Saturday, 17 June 2017

Australia debates UBI

Australia's Green Institute says that leaders of the Federal (Opposition) Labor Party should review their opposition to a universal basic income, the Guardian Australia reports.

On the other hand, the Australian Green Party has argued a universal basic income should be considered in conjunction with a four-day working week.

The Green Institute has released a new paper, Views of a UBI: Perspectives from Across Australia, that records the views of different Australians on universal basic income (UBI), a contentious policy idea that is slowly gaining international currency.

However, Chris Bowen, the shadow treasurer, argued forcefully against a UBI during a speech to the progressive thinktank PerCapita, calling it a "terrible idea" adding that Labor should not give up on the principle "of ensuring dignity through work."

Tim Hollo, the executive director of the Green Institute, challenged this view.

"Might we not actually be better off heading towards what John Maynard Keynes was talking about almost 100 years ago, that we should, by this stage, be looking at a 15-hour working week and re-evaluating our ideas of employment and paid work?" he asked.

Monday, 5 June 2017

EU funds basic income pilots

The Barcelona district of Besós has been picked to test a €13 million European Union funded pilot scheme investigating “innovative and creative solutions” to urban poverty, The Local reports.

Barcelona was chosen alongside Utrecht in the Netherlands and the Finnish city of Helsinki to test the scheme, which will see the poorest residents in each chosen district given grants for two years to lift them above the breadline.

In the B-Mincome experiment, 1,000 randomly selected low-income households in the Besós district will be given grants of between 400 and 525 euros a month for two years.

Those taking part will be divided into four distinct groups and given the grants in different forms as a way of analysing the ways in which low income families can be best helped.


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

UBI to be tested with 26,000 people in East Africa

The time has come to find out whether UBI is effective, argues Michael Faye at LinkedIn.

" In 2017 we plan to launch the largest and longest evaluation of a basic income yet conducted, studying the effects of a 12-year income guarantee delivered by the NGO GiveDirectly to 26,000 individuals in East Africa using random assignment of villages," he says.

"Studying a program of this duration will let us unlock key questions - for example, does making a long term commitment of support matter, or is it simply cash in hand (which is already well-studied) that matters?

"And the size of the transfers will be enough to enable transformational life changes, not merely incremental improvements in standards of living.

"By coordinating research activities across projects, we will be able to gain insight into the extent to which findings from one setting can be generalized to another.

"We may learn that a universal basic income is a universally bad idea. We may find it suits the needs and circumstances of some economies but not others. Or we may find it the universally liberating force of which its most ardent supporters dream," Faye concludes.


Basic income could transform society. But first, it needs to be tested. (LinkedIn)

Monday, 29 May 2017

Robert Reich on the need for UBI

Robert Reich, who was Secretary for Labor in the Clinton administration, explains why he believes UBI will be needed.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Explore UBI: Zuckerberg

In his commencement speech at Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg added his name to the list of technology pioneers calling for exploration of the universal basic income.

"Every generation expands its definition of equality," Zuckerberg said. "Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. They had the New Deal and Great Society. Now it’s our time to define a new social contract for our generation.

"We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.

"We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable child care to get to work and health care that aren’t tied to one company. We’re all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as technology keeps changing, we need to focus more on continuous education throughout our lives.

"And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People like me should pay for it. Many of you will do well and you should too," Zuckerberg said.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Freeing the poor from the anxiety of poverty

"In a nation so contorted at times by its Calvinistic impulses, public assistance has come to be seen not as a hand-up to struggling families but as a paternalistic mechanism for “takers” and “abusers” that contributes to so-called cycles of poverty," writes Kevin Clarke at US Catholic.

"Increasingly even modest assistance to the poor has been challenged—healthcare, for example, is seen not as a human right but as a market commodity deliverable not on the primacy of need but the ability to pay," he says.

"What if the problem of how public assistance is offered is not that it promotes dependency but that it is so parsimonious—and provided with so many confusing strings attached—that it merely maintains the misery? What if public aid could be truly liberating instead of incapacitating?" Clarke asks.

"It is hard to imagine a program of poverty mitigation that is as well directed toward those ends than a basic income. It frees the poor not only from need but also the gnawing, exhausting anxiety of poverty and the tyranny of a perplexing social apparatus that has been constructed around poverty alleviation," Clarke concludes.


Can a basic income liberate the poor? (US Catholic)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

UBI tests show positive results

The most entrenched criticism of UBI is that too many would exploit a guaranteed income to sit on their hands, grinding the economy to a halt buthere are signs that this is too gloomy a view, New Scientist reports.

For four years beginning in 1975, the 10,000 citizens of Dauphin in Manitoba, Canada, were guaranteed a basic level of financial security: if their monthly income dropped below a certain level, the government would top it up. Support for this experiment soon dried up, and it was never properly analysed.

Evelyn Forget at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg recently revisited the experiment, comparing public records from Dauphin with those from similar small towns. Forget found the only groups that spent less time in work during the trial were teenage boys and new mothers. The boys were staying in school rather than bowing to pressure to take agricultural jobs, and the mothers were nursing. What’s more, Dauphin had noticeably lower hospitalisation rates and fewer depression-related illnesses.

Other tests are also now taking place in the Netherlands and private firms are also looking at the idea, New Scientist says.


What happens if we pay everyone just to live? (New Scientist)