A guaranteed income program in Boston, Massachusetts, which began in the summer of 2021, resulted in numerous positive outcomes for recipients, highlights a recently published study by the groups that organized the program. Camp Harbor View and UpTogether, the organizations that dispersed the payments, privately funded the program from a group of 107 donors. Around $750,000 was raised in total, which was given out to 50 families around the Boston area. The families who were chosen to receive funds didn’t already qualify for social safety net benefits, as the program was designed to help those who were “too rich to be poor and too poor to be rich.”
Universal Basic Income
In the remote rural village of Dauphin, in the Canadian province of Manitoba, economists tried out an unusual experiment. In the 1970s, they persuaded the provincial government to give cash payments to poorer families to see if a guaranteed basic income could improve their outcomes. During the years of this “Mincome” experiment, families received a basic income of 16,000 Canadian dollars (or a top up to that amount). With 10,000 inhabitants, Dauphin was just big enough to be a good data set but not too big as to bankrupt the government. The results were startling, including a significant drop in hospitalizations and an improvement in high school graduation rates. After four years, however, money for the experiment dried up, and this early example of universal basic income (UBI) was nearly forgotten.
Here’s how the world should operate in simple terms: A certain country or region or city or township or Hobbit hole tries something in order to help their society or group or hovel — if it works, other places then do it. If it doesn’t work, other places don’t do it. It’s like when you were a kid and you saw your brother slide down the banister and rack himself on the newel post — You then thought, “Maybe that activity is not for me.” But if he didn’t nail himself in the jewels, you probably thought, “I think I’ll try that.” That’s how the United States government should work, but it doesn’t. For-profit healthcare, corporate personhood, the drug war, funding terrorists overseas that we call “moderate rebels,” etc. — all of these things have been tried, they fuckin’ suck every time, and we keep doing them.
“It’s not hyperbole, you can change America,” President-elect Joe Biden told Georgia voters ahead of the January 5 runoff Senate elections. And they have. Not only did Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff’s wins hand Democrats control of the Senate, but the election served as a clear referendum on voters’ demand for increased stimulus payments directly to the American people. Leading up to the Georgia election, Democrats — responding to demands by both progressives and President Trump — pushed to increase individual stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 but were blocked by Senate Republicans. Ossoff and Warnock campaigned on this cash assistance to aid struggling families during the pandemic...
On 30 October, 520 MPs, councillors, peers, mayors and members of devolved assemblies, wrote to chancellor Rishi Sunak. They emphasised how current government support is leaving many families in poverty. In the letter, organised by UBI Lab Network, the elected representatives said: Millions of people have fallen through the cracks of the government’s support packages. The pandemic has left countless families facing poverty and extreme hardship. They added: With unemployment set to increase amid a shrinking job market, we urge you not to underestimate the wider costs to society of rising poverty and joblessness.
Germany is about to become the latest country to trial a universal basic income, starting a three-year study of how it affects the economy and recipients' well-being. As part of the study, 120 people will receive €1,200, or about $1,430, each month for three years — an amount just above Germany's poverty line — and researchers will compare their experiences with another group of 1,380 people who will not receive the payments. The study, conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research, has been funded by 140,000 private donations. All participants will be asked to complete questionnaires about their lives, work, and emotional state to see whether a basic income has had a significant impact. Universal basic income is the idea that a government should pay a lump sum of money to each of its citizens, usually once a month, regardless of their income or employment status, effectively replacing means-tested benefits.
To defend the $600 unemployment payments as both morally and economically necessary is not to suggest that the CARES Act is a sufficient solution to our economic problems. Nor, says Pavlina Tcherneva, Associate Professor of Economics at Bard College and a Research Scholar at the Levy Economics Institute and advisor to Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, is the Democratic-led HEROES Act, which would extend the payments through January 2021 if Senate Republicans and the Trump administration would support it. Dr. Tcherneva studies the impact of unemployment on growth, income inequality and public health, and saving people from the hardship that awaits Valerie is the focus of her work. In The Case for a Job Guarantee, which she published this summer, Tcherneva explains how the federal government could provide a living-wage job to anyone who wants one. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation about what the pandemic unemployment payments meant for the economy and how the United States could enact a Job Guarantee.
A two-year basic income experiment was carried out in Finland in 2017-2018. The evaluation study is now available. The register data on employment now cover both years of the experiment and a more thorough analysis has been made of the results of the survey. In addition, the interview-based survey of basic income recipients complements the overall picture. In accordance with the preliminary plan for the evaluation, the employment effects of the basic income experiment were measured for the period from November 2017 to October 2018. The employment rate for basic income recipients improved slightly more during this period than for the control group. During the reference period, the basic income increased the number of days of employment by 6 days and the basic income recipients were employed for 78 days on average.
Media outlets keep telling us that we’re all together in this pandemic. But we’re not. The super-rich have separated themselves from the rest of us, with concierge medicine, private travel accommodations, isolated but well-stocked resort homes, and a variety of other advantages that allow them to look beyond the hardships endured by average Americans. A few billionaires have contributed to the fight against Covid-19. But Luke Hildyard, Executive Director of the High Pay Centre, says, “Very generous individual grants can obscure the fact that on the whole, wealthy people’s charitable giving is pretty minimal.” In the most flagrant example of disregard for the rest of us, one company has installed private ‘doomsday’ bunkers in New Zealand with “luxury bathrooms, game rooms, shooting ranges, gyms, theaters and surgical beds.”
According to an April 6 article on CNBC.com, Spain is slated to become the first country in Europe to introduce a universal basic income (UBI) on a long-term basis. Spain’s Minister for Economic Affairs has announced plans to roll out a UBI “as soon as possible,” with the goal of providing a nationwide basic wage that supports citizens “forever.” Guy Standing, a research professor at the University of London, told CNBC that there was no prospect of a global economic revival without a universal basic income. “It’s almost a no-brainer,” he said. “We are going to have some sort of basic income system sooner or later ….” “Where will the government find the money?” is no longer a valid objection to providing an economic safety net for the people.
Spain is moving to implement a permanent basic income as a measure to help workers and families battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Nadia Calviño, the country's minister for economic affairs, told the Spanish broadcaster La Sexta on Sunday evening that the government was planning to introduce the cash handouts as part of a barrage of policies meant to help people get back on their feet. She said enacting basic income was "mostly aimed at families, but differentiating between their circumstances." Calviño didn't offer a specific date as to when basic income could be rolled out in the country. But she said the government hoped it would become "a permanent instrument." "We're going to do it as soon as possible," she said. "So it can be useful, not just for this extraordinary situation, and that it remains forever."