When crises hit, cash transfers are a part of the package of policies that governments deploy to ameliorate their economic effects. Whether it’s about refugees, economic downturns, or natural disasters, countries have used cash extensively. Empirical evidence shows that cash transfers are generally spent judiciously, they can save lives and, if they are designed well, can help people get permanently out of poverty.
Calls for a Universal Basic Income have been increasing, most recently as part of the Green New Deal introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and supported in the last month by at least 40 members of Congress. A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a monthly payment to all adults with no strings attached, similar to Social Security. Critics say the Green New Deal asks too much of the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it, but taxing the rich is not what the resolution proposes. It says funding would primarily come from the federal government, “using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks,” and other vehicles.
It is time to shift away from the charitable model to a rights-based approach, guaranteeing people the right to food. People must have access to an adequate income that allows them to obtain their own food, and do so “in normal and socially acceptable ways,” ensuring personal dignity and choice. The perpetuation of food banks ensures the charitable-food model is preserved, and people remain hungry. Basic income is a solution increasingly surfacing in research and broadly in society. As an idea promoted through the ages (from a litany of leaders including Thomas Payne, Martin Luther King, Theodore Roosevelt), the literature on basic income is vast, documenting a host of positive health and social benefits produced from ensuring everyone has a minimum income floor.
Universal basic income, a regular unconditional cash payment to the whole population is increasingly being discussed in social, political, academic circles and among citizens in general. People are championing it from right and left. But, if it’s being pushed from both ends of the political spectrum, what’s its secret? Is it so amazingly convincing that all differences between political extremes are abolished? Hardly. More like it, the fact that basic income is being hailed from such different political positions muddies serious debate and is downright bewildering for a lot of people. And, on the left, a lot of other people, saying that they’re no suckers, opt for a knee-jerk, total rejection of basic income because they see it as just another right-wing con.
By Peter Bohmer for Counterpunch. The Universal Basic Income(UBI) is getting increasing attention in the United States, in particular from Silicon Valley, and also in many other countries in the world. The idea of the universal basic income is that every resident in a society would get a certain income that’s not attached to their work. The numbers I’m suggesting to start with for the United States are $1,000 a month for each person over 18 and $500 a month for each person under 18. These amounts would increase annually to keep up with inflation and would also rise as productivity increases. To illustrate the idea, let’s take a family of two adults—two parents 18 and over and two children under 18. They would receive $1,000 for each adult and $500 for each child, which would total 3,000 a month. That is $36,000 a year, which is about 1 1/2 times the official poverty line. In addition, it would offer a housing allowance in high rent cities. That’s the basic idea.
By Dom Galeon for Futurism - The new study based its forecasts on three basic income scenarios. According to the first of these, if adults are given $1,000 every month, the U.S. economy could grow by 12.56 percent after an eight-year implementation. With current GDP pegged at $19.8 trillion by the Congressional Budget Office, this translates to a total growth of $2.48 trillion. In the second and third scenarios, a monthly UBI of $500 and $250 could lead to a GDP growth of 6.5 percent and 0.79 percent, respectively. It’s also worth noting that the report used an economic model that assumed that growth is constrained due to low household incomes, which the researchers note is debatable. Proponents of UBI now include experts from various fields, including some of the tech industry’s most prominent figures and entrepreneurs, as well as some of the world’s leading economists. Yet, just like any radical idea, UBI isn’t without its skeptics, and the biggest source of concern for these critics is funding. Just how would a government pay for a UBI program? An obvious answer would be through taxes, but according to the Roosevelt report, this set-up would essentially be pointless for the economy: “When paying for the policy by increasing taxes on households rather than paying for the policy with debt, the policy is not expansionary. In effect, it is giving to households with one hand what it is taking away with the other. There is no net effect.”
By Libby Brooks for The Guardian - Scotland looks set to be the first part of the UK to pilot a basic income for every citizen, as councils in Fife and Glasgow investigate trial schemes in 2017. The councillor Matt Kerr has been championing the idea through the ornate halls of Glasgow City Chambers, and is frank about the challenges it poses. “Like a lot of people, I was interested in the idea but never completely convinced,” he said. But working as Labour’s anti-poverty lead on the council, Kerr says that he “kept coming back to the basic income”. Kerr sees the basic income as a way of simplifying the UK’s byzantine welfare system. “But it is also about solidarity: it says that everyone is valued and the government will support you.
By Althea Estrella for The Vanguard - In an experiment aimed at establishing whether or not a universal basic income scheme would reap more benefits than disadvantages, Finland will be giving out free cash to a number of its citizens. While the country has a relatively high unemployment rate due to the number of jobs lost as a consequence of Nokia’s discontinuance of its mobile phone production — only a few of Finland’s unemployed are in a rush to score new jobs. The bizarre trend in the country is due to an unemployment benefits system that effectively discourages citizens from seeking income-generating work for fear of losing the benefits altogether...
By Jim Pugh for Medium - I hear this response a lot when talking to people about establishing a Universal Basic Income in the United States. Once you get past the explanation of what Basic Income is and how offering it could eliminate poverty, support entrepreneurship, and prepare us for a future where most jobs have been displaced by automation, people are generally quite supportive — but they don’t believe that it could ever be implemented here. And their skepticism is entirely reasonable. In today’s political climate, it’s hard to imagine how a program as radical as Basic Income could be enacted.
By Steve Rushton for Occupy.com. The Netherlands is seeing a revolution around money that is already getting underway, as the Dutch seek trial schemes that include basic income principles. The plan complements ongoing Parliamentary discussions inspired by citizen pressure to created positive money. That is, when society makes money for the public good rather than the banks creating money as public debt. Of the 393 municipalities in the Netherlands, 10 to 15 of them are working on plans for a basic income-inspired trial, with some planning to start next year. Interest is emerging in another 40 municipalities, including all of the country's largest cities. This means a large portion of the Dutch population will witness, and many will directly experience, this trial.
Support for a universal basic income (defined here) is growing. In Europe, for example, the City of Utrecht is about to introduce an experiment that aims “to challenge the notion that people who receive public money need to be patrolled and punished,” in the words of a project manager for the Utrecht city council. Nijmegen, Wageningen, Tilburg and Groningen are awaiting permission from The Hague in order to conduct similar programmes. In Switzerland, the necessary 100,000 signatures have been obtained for holding a referendum on whether Swiss citizens should receive an unconditional basic income of €2,500 per month, independently of whether they are employed or not. On 16 June, the centre-right government of Finland, where 79% of the population is in favour of a universal basic income, made good on its electoral promise and ratified the implementation of an “experimental basic income”.