Even A Modest Basic Income Could Improve Economic Security

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By James King for Peoples Policy Project – The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) – a cash payment made to every person in the country with no strings attached – is becoming increasingly popular in experimental policy circles. Most proposals for a universal basic income are “complete” UBI proposals: payments large enough to guarantee a minimum standard of living to every person independent of work. In the US, that would be roughly $12,000 per person based on the poverty line. However, it is more likely that any universal cash payment passed in the US would be more modest to begin with, e.g. a low UBI of a few hundred dollars a month. As UBI advocates continue to advance their policy objectives, it is imperative to make the case that any UBI, even a small one, has significant benefits. In 2016, the Federal Reserve reported that nearly half of all Americans would not be able to cover a $400 emergency expense without either borrowing money or selling valuables. Although the financial status of Americans has been improving since the Great Recession, the majority of Americans earning less than $30,000 a year still worry about paying their bills every month and maintaining their standard of living. Money may not buy happiness, but even a partial UBI could help buy Americans peace of mind and provide many Americans an avenue to save money for emergencies. Opponents of a UBI might claim that such a low UBI would just get absorbed into each family’s normal consumption level and thus not improve their overall financial security.

Funding Universal Basic Income Without Increasing Taxes Or Inflation


By Ellen Brown for Web of Debt Blog – In May 2017, a team of researchers at the University of Oxford published the results of a survey of the world’s best artificial intelligence experts, who predicted that there was a 50 percent chance of AI outperforming humans in all tasks within 45 years. All human jobs were expected to be automated in 120 years, with Asian respondents expecting these dates much sooner than North Americans. In theory, that means we could all retire and enjoy the promised age of universal leisure. But the immediate concern for most people is that they will be losing their jobs to machines. That helps explain the recent interest in a universal basic income (UBI) – a sum of money distributed equally to everyone. A UBI has been proposed in Switzerland, trials are beginning in Finland, and there is a successful pilot ongoing in Brazil. The cities of Ontario in Canada, Oakland in California, and Utrecht in the Netherlands are planning trials; two local authorities in Scotland have announced such plans; and politicians across Europe, including UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, have spoken in favor of the concept. Advocates in the US range from Robert Reich to Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Luther King, Thomas Paine, Charles Murray, Elon Musk, Dan Savage, Keith Ellison and Paul Samuelson. A new economic study found that a UBI of $1000/month to all adults would add $2.5 trillion to the US economy in eight years.

Finland Tests Guaranteed Basic Income

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By Ben Chapman for Independent – Finland has been giving 2,000 of its citizens an unconditional income for the last five months and some are already seeing the benefits, reporting decreased stress, greater incentives to find work and more time to pursue business ideas. The scheme is the first of its kind in Europe and sees participants receive €560 (£473) every month for two years. Recipients do not have to demonstrate that they are seeking employment and they are not required to regularly report to authorities to prove they still need the payment, as is the case with standard unemployment benefits. They can spend the money however they like. Under the pilot, if a participant finds work, they will continue to receive the stipend, removing one of the limitations of current welfare systems – the disincentive to find work. The trial is one measure introduced by the centre-right government to tackle Finland’s unemployment problem. Juha Jarvinen, an unemployed young father in a village near Jurva, western Finland, was picked at random to receive the payment, starting in January this year. He told the Economist that, unlike when he was receiving standard unemployment payments, he is now actively seeking work.

Traditional Welfare And Taxes Can Be Reformed To Support Universal Basic Income

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By Scott Santens for Futurism – Some of the most common questions ever asked in regards to the idea of a universal basic income (UBI) are in regards to the details. “How much income? Who gets it? Who pays for it? How is it paid for? What does it replace?” These are all great and important questions, but the answers vary from person to person, because the answers are a matter of personal and political preferences when it comes to fine-grained details. With that said, after years of studying basic income, below you will find what I currently believe in May of 2017 are the details of an optimally designed UBI blueprint. First, how much are we talking about? In the United States, I suggest starting with the definition of poverty we already use, and eliminating poverty entirely. According to 2017 federal poverty guidelines, this means if we were to pass legislation tomorrow, it would need to be $12,060 per adult citizen and $4,180 per dependent under 18. The amount for kids is imperative so that income floors scale according to household sizes. A child basic income is also in large part a revenue neutral consolidation of existing expenditures presently unequally distributed. However, for reasons I will explain below, I suggest adding 10% to each amount, so $13,266 ($1,105/mo) per adult citizen and $4,598 ($383/mo) per citizen under 18.

Nationwide Basic Income’s Effect After Six Years

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By Jeff Ihaza for The Outline – In recent years, spurred by advances in workplace automation, researchers and industry titans like Elon Musk have espoused the necessity of a universal basic income, payments made by the government to all citizens regardless of their employment. The general idea started picking up steam from a policy perspective in the 60s, when Milton Friedman proposed a negative income tax which would guarantee all Americans a minimum income. Proposals for a basic income generally receive familiar pushback from opponents, who say giving people free money will disincentivize them from working. In 2011, in response to heavy cuts to oil and gas subsidies, Iran implemented a program that guaranteed citizens cash payments of 29 percent of the nation’s median income, which amounts to about $1.50 every day. (In the U.S. such a measure would translate to about $16,000 per year.) Now, six years later, the results of that measure were released in a report by economists Djavad Salehi-Isfahani and Mohammad H. Mostafavi-Dehzooeifrom for the Economic Research Forum. The report found no evidence for the idea that people will work less under a universal income, and found that in some cases, like in the service industry, people worked more, expanding their businesses or pursuing more satisfying lines of work.

Basic Income Works


By Paul Niehaus and Michael Faye for Boston Review – Thankfully, we are less ignorant today. A number of organizations—including GiveDirectly, which we co-founded—have in fact been showering the poor with cash and then testing the results experimentally. A large and growing body of rigorous evidence has now accumulated, including 165 studies of 56 different schemes in 30 countries recently reviewed by the Overseas Development Institute. Recipients of basic income continue to work, spend less on vice, and are able to invest in long-term plans. The findings are encouraging. The darkest of concerns have not materialized: recipients of regular transfers have not cut their work hours, and if anything have cut their expenditure on alcohol and tobacco. Cash transfers have had positive impacts on a wide range of outcomes, and in some cases have indeed increased self-employment and earnings. In northern Uganda, for example, young adults given one-time grants of $382 each increased their earnings by 38 percent and their work hours by 17 percent 4 years later, investing in skills training and in tools in order to enter a range of trades from tailoring to carpentry to hairstyling.

One Income For All: Far-Fetched, Or Future Fact?

As technology-driven changes like Honda's robot 'Ashimo' redefine society's understanding of work, some are looking at a "universal basic income" as the way forward (AFP Photo/PRAKASH SINGH)

By Jitendra Joshi for AFP – Paris (AFP) – It is a utopian idea, literally, but is enjoying a renaissance as politicians and policy wonks grapple with technology-driven changes that could redefine our very understanding of work. If robots and machine intelligence threaten to render many white-collar jobs obsolete, then what will people do for money? Enter the concept of a “universal basic income”, a flat sum paid to all regardless of your existing wealth or ability to work. It is one of the rare ideas that has support from both the libertarian right — which favours tearing up the welfare state — and the left wing. In France, Benoit Hamon has emerged as the surprise Socialist candidate for April’s presidential election first round, on a radical programme that includes such an income

Holland To Finland To Scotland, Basic Income Could Be A Reality Across Europe


By Steve Rushton for Occupy – Universal basic income is emerging as a realistic policy position across Europe. As we reported in late 2015, local authorities across the Netherlands are currently running trials to award every citizen unconditional money from the state. And this year, Finland started an experiment of 2,000 randomly selected people, all of whom currently receive out of work benefits. The first monthly payments of €560 ($590) were paid into those people’s accounts within the last week, and the trial will examine the impact of that money on overall employment. Now, sweeping further to the west, plans are underway to establish basic income in the Scottish councils of Glasgow and Fife, revealing a groundswell of interest that is sweeping the continent.

Ontario Moving Forward With Basic Income Pilot


By Daniel Tencer for Huffington Post. Ontario, Canada – Former Sen. Hugh Segal has been a vocal proponent of basic income for decades, and now he will have the opportunity to help make the idea a reality. Ontario’s provincial government has appointed Segal — former chief of staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney — as an advisor on the design and implementation of its basic income pilot project. It will be designed “to test the growing view that a basic income could help deliver income support more efficiently, while improving health, employment and housing outcomes for Ontarians,” the province’s Ministry of Community and Social Services said in a statement on Friday. A basic income would deliver a certain amount of money regularly to every legal resident, regardless of employment status or any other factor.

Universal Basic Income: Why It Is Not Crazy And Not Going Away


By Gwynne Dyer for Yonside – The Dutch city of Utrecht is developing a pilot project for a universal basic income that will launch in January 2017. The Finnish government is designing a trial to see whether giving low-income people a guaranteed basic income destroys their motivation to do any work at all, as critics allege. The idea is not going away because most “real” jobs are on the way out. The old argument in defence of technological change – that it creates more new jobs than it destroys – no longer holds water.

Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe

Basic Income Photo- Generation Grundeinkommen, flickr, cc

By Daniel Raventós, Julie Wark for Counterpunch. A Europe-wide survey based on 10,000 interviews in 28 countries and in 21 languages, carried out last April by the Berlin-based company Dalia Research shows that 64% of Europeans would vote in favour of an unconditional basic income if there was a referendum. Only 24% said they would vote against it, and 12% stated they wouldn’t vote. More interesting, the results reveal a correlation between levels of awareness about basic income and support for it or, in other words, the more people know about the idea, the more they are likely to support it. A breakdown of the results shows that the six leading EU states voted as follows: Kingdom of Spain 71%, Italy, Germany, Poland and Great Britain more than 60% and France 58%. The data from Spain coincides neatly with an earlier GESOP survey carried out in Catalonia in June 2015 in which 1,600 telephone interviews (with a sampling error of ± 2.5% and a confidence level of 95.5%) obtained a positive answer from 72% of the population to the question, “A basic income is a cash payment of 650 euros per month made to members of the population as a right of citizenship and financed by tax reforms which would mean a redistribution of income from the richest 20% to the rest of the population: would you more or less agree or disagree with this measure being introduced in Catalonia?” Given that the Dalia Research and GESOP polls were conducted completely independently of one another and almost a year apart, the congruity of the results is, to say the least, remarkable.

What Would Society Look Like With Universal Basic Income?

Basic Income posters

By Laurie Penny for New Statesman. Basic income – the proposal to give a flat, non-means-tested payment to every citizen – is an old idea. It has been around for centuries, and for centuries its proponents have largely been dismissed as utopian, or insane, or both. This year, however, that insanity is gradually becoming a political reality. Finland is considering giving its citizens an unconditional stipend of €800 a month and the Dutch city of Utrecht is carrying out a similar experiment. Switzerland will hold a referendum on basic income in June. “Basic income is about power, about letting it go,” Michael Bohmeyer, a former entrepreneur who runs Mein Grundeinkommen, told me. “It’s about trusting people. It gives them the freedom to say no and to ask the question: how do I really want to live? Basic income is not a left-wing idea, or a right-wing one. It’s a humanistic idea. It strengthens human beings against the system and it gives them the freedom to ­rethink it.”

Canada To Try Giving People Unconditional Free Money


By Chris Weller for Tech Insider. Finland and The Netherlands have already shown their interest in giving people a regular monthly allowance regardless of working status, and now Ontario, Canada, is onboard. Ontario’s government announced in February that a pilot program will be coming to the Canadian province sometime later this year. The premise: Send people monthly checks to cover living expenses such as food, transportation, clothing, and utilities — no questions asked. It’s a radical idea, and one that has been around since the 1960s. It’s called “basic income.” In the decades since it was first proposed, various researchers and government officials have given basic income experiments a try, with mixed results.

Newsletter: After The Crash...


By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The economic agenda described here would create a radical transformation of the economy from a top-down system designed for the wealthiest, to a botton-up system that creates a foundation for an economy that benefits all. Putting in place this economy would move us from a plutocratic economy to a democratized economy where people have economic control over their lives. It is a radical shift – how can it happen? There is only one path – the people must be educated, organized and mobilized to demand it. We need to change the political culture to one where the necessities of the people and protection of the planet are the priorities of the economy. If predictions are correct, the next economic collapse will deeper and more damaging than the 2008 collapse. It will be a tremendous opportunity to demand radical economic change. It is one the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice should be preparing for now.

The Brilliant Simplicity Of A Guaranteed Minimum Income

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By Hamilton Nolan for Gawker – The working poor need more money. “But retail stores can’t raise wages very much—their profit margins are too small,” say conservatives. Aha—but there is a solution! All types of people across the political spectrum agree that people who work hard should not have to live in poverty. Movements like The Fight for 15 have focused on raising the incomes of the lowest-paid workers by forcing low-paying industries like fast food to raise their hourly wages. Which is fine. They need a higher income. But the most common response from corporations that employ lots of low wage workers is simply: we can’t afford it. Our profit margins are too thin.