USBIG NEWSLETTER Vol. 13, No. 65 Summer 2012This 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 CONTENTS1. Fourteenth BIEN Congress preview
2. EDITORIAL: Conservative website finds USBIG behind vast government conspiracy
3. ALASKA: Dividend likely to shrink again this year but hope for a renewed boom is ever- present
4. ALASKA, EDITORIAL: Fox News Praises the Alaska Model
5. GERMANY: Chancellor Merkel Speaks Against BIG
6. GERMANY: Basic Income Supporter (and member of BIEN) elected as Party Leader of left-wing party, Die Linke
7. UK: Mayoral Candidate for BI
8. SOUTH AFRICA: Protesters demand Basic Income Grant
9. UNITED NATIONS: Social Protection Floor Petition
10. RECENT EVENTS
11. RECENT PUBLICATIONS
12. RECENT BI NEWS OPINION PIECES
13. RECENT BLOGS
14. VIDEO LINKS
15. WRITERS NEEDED for BI News, the BIEN NewsFlash, and affiliate newsletters
16. Links and other info
1. Fourteenth BIEN Congress preview“Pathways to a Basic Income,” Munich, Germany, September 14-16, 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), the parent organization of USBIG, will hold its 14th biennial Congress in Munich Germany on September 14-16, 2012. It will have an additional “host-nation” day on September 13. According to the conference website, “Every other year researchers, scholars, policy makers and politicians from different parts of the world get together to discuss alternatives that could lead to the promotion and implementation of an elementary principle of social justice: the guarantee of a monetary income. Ideas, experiences and new designs for public policies will be addressed by specialists and several guests for three days.” The 14th BIEN Congress will take place at the Wolf-Ferrari-Haus in the Munich suburb of Ottobrunn.
Plenary speakers include the following people: Mylondo Baptiste is a French philosopher and political scientist. He is the founder of the nonprofit association "Conso-age." Bruna Augusto Pereira is cofounder of the non-governmental organization ReCivitas, which runs a unique project paying a basic income to every resident of the Brazilian village Quatinga Velho. Claus Offe is a Professor of Political Sociology at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. Gotz W. Werner is a German entrepreneur and founder of the drugstore chain, "dm." He is a prominent basic income advocate in Europe. Guy Standing is an economist and professor at the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath in Great Britain. Min Geum studied law in Seoul and Gottingen. He was candidate of the Socialist Party for president in South Korea in 2007. He founded the Basic Income Korean Network, the BIEN affiliate in South Korea. Philippe Van Parijs is professor at the faculty of economic, social and political sciences of the University of Louvain. Renana Jhabvala is one of the best-known representatives of women’s interests working in the informal sector in India. She has held several positions at the Self-Employed Women's Association of India, which represents the interests of self-employed women at risk of poverty. Rolf Kunnemann is the Human Rights Director at the Secretariat of FIAN International (FoodFirst Information and Action Network) in Heidelberg. He has been working on human rights to adequate food, especially in rural areas of the Global South, since 1983. Tereza Campello is Minister for Social Development and Hunger Alleviation in Brazil.
The language of the main conference will be English, but some plenary sessions will have simultaneous translation into German. The language of the host-nation day will be German. Organizers recommend that people register for the conference early because of the limited number of available places available.
More information is available on the conference website: http://www.bien2012.de/en.
Even more information is available from the conference organizers at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. EDITORIAL: Conservative website finds USBIG behind vast government conspiracyYou reach a milestone the first time you or your organization is named the mastermind behind a vast government conspiracy that goes all the way up to the President of the United States. This happened to the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) on July 23, 2012, when an opinion piece by J. D. Longstreet on The Right Side News website declared that the ultimate aim of the Obama administration’s “Socialist/Marxist” conspiracy is to establish exactly the kind of policy described on the USBIG website. The article actually used several long—properly cited—quotes from the USBIG website to describe Obama’s unspoken goal.
As the author of many of the quotes that website took from USBIG, it was a lot of fun to read my words used to describe the hidden agenda of the President of the United States. My sympathies are closer to the Green Party than the Democrats. But if Obama has secretly engineered his entire political career to put my words into actions, well, gee wiz, the least I could do is vote for him. The website states, “Our goal is to provide accurate news and information about threats to our country and Western civilization, and to provide you with the opportunity to counter these threats.” Even with this assurance, unfortunately, I don’t think the Obama administration is a vast conspiracy to do USBIG’s bidding. Obama never calls.
Although this is the first time (I know of) that the USBIG website has caught the attention of conspiracy theorists, it is not the first time that BIG has caught their attention. Longstreet’s conspiracy theory is based on a theory Glenn Beck proposed on Fox news a few years ago. Beck reached way back to a 1966 article, in which Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward discussed the large number of people who were eligible for public assistance but had not applied for it. They argued for (and later became part of) a movement to get eligible people to sign up for welfare benefits, partly in hope that the financial pressure of new applicants would lead to a streamlined federal welfare system hopefully employing a basic income guarantee. Nearly 35 years later Glenn Beck decided that this published paper was the secret objective of an on-going conspiracy to bankrupt the federal government and bring about some kind of socialist revolution.
Longstreet writes, “If I am correct, then we are actually seeing the ‘Cloward-Piven Strategy’ at work. We are observing the foundation, the groundwork -- if you will -- for establishing a guaranteed annual (minimum) income for American citizens. It is very, very, worrisome. But -- it is only the latest move by our socialist leaders to break America so they can re-mold her in the image of their choosing, which is, unarguably a socialist/Marxist state.”
It’s easy to dismiss the Right Side News as the lunatic fringe of the extreme right, which it probably is. But their rhetoric is not that different from what one can hear on Fox News and many other mainstream media outlets on a regular basis. It is symptomatic of how far divorced America’s political discourse is from the political reality. Over the last 30 years or more, the U.S. welfare system has been slowly but consistently dismantled. The minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation. Individuals’ rights to organize unions have been reduced. Taxes on the wealthy have fallen while government favors for the wealthy have increased. Wages have stagnated for 30 years despite healthy economic growth over the period, the benefits of which have been captured almost entirely by the richest few percent of Americans. Yet, somehow a large part of the American populace lives under the belief that we have been moving toward socialism.
It’s fine to label the Obama administration’s policies “socialist” (or to throw any other label on them you want), and it’s fine to believe the Obama administration’s policies are wrong. But if the mild piecemeal policies of the Obama administration are socialist, the United States has been socialist since the Theodore Roosevelt administration and it has been drifting away from socialism since the early 1980s at the latest.
Wild conspiracy theories, like the one by Beck and Longstreet, are part of a brand of fact-denying conservatism that has recently made its way into mainstream U.S. politics. One can now expect to be taken seriously while claiming global warming isn’t happening, the Earth is only 6,000 years old, Obama is a secret Muslim, and so on. Someone paying only casual attention to the mainstream media in the United States could easily think all of these are live, debatable issues. We can hope that such obvious fact-deniers will eventually hang themselves. But we should also be aware that repeating the ridiculous can make it respectable. We have to continually call-out the fact-deniers. The only way to fight falsehoods is with facts.
-Karl Widerquist, begun in New York, NY, completed in South Bend, IN, August 2012
If you’re interested in seeing Longstreet’s editorial on the Right Side News, go to:
3. ALASKA: Dividend likely to shrink again this year but hope for a renewed boom is ever presentAlaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) is volatile and uncertain reflecting the Alaskan economy, which—typical of resource-exporting regions—is subject to volatile commodity prices, fear that resource exports will soon run out, and hope that a new export boom could be about to begin. The dividend is likely to decline this year as more difficult news about the state’s finances comes out, but new drilling could bring the first increase in oil exports in years.
The PFD is the only existing basic income in the developed world. Each year it pays an equal amount in cash to all citizens who meet the residency requirement, but the amount varies each year. The PFD is funded by the returns to the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF), a pool of investments created out of savings from the state’s oil revenue. The APF accumulates investments each year as new savings are deposited into it, but its value fluctuates with the world economy. The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC), the state-owned corporation that manages the fund, uses a complex formula to make the yearly dividend less volatile than the yearly returns to the fund, but the dividend still is rather volatile.
After reaching a high of $2,069 in 2008 ($3269 if the one-time energy rebate is added), returns over the past three years have been $1,305 in 2009, $1,281 in 2010, and $1,174 in 2011. According to a recent press release by the APFC, the dividend level is likely to decline a little more this year. APFC will designate $605 million for distribution as dividends this fall—nearly $200 million less than the $801 million it designated for dividend payments in 2011. Therefore the dividend might slip under $1000 for the first time since 2005. The exact amount of the dividend will be announced in a few weeks and dividends will be distributed in October.
The main reason for the decline is the poor performance of world stocks. Although the APF has recently moved some of its funds into real estate investments, which have been doing well, they have not done well enough to make up for poor stock performance. The APF finished its fiscal year on June 30th with a yearly return of 0.02%.
Some recent news has been troubling for the future of the dividend. As discussed in this column recently, Alaskan oil exports have been declining for 20 years, but oil revenue has so far been buoyed by rising oil prices. However, according to the Fairbanks News-Miner, the recent decline in oil prices has threatened the state’s budget. “To cover the state budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, oil prices must average at least $104 per barrel.” But oil prices have recently been as low as $100, a price that would put the state budget into deficit if it were to continue.
Reduced oil revenue does not immediately threaten dividends, but it will reduce new deposits into APF, which will have a negative effect on dividends over time. If the state finds itself in permanent deficit, it is constitutionally prohibited from spending the APF principal, but it has the authority to reduce or cancel the PFD and use APF returns for other purposes. Whether the state would have the political will to do so is uncertain. It would probably depend on whether popular opinion was more strongly against elimination of PFD or the reintroduction of state sales or income taxes.
Typical of a resource-exporting region, Alaskans live with the constant fear of lost resource revenue and with the constant hope that new sources of resource revenue will be found. Not long ago there was a great deal of talk about a new natural gas pipeline that might replace oil revenue when North Slope oil runs low. The recent decline in the price of natural gas has made such a pipeline less attractive in the near future.
The latest new hope in Alaska is for offshore oil drilling. According to Alex DeMarban of the Alaska Dispatch, Shell Oil is about to start exploratory drilling off the Alaska coast. Federal law makes offshore oil the property of the federal government rather than the various state governments. However, several states along the Gulf of Mexico have recently made an agreement with the federal government to share more than one-third of the royalties for oil drilled off their coasts. This agreement might be precedent setting. If Alaska can get a similar deal, offshore oil will prove lucrative for the state and for the PFD, but not as lucrative as on-shore oil has been.
For more on these issues see the following links:
Alex DeMarban “Will offshore oil development in Alaska's Arctic make the state rich? Don't count on it.” The Alaska Dispatch, July1, 2012:
The APFC’s press release on its performance for the 2012 fiscal year (Permanent Fund flat for Fiscal Year 2012) is online at:
“Volatile stock market hinders return for Permanent Fund”
KTOO News Department, August 2, 2012. Online at:
“Alaska Permanent Fund's 2012 investments flat, PFD payout smaller”
Alaska Dispatch, Aug 2, 2012
Becky Bohrer, “Alaska Permanent Fund dividend likely to shrink this fall”
The Associated Press, Aug 02, 2012
4. ALASKA-USA, EDITORIAL: Fox News Praises the Alaska ModelLast February two conservative commentators, Bill O’Reilly and Lou Dobbs, from the Fox News Network, praised the Alaska Dividend as “a perfect Model” of what America should be doing with its resources. It is amazing that prominent conservatives can praise a policy that redistributes income from the wealthiest Americans to all Americans unconditionally—without means test or work requirement.
O’Reilly began by saying, “It is my contention that we, the people, own the gas and oil discovered in America. It’s our land, and the government administers it in our name.”
Later, Dobbs added (as O’Reily nodded and voiced agreement), “All of the vast energy reserves in this country belong to us, as you said. In Alaska there’s a perfect model for what we should do as a nation. We should have—what it’s called there is a Permanent Trust. Let’s call it the American Trust. And the oil companies, that pay about $10 billion per year in fees and royalties—have that money go into this trust fund, not to be touched by the Treasury department or any other federal agency, but simply for the investment on behalf of the American people (citizens). A couple things happen. One is, it reminds people whose oil this is, whose coal this is, and what the rights of an American citizen are. And it even puts a little money, a little dollar sign, next to what it’s worth to be a citizen. Have dividends disbursed and distributed every year. … [The other thing is] Peg [the royalties] to the price of gasoline … and that money go into that trust fund for the American people. I think you’d see a lot of people start to pay a little different attention to what people think and respect citizens a little more.”
It was a very good statement of what the Alaska model is for and how it ought to work.
But I doubt the two commentators realize how subversive their words were. If the government realized that the land belongs to all the people and truly began to administer it for everyone’s benefit, many changes would happen. If all the oil, coal, and natural gas of America belong to all Americans equally and unconditionally, so do all the gold, silver, bauxite, fish, timber, land, and groundwater. So do the atmosphere, the broadcast spectrum, and many other things worth an awful lot of money. If everybody who asserted private ownership of any of these things had to pay into the kind of public trust fund O’Reilly and Dobbs endorse, that fund would finance the most massive redistribution of wealth from rich to poor in the history of the United States (if not the world), and it could probably support a basic income large enough to permanently end poverty in America.
-Karl Widerquist, South Bend, Indiana, August 2012
Video of Bill O’Reilly and Lou Dobbs discussing the Alaska fund and dividend is online at: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/index.html#/v/1472237953001/government-
For more on the Alaska model, including cost estimates of the potential value of the natural resources the government gives away for free see the following two books:
Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend: Examining its Suitability as a Model, co-edited by Karl Widerquist and Michael W. Howard (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2012):
Exporting the Alaska Model: Adapting the Permanent Fund Dividend for Reform around the World, co-edited by Karl Widerquist and Michael W. Howard (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2012)
Or contact me: Karl Widerquist
5. GERMANY: Chancellor Merkel Speaks Against BIG[USIBG – July 2012]
German chancellor, Angela Merkel, spoke against the Basic Income Guarantee at a recent meeting at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Following the recent electoral success of pro-basic income parties, such as the Pirate Party, participants asked Chancellor Merkel about the proposal. Merkel emphasized that everyone should earn their living by work and asserted that there is enough flexibility in today’s job market for everyone to find one.
For more on her remarks at the Hertie School see:
Scholz, Kay-Uwe. Benzow, Gregg ed. (2012). Merkel’s Dialogue on the Future. DW, online at: http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,16007820,00.html.
6. GERMANY: Basic Income Supporter (and member of BIEN) elected as Party Leader of left-wing party, Die Linke[BI News – June 2012]
On 2nd June 2012 Katja Kipping was elected as party leader of “Die Linke”, the left-wing party of Germany. DPA, a German news agency, writes in a profile about Kipping: As long ago as 2004 she demanded a Basic Income – in a time, when nobody even thought about the success of the Pirate Party.
The Pirate Party published a press release, in which party leader Johannes Ponader congratulated Katja Kipping and invited her to discuss the topic Basic Income. In March 2012, Johannes Ponader, also a known supporter of Basic Income, was elected as political secretary of the German Pirate Party, which has supported Basic Income since its inception.
Victor Grossman, an American journalist and author, who lived in East Berlin for many years, wrote some days ago for “Monthly Review” about Kipping: 34, “a youthful redhead with an MA in Slavic Studies, American Studies, and Public Law, who worked her way up in the party, was elected to the Bundestag, and in 2009 became one of the party's vice-chairpersons. Always a staunch advocate of a guaranteed basic income for everyone, she cannot be clearly categorized in either party wing.”
7. BRITAIN: Mayoral Candidate Promises a Basic Income[Stanislas Jourdan – BI News – June 2012]
Eric Mutch is running a fancy campaign for the next Mayor elections of Bristol (England), in an attempt of raising attention on the basic income.
“My name is Corrupt. Corrupt self serving lying thieving Bastard, and I'm a candidate in the Bristol Mayor elections.” This is how Eric Mutch introduces himself. And his leitmotiv is pretty simple as well: “If I am elected, I promise I will give every citizen of Bristol a basic income of 15,000 pounds, in a local currency. Vote for me and you'll get the money!” he says in a video on its website, exhibiting bundles of notes to the camera.
For sure, when you come across Eric Mutch's speech on the internet, you may think this is a farce. However, this 46 years old married father, café worker and dancing teacher, is only half-joking.
As residents of one of the 10 biggest cities of UK, people of Bristol were given the opportunity to decide by referendum whether they should elect directly their mayor or keep it being chosen by other elected councilors. As a result of the polls, elections are set to be held on November 15th.
There are two reasons why Eric is running: “Initially, I just wanted to make a statement about politicians”, Eric says. “I wanted to give people a means of protesting against the politicians, by giving my name as a choice for saying 'no' to the other candidates, if for instance, they think they are all corrupt self serving lying thieving bastards!”
But eventually he found a second motivation: “I thought that this election would be a great opportunity to promote one single policy that I have been advocating for long: a basic income guarantee, funded in a local currency.”
How would it work? “I'm not a specialist”, Eric admits. But he has some ideas. “I want to distribute it through a local currency so that the money simply doesn't go away. It should remain in the local economy”, he explains.
Good news for him, a local currency already exists in Bristol. Since the beginning of the year, a local credit union has launched the “Bristol pound”. The project is even backed by the British financial authorities, which guarantee parity with the official pound. “That would make things easier to build it upon that project”, Eric Mutch reckons.
The other part of the funding would be done through the implementation of a local sales tax. “Because every single transaction would be taxed, you only need a small rate of taxation. As far as I read, something like 2 or 3 percent would do it. Possibly even less.” he argues.
More than rational arguments and scientific proofs, his campaign aims at raising attention on the idea of the basic income.
“The whole point of my campaign is about the name”, Eric explains. “I will officially change my name so that people will notice it in the polling booth. Hopefully, some of them will vote for me by despair or anger against the politics - and get to know about the basic income on the way.”
“Of course, people might just think it's a joke and won't pay attention. That's a double-edged sword. But without the name change, I would be no one,” he thinks.
“Whether they think it's a bad idea or not, I would be happy anyway if the basic income becomes more known as an important issue”, Eric claims. Yet his campaign gave him several opportunities to discuss basic income with other parties.
What if he wins? “Yes! I would love to win!” he exclaims. “I have no illusions, though. The mayor has no official power to implement something like a basic income. Except maybe if he is elected on the exact purpose of doing it?”
To read more about Eric “Corrupt” Mutch’s campaign go to:
8. SOUTH AFRICA: Protesters demand Basic Income Grant[Aynur Bashirova – Basic Income News – July 2012]
On June 16, 2012, Khayelitsha, South Africa, has faced protests in favor of basic income, according to Sisi Lwandle. Khayelitsha Progressive Youth Movement and New Women’s Movement demanded basic income grant of about 2000 Rand (roughly US$240) per year, increase in child support grant, and end to labor brokers. Many civil society organizations in South Africa call for basic income grant, but government has not adopted any official position on it. The country provides many welfare grants, but able bodied adults without income cannot benefit from any of them. This adds to the fact that there is a high unemployment. Employment conditions are so costly that employers prefer not to employ inexperienced or bad workers. Many pensioners support the members of their family that have no income. If basic income were granted to the citizens, this would take the burden out of pensioners. Government intent of providing a basic income to its citizens in South Africa is a big social challenge and a hole in government policy.
For more on the above proposals, see the following:
BIG Financing Reference Group (March 2004) “Breaking the Poverty Trap:” Financing a Basic Income Grant in South Africa.” BIG Financing Reference Group.
Hassen, Ebrahim-Khalil (4 February 2011) “South Africa: The Balance between Growth and Redistribution – Revisiting the Call for a Basic Income Grant.” The South African Civil Society Information Service.
Kenny, Andrew (14 November 2011) “A Basic Income Grant for Paupers and Vagabonds.” Politics Web.
Lwandle, Sisi (June 17 2012) “Protesters demand Basic Income Grant.” IOL News.
9. UNITED NATIONS: Social Protection Floor Petition[Jenna van Draanen - BIEN Canada - July 1, 2012]
An initiative called the Global Extension of Social Security (GESS) has recently created a petition calling on all governments to implement a national social protection floor (SPF), and calling on the United Nations to assist in the development and implementation of such policies. The target audience for the petition is the United Nations’ NGO Committee for Social Development. The petition has over 4000 signatures to date.
According to the GESS website, a social protection floor is a “nationally defined set of basic social security guarantees that should ensure, as a minimum that, over the life cycle, all in need have access to essential health care and to basic income security which together secure effective access to goods and services defined as necessary at the national level.”
The social protection floor concept is broader than the concept of a basic income as the SPF guarantees: 1) universal access to essential services (such as health, education, housing, water, and sanitation); and 2) social transfers to guarantee income security, food security and adequate nutrition. According to the GESS, a social protection floor should be universal, rights-based, nationally owned and designed, affordable, and just the first step in an ongoing process of ensuring social security.
Basic income or any other form of guaranteed income security would, then, be one important component of a broader SPF which may include a mix of policies and instruments (contributory and non-contributory, targeted and universal, public and private) that are suited to the social, economic and political context of the country it is being designed for.
Related efforts in advocating for an SPF come from the International Labour Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization who together coordinate the Social Protection Floor Initiative (SPF-I). The SPF-I is working to build a global coalition for the purpose of supporting countries in building national social protection floors for their citizens. The Advisory Group of the SPF-I recently released a report entitled “Social protection floor for a fair and inclusive globalization” which provides a wealth of information on the concept and recommendations for its implementation.
Further to this, the International Labour Conference has newly adopted the Social Protection Floors Recommendation (No. 202) which provides guidance to countries for establishing and maintaining SPFs. They note that SPF is part of the overall social security framework of a country, building on existing social protection mechanisms that are already in place, or starting from scratch if necessary. Additional support for SPFs comes from the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination who adopted that SPF-I as one of its nine crisis initiatives to deal with the effects of economic collapse.
The GESS petition is online at:
More information is online at:
10. RECENT EVENTS
Albano Laziale, Italy, 19th July 2012: Debate on Labour Policies and Guranteed Minimum Income[BIN Italy - July 17, 2012]
A debate titled “Economics for the People or Economics for things? Labour Policies and Guaranteed Minimum Income” was held on Thursday 19th of July 2012 in Albano Laziale within the Festival called ‘Festa Cambia Musica’. The debate started at 6.30 pm, and it was introduced and presided by M. Zammataro, who is SEL (Left Ecology Freedom) coordinator in Lazio region. The debate was attended by M. Smeriglio (who is in charge of labour policies in SEL at national level), S. Gobetti (BIN Italia Coordinator), and a union representative from FIOM CGIL Lazio (Engineering Industrial Union). The debate, which was held at Villa Doria, was organised by the political party SEL – Sinistra Ecologia Libertà (Left Ecology Freedom).
Foligno, Italy, 14th July 2012: Training Workshop on the Italian Welfare State[BIN Italy - July 17, 2012]
On Saturday 14th of July 2012 at 5.30 pm a training workshop titled "Our Welfare: guaranteed income in Italy and Europe" was held in Foligno (Italy) within the summer festival of the political party SEL - Sinistra Ecologia Libertà (Left Ecology Freedom). The event was hosted by Elisabetta Piccolotti (member of the National Committee of SEL and member of the local government of Foligno) and Ivano Bruschi (Councillor of the town council of Foligno). The event was also attended by Titti Di Salvo (member of the National Committee of SEL, and spokeswoman for the Forum Environment, Economics, Labour), and Sandro Gobetti (BIN Italia - Basic Income Network Italia). During the event there was a screening of the video ‘Reinventing the Welfare State: a European perspective.'
CROATIA: Debate over basic incomeSavudrija, Croatia, July 21, 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
ECOSY (the European Community Organisation of Socialist Youth) hosted a public debate on basic income at a seminar in a summer camp on July 21 in Savudrija, Croatia. ECOSY is the umbrella organization of the youth wings of the socialist and social democratic parties of Europe. David Lizoain, Secretary for Europe and the Economy of the Socialist Youth of Spain, defended the concept, which is official policy of the organization as of their last congress. Esa Suominen, adviser to the president of the service union of Finland, spoke against the idea. The debate was marked by a friendly exchange, and the Nordic delegates expressed a greater skepticism in general about the basic income. Later, Esa Suominen noted that it was positive to be able to debate the basic income in a calm setting, because the debate in Finland has a highly partisan nature, meaning that no one can enter into the ideas in depth.
11. RECENT PUBLICATIONS
Angner, Erik, “Health care policy libertarians go for”Political.com June 25, 2012
[USBIG – June 2012]
This op-ed defends Obamacare to libertarians by stressing libertarian economist, F.A. Hayek’s views on basic income and universal healthcare. “There is no reason,” Hayek wrote according to Angner, “why in a free society, government should not assure to all protection against severe deprivation in the form of an assured minimum income … This need not lead to a restriction of freedom or conflict with the rule of law.” On healthcare, Hayek wrote, “the case for the state helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.”
Erik Anger is the author of “Hayek and Natural Law.” He is an associate professor of philosophy, economics and public policy at George Mason University.
The article is online at: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77805.html
Europe & Me Magazine: interview with Philippe Van ParijsEurope & Me Magazine, issue 17, 2012
[BIEN - July 5, 2012]
The latest issue (17) of the online magazine Europe & Me includes an interview with Philippe Van Parijs. Entitled “No conditions attached”, it focuses on basic income as a way to achieve social justice in Europe. As Van Parijs puts it: “Basic Income on a European level is a utopia. But so was the single currency and so was the European Union. We need to realise this utopia to make the utopia we’ve already realised survive.”
The interview is online at: http://www.europeandme.eu/17brain/952-unconditional-basic-income
Finneman, Teri, “Bonus holiday edition Ask Your Government”The N.D. Capitol and Beyond: The latest North Dakota state news, July 3, 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
In this article Teri Finneman, of the Forum Communications Company, argues that even though North Dakota is now the second largest oil producer in the United States, it is not in position to create a dividend-paying sovereign wealth fund along the lines of the Alaska Dividend.
It’s online at:
Flanigan, Jessica “BHL’s & UBI’s [Bleeding Heart Libertarian’s and Universal Basic Income’s]Bleeding Heart Libertarianism April 30, 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
This article appears on the popular right-libertarian blog, Bleeding Heart Libertarians. In it the author discusses four libertarian arguments for Universal Basic Income (UBI). First, UBI is compensation for coercively enforced, state-created property rights. Second, UBI is relatively market-friendly. Third, UBI is part of the justification for the existence of state power. Fourth, UBI can be consistent with “hard libertarian” property rights. The author is an assistant professor in the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at University of Richmond.
The article is online at: http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2012/04/bhls-ubis/
Hennessey, Trish “How to Fix Income Inequality.”Behind the Numbers, June 6th, 2012
[Jenna van Draanen – BIEN Canada – July 11, 2012]
Trish Hennessy recently published a short article on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives blog that included a variety of expert opinions on how to reduce income inequality. A wide range of solutions were presented within the 16 quotes that were used in the blog, including: improvements to the labor market, employment protections, income supports, public services, and changes to the tax system. One of the experts Hennessey consulted was Rob Rainer, the Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty, who suggested that income security could best be reduced by a new basic income scheme, guaranteeing a sufficient and stable floor of income for all Canadians.
The article is online at: http://www.behindthenumbers.ca/2012/06/06/how-to-fix-income-inequality/
Hickel, Jason, “Can South Sudan learn from the Alaska model?”The Africa Report, June 29, 2012
[USBIG – June 30, 2012]
In this oped, Jason Hickel, argues that Sudan should create a sovereign wealth fund paying regular dividends. South Sudan, is a very poor country with substantial oil resources, most of which are yet to be fully tapped. Hickel bases his argument on Alaska’s experience with its Permanent Fund and Dividend, which pay a yearly basic income to all Alaskans. Hickel is an LSE Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a contributing author to the book, Exporting the Alaska Model: Adapting the Permanent Fund Dividend for Reform around the World.
The article is online at:
Howard Michael W. “Cap Carbon Emissions and Pay Dividends to Citizens—A Strategy to Unite Americans Against Global Warming.”Scholars Strategy Network, July 2012
This policy brief from Scholars Strategy Network argues for a carbon cap and dividend strategy to address global warming. This strategy would cap carbon emissions, sell the rights to emit carbon, and distribute the revenue from carbon permit sales as a citizens dividend or basic income.
It’s online at: http://www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/sites/default/files/ssn_key_findings_howard_on_carbon_cap.pdf
Howard, Michael W. “The poor are just like everyone else”Bangor Daily News, Bangor, Maine, June 25, 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
This article discusses some of the lessons about poverty and BIG the author took away from attending the NABIG Conference in Toronto last May.
Find it at: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/06/25/opinion/the-poor-are-just-like-everyone-else/
Kaletsky, Anatole, “How about quantitative easing for the people?” Rueters: Opinion, August 1, 2012[USBIG – August 2012]
This opinion piece by Anatole Kaletsky effectively endorses a one-time basic income as a fair and more effective version of “quantitative easing.” Kaletsky shows how the United States created $2 trillion and the United Kingdom created £375 billion pounds out of thin air to buy bonds in two rounds of “quantitative easing.” It spent that money in bond markets, buying back government debt from bond traders in an effort to stimulate the economy. Kaletsky claims that, for the same amount of money, the U.S. government could distribute a dividend of “$6,500 for every man, woman and child, or $26,000 for a family of four.” Britain’s could be worth £6,000. According to Kaletsky, “Giving away free money may sound too good to be true or wildly irresponsible, but it is exactly what the Fed and the BoE have been doing for bond traders and bankers since 2009. Directing QE to the general public would not only be much fairer but also more effective. . . . Even if only half the new money created were distributed in this way, these sums would be easily large enough to transform economic conditions, whether the people receiving these windfalls decided to spend them on extra consumption or save them and reduce debts.”
The full text of the article is online at: http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2012/08/01/how-about-quantitative-easing-for-the-people/
Kreider, Tim, “The ‘Busy’ Trap.”The New York Times: The Opinion Pages, June 30 2012
[Aynur Bashirova – BI News – July 2012]
In this article, published in New York Times: The Opinion Pages, Tim Kreider argues that in the 21st Century America everyone is busy and this is considered to be a good thing. However, according to the author this is a self-imposed busyness that gives people an illusion of thinking that they are useful and society needs them. This is nothing more than an illusion and Kreider as a solution to this problem offers the answer of Arthur C. Clarke: to give everyone a basic income so that no one feels forced to work and have more free time. Kreider remarks that life is too short to spend all of it working. He also believes that there should also be plenty of time to enjoy life and engage in pleasurable activities that give people incentives to be happy. Kreider writes, “My old colleague Ted Rall recently wrote a column proposing that we divorce income from work and give each citizen a guaranteed paycheck, which sounds like the kind of lunatic notion that’ll be considered a basic human right in about a century, like abolition, universal suffrage and eight-hour workdays.”
This article is online at: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/.
Liebermann, Sascha "Prospects of an Unconditional Basic Income"Club of Amsterdam Journal, Issue 150, July 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
This article discuss BIG, its growing political momentum in Germany, and the difficulty of getting it onto the mainstream political agenda.
Online at: http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/press.asp?contentid=864
L'Hirondelle, C.A. “Vested Interests as a Barrier to Societal Change”Livableincome.org, July 1st 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
This article argues that the most logical way to address the harm from vested interests that are seriously impeding our ability to make positive social, economic and environmental change is by implementing a universal livable income.
It’s online at: http://www.livableincome.org/avestedinterests.htm
L'Hirondelle, C.A. “Guaranteed Income Makes Fertile Ground For Green Ideas”Liveableincome.org, July 23, 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
This article discusses the possibility that working less, sharing jobs, or reducing the workweek will benefit the environment, communities, and people's health, and argues that a guaranteed income would help make all kinds of 'work less' initiatives possible.
It’s online at: http://www.livableincome.org/afertileground.htm
L'Hirondelle, C.A. “What's in a Name: Livable or Basic Income or ?”Liveableincome.org, August 6, 2012
Cindy L’Horondelle argues in this article that “basic income” should best be called “livable income.”
McKibben, Bill, “Global Warming's Terrifying New Math: Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe - and that make clear who the real enemy is”Rolling Stone Magazine, July 19, 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
Bill McKibben endorsed "fee and dividend" in response to global warming in his latest piece in Rolling Stone.
It’s online at: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719
Nunatsiaq News “Editorial: What do the people need? Money”Nunatsiaq News, July 31, 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
This article addresses the high cost of food in Nunavut, Canada’s far northern native territory. It argues that the government cannot control food prices, but it can and should put more money in people’s pockets to buy food by creating a guaranteed annual income.
It’s online at:
Pascal, J. “The Imperative Need for Social Dividends.”Natural Finance, June 4 2012
[Aynur Bashirova – BI News – July 2012]
In this article published in Natural Finance, Pascal argues that giving social dividends to citizens would benefit society and the economy alike. Social dividend is a variation of basic income given to citizens to meet their basic needs. According to Pascal, this will bring a nation to equal partnership in which its revenue will be tax income from its members. Also, this system would allow wealth to be redistributed more broadly through taxes and social dividends, which will bring more money with future sales. At the same time, this would break the cycle of making poor people poorer and rich people want to save more by making more people credit-worthy to buy things they want and spend more. Other advantages of social dividends that the author lists is making democracy more democratic as everyone will be receiving the same benefit, eliminating the need for youth to work more to benefit the old, allowing poor people to keep their official work without being caught in the social welfare benefit trap, and reducing the need for underground criminal activities. In the article Pascal also discusses a theory of “natural taxation policy.”
This article is online at: http://www.naturalfinance.net/2012/06/imperative-need-for-social-dividends.html?spref=tw.
Ryan, Anne B., “Column: Our welfare system is broken. We can fix it… by paying everybody.”The Journal, June 28, 2012
This article from the Journal (Ireland) argues, “paying rich and poor alike might sound counter-intuitive – but it could lay the foundation for a welfare system that works.” Anne B Ryan is a lecturer at the Department of Adult and Community Education, NUI Maynooth, and a member of BIEN Ireland.
It’s online at: http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/column-our-welfare-system-is-broken-we-can-fix-it%E2%80%A6-by-paying-everybody/
Samuel, Peter, “Local equity & citizen dividends proposed in variant on P3s - investment fund P3s or IP3s”Toll Road News, July 8, 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
This article proposes creating an Alaska-style sovereign wealth fund out of toll road fees and using the returns to the fund to pay dividends to citizens.
Online at: http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/6041
Segal, Hugh. “Governments can’t ignore income security forever.”National Post [Canada] June 8, 2012.
[Jenna van Draanen – BIEN Canada – August 7, 2012]
In this recent article, published in the commentary section of the National Post, Canadian Senator Hugh Segal writes about income security, which he considers to be the elephant in the room of the debate surrounding employment insurance reforms.
Segal also highlights the income security issues inherent in government transfer programs and equalization, the Quebec student protests, and working-age poverty rates. As a way forward, the article suggests that the premiers’ Council of the Federation in Canada should consider launching their own initiative on income security which could lead to a more open discussion about income security, poverty and solutions to these unaddressed issues. Senator Segal also suggests a discussion about a basic income floor that could obviate other government programs that he asserts are unbalanced, expensive, and unable to address the root causes of presenting issues.
This article is online at http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/06/10/hugh-segal-governments-cant-ignore-income-security-forever/.
Skidelsky, Robert & Edward Skidelsky “Too Much Faith in Markets Denies Us the Good Life.”Bloomberg View, Online. Jun 8, 2012
[Jenna van Draanen – BIEN Canada – July 11, 2012]
In an article published on the Bloomberg View site, Robert and Edward Skidelsky discuss the perils of relying on markets to secure the livelihood of members of a society and the need to diminish the incentives to work. They argue that full employment can be achieved by decreasing work hours per person and increasing the percentage of the population employed. For those not able to be employed or low-wage workers, they propose a basic income paid by the government. The authors note the major objections to basic income of work disincentive and cost, however, reject both on the grounds that: if the goal is not economic growth but securing good lives, de-incentivizing work is a positive outcome; and wealthy societies are able to afford the costs of a basic income. Skidelsky and Skidelsky assert, “an unconditional basic income, in the form of a single capital endowment or a guaranteed annual income, would start to give all workers the same choice as to how much work to do, and under what conditions -- a privilege now possessed only by the wealthy.” Finally, they conclude the article by recommending a redistributive consumption tax to divert resources from consumption to societal betterment.
This article is available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-07/too-much-faith-in-markets-denies-us-the-good-life.html and is an excerpt from their new book, “How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life,” which will be published on June 19 by Other Press.
Stern, Erik “Growing need for fairness and respect. Negative income tax is better than welfare or workfare for the unemployed”SG Hard Truth: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, July 24, 2012
[USBIG – August 2012]
This article argues that negative income tax is a bold alternative that fits Singapore better than other policies. Erik Stern writes, the negative income tax, “lets the labour market determine the wage that matches the skill set. It allows the government to decide what the base wage should be, for each level of employee or type of job, not only the minimum level.” The writer is president of Stern Stewart & Co, a business consultancy
This article was originally posted on Business Times Premium at:
It was reposted and is currently online at:
Thompson, D. R. “Emerson Meets Wall Street: Systems Think, the Citizen Dividend, and Economic Democracy.”The Potomac (2009)
Aynur Bashirova – BI News – July 2012
In this article published in The Potomac, D. R. Thompson argues that non-financial problems facing the US today, such as energy, environment, poverty, debt addiction, health, and education are all interrelated with financial system and cannot be addressed separately. The solution that Thompson provides to these contemporary inter related problems is the creation of a Joint Economic Policy Office and the implementation of basic income. According to the author, basic income and other programs could be financed by the government owning large percentages of the financial system. Then, argues the author, there could be a global initiative of debt forgiveness for all the nations, so that we do not leave the debt for future generations and make them as debt-addicted society as we are today. Many would argue that this idea is socialistic, but Thomson has a counter argument, which states that this system would not undermine individuality, and government will have no say in how the basic income money would be spent.
Thompson D. R. (2009). “Emerson Meets Wall Street: Systems Think, the Citizen Dividend, and Economic Democracy.” The Potomac, online at: http://thepotomacjournal.com/np-dthompson999.htm.
Tillmann Heidelk, Henrike Maier, and Michiel van Hulten, “Social Justice in Europe: The Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) as a Model for the Future”.A Survey by Europe & Me and FutureLab Europe, conducted for the Europe@debate at the European Foundation Center Conference in Belfast, 7 June 2012.
[Aynur Bashirova – BI News – July 2012]
This article is about a survey conducted in April-May 2012 among 464 young Europeans concerning the social justice in Europe and UBI. The survey consisted of multiple choice questions and place for comments. According to the survey, a large number of respondents (73%) answered that they believe social welfare policy in Europe should get more harmonized. Also, survey results show that the opinion about the implementation of UBI is polarized with more females being in favor and most males being against it. When asked about the advantages of the UBI, most responded that it would provide securer social safety net. In relation to the disadvantages, most believed that it will give people incentives not to work. In the survey, to the question about their choice of ideal distribution of wealth, most picked the “utopian” model. The outcomes of the survey showed that the older was the responder, more in favor of basic income one was.
“Social Justice in Europe: The Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) as a Model for the Future”. – April-May 2012.
Social Justice in Europe: The Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) as a Model for the Future. (April-May 2012). Europe & Me, FutureLab Europe, online at: http://www.koerber-stiftung.de/fileadmin/user_upload/bildung/eustory/pdf/Social%20Justice%20Report_FINALJune4.pdf.
van den Bosch, Servaas, “Basic Income Grant: ‘Let Others Taste What We Have Tasted’”Inter Press Service News Agency, Feb 16 2011
[USBIG – August 2012]
Servaas van den Bosch interviews Bertha Hamases, one of the recipients of the Basic Income pilot project, which took place in rural Namibia over the last three years and ended this spring. In the interview Hamases argues for implementing BIG on a nationwide basis.
The interview is online at:
12. RECENT BI NEWS OPINION PIECES
Jones Phoenix, “Money Trees, Digital Deficits, and Ubiquitous Can Kicking”BI News, July 16, 2012
“In December of 2010, CBS aired a segment of 60 Minutes in which reporter Scott Pelley asked Chairman Ben Bernanke a question about the bailout money provided to banks during the 2008 fiasco: Pelley asked, “Is it tax money the Fed is spending?” Bernanke replied, “It’s not tax money. The banks have accounts with the…”
For the rest of the article, go to:
D.R. Thompson, “OPINION: Turn the Fed on its Head”BI News, July 9, 2012
“I have watched with quiet fascination the evolution/resurgence of alternative politics since the financial meltdown of 2008. In my opinion, we have (at least) two broad camps developing: a Ron Paul brand of libertarianism that seeks to return to a prior vision of capitalism lost, and a new brand of Economic Democrat (often reflected in the Occupy Movement and/or Green Party or the ‘New Economy’ movement) that seeks a balance between capitalism as we know it and the people at large, who are more often than not suffering the brunt of capitalism run amok. …”
For the rest of the article, go to: http://binews.org/2012/07/opinion-turn-the-fed-on-its-head/
[Aynur Bashirova – BI News – July 2012.]
In this article (originally published in World Without War), D. R. Thompson proposes several ideas to replace the existing ideas and systems all of which support capitalism and benefit few. Thompson suggests creating a centrally planned, cooperatively managed, separate from federal government, transparent, and citizen owned Cooperative Central Bank that will finance BIG and infrastructure on which freedom and innovation will flourish. The author argues that BIG should replace social welfare and unemployment money so that people will have a choice to be employed or not. Thompson bases this argument on the fact that the developing technology is already replacing human work and the end result does not need to be poverty for the unemployed. For the financing of such an initiative, the author recommends money that will be taken from the physical infrastructure such as public lands and assets.
The original version of the article is online at: http://www.worldwithoutwarbook.com/article-01.html.
Michael Howard, “OPINION: The persistence of poverty and a negative income tax”BI News - July 2, 2012
“At the North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress in Toronto, which I attended in May 2012, Charles Karelis, author of The Persistence of Poverty, demonstrated what is wrong with much thinking about poverty, using a simple analogy. Suppose you are stung by a bee, and you are offered enough salve to relieve the pain of …”
For the rest of this article, go to: http://binews.org/2012/07/opinion-the-persistence-of-poverty-and-a-negative-income-tax/
13. RECENT BLOGS
Eric Royal Lybech. “Universal Basic Income.”Slate. (30 May 2012).
[Aynur Bashirova – BI News – July 2012.]
In this proposal for the change in Constitution published in Slate, the blogger under the username Eric Royal Lybech proposes that each citizen should be provided an equal amount of income derived from extractive industries such as natural resources and financial trading. The blogger believes that this will make workforce more mobile as people would feel more comfortable about issues such as changing employment and going back to school. In a second installment, the blogger suggests the creation of an hourly, tax-free subsidy that will be equal to full time work. In the face of such a change, the author suggests the federal minimum wage will be unnecessary. Also, argues the blogger, social welfare payments to able-bodied adults should be eliminated as every able bodied person will be able to receive a guaranteed basic wage.
This article is online in two parts at: http://hive.slate.com/hive/how-can-we-fix-constitution/universal-basic-income.
14. VIDEO LINKS
Lord Robert Skidelsky argues for BIG[USBIG – June 2012]
In this video published on June 12, 2012, Lord Robert Skidelsky, biographer of John Maynard Keynes, argues that governments should guarantee employment and a base income for their citizens; two seemingly radical ideas with long histories.
The video is on YouTube at:
For video, audio, and transcript, go to: http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/resources/multimedia/20120612/index.html
Video link: Fox News commentators discuss an Alaska-style oil dividend for the United States[USBIG – June 2012]
Title: “Government intervention in the American oil industry?”
Subject: Bill O’Reilly and Lou Dobbs, two conservative commentators on America’s ultra-conservative Fox News Network, talk favorably about an Alaska-style dividend financed by fees for oil drilling.
Date: February 24, 2012
Available from: Fox News Network
Available at: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/index.html#/v/1472237953001/government-
15. WRITERS NEEDED for BI News, the BIEN NewsFlash, and affiliate newslettersVolunteers are needed to write for BI News, the BIEN NewsFlash, and the USBIG Newsletter. All of the news you read here is written by a group of volunteers. We need more writers for our team. As a writer you get: byline, feedback on your writing, and a chance to help the global basic income movement. If you’re interested, please email Karl@widerquist.com
16. Links and other infoFor links to dozens of BIG websites around the world, go to http://www.usbig.net/links.html. These links are to any website with information about BIG, but USBIG does not necessarily endorse their content or their agendas.
The USBIG Network Newsletter
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Copyeditor: Mike Murray and the USBIG Committee
Research: Paul Nollen
Special help on this issue was provided by: Jeff Smith, Steve Shafarman, Sascha Liebermann, Michael W. Howard, and David Casassas
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 Associate Professor at SFS-Qatar Georgetown University 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 Qatar office: Room 1D42 EMAIL: Karl@widerquist.com PERSONAL WEBSITE: http://www.widerquist.com/