USBIG NEWSLETTER Vol. 12, No. 60, Spring 2011
This is the Newsletter of the USBIG Network (www.usbig.net), which promotes the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a policy that would unconditionally guarantee at least a subsistence-level income for everyone. If you would like to be added to or removed from this list please email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
5. Editorial-Report: A Day-Long Discussion of “the Alaska Model” at the University of Alaska-Anchorage
6. BIG news from around the world (Iraq to introduce BIG?, “Growth Dividend” paid in Singapore, also news from Iran, Namibia, Brazil, the European Union, Switzerland, Japan, France, and Germany.)
8. Recent events (events in Korea, Finland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and India)
13. New Links
USBIG and BIEN have announced the creation of the “Basic Income News” website (http://binews.org/). It is the online incarnation of the USBIG Newsletter, the BIEN NewsFlash and hopefully other affiliated publications.
Basic Income News began just a few weeks ago (in April 2011), when Joerg Drescher approached the editors of the USBIG Newsletter and the BIEN NewsFlash (Yannick Vanderborght and me respectively) about creating an online version of the basic income newsletters, in hopes that it would be more up-to-the minute and interactive than the email newsletters. We launched it in May with new content, and we expect it to grow substantially over time.
This site will have frequently updated news stories about Basic Income around the world, provided initially by BIEN and USBIG. We have been gradually approaching other BIEN affiliates to contribute to Basic Income News. The Basic Income Korean Network, the Basic Income Network Italia, and the Citizen’s Income Trust (of the United Kingdom) have all agreed to participate, and we expect several other networks will be joining soon.
If you have news about Basic Income that you think should be published in Basic Income News, please contact the editors at
Joerg Drescher (Webmaster of BIEN)
Yannick Vanderborght (Newsletter Editor of BIEN)
Karl Widerquist (Co-chair of BIEN, and Newsletter Editor of USBIG)
Marco Saba (Shadow Economic Advisor on seigniorage/BIEN related matters)
Basic Income News is online at http://binews.org/.
USBIG is also online on Facebook. You can get the latest basic income news headlines at:
Basic Income News (see above) is brand new. We are only now putting it together. We are in need of people to help make it into a bigger and better site. Right now, we are mostly in need of people to put existing content from past newsletters in the right format for posting. We will eventually need people to translate content, gather news, and write for Basic Income News. If you have time to help, please contact one of the three editors:
The tax-and-dividend approach to global warming (which sets a price on carbon emissions, charges producers for those emissions, and redistributes the proceeds as a basic income), has been gaining ground since its endorsement by a conference on pricing carbon held at Wesleyan University (Connecticut) on November 20, 2010.
Peter Barnes, who has led the push for tax and dividend for years, has recently suggested a program, modeled on the Alaska Permanent Fund, called the Sky Trust, to redistribute proceeds from carbon taxes and redistribute the money to taxpayers electronically. According to Judith D. Schwartz, of Miller-McCune, said, “This is a strong argument why dividend is the way to go … It also gets the discussion out of the tax box, which is a very bad box to be in.” Schwartz quotes climate activist Bill McKibben saying that a price-and-dividend model could be extremely important to a serious program to address global warming. It could even be the “tool that can bend that political reality. It’s hard to bend political reality. But it’s harder to bend chemistry and physics.”
“Pricing Carbon to Reduce Emissions, Create Dividends,” Miller-McCune, May 19, 2011, by Judith D. Schwartz is online at:
A statement of principle from the conference at Wesleyan University as online at:
4. ALASKA PERMANENT FUND CONTINUES TO RECOVER WHILE THE FUTURE OF ALASKA’S OIL INDUSTRY REMAINS UNCERTAIN
The Alaska Permanent Fund (which finances the Alaska Dividend) gained 3.5% in the first quarter of 2011. This increase follows on a 14.5% gain over the last two quarters of 2010. Its current balance (according to the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation) is $40.5 billion, very close to its all-time high in 2007. Managers credit the recovery mostly to the recovery of the U.S. stock market. These gains will indirectly lead to higher dividends in the future.
This progress comes amid worries that the state has failed to prepare sufficiently for the day when Alaska’s oil revenue runs out. Falling oil revenues are important because they support not only the fund but also nearly the entire state government budget. In an editorial in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Terrence Cole (an economist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks) warns, “this drop [in oil production] will lead in the not-too-distant future to the shutdown of the trans-Alaska pipeline and financial catastrophe for the state.”
Scott Goldsmith (an economist at the University of Alaska-Anchorage) was quoted by The Juneau Empire as saying, “A troubling indicator is oil production has been falling while the population has been increasing.” The rising price of oil has distracted attention from the decline in production, but eventually the decline will catch up.
Shannyn Moore, a radio and television commentator, recently compared the Alaska Permanent Fund to Norway’s oil savings plan, showing how Norway has done a much more effective job of saving its oil revenue.
One member of the state legislature submitted a bill to move $10 billion from the Constitutional Budget Reserve into the Alaska Permanent Fund, which is, of course, Alaska’s savings plan for the day when oil runs out. The transfer would increase yearly dividends by about 25 percent. But it would take a vote of three-fourths of state legislature to approve the transfer.
For more information see the following stories:
Terrence Cole, “Life after Prudhoe Bay,” Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
“UAA economist gives take on oil influence,” Juneau Empire:
Shannyn Moore, “What can Alaska learn from Norway?” Anchorage Daily News:
APFC Fund News, April 19, 2011:
“Lawmaker proposes shifting money to permanent fund,” Juneau Empire:
Political Animal: “Doogan wants to add $10 billion to Permanent Fund,” Alaska Dispatch:
“APFC investments see 14.5 percent return,” Anchorage Daily News:
Editorial, “Steady hands: Permanent Fund managers oversee continued recovery” Fairbanks Daily News Miner:
5. EDITORIAL-REPORT: A Day-Long Discussion of “the Alaska Model” at the University of Alaska-Anchorage
By Karl Widerquist
On April 22, 2011, I had the privilege of attending a conference at the University of Alaska-Anchorage discussing the book, Exporting the Alaska Model: How the Permanent Fund Dividend Can Be Adapted as Model for Reform Around the World. The book is edited by Michael W. Howard and me. It is due out early next year on Palgrave-MacMillan. This is my personal account of a conference held on Friday, April 22, 2011 at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska
The “model” in the book’s title refers to two policies: the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) and the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). Although the fund finances the dividend, the two policies were created at separate times by different kinds of legislation. The two policies together have three aspects that define what Mike Howard and I call “the Alaska model:” (1) resource revenue, (2) put into a fund, (3) the returns of which are distributed to all citizens or residents. Currently those three parts are put together only in Alaska, but many of the contributors to the book think that with some variation the model can and should be employed elsewhere.
The main purpose of the conference was for some of the book’s authors to exchange ideas with each other and with local experts. Seven of 17 contributing authors attended the conference. Four of them were from outside Alaska: Angela Cummine, political theory, Oxford University; Gary Flomenhoft, public policy, University of Vermont; Michael W. Howard, philosophy, University of Maine; and (me) Karl Widerquist, political theory, Georgetown University-Qatar. The other three contributing authors in attendance were from inside Alaska: Gregg Erickson, economist, Erickson & Associates, Juneau, Alaska; Cliff Groh, author and attorney, Anchorage, Alaska; Scott Goldsmith, economist, University of Alaska-Anchorage. Goldsmith hosted the conference.
More than a half dozen others attended the conference, including Terrence Cole, Professor of History and Northern Studies and director of the Office of Public History at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks; Rick Halford, former Majority Leader of the Alaska House of Representatives; Fran Ulmer, former Lieutenant Governor of Alaska, and Chancellor of the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
Most of the discussion was based directly or indirectly on the participants’ chapters, which were circulated in advance. Three chapters concentrated the discussion on the past, present, and future of the APF and PFD. Goldsmith’s chapter addresses the impact of the dividend on Alaskan society. Erickson and Groh’s chapters address the history of the APF and PFD and the challenges they face in the future.
Participants discussed what was intended by the legislation that created the fund and the dividend. Ulmer and Halford argued that few if any legislators at the time intended to create a basic income. Ulmer, who worked in Governor Hammond’s administration argued that he did not and would not have argued for it in those terms. I argued that whatever their intentions, they did create a partial basic income. Also, I believe that the intention of some of the participants, particularly Hammond, was to create something like a basic income by another name. When people say that the goal of the dividend is to make sure that every single Alaskan shares in the state’s oil wealth, and they do not think that receiving this money should be conditional on working or getting married or anything else, they have endorsed many of the goals of basic income even if they conceptualize it in a very different way.
All participants seemed to agree that the decisions creating the Alaska model were not coherent or necessarily rational. The combination of legislation that culminated in the delivery of the first dividends in 1982 was far removed from Hammond’s 1974 proposal for “Alaska, Inc.” In 1976, the government amended the constitution to create the fund but it took no action on a dividend. The first bill to create dividends would have made the size of the dividend dependent on the number of years the recipient had lived in the state. This bill was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The legislature then hastily created a bill for an equal dividend for all Alaskan residents. The combination of legislation that created the Alaska model included the input of many legislators and quite possibly the influence of staffers, judges, constituents, lobbyists, and activists as well, although the public and lobbyists were not heavily engaged in the debate until after the public received their first dividend checks. Many legislators voted for the APF and PFD for no other reason than to get Governor Hammond to agree to sign some other bill. Without his single-minded pursuit (most participants agreed) the dividend would never had been created. There was so much money available at the time the legislature was able to get rid of the income tax, fund many new programs they wanted, and let Hammond have the dividend.
Because the legislation was a compromise between people with very different objectives, we cannot point to any goal as the goal of the fund and dividend, but we can point to some popular ideas. Some of the participants quipped that the APF was for “the future.” This statement is not as flippant as it sounds. As Halford argued, democracies greatly over-represent the present. The APF is an exception. The two most commonly cited goals of the dividend are to ensure every Alaskan benefits from oil exploitation and to protect the fund from political attempts to redirect the principal toward current spending. Citizens hold legislators much more accountable for protecting the APF’s principal than they would if it was not used to finance a dividend.
Mike Howard and I discussed the possibility of applying the Alaska model elsewhere at the public luncheon in the middle of the conference. I discussed how Iraq and Mongolia are seriously discussing the idea, and Iran is already in the process of phasing-in a resource dividend that could turn out to be larger (relative to per capita income) than the Alaska Dividend. We also discussed six lessons we’ve drawn from our study of the Alaska model: (1) resource dividends work and they’re popular. (2) You don’t have to be resource-rich to have a resource dividend. (3) Look for opportunities and take advantage of them. (4) Think like a monopolist. That is, the community must realize that it owns its resources, which constitute the commons. The community has the responsibility to be a good steward of the commons, and it should not let them go cheap. (5) Make it significant: the Alaska Dividend survives because it is a program worth defending. (6) Avoid creating enemies. A pot of money that pays cash to every citizen has many supporters and few enemies. This observation is true of few other progressive policies.
Angela Cummine’s chapter addresses part of the question of why the Alaska model remains unique. There are now many sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) around the world. Some of them are ten times the size of the APF. But only the APF pays regular dividends to citizens. She finds that managers of other SWFs are extremely skeptical about paying dividends, but that a close look at their arguments against dividends shows them to be rather weak. Many participants speculated that managers of SWFs do not want the increased public scrutiny that would come with dividends.
Halford drew a dark lesson along these lines. The legislation that created the APF and PFD carefully made sure that something was in it for all constituent groups, but they left nothing in it for the politicians. To a politician, government revenue is something with which to aid your allies and afflict your enemies. There are no such opportunities in the APF as long as its returns are dedicated to the PFD.
Cole was sympathetic to one argument against dividends: Had the APF saved all the money it has used to pay out the PFD over the years, the fund would be worth roughly double what it is now: $80 billion instead of $40 billion. This he believes is a serious missed opportunity. My response was that there were many other lost opportunities to increase the size of the APF. The state could have devoted a higher percentage of oil revenue to the fund, charged a higher royalty to oil companies, and treated other natural resources the way it treats its oil. Any one of these actions would have made both the fund and the dividend higher. Several of the Alaskan participants had a more practical response: one of the key functions of the dividend was to protect the fund from raids by the legislature. If the APF paid no dividends, few Alaskans would have paid any attention to politicians who proposed spending down its principal. The fund might actually be smaller today had there been no dividends. Cole was sympathetic to this argument for dividends.
Howard and Flomenhoft’s chapters each discussed applying the Alaska model in places that aren’t going through natural resource booms. Howard discussed the cap-and-dividend and tax-and-dividend strategies to address global warming as an application of the Alaska model. According to him, a full-fledged cap-and-dividend program in the United States would produce a dividend of $678 per person, nationwide. Flomenhoft’s chapter shows how resource-poor Vermont could support a substantial dividend by applying the Alaska model to resources as diverse as forestry, groundwater, surface water, the broadcast spectrum, and so on. His low estimates suggest that Vermonters could have a per capita dividend of $1,972, and his high estimates, which are not yet complete, suggest that the dividend could be more than $5,000.
The last part of the discussion focused on the future of the Alaska fund and dividend. Groh and Erickson brought the group’s attention to the decline in Alaska’s oil output, which has been steadily dropping since production peaked in 1989. When production drops to a certain point, it will no longer be profitable to keep the oil flowing through the Trans Alaska Pipeline. At that point the source of revenue not only for the APF, but also for 85% of Alaska’s state budget, will disappear. If and when this happens the state will face a fiscal crisis just when its economy is contracting. This in turn will put pressure on the legislature to raid the fund and end the dividend.
Participants discussed several possibilities that could put off any such day of reckoning, including improved oil drilling techniques, exploitation of natural gas, and wider oil exploitation. They also discussed several responses. Groh argued that the state would have three choices if and when oil stops flowing: cut the budget, raise taxes, or dip into the APF. Halford noted that dipping into the fund would likely begin by “changing” the formula for protecting the fund from inflation. One thing the state could do (in advance of the loss of oil revenue) is to put more revenue into the APF each year. The APF is Alaska’s savings plan for the day when oil revenues disappear, but it is not nearly large enough now to make up for the shortfall that would occur if oil stopped flowing through the pipeline. The APF is not constituted as a public trust. The allocation of the fund’s investments and the distribution of the fund’s returns are under the discretion of the legislature. Some participants believed that reconstituting the APF & PFD as a public trust could help protect them.
Erickson argued that the contraction of the oil industry would not be all bad. Many of the people now working in Alaska’s oil industry would move to other parts of the country. He suggested that cashing out the fund (dividing the principle among all Alaskans) or giving Alaskans a portable share in the fund (allowing them to receive some portion of the dividend after leaving Alaska), might be good ways to facilitate population adjustment at that time.
Some of the participants emphasized that the looming budget difficulties are not caused by the APF or PFD but by the state’s failure to do anything else to save for the time when the oil runs out. This fact provides an important lesson for exporting the model: any similar fund and dividend are not safe unless the rest of the budget is on sound financial footing. The APF and PFD, in themselves, are financially sound and extremely popular. Barring a financial crisis far worse than the one experienced in 2008-2009, nothing internal to the APF and PFD threaten their continued existence (as long as they don’t grow large enough to have a significant effect on Alaska’s population size). The possible budget crisis of a state overly dependent on the revenue from one resource does threaten the APF and PFD.
Most participants were enthusiastic about the Alaska model and hoped that it would continue in Alaska and be imitated elsewhere.
-Karl Widerquist, Begun in Juneau, Alaska; completed in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 10, 2011
IRAQ: BIG to be introduced?
Senator Eduardo Suplicy, of Brazil, campaigned for BIG in Iraq several years ago. This year at the Tenth North American BIG Congress in New York, he announced that the Iraqi ambassador called him to say that the Iraqi government has accepted his proposal and will soon begin distributing a small dividend. Suplicy said he expected it would be in the neighborhood of $15 per person per month. Questioned again in April, Senator Suplicy said he is still trying to get more information about the possibility of an Iraqi dividend.
SINGAPORE: Government gives a “growth dividend” to all adult citizens
On May 1, 2011 the Singapore government distributed a “Growth Dividend” to almost all adult citizens—about 2.5 million people. Singapore has experienced enormous growth (12 percent) in the past year, ballooning government revenues. Lawmakers, who created the payment, cited the need to ensure that everyone shares in the benefit of that growth. The size of the dividend was graduated so that people with lower income and wealth would receive a larger dividend. Most Singaporeans (80%) received S$600 to S$800 (about $488 to $650 in U.S. dollars). Those with higher income or wealth received S$100-S$300. So far, more than 90% of Singaporeans have signed up to receive their dividend. The rest have until the end of the year to do so. Although Singapore has distributed dividends before, it has not promised to distribute dividends every year.
For info on the Singapore budget including the “Growth Dividend” go to:
For an article discussing the dividend go to:
For an editorial discussing BIG in Singapore go to:
IRAN: Basic income gets international attention
As reported in past issues of this Newsletter, Iran has recently started distributing a small basic income to all citizens who apply. The program replaces an efficient system of subsidies on commodities such as fuel and food. Rachel Godfrey Wood, writing for the International Institute for Environment and Development, has taken notice of the program and suggest that it could be a model for getting other developing countries off subsidies. Her article is online at:
NAMIBIA: BIG pilot project receives visit from Brazilian senator
The BIG Coalition in Namibia has been running a BIG pilot project in the village of Otjivero for several years now. On February 6-12, 2011, Brazilian Senator Eduardo Suplicy visited the project while on an exchange visit between Brazil and Namibia. In addition to visiting Otjivero, he held a community meeting in Katutura, met various high-profile politicians, gave TV interviews, and gave a well-attended public lecture together with Bishop Dr. Z. Kameeta, head of the Namibian Lutheran Church and the BIG Coalition in Namibia. The Senator’s visit attracted a great deal of media attention and—according to members of the BIG coalition—gave a substantial boost to their campaign for BIG.
The public lecture of Senator Suplicy was part of a regional conference where social activists from Southern Africa discussed 'the triple burden of poverty, unemployment and inequality'. The conference identified the BIG as the concrete and tangible policy proposal in Southern Africa, which needs to be implemented as soon as possible. The conference further concluded that the BIG is not a "maximum" demand but a crucial first step in a series of policy interventions needed to reverse the structural injustices caused by colonialism and apartheid and perpetuated by the neo-liberal economic policies of today.
Servaas van den Bosch, of The Namibian, interviewed a recipient of the grant, named Bertha Hamases. She said that the money helped her to land a job. Asked how it affected the town, she said, “The children all buy school uniforms and parents pay the school fees. People buy food and purchase TVs, dvd-players and stoves. Many have extended their houses. Where there [were] few shops before, now there are 10-12 little shops. The place is much cleaner because people don’t mind cleaning when they are fed and not hungry. Crime has stopped totally, while alcoholism and the beating of women has become much less. There was prostitution because women were hungry, but that has stopped completely.” For the full text of the interview see: “Basic Income Grant: 'Let Others Taste What We Have Tasted',” in The Namibian: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=54503
A recent study on inequalities in Southern Africa found that BIG would be an immediate intervention that would free millions from poverty and its debilitating effects. The study, edited by Herbert Jauch and Deprose Muchena, is entitled, “Tearing Us Apart: Inequalities in Southern Africa.” A news report about the study is online at:
Senator Suplicy’s account of his visit was published in The Namibian. It’s on line at:
For more on the Senator’s visit, the pilot project, and the campaign for BIG. See the following articles:
“Youths in support of BIG,” The Observer:
“Geingob supports BIG,” New Era:
The BIG Confusion, The Namibian:
NAMIBIA: BIG pilot project requests donations
The Basic Income in the Otjivero, Namibia still exists. Although the pilot project ended in December of 2009, the basic income had proven so valuable to the people of Otjivero that the organizers decided to keep a smaller basic income in place “until the BIG is implemented nationwide.” Each of the original residents of Otjivero receives N$80 per month and will continue to receive it indefinitely. The organizers are therefore requesting donations to keep the Otjivero basic income in place. Individuals can give as little as one dollar. People can donate by transferring money to either of the two accounts below. More information about the project and about donations is online at:
European account in Germany:
Account name: Blumhardt-Gemeinde HD-Kirchheim
Reference: BIG Namibia
Name of Bank: H+G Bank Heidelberg
Account number: 100 027 61
Branch Number (BLZ): 672 901 00
BIC: GENODE 61 HD 3
IBANDE66 67: 29 0100 0010 0027 61
Account name: ELCRN - BIG Namibia
Name of Bank: First National Bank
Account number: 62146088457
Branch number: 281972
Branch name: Windhoek Commercial Suite
SWIFT / BIC (Bank Identifier Code): firnnanx
(note, the bank does not have an IBAN code.)
BRAZIL: RECIVITAS expands its local BIG to 83 people as it charters the “BIG Social Bank”
ReCivitas is a nonprofit organization in Brazil that has established a local basic income in the village of Quatinga Velho with funding provided entirely by private donations. The coverage of Recivitas’s basic income expanded by six people in April 2011. A total of 83 people in Quatinga Velho now receive a basic income of R$30,00 (Brazilian Reals) each. The project has been gradually growing since October 2008, when it made the first basic income payment of R$30 Brazil to 27 people.
Four babies have been born since the project began. The organizers say that these are the first four people to receive a BIG “from the first day of life.” The organizers hope soon to cover the entire village and eventually to expand the project to other villages—inside and outside of Brazil. The organizers have a unique model in which they donate their time and money for the overhead of the project so that 100 percent of a private donation goes directly to providing a basic income to someone in Quatinga Velho.
The organizers are in the process of chartering the “Basic Income Guarantee Social Bank,” which will be able to fund the basic income with investments rather than donations. The bank will function as an investment bank, but its profits will fund a basic income instead of being given to shareholders and utives. They have already attracted investments of R$500,000 from person-to-person appeals through their social network, and they are hoping to increase the number of investments by ten fold in the near future. The organizers hope to use some of the first revenue from the BIG Social Bank to support the BIG Pilot project in Otjivero, Namibia (see above), and then to create Basic Income Guarantees in more communities around the world.
If you would like to donate to ReCivitas or if you are interested in learning more about the BIG Social Bank, please contact the organizers at:
For more information see their website at:
EUROPEAN UNION: EU-Parliament in favour of adequate minimum income
In October 2010, the Parliament of the European Union has adopted a non-legislative resolution on the role of minimum income in combating poverty and promoting an inclusive society in Europe, partly thanks to the lobbying by several European Basic Income groups and networks, as well as by the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN). The resolution was adopted by 437 votes to 162, with 33 abstentions. The EU Parliament now urges Member States to establish a threshold for minimum income, based on relevant indicators that will guarantee social-economic cohesion, reduce the risk of uneven levels of remuneration for the same activities and lower the risk of having poor populations throughout the EU. Stressing the multifaceted nature of poverty, the EU-Parliament considers that minimum income schemes should be embedded in a strategic approach towards social integration, involving both general policies and targeted measures - in terms of housing, health care, education and training, social services - helping people to recover from poverty and themselves to take action towards social inclusion and access to the labor market. The Parliament also points out that some member States do not have minimum income systems and called on those that do not to provide them. The resolution underlines that introducing minimum income schemes - consisting of specific measures supporting people whose income is insufficient with a funding supply and facilitated access to services - is one of the most effective ways to combat poverty, guarantee an adequate standard of living and foster social integration. According to the EU-Parliament, adequate minimum income schemes must set minimum incomes at a level equivalent to at least "60% of average income in the Member State concerned" (average, not median income, whereas the EU official poverty line is at 60% of the median).
SWITZERLAND: A referendum on basic income?
The Swiss initiative Initiative Grundeinkommen is focusing on preparatory operations for a referendum to launch a nationwide Basic Income. In Switzerland, federal popular initiatives are not subject to judicial review as they amend the federal constitution. Promoters of popular initiatives have 18 months to collect at least 100,000 signatures. If they succeed, the initiative is put before the Swiss citizenry in a national vote. Daniel Häni, Enno Schmidt together with the newly-established foundation Stiftung Kulturimpuls and Agentur[mit]Grundeinkommen hope that a congress on Basic Income will be the next milestone in bringing Basic Income to the mind of a bedrock of people. The congress was held in Zurich on March 19th, 2011. Further information:
Nenad Stojanovic, a Zurich-based Political scientist and member of the Socialist party, also published a short note on the Swiss basic income debate in the Socialist monthly Pages de gauche, issue 96, February 2011. See http://www.pagesdegauche.ch/
JAPAN: BIG network meets with members of parliament
Members of the Basic Income Japan Network (BIJN—BIEN’s Japanese affiliate) held their first parliamentary meeting regarding basic income on April 27, 2011. Several Members of the Japanese Parliament and secretaries from both governing and opposition parties attended. More than 100 citizens also attended. A message from BIEN’s co-chair, Ingrid Van Niekirk was read at the meeting.
BIJN made a request to the Japanese Government for “Basic Income Security for Recovery and Material Provision for Life Reestablishment after the Earthquake Disaster.” Specifically, they requested the Japanese government:
• Provide unconditional secured basic income for individual sufferer.
• Provide semi-permanent medical services for the sufferers and those who are exposed to radiation.
• Build temporary housing immediately in which the sufferers can maintain the social networks in their communities of origin.
• Establish adequate institutions and support system as well as mental care services immediately for underage children who lost their parents.
• Strengthen supports for the elderly and handicapped people, single parents, sexual minorities, and non-Japanese residents. Strengthen support for families with those dependent on care by building nursing homes and increasing the number of care supporters immediately.
• Provide automobiles for the sufferers. Stop declining request for public assistance because of owning a car.
• Provide compensatory income for all workers in the affected areas by the earthquake. Make a plan to prevent dismissals and lay-off of the sufferers. Provide secured basic income, employment planning, and further social security services for people all over Japan who are affected by the earthquake, such as those who lost their jobs in Hokkaido and Eastern Japan.
BIJN is planning a second parliamentary meeting on June 15, 2011 with a guest speaker from the Single Mothers' Forum in Fukushima.
The English summary of the request is online at:
FRANCE: Former Prime Minister launches basic income campaign
Former French Prime Minister (2005-2007) Dominique de Villepin is well-known for his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq – at the time he was a Minister for Foreign Affairs. Many will remember his speech at the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 14, 2003, in front of US Secretary of State Colin Powell. Quite surprisingly, de Villepin has recently launched a basic income campaign, which is supposed to be a central feature of his electoral platform in prospect of the 2012 Presidential election.
For further details, see de Villepin's website at http://www.republiquesolidaire.fr/
GERMANY: Pro-BI book becomes best-seller
1000 Euro for everyone. Freedom. Equality. Basic Income is the title of a new book (€1.000 für Jeden: Freiheit. Gleichheit. Grundeinkommen in the original) by Götz W. Werner and Adrienne Goehler, published in August 2010. According to the Amazon.de website it is currently in place No. 1,563 of all books being sold, but in the category ‘Social Justice’ it is No. 1. It is clearly of considerable significance to find so much interest in a Citizen’s Income in a European country.
An interesting review of this book appears in the January Review of Books in Sp!ked. The first half of the review is factual and informative and is reproduced below (with permission from Sp!ked. You can read the original dated Friday 28 January 2011 at www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_article/10136/ ) The idea that the state should give everyone a basic income has seized the imagination of Germany’s middle class and politicians.
-By Conall Boyle for the CITIZEN’S INCOME NEWSLETTER
GERMANY: Pro-market party calls for basic child income
The pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) of Germany has suggested a basic children’s income to replace all parenting and child payments, according to The Local, and English-language German online newspaper. Sibylle Laurischk, of the FDP, said that with a basic income, every child would be entitled to a definite amount of money: “Parents and above all single parents who don’t have their own income can therefore pay for what a child needs.”
For more information see:
“FDP calls for basic children's income” Published: 17 May 2011
The 14th BIEN Congress to be held Munich, Germany, 14-16 September 2012
In the past months, members of BIEN’s utive Committee have been meeting with the organizers of the next Congress, first in New York City (at the occasion of North American basic income conference in February 2011), then in Munich (March 16, 2011). The Congress will be held in Ottobrunn (near Munich), Germany, on September 14-16, 2012. A venue in Munich has already been reserved for up to 500 participants. There will be a pre-conference ‘political’ day has been set aside for September 13, 2012. For further information, please contact the organizers at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. RECENT EVENTS
SEOUL (South Korea): An open discussion with 'Ecology, Land Tax, Culture, and Basic Income'
Seoul, on June 3, 2011, the Basic Income Korean Network (BIKN), in conjunction with Cultural Action and the Institute of Land and Liberty, held a symposium titled Ecology, Land Tax, Culture, and Basic Income as a part of the 5th Marx Communale that took place in Seoul National University.
Part I of the symposium, Culture Society and Basic Income, began with the presentation of Basic Income, a Virtuous Circle of Labor and Culture by Prof. Kwang-Hyun Shim of Korea National University of Arts. Despite admitting that basic income is the only perceived medium of making a radical change in an ever-automating society, Shim argued that an incomplete implementation of basic income - one without a strong, organized cultural movement - is risky, since it might merely augment market fundamentalism by granting more purchasing power. Debated topics included how basic income will/should change the boundary of labor and creative activity.
Part II (Ecology, Land Tax, and Basic Income) approached one of the most notorious social problems of South Korea - the land price. Begun with a presentation titled Ecological Society and Basic Income by Prof. Jeong-Im Kwon of the University of Seoul, it proceeded to the argument for land value taxation by Gi-Up Nam, president of the Institute of Land and Liberty. Laying a moral and economic foundation to taxing one of the largest unearned incomes in South Korea, Nam claimed the scheme to be an alternative to basic income. Nam-Hoon Kang, professor of economics at Hanshin University and the representative of BIKN, asserted a model where the positive effects of land value taxation and basic income is seamlessly combined, simply by funding basic income with land value taxation.
The event was a success, with the venue packed by an eager audience for five hours. Marx Communale is a biennial academic festival held by South Korean researchers and artists studying various theories originated by Karl Marx. The fifth Communale, Contemporary Capitalism and Life, was a three-day event from June 2 to June 4.
-Report by Han Don-Son, for the Basic Income Korean Network (BIKN)
TAMPERE (Finland), May 16th-17th, 2011: University of Tampere international workshop on “Universal Basic Income as a European Alternative”
This day-long workshop discussed issues such as the “Philosophical Foundations of Justice and Basic Income,” “UBI in the Context of National Social Security and Employment Systems,” “Economics and Labour Market Effects of UBI,” and “Policy Proposals on UBI.” Participants included a wide variety of researchers from around Europe. Johanna Perkiö organized the conference as the kick-start of a major research project that will go on for the next year. The project will study basic income in 3 to 5 European-Union countries, examining how basic income could be accommodated in different types of social security and employment systems, what would be the institutional and cultural conditions, and what are the potential labour market effects. A more far-reaching goal of the study is to provide information on what kind of a basic income system could be feasible in the European Union, on how it could be (institutionally) implemented and on what its (cultural and economical) effects would be.
The program with abstracts of the presentations can be downloaded online at:
The full presentations, papers and PowerPoint slides, are online at:
LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg), April 1, 2011: University of Luxembourg public workshop: Basic Income and Income Redistribution
This workshop discussed basic income as it related to issues of income distribution, labor market participation and, in small countries like Luxembourg, control of migration flows. It included a roundtable (in French) with guest lecturers Philippe Van Parijs from the Catholic University of Louvain, Tony Atkinson of Nuffield College, Oxford, and Tito Boeri, Bocconi University, Italy.
A report by Mosaik.lu said the workshop was well attended by people ranging from students to businesspersons. The workshop aimed to address the many complexities of this topic. According to Mosaik.lu, Van Parijs noted many freedoms that adequate income brings to the individual, such as empowerment and choice (allowing individuals to move easily between employment, education, and family). Atkinson said decent provision for the poor is a true test of a civilization, and pointed out the responsibility of society to provide for everyone. Boeri was more critical, worrying that generous program would lead to “Welfare Shopping,” in which migrants move to the place with the best welfare benefits. He suggested decoupling migration and welfare.
Other speakers included Serge Allegrezza, general director of the National Statistical Institute, Robert Kieffer, President of the National Pension Insurance Fund, Frederic Berger, researcher at the Center for Population, Poverty, and Political Studies, Muriel Bouchet, Central Bank of Luxembourg, and Professor Pierre Picard of the University of Luxembourg. The event was hosted by Jürgen Stoldt.
More information is online at:
A news report on workshop is online at:
NAMUR (Belgium), 31 March 2011: Conference on the Universal Grant
This conference on basic income ("allocation universelle", or universal grant, in French) was organized by the Walloon federation of social assistance services (CPAS) and the Union of Walloon cities (UVCW). A panel of four speakers discussed the idea. Two proponents of basic income, Philippe Defeyt (Green Party and head of a social assistance service) and Yannick Vanderborght (Hoover Chair, UCLouvain), gave some of the main arguments in favour of a universal and unconditional basic income. Two reprensentatives of Belgium's main trade unions, Anne Demelenne (FGTB) and Felipe Van Keirsbilck (CSC), explained why they were rather skeptical of the idea. For further information: www.uvcw.be
DELHI (India), 22 January 2011: Lecture by Guy Standing.
In Delhi, India, on 22 January 2011, Guy Standing, co-president of BIEN, gave an invited lecture on why developing countries should move towards a basic income via unconditional cash transfers at the headquarters of UNICEF, telecast to seven State capitals around India. A week earlier, at the Indian International Centre in Delhi he presented with his co-authors a new book, Social Income and Insecurity: A Study of Gujarat (Routledge), at a public launch chaired by a leading member of the Indian Planning Commission. A major conclusion of that book is the need to move towards simple unconditional cash transfers instead of the complex array of means-tested selective schemes that are rife with corruption and inefficiency. For further information: http://www.guystanding.com/
SEOUL (Korea), 28 December 2010: 2nd general meeting of BIKN
On 28 December 2010, the 2nd general meeting of BIKN was held in Seoul. The 1st general meeting was the inaugural one on 25 June 2009. Firstly, the opening addresses were given by Min Geum, chairperson of the BIKN steering committee, and No-Wan Kwack, chairperson of the BIKN studies committee, both of whom were newly appointed at the previous committee meeting. Secondly, about 30 committee members were introduced. Thirdly, vigorous activities of BIKN in 2009 and 2010 were reported briefly. Fourthly, it was notified that the life member system like BIEN's one was adopted by the committee. All those present were actively encouraged to become a life member of BIKN. As of December 2010, the number of BIKN members is 548. Lastly, the basic outline of the BIKN's plan for 2011, which is mainly focused on studies, courses, and organized activities, was simply explained. And this meeting ended with a year-end party.
BIKN website : http://cafe.daum.net/basicincome
THE CITIZEN'S INCOME TRUST, The Citizens Income Newsletter Issue 2, 2011
The latest issue of the CIT Newsletter contains
* An editorial
* An article on a new bestseller in Germany, by Conall Boyle
* Other news items
* An obituary of Kevin Donnelly
* A main article: “The International Labour Organisation's analysis of social transfers worldwide augurs well for a Citizen's Income in the context of middle and low-income countries,” by Ian Orton (see below)
* A review essay, “Two memoirs tell the history of the Alaska Dividend,” by Karl Widerquist (see below)
* Book reviews
* A Viewpoint: “Where does housing fit in?” by Jake Eliot (see below)
ORTON, Ian “The International Labour Organisation’s analysis of social transfers worldwide augurs well for a Citizen’s Income in the context of middle and low-income countries”
Citizen’s Income Newsletter Issue 2, 2011
ABSTRACT: To support its campaign on the global extension of social security, in 2008 the International Labour Organisation (ILO) undertook a study of 126 research reports on tax-financed social transfer programmes (STs) operating worldwide. 62 programmes from 30 developing countries were analysed. These STs reach between 300 and 350 million beneficiaries – children, working adults, and elderly people – and represent a considerable proportion of the world’s poor. The results are available through the ILO’s online Matrix on the effects of social transfers (2009). STs have emerged as a core component of poverty reduction strategies supported by international organisations such as the World Bank and a number of UN institutions. Thus their impact merits considerable interest.
This article outlines the current knowledge on the effects of STs in a way relevant to those interested in Citizen’s Income (CI). STs are not unlike CIs. They are non-contributory and tax-financed, and a considerable number of STs are unconditional and universal (across certain groups). The ILO study shows positive impacts of STs on a range of areas of human existence. The study therefore enables us to predict the kinds of effects that a CI could deliver in low and middle income countries.
Widerquist, Karl “Review Essay: Two Memoirs Tell the History of the Alaska Dividend”
Citizen’s Income Newsletter Issue 2, 2011
Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend is closer to a Basic Income than almost any other policy in the world today. The lessons of how it was created and how it became so popular and successful are extremely important to the Basic Income movement. This article discusses two autobiographies available now that tell different parts of the story of the Alaska Dividend: Tales of Alaska’s Bush Rat Governor by Jay Hammond, the governor who, more than anyone else, is responsible for creating the fund and dividend, and Saving For the Future: My Life and the Alaska Permanent Fund by Dave Rose, the first utive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (with Charles Wolforth).
ELIOT, Jake, “Viewpoint: Where does housing fit in?”
Citizen’s Income Newsletter Issue 2, 2011
Looking at progress against the pillars of the Beveridge welfare state: health, housing and education, many commentators have identified housing as the ‘wobbly pillar’, starved of investment or ineffectively maintained. The forthcoming UK Housing Review will show that the past two years has seen the highest sustained investment in social housing in the last three decades. However, with 4.5m on housing registers and affordability ratios extending beyond the average there is a clear and pressing need for change.
STANDING, Guy, May 28, 2011 “Give cash some credit”
The Indian Express
Guy Standing is former co-chair and honorary co-President of BIEN. In this article, he discusses the role of cash transfer in aiding India’s rural poor. This article is online at:
L'HIRONDELLE, C.A., May 27, 2011: “Crapitalism: Definition and Cure”
The title clearly indicates the author’s feelings about an unregulated market economy. One of the cures L’Hirondelle proposes is a basic income. She writes, “A sudden 'no money for anyone' path would be highly disruptive and risky. In contrast, 'money for all' via a universal livable income implemented in each country in the world would at least create the possibility of a peaceful transition from a crapitalist to a livable economy.”
STANDING, Guy, May 24, 2011, “The Precariat – The new dangerous class”
According to Guy Standing, the Precariat “consists of a multitude of insecure people, living bits-and-pieces lives, in and out of short-term jobs, without a narrative of occupational development.” There are many more people in this position in the industrialized world than there were 50 years ago. Standing argues, “The only way to provide sufficient economic security is to do so ex ante, through providing every legal resident in society with a basic income as a right.” Standing is former co-chair and honorary co-President of BIEN. His article is online at:
SKIDELSKY, Robert, May 19, 2011, “Lumpy Labor”
Project Syndicate: a World of Ideas
This opinion piece is written by a member of Britain’s House of Lords and a Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University. In the article, Skidelsky endorses a universal basic income as a solution to the lesser-demand for labor in the post-Great-Recession world.
It’s online at:
It is also available as audio at:
SPECIAL ISSUE: “Perspectives on Cash Transfers”
Economic and Political Weekly Volume 46, No. 21, May 21 - May 27, 2011
This special issue contains the following articles on cash transfers:
NARAYANAN, Sudha “A Case for Reframing the Cash Transfer Debate in India”
YANES, Pablo, “Mexico’s Targeted and Conditional Transfers: Between Oportunidades and Rights
VERAS SOARES, Fabio, “Brazil’s Bolsa Família: A Review”
BASTAGLI, Francesca, “Conditional Cash Transfers as a Tool of Social Policy”
GHOSH, Jayati, “Cash Transfers as the Silver Bullet for Poverty Reduction: A Sceptical Note”
KOTWAL, Ashok, Milind MURUGKAR, and Bharat RAMASWAMI, “PDS Forever?”
CHAUDHURI, Arka Roy and E SOMANATHAN, “Impact of Biometric Identification-Based Transfers”
KAPUR, Devesh, “The Shift to Cash Transfers: Running Better But on the Wrong Road?”
These articles are online at:
DREZE, Jean, May 11, 2011, “The cash mantra”
The Indian Express
In this article Jean Dreze is critical about the extent to which cash transfers can replace traditional welfare services.
This article is online at:
LITTLE, Mat, May 2011, “Economic crisis and post-capitalism: Mat Little interviews the economist Harry Shutt about economic crisis and the left alternative.”
Describe by Little as “an economist who occupies the dissident edge of his profession” Shutt is the author of A New Democracy and The Decline of Capitalism. In this interview, Harry Shutt endorses basic income. Answering the question, “You think a citizens’ income is essential. Why?” Shutt replies, “Given the ever growing global surplus of labour noted above, it is no longer possible to pretend, if it ever was, that full employment is a realistic goal. … This points to the necessity of devising a system of income distribution which incentivises people to undertake only work which is necessary – including caring activities which at present are largely unpaid – and does not penalise people for being unemployed. The most obvious benefits of a basic or citizen's income – paid at a flat rate to every adult irrespective of their income or employment status – would be that every individual would be assured of basic subsistence without the need for means testing. The administrative costs of means testing would be saved, as would the personal irritation and humiliation. People could undertake paid work or start small businesses without losing any benefit, while at the same time they could afford to undertake unpaid work of value to the community – including as carers – which might otherwise not be done.”
The article is online at:
KOTHER, Harald, Mar. 22, 2011, “Basic Income: The Way out of a Sick Society”
This article discusses Erich Fromm’s arguments on the psychological benefit of a basic income. Harald Kother writes, “Without the social contract, we become wolves to one another. Without the social contract, the state becomes a trough for the super-rich. Basic income could enable everyone to participate in social, economic and political life. Without vision, the people perish.”
It’s online at:
MEDRED, Craig, Mar 20, 2011, “All hail Comrade Palin, Hero of the Proletariat!”
This opinion piece revives the decades-old practice of “red-bating. It red-bates Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend and all of its supporters, including Sarah Palin as “socialist.” The author would prefer that the oil companies operating in Alaska not be changed any fee at all for removing the oil from Alaska. By implication, anyone who thinks oil corporations should pay at least some fee for the benefit of the people of the state is a socialist.
The article is reprint on the following blog: Syrin's Blog, Wasilla, Alaska
GAWITH, Andrew, Mar 8, 2011, “Policy on welfare in need of inspiration”
The New Zealand Herald
This opinion piece suggests that an integrated basic income and flat income tax would improve new Zealand’s tax and benefit system. The author is the director of Gareth Morgan Investments, an investment manager and superannuation provider.
The article is online at:
SUZUKI, Masahiko, March 2011, “Would they be lazier or work harder given free money?; The Namibia BIG Pilot Project and the Possibility of Basic Income as a Strategy of Social Cooperation”
Journal of Political Science and Sociology, No. 14
ABSTRACT: This paper charts the impact research conducted in the Namibia Basic Income Pilot Project 2008-2009 and draws a complementary report on the success of BI schemes, particularly highlighting the issues of human capital development. The discussion goes on as follows. First, a profile of current Namibia is reviewed. Second, the paper follows how the civil society of Namibia produced Namibia BIG Coalition and its pilot project initiative. The rest of this paper looks in to the results of the project on the basis of impact research conducted by the Coalition. In conclusion, the problem of sustainability of BI is addressed. The possibilities of social cooperation mediated by BI schemes will also be explored.
ALI, Saleem H. Gary FLOMENHOFT, February 17, 2011, “Innovating Sovereign Wealth Funds”
Policy Innovations: For a fairer globalization
This opinion piece discusses Sovereign Wealth Funds and Alaska-style dividends as a way to ensure transparency in resource revenue and a way to ensure the people benefit from natural resource revenue. Saleem H. Ali is professor of environmental planning at the University of Vermont and director of the Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security. Gary Flomenhoft is a fellow of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont and an advisor to the Vermont legislature on natural resources policy. The article is online at:
HASSEN, Ebrahim-Khalil, February 2011, “The Balance Between Growth and Redistribution: Revisiting the Call for a Basic Income Grant”
The South African Civil Society Information Service
This article looks back on the campaign for BIG in South Africa, discussing its successes and failures. Its online at:
GAMEL, Claude, (2011), ‘Basic income and ELIE transfers: Argument for compatibility despite divergence’ in GAMEL, Claude & LUBRANO, Michel (eds.), On Kolm’s Theory of Macrojustice. A Pluridisciplinary Forum of Exchange, foreword by Tony ATKINSON, Springer Verlag, 370 pages.
The theory of macrojustice, introduced by S.-C. Kolm, is a stimulating contribution to the debate on the macroeconomic income distribution. The solution called “Equal Labour Income Equalisation” (ELIE) is the result of a three stages construction: collective agreement on the scheme of labour income redistribution, collective agreement on the degree of equalisation to be chosen in that framework, individual freedom to exploit his-her productive capacities (the source of labour income and the sole basis for taxation). For example, by giving to society the market value of one day of their working week, the individuals pay a lump-sum tax, which varies from one individual to another only in terms of the productive capacities of the individual concerned. In return, they receive from society the average value of all incomes derived from this one working day.
This collective book is organised as a discussion around four complementary themes: philosophical aspects of macrojustice, economic analysis of macrojustice, combination of ELIE with other targeted transfers, econometric evaluations of ELIE. Gamel devotes chapter 5 (pp. 145-185) to the comparison between Van Parijs’ book – Real Freedom for All (1995) – and Kolm’s book – Macrojustice (2005) -. Despite being formally close, both propositions diverge because the financing of basic income is not really guaranteed and the treatment by ELIE transfers of “eccentric productive people” who choose not to work is not obvious. Both projects remain nevertheless compatible: from a philosophical point of view, Van Parijs tries to equalise individuals’ “external endowments”, while Kolm exploits only their “internal endowments”; from an economic point of view, TECIE transfers which would be based on “external endowments” could thus complete ELIE transfers stemming from “internal endowments”. The first examination of this “hybridisation” provides the framework of a temporary conclusion.
Further information on line at:
GLAESER, Edward, The Triumph of the City, Penguin 2011
Although this book is not primarily about the basic income guarantee, the author, influential economist Edward Glaeser, endorses basic income on page 221. He writes, “Smart environmentalism needs to embrace incentives. ... Throughout the world, we can adopt a global emission tax that charges people for the damage done by their carbon emissions. ... Opponents of big government understandably worry that this type of policy will just turn into an added source of revenue for the government, but this worry can be reduced with a public commitment to rebating the tax to citizens as an energy dividend, much as the state of Alaska pays each of its citizens an annual dividend from oil revenues.”
BIRNBAUM, Simon (2010), 'Radical liberalism, Rawls and the welfare state: justifying the politics of basic income', Critical Review of InternationalSocial and Political Philosophy, 13(4): 495-516.
In response to recent policy trends towards linking social rights more tightly to work requirements, this article argues that those sharing Rawlsian commitments have good reasons to prefer a radical-liberal policy agenda with a universal basic income at its core. Compared to its main rivals in present policy debates, the politics of basic income has greater potential to promote the economic life prospects of the least advantaged in a way that provides a robust protection for the bases of social recognition and non-subservience. The argument seeks to establish that these concerns should be ascribed priority in the most plausible balancing of Rawlsian objectives and that doing so generates a strong case for basic income. As recent arguments for basic income have suggested that Rawls' theory is insufficient to make the case for such a reform, this analysis also demonstrates that a powerful argument for basic income can be built on Rawlsian foundations alone.
Author's email: email@example.com
SIMON, Clark, 2008, “A basic income for Russia?”
Originally published in Russian. This article is also available in English.
ABSTRACT: The idea of a basic or citizens' income rests on the principle that everyone is entitled to the resources which make possible at least a minimum standard of subsistence. This principle is well-established in those countries, particularly in Europe, with a developed welfare state tradition, although its implementation, even in those countries, is surrounded by qualifications centered on the obligation of able-bodied citizens to work and the restriction of public assistance to those who can prove their need for support, which are monitored by an enormous inhuman and incompetent bureaucratic apparatus of inspection, regulation and control. Moreover, the solidaristic welfare tradition is being eroded by individualistic approaches to welfare provision based on compulsory or voluntary, state or private insurance principles.
The full text of the article can be downloaded at:
“The Information Policy Case For Flat Tax And Basic Income”
May 19, 2011 by Rick Falkvinge on Falkvinge.net
The blog post is the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, the first Pirate Party
The Earth Rights Institute’s has created an online Course & Training Program in Land Rights and Land Value Capture. According to the institute: “This is a great way to learn about Earth Rights Policies. … Thereafter you are eligible to partner with us on policy research and implementation projects for your city/country. There are currently more than 500 people enrolled from 80 countries. Many of those enrolled are either professionals in an area of land management, are affiliated with NGOs, or are university students. They are organized into class groups by country or special interest. The course is offered in English and Spanish.” The course includes five modules: Land Rights and Poverty, Land Prices and the Law of Rent, Land Value Capture, Economics of War and Peace, and Policy Implementation.
More information about the course and registration is online at:
Basic Income Studies (BIS) is the first academic journal dedicated to research on basic income. Each year it awards a prize for the best English-language essay presented at the following conferences: BIEN on even years and NA-BIG on the odd years. The winning essay and runner-up are published in BIS. The winning essay for 2010 was Hamid Tabatabai, for his essay, “The 'Basic Income' Road to Reforming Iran’s Price Subsidies.” It will appear in the next issue of BIS. The abstract of the article is below. We congratulate Dr. Tabatabai. The runner-up for 2010 was Peter P. Houtzager, for his essay, “Reformist Professionals and the Silent Revolution in Social Policy: Minimum Income Guarantees In Brazil.” It will appear in a later issue of BIS. Below are the abstracts for the two essays:
“The 'Basic Income' Road to Reforming Iran’s Price Subsidies.”
ABSTRACT: Iran has become the first country in the world to provide a de facto basic income to all its citizens. This article reviews the development of the main component of Iran’s economic reform plan – the replacement of fuel and food subsidies with direct cash transfers to the population – and shows how a system of universal, regular, and unconditional cash transfers emerged, almost by default, as a by-product of an attempt to transform an inefficient and unfair system of price subsidies. The main features of the 'cash subsidy' system are compared with those of a basic income and some lessons are drawn with a view to enhancing the prospects of basic income as a more realistic proposition.
“Reformist Professionals and the Silent Revolution in Social Policy: Minimum Income Guarantees In Brazil.”
Peter P. Houtzager
ABSTRACT: Minimum income guarantee programmes in Brazil represent one of the most significant changes in policy towards the poor since the 1960s. Contrary to expectations in much of the recent literature on Latin America’s public sector, the programmes are less the product of mobilisation from below or state elite vision, than the initiative of reformist middle class professionals with at least one foot in the public sector. This article traces the role of a loose network of reformist labour economists in the two-decade trajectory (1990-2010) of the first family minimum income programme (Renda Minima) proposed in Brazil – that of the metropolis of São Paulo.
Fred Block, one of the founding members of the USBIG Network, has resigned from the USBIG Committee and joined the USBIG Board of Advisors. He will be taking a less active role in USBIG, but he will still be giving us the benefit of his great experience. Block is professor of sociology at the University of California-Davis. He has written many books and articles, such as Free Market Utopianism: From Market Fundamentalism to the Reality of Society, with Margaret Somers (Harvard University Press, forthcoming), The Vampire State and Other Myths and Fallacies about the U.S. Economy. (New Press, 1996), Postindustrial Possibilities: A Critique of Economic Discourse (University of California Press, 1990), The Mean Season: The Attack on the Welfare State, with Richard A. Cloward, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Frances Fox Piven (Pantheon, 1987). His publications on the basic income guarantee include, “In the Shadow of Speenhamland: Social Policy and the Old Poor Law” with Margaret Somers (Politics & Society, 2003), “Reforming the Labor Market Through Guaranteed Incomes: A U.S. Perspective,” with Jeff Manza (Employment and Unemployment, 1998), and “Could We Eliminate Poverty in a Postindustrial Society?: The Case for a Progressive Negative Income Tax,” with Jeff Manza (Politics & Society, 1997).
NAMIBIAN BIG Coalition: new and expanded website
The website now features a new design, more publications and presentations as well as a collection of articles, sound bites and TV recordings (in English and German) about the BIG campaign and the BIG pilot project from 2009 to 2011.
It is online at:
For links to dozens of BIG websites around the world, go to http://www.usbig.net/links.html. These links are to any website with information about BIG, but USBIG does not necessarily endorse their content or their agendas.
The USBIG Network Newsletter
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Copyeditor: Mike Murray and the USBIG Committee
Research: Paul Nollen
Special help on this issue was provided by: Joerg Drescher, Pablo Yanes, Jeff Smith, Steve Shafarman, Alanna Hartzok, Al Sheahen, and Michael W. Howard
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 newsletter, but please mention the source and include a link to http://www.usbig.net. If you know any BIG news; if you know anyone who would like to be added to this list; or if you would like to be removed from this list; please send me an email: Karl@Widerquist.com.
As always, your comments on this newsletter and the USBIG website are gladly welcomed.
-Karl Widerquist, editor
KARL WIDERQUIST Visiting Associate Professor in Philosophy Room 1D42, Georgetown University-Qatar Mailing address: 3300 Whitehaven Street, N.W. Suite 2100, Harris Building Washington, D.C. 20007-2401 US cell phone: +1 504-261-0891 Qatar cell phone: +974 5508-9323 Qatar office phone: +974 4457-8384 Qatar fax: +974 4457-8231 EMAIL: Karl@widerquist.com PERSONAL WEBSITE: http://www.widerquist.com/ ===========================================================