Basic income

Basic income

A basic income is a proposed system of social security, that periodically provides each citizen with a sum of money that is sufficient to live on. Except for citizenship, a basic income is entirely unconditional. Furthermore, there is no means test; the richest as well as the poorest citizens would receive it.

A basic income is often proposed in the form of a citizen's dividend (a transfer) or a negative income tax (a guarantee). A basic income less than the social minimum is referred to as a partial basic income. A worldwide basic income, typically including income redistribution between nations, is known as a global basic income.

The proposal is a specific form of guaranteed minimum income, which is normally conditional and subject to a means test.


One of the arguments for an basic income was articulated by the French Economist and Philosopher André Gorz:"The connection between more and better has been broken; our needs for many products and services are already more than adequately met, and many of our as-yet- unsatisfied needs will be met not by producing more, but by producing differently, producing other things, or even producing less. This is especially true as regards our needs for air, water, space, silence, beauty, time and human contact...

"From the point where it takes only 1,000 hours per year or 20,000 to 30,000 hours per lifetime to create an amount of wealth equal to or greater than the amount we create at the present time in 1,600 hours per year or 40,000 to 50,000 hours in a working life, we must all be able to obtain a real income equal to or higher than our current salaries in exchange for a greatly reduced quantity of work...

"Neither is it true any longer that the more each individual works, the better off everyone will be. The present crisis has stimulated technological change of an unprecedented scale and speed: 'the micro-chip revolution'. The object and indeed the effect of this revolution has been to make rapidly increasing savings in labour, in the industrial, administrative and service sectors. Increasing production is secured in these sectors by decreasing amounts of labour. As a result, the social process of production no longer needs everyone to work in it on a full-time basis. The work ethic ceases to be viable in such a situation and workbased society is thrown into crisis" Andre Gorz, Critique of economic Reason, Gallile, 1989

The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) describes one of the benefits of a basic income as having a lower overall cost than that of the current means-tested social welfare benefits. [ * [ BIEN: frequently asked questions] ] However critics have pointed out the potential work disincentives created by such a program, and have cast doubts over its implementability. [ [] Interview with Philippe van Parijs] .In later years, [ Basic Income Studies: How it could be organised, Different Suggestions] , have made a lot fully financed proposals.

Examples of implementation

The U.S. State of Alaska has a system which provides each citizen with a share of the state's oil revenues. [See Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend; the fund's revenues are no longer only from oil.] The USA also have the Earned income tax credit for low-income taxpayers. In 2006 a bill, written by members of the advocacy organization USBIG, to transform the credit into a partial basic income, was introduced in the US congress, but did not get passed. [ [] Al Sheahen, "The Rise and Fall of a Basic Income Guarantee Bill in the United States Congress", The US Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG), 2008]

In 2008, a pilot project with a basic income grant was started in the Namibian village of Otjivero. [ [] BIEN, "NewsFlash of the Basic Income Earth Network", nr. 49, 2008; [] BIG Coalition Namibia] The city of Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada had an experimental basic income program ("Mincome") in the 1970s. [ [ Story of Manitoba] ]


Many countries have political parties that advocate a basic income, such as the Green Party of Canada, Green Party of England and Wales, Vivant (Belgium), De Groenen (The Netherlands), the Scottish Green Party, and the New Zealand Democratic Party.

Worldwide, supporters of a basic income have united in the Basic Income Earth Network. BIEN recognizes numerous national advocacy groups.

The world's most noted advocate of a basic income system may be the Belgian economist Philippe van Parijs. [Philippe van Parijs (ed.), "Arguing for Basic Income: Ethical Foundations for a Radical Reform", London: Verso, 1992] Other advocates include Gunnar Adler-Karlsson (Sweden), Dieter Althaus (Germany) ["Das Bürgergeld bringt einen Systemwechsel" ("Citizen's Income brings a system change"), interview, Kölner Stadtanzeiger, 29 March 2007] , Saar Boerlage (Netherlands) [Saar Boerlage: "Het basisinkomen stimuleert op een positieve manier de inzet van het individu in de samenleving" ("Basic income stimulates in a positive way the input of the individual into the society"), interview, Vereniging Basisinkomen: Nieuwsbrief Basisinkomen 48, 2007] , Herwig Büchele (Austria), Andre Gorz (France) [ [] Andre Gorz, "Critique of Economic Reason", in: Peter Waterman, Ronaldo Munck, "Labour Worldwide in the Era of Globalisation: Alternative Union Models in the New World Order", Macmillan, London, 1999] , Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri [ [] Michael Hardt - Antonio Negri, "Empire", Harvard University Press, 2000] , Charles Murray (USA), Keith Rankin (New Zealand) [ [] Keith Rankin, "Universal Basic Income: its Core and Essence", New Zealand, 1998] , Daniel Raventós (Spain) [ [] Daniel Raventós, "Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom", Pluto Press, London, 2007] , Osmo Soininvaara (Finland)) [Osmo Soininvaara, "Hyvinvointivaltion eloonjäämisoppi" ("A survival doctrine for the welfare state"), Juva, WSOY, 1994, 298 p, ISBN: 951-0-20100-6] , Eduardo Suplicy (Brazil) [ [] Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy, "Citizen’s Basic Income: The Answer is Blowing in Wind", USBIG 5th Congress, 2006] , Walter van Trier (Belgium) [Walter van Trier, "Everyone a King. An Investigation into the Meaning and Significance of the Debate on Basic Incomes with Special Reference to Three Episodes from the British Inter-War Experience", Katholieke Universiteit Leuven: Fakulteit politieke en sociale wetenschappen, PhD thesis, 1995] and Götz W. Werner (Germany).

In 1968, James Tobin, Paul Samuelson, John Kenneth Galbraith and another 1,200 economists signed a document calling for the US Congress to introduce in that year a system of income guarantees and supplements. In the 1972 presidential campaign, Senator George McGovern called for a 'demogrant' that was very similar to a basic income. Mike Gravel, a former candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination for President of the United States and a candidate for the 2008 Libertarian nomination for the President of the United States, advocates for a tax rebate paid in a monthly check from the government to all citizens. [ [] Gravel presidential campaign 2008: "How Mark stands on the issues".]

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics that fully support a basic income include Herbert Simon [Herbert A. Simon, "UBI and the Flat Tax. A response to 'A Basic Income for All' by Philippe van Parijs", Boston Review, 2000] , Friedrich Hayek, James Meade, Robert Solow, and Milton Friedman [Milton Friedman, "Capitalism and Freedom", University of Chicago Press, 1962] .

In his final book "Full employment regained?" James Meade states that a return to full employment can only be achieved if, among other things, workers offer their services at a low enough price, that the required wage for unskilled labour would be too low to generate a socially desirable distribution of income, and that therefore a citizen's income would be necessary. [James Edward Meade, "Full Employment Regained?", Cambridge University Press, 1995, ISBN 052155697X]

In his Robotic Nation essays, Marshall Brain argues that the growing amount of automation in the workplace will eventually displace a large percentage of workers, and that in order to be able to maintain the economy, an annual stipend will be needed. [ [] Marshall Brain, "Robotic Freedom", 2003] A similar argument was made by Jeremy Rifkin, in his book The End of Work. [Jeremy Rifkin, "The End of Work - The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era", Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 1995]


Many different sources of funding have been suggested for a guaranteed minimum income:
*Income taxes
*Sales taxes
*Capital gains taxes
*Inheritance taxes
*Wealth taxes, e.g. property tax
*Luxury taxes
*Elimination of current income support programs and tax deductions
*Repayment of the grant at death or retirement
*Land and natural resource taxes
*Pollution taxes
*Fees from government created monopolies (such as the broadcast spectrum and utilities)
*Collective resource ownership
*Universal stock ownership
*A National Mutual Fund
*Money creation or seignorage
*Tariffs, the lottery, or sin taxes
*Technology Taxes
*Tobin Tax

ee also

*Asset-based egalitarianism (variant of basic income)
*Minimum wage
*Old Age Security
*Social welfare provision


External links

* [ Basic income for all-Philippe van Parijs, Boston Review]
* [ Guaranteed Basic Income Studies:How it could be organised, Different Sugesstions]
* [ Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN)]
* [ Basic Income Studies: An International Journal of Basic Income Research]
* [ "Social minimum" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
* [ About a Basic Income:History]
* [ Avinus Magazine] "(several articles, some in English)"
* [ Basic Income publications from the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society]

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