around Europe who are organising for the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) on Basic Income. Some from BIEN Switzerland, who organised the successful basic income initiative were also there. They got over 130k signatures in a few months, thus guaranteeing the idea will be put up for discussion by referendum within four years. At the end of the march there was another rally in front of the Swiss Embassy, close to the German Parliament building, although by that time only about 300 people remained.

‘Only One Big Project’: Italy’s burgeoning social movements In the context of a deepening housing crisis, Italy’s movements are becoming increasingly united in their opposition to neoliberalism and austerity.

If there is one day that can symbolically represent the current struggle against austerity and neoliberalism in Italy it must be the 19th of October 2013 — the day of the General Uprising (“sollevazione generale”) against austerity. On that date, behind a banner that read “Only One Big Project: Income and Houses for Everyone!” around one hundred thousand people took the streets of Rome in what could be considered the most successful demonstration by the Italian social movements since the economic crisis began in 2007.

The demonstration was the last day of a week of struggle structured around four national events. The first was the day of struggle against the environmental devastation caused by capitalism on October 12. The second was the European social strike on October 15, launched during the Hub meeting in Barcelona. The third day was the general strike of the rank-and-file unions with a national demonstration in Rome and many local marches across the country on October 18. The final day was the national demonstration against austerity in Rome on October 19.

Everything seems to suggest that in the weeks and months ahead the slogan “Only One Big Project: Income and Houses for Everyone” — which has been the compass of Italy’s social movements since October 19 — will be heard many times again in the streets across the country.


Rationale

For Every One, A Basic Income? Yes! Radical Ideas About Fixing Inequality Tony Atkinson's new book points the way forward.

British economist Tony Atkinson has been studying inequality — the gap in income and wealth between the top and the bottom — for nearly half a century. Now that the dogma of trickle-down has been exposed as myth, he sees economists, policy-makers and the public finally waking up to the seriousness of the problem. But how to fix it? In his new book, Inequality: What Can Be Done? Atkinson focuses on ambitious proposals that could shift the distribution of income in developed countries.

LP: Some of the possible prescriptions you discuss, such as a basic income for all citizens, may sound radical, but you point out that they are actually already implemented as policy in many countries in various ways. Are ideas like basic income getting more attention and traction now?

TA: Definitely. A lot of people I’ve talked to about the book, in different places, say, Oh! I never knew we could do that kind of thing. It’s a tragedy, in a way, that our political system has become very narrowly focused and not willing to at least debate these ideas.

The basic income is very close to the idea Thomas Paine put forward in the 1790s. (Paine’s proposal, by the way, is on the website of the U.S. Social Security Administration.) That proposal is something that I and many others think is really interesting, which is that everyone, on reaching the age of 18 or so, should receive a capital payment. It would be like a negative capital tax. That idea was also proposed years ago in America by Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law at Yale.

About Basic Income

FAQ's on Basic Income

Do They Owe Us a Living? 7 Reasons the Universal Basic Income is Worth Fighting For The Universal Basic Income (UBI) – sometimes called the Unconditional Basic Income, Citizens’ Income or Social Wage – has in recent times become a focus of economic discussion across the political spectrum. While column inches in the Financial Times and The Economist have been racking up, academics such as Stuart White have been articulating how valid cases for the UBI can be made from communist, liberal and republican perspectives. Here Andrew Dolan offers 7 reasons why the UBI should matter to people who want to move beyond capitalism.

1. Wages aren’t working

Since the 2008 financial crisis it has become increasingly impossible to survive on wage labour. In real terms, wages in the UK have declined 9 percent in the last 5 years, whilst in the same period the cost of living has risen 25 percent. Combined with mass unemployment and the reduction of welfare the situation is worse than any in recent memory. Whether in or out of work, poverty is a reality for millions of people living in the UK, the world’s sixth largest economy.

2. Full employment is neither possible nor desirable

From Conservative to Labour to the TUC, the solution offered to this problem is reducible to one dominant idea: economic growth. Grow the economy and jobs will follow, or so the logic goes. Yet as automation accelerates and human labour becomes ever more unnecessary for the production of goods a return to full employment is quite simply impossible, with or without growth. As for an expanding service sector, neither Costa nor Credit Suisse can employ everyone and nor is it desirable that they do. A new response is needed, one that recognises and seeks to overcome these contradictions. A universal basic income is one such response.

3. It’s unconditional

A universal basic income would ensure that everyone, regardless of employment, earnings, age and gender, receives an income from the state: a single weekly or monthly monetary payment with no stipulations as to how it, or the time of its recipients, is spent. A universal basic income would guarantee a minimum standard of living and relief from poverty where work and current welfare cannot. In this sense, it is an extension of the social democratic promise; as a non-reformist reform, however, it sets the stage for the further transformation of society.

4. It undermines the necessity of work

However it is funded, as a wage separate from production a universal basic income not only recognises the impossibility of full employment but also has the potential to undermine the mythical sanctity of work—a controlling ideology of capitalism—and accelerate the discussion and struggle over what work is necessary, how it will be done, and for whom. More immediately, a universal basic income could provide the money and time with which to collectively create spaces that embody alternative cultural and social values to those currently dominant.

5. UBI is going mainstream

Admittedly, the introduction of a universal basic income swims against the seemingly unstoppable neoliberal current, which has accelerated the dismantling of the welfare state and elevated an ethic of entrepreneurial individualism. There are, however, a growing number of mainstream politicians and economists, most notably Paul Krugman, who have voiced support for a universal basic income as a possible solution to the impact of automation and a means through which to redistribute some of the gains of capital and stimulate market demand.

6. UBI represents an opportunity

Although the vision of Krugman et al remains subservient to economic growth, it is the appeal of a universal basic income to those seeking the maintenance of capitalism that renders its implementation relatively feasible. In other words, the requirements of capitalism—in this instance the need for consumers—create opportunities that can be exploited by those looking to transcend it. If capitalism is to be stabilised once more then let it be on terms more favourable to society and with consequences that lay the foundations for a post-capitalist future.

7. We need to make the case for a UBI on our terms

One cannot, of course, rely on the largesse of economic and political elites, nor mistake opportunity for inevitability. A universal basic income will not simply be given; it must be demanded, as it has been by growing numbers in Berlin, Rome and in particular Switzerland, amongst others. A universal basic income is not a panacea for the social and economic problems of capitalism and its transformative potential is dependent on greater democratic control of the state and a reduction of the working week. Nor should campaigning for it supersede workplace organising; it should, on the other hand, compliment it. Yet organising for a universal basic income presents the possibility of the employed and unemployed uniting around a shared demand that, whilst recognising the inadequacies of work, seeks not its improvement but the creation of a sphere independent from it.

PRECARIOT: In sociology and economics, the precariat is a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare as well as being a member of a proletariat class of industrial workers who lack their own means of production and hence sell their labour to live. Specifically, it is applied to the condition of lack of job security, in other words intermittent employment or underemployment and the resultant precarious existence.[1] The emergence of this class has been ascribed to the entrenchment of neoliberal capitalism

The British economist Guy Standing has analysed the precariat as a new emerging social class in work done for the think tank Policy Network and a subsequent book Precariat: The New Dangerous Class and proposes a basic income as a solution for addressing the problem.

Guest post: The precariat needs a basic income By Dr. Guy Standing, professor of development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies and author of The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, in which he argues that society must share the rental income gained by finance and capital investment in the global economy.

All over Europe, the precariat has grown sharply since 2008, although this emerging class, which has education but only intermittent, unstable labour, has been growing since the beginning of globalisation. The precariat faces chronic uncertainty, about what to do, about what incomes to expect, about state benefits that might be their due, about their relationships, their homes and about the occupations they can realistically expect.

Many are bewildered by lack of control over their time, suffering from what should be called a precariatised mind, not knowing what to do to give themselves a chance of a dignified life. Worst of all, they are learning that a large class of people habituated to a life of unstable labour is wanted by the globalised market system.

The precariat is not part of the squeezed middle, and accordingly has faced an increasingly hostile social protection system. Across Europe, not just in the UK, the old Beveridge and Bismarckian variants of the welfare state have been dismantled. In their place has been erected a mish-mash of means-tested, behaviour-tested social assistance, with a growing tendency to force young unemployed into workfare schemes, which are helping to depress real wages.

There is the rub. Globalisation began what should be called the Great Convergence, creating a globalising labour market in which wages in emerging market economies slowly converge with wages in rich economies, generating a steady drop in real wages across Europe.

Technological change has helped, by making production more scattered and mobile. But the drop in wages in the lower end of the labour markets of the UK and elsewhere, including Germany, reflects the cruel economic logic stemming from the trebling of global labour supply since the 1980s. Making it more painful is the fact that productivity is rising rapidly in those emerging market economies.

A feature of the globalising labour market is that the old link between productivity and wages stopped in the 1980s. Up to then, a graph of productivity growth and wages showed the two lines moving together. Since then the curves have diverged, leading to economists referring to the opening jaws of the snake – the wage curve has been flat or declining, the productivity growth curve has been accelerating northwards.

Governments have acted like Canute, trying to hold back the waves of downward pressure on real wages, through cheap credit, labour subsidies and the scam of the era, tax credits. But, to mix metaphors, the Faustian bargain this represented, by allowing an orgy of consumption, ended with a bang in 2008.

Since then, poverty, inequality and economic uncertainty have all risen remorselessly. Even if economic growth picks up, that will continue until governments change their thinking quite dramatically. Regrettably, there is not much intellectual courage around in our political establishment.

The current great white hope is the living wage. It is a good idea being oversold. In the UK, Ed Miliband has promised to introduce fiscal subsidies for “employers” (probably not including small firms) if they pay new employees the hourly living wage, which is higher than the statutory minimum wage. It sounds attractive to non-economists and politicians. Let me be a spoil-sport and be one of the first to predict it will lumber in for the first round, connect with a few hits and then prove a costly way of generating little benefit to a tiny fraction of the precariat.

Why? First, there are always huge deadweight effects with such subsidies. In other words, many of the tax rebates will go to employers who would have paid that wage anyhow. So, for every job actually created the fiscal cost will rise...

Being entrepreneurial, employers will always stretch the rules. It is possible that the living wage will prove regressive, expensively worsening inequality in the lower rungs of the labour market. One hopes not, but it will not strengthen the bargaining position of the precariat one iota.

Living wage advocates should not misread this. We should favour the campaign. But it should not be oversold or financed by subsidies to employers, to capital. This was the folly of New Labour and its tax credits. It is the inequality that should be the primary target for reforms.

This leads to an option that should tick the boxes of progressives, once they accept that labour subsidies, tax credits and workfare are an ugly concoction that worsens inequalities.

Progressives and disillusioned social democrats should reflect on the thought that each type of economy has a distinctive system of distribution. Twentieth-century welfare state capitalism was historically unique, in that national income was split between wages and profits, labour and capital.

With globalisation, the share going to labour has withered everywhere, in countries as diverse as China, India, the UK, USA and Norway. In the future, the only way those relying on labour could raise their living standards will be by sharing the rental income gained by finance and capital investment in the global economy. We must imagine a new system of distribution, in which the whole of society receives a share of the rental income currently being taken wholly by financial capital.

This could be done by establishing a universal floor of basic security, through provision of a basic income for all resident citizens, or all legalised residents. It could start at a modest level, as it was in Alaska when it set up its Permanent Fund in 1976. It could be built up as subsidies to the rich and to large corporations were phased out.

But however funded, nobody should be allowed to deceive us by saying it is unaffordable. Soon it may be essential. Remember the billions given out to the failed banks?

Among the many benefits of moving towards an individual, unconditional basic income, or an ESC, would be that it would provide the precariat with an increased incentive to labour, whereas today millions of people face the opposite, confronted by poverty traps and precarity traps, as discussed in my recent books.

In the UK, the main poverty trap facing the precariat is a marginal tax rate of over 80 per cent, according to the government’s own estimates... Meanwhile, the government eagerly cuts the tax rate for the rich to below 40 per cent, claiming that anything higher would be a disincentive to work and invest. And they wish to cut corporation tax to 20 per cent.

Psychologists (e.g., Frohlich and Oppenheimer, 1992) have shown that people with basic security work harder, are more productive, and are more altruistic and tolerant. They also have more confidence, which means they will be more likely to bargain for decent wages and working conditions, and join organisations that wish to do so. And people with basic security do more work that is not labour, such as caring for relatives and their communities. In having more control over their time, they can be more rational and plan their lives better. Progressives should wake up.

Anybody who thinks this might be a valuable move should sign the European Citizens’ Initiative . With enough signatures, the EU Commission will be obliged to examine its feasibility.

A government-guaranteed basic income: The cheque is in the mail WHAT if America were to scrap all its anti-poverty programmes—welfare, food stamps, unemployment benefits, the works—and replace them with an unconditional basic income (UBI) for everybody? Even in a Congress beset by less extraordinary levels of dysfunction, the idea would have little chance of becoming law. It’s fun to theorise, though. And if Switzerland approves a referendum to send all of its citizens $2,800 a month, the debate will have a fascinating new reference point.

Annie Lowrey’s article in the New York Times Magazine explains that both the left and the right have reason to favour a basic income. Liberals support the idea because it would elevate 50m Americans above the poverty line overnight. Some on the right, like Charles Murray, are keen to eliminate rent-seeking—and much of the federal bureaucracy—with a UBI that gives everyone the same government benefit. “A single father with two jobs and two children would no longer have to worry about the hassle of visiting a bunch of offices to receive benefits,” Ms Lowrey writes. “And giving him a single lump sum might help him use his federal dollars better. Housing vouchers have to be spent on housing, food stamps on food. Those dollars would be more valuable—both to the recipient and the economy at large—if they were fungible.”

The economic effects of a basic income are debatable. Some economists think a UBI would disincentivise work; others argue that it would enhance entrepreneurialism by easing the path to start a small business or switch careers. Philippe Van Parijs, a Belgian philosopher, believes a UBI provides "the real freedom to pursue the realization of one's conception of the good life", whether that means surfing and living small, or trading stocks and living large. Erik Olin Wright, a Marxist sociologist at the University of Wisconsin, posits that a basic income could even hasten a march toward communism (without the messiness of violent revolution) by raising the bargaining power of the proletariat. If you don’t need your job to survive, Mr Wright reasons, you can command a higher salary and better benefits from your boss. Ms Lowrey points out the opposite is also a possibility: McDonald’s has little pressure to pay you a living wage if the government is sending you supplemental cheques every month.

Whatever else they say about a basic income, everyone seems to assume that it would decrease income inequality. But those who support the proposal as an egalitarian salve should think twice. Raising the floor for all by adopting an annual UBI would make no dent in the wealth gap. Everybody from a homeless person to a middle-class teacher to a hedge-fund billionaire would receive the same cheque from the government. While the extra thousands would make the most difference to those on the bottom of the pile, the cash would be in lieu of all existing welfare benefits. And the income would not be sufficient to launch most of the poor into the lower middle class. Even if the income could bring a family of four above the $23,550 poverty line—a figure that would cost trillions—it would still leave many Americans in effective destitution, particularly those living in expensive urban centres like New York City where the average monthly rent is now $3,000. Compounding the problem would be upward pressure on housing prices that a UBI may spur...

To cancel every anti-poverty measure and reallocate government funds for a UBI would entrench inequality unless financed with a heavily progressive tax. There are other risks, too. Some poor families receiving a lump sum from the government will make wise financial decisions. Others won't, making fungibility a liability. Libertarians like Charles Murray are untroubled by this possibility. "The [guaranteed income] says just one thing to people who have never had reason to believe it before," Mr Murray writes. "'Your future is in your hands'. And it is the truth."

European Citizens' Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income: Stand up for Basic Income as a Human Right Over 285.000 EU citizens have signed this Initiative and we would like to thank you for your support!

Whatever happens in the future, this ECI has sparked a growing movement in Europe, the first grassroots organising for basic income in several decades. We need to change the toxic, divisive politics of austerity into something which represents the solidarity people have shown through their support of unconditional basic income.

An Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) is a recurring, universal payment to everyone - as an individual right, without means test or any obligation to work or perform other services in return, and high enough to ensure an existence in dignity and participation in society. The current social security systems are demeaning and inadequate in addressing the roots of poverty. UBI would transform social security from a compensatory system into an emancipatory system, one that trusts people to make their own decisions, and does not stigmatize them for their circumstances.

After Enno Schmidt (maker of the film ‘Basic Income: a Cultural Impulse‘) gave what sounded like a barn-storming speech in German, there was a symbolic transfer of momentum from the Swiss initiative to the ECI. Then ECI people from around Europe spoke in their own languages which were then translated into English and German. I spoke as a member of the UK team currently rallying support and collecting signatures for the ECI for Unconditional Basic Income. There is a video on YouTube of the whole thing, marked at the point when the ECI people spoke towards the end. It was an inspiring day.

Comment: Astrid van Triet 2 years ago

No taxes are needed for a Basic Income.

Just one programming rule in banking applications, to create Life Entrance money for every person. This can be done within one day, worldwide, and costs nothing.

Most of the structures and taxes will disappear by themselves then. Rich people who are rich on their on force, will stay rich. People who are rich because of 'the system', will lose there artificial created richness when life is in her own context again.

Look at smoothparadigmshift.net (It's in Dutch, so you can use translate.google)

History of Basic Income & BIEN from 1516 and the Humanists until today.


Nobel Laureate James Meade (1907-1995), defended the “social dividend”

What will we all do in a post-work society? A cute video raises a question we should really think about. by LLOYD ALTER March 3, 2016,


Colby Glass, MLIS, Professor Emeritus