Friday, 14 July 2017

ATD Quart Monde sponsors UN Panel on UBI

The solidarity movement, ATD Quart Monde, which works with poor communities living in first world countries, has organised a panel at the United Nations with Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, devoted to the theme of a universal basic income.

Thirteen governments from all world regions as well as three UN agencies and fifty NGOs took part in the program on 8 June 2017.

ATD Quart Monde's reports notes that the idea has not raised great hopes nor excessive enthusiasm with both advantages and disadvantages being recognised.

Among the advantages it listed:

1. Reducing stigmatisation of the poor;

2. Enabling everyone to live in dignity and to have access to the necessary minimum;

3. Giving more power to people who would not be in a situation of dependency or insecurity;

4. No longer living below the poverty because of a system that discourages initiatve.

On the other hand, potential risks included:

1. Fear of being permanently excluded from the world of work.

2. Would not enable people to be integrated into society, to be recognised and to develop themselves.

Hence, any policy of UBI would need to form part of an overall policy to eradicate extreme poverty.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

What about UBI for women in South East Asia?

UBI might be one way to both empower women and reduce hunger in South East Asia, argues Tamara Nair, Nanyang Technological University.

"My research focuses specifically on women from the region who live below the poverty line, which, for East Asia and the Pacific, the World Bank defines as living on less than US$3.20 a day," she writes at the Huffington Post.

"Women are primarily seen as wives and mothers, a gender stereotype reinforced in both everyday experiences and in the theological texts of the main religions in the region.

"By giving women the financial freedom to act as “agents” of development in the region, universal basic income could be a tool that ultimately paves the way for their future economic and political involvement.

"This process would start with something simple (and seemingly uncontroversial): women being able to put food on the table," Nair proposes.

"If women were provided with sufficient income to feed their families, it would translate into better nutrition, health and general well-being for children and others entrusted in their care, and by extension, their communities.

"Tacked onto the state’s existing social safety nets, UBI can give much needed specific attention to women’s broader economic empowerment, which is vital to a developing country’s growth.

"The first step toward doing so in Southeast Asia would be to identify women living below the poverty line.

"Accessible through cheap mobile phones, this money can be used to purchase food and other basic necessities in participating shops, which may be incentivised to participate with credits or subsidies of their own," she says.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Zuckerberg praises Alaska model

On a visit to Alaska, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has once again backed the development of UBI.

"Alaska has a form of basic income called the Permanent Fund Dividend," he wrote. "Every year, a portion of the oil revenue the state makes is put into a fund. Rather than having the government spend that money, it is returned to Alaskan residents through a yearly dividend that is normally $1000 or more per person. That can be especially meaningful if your family has five or six people.

"This is a novel approach to basic income in a few ways. First, it's funded by natural resources rather than raising taxes. Second, it comes from conservative principles of smaller government, rather than progressive principles of a larger safety net. This shows basic income is a bipartisan idea," he continued.

He also linked the development of UBI to a profit-making society.

"Seeing how Alaska put this dividend in place reminded me of a lesson I learned early at Facebook: organizations think profoundly differently when they're profitable than when they're in debt," he added.

"When you're losing money, your mentality is largely about survival. But when you're profitable, you're confident about your future and you look for opportunities to invest and grow further. Alaska's economy has historically created this winning mentality, which has led to this basic income. That may be a lesson for the rest of the country as well."

Zuckerberg also highlighted another form of basic income developed by the Native Corporations. 

"In Alaska, native land is owned and developed by private corporations, which are run and owned by Native Alaskans. These corporations also pay out annual dividends to their shareholders, who are largely natives, based on the resources they develop.

"So if you're a Native Alaskan, you would get two dividends: one from your Native Corporation and one from the state Permanent Fund," he concluded.


Saturday, 1 July 2017

Canadian island province to try UBI

Canada's tiny St Edward Island province  has unanimously voted in favour of trialling a universal basic income for its citiziens in partnership with the national government, The Independent reports.

According to the successful bill, every citizen will receive a basic income in an attempt to reduce or "potentially eliminate poverty in the province".

Green Party leader in Prince Edward's legislature, Peter Bevan Baker, proposed the motion with support of all three other parties.

Mr Bevan Baker told CBC: "A universal basic income could enable the greatest unleashing of human potential ever seen."

The national Canadian government will use the pilot to weigh up the benefits against the heavy costs. The details of how the pilot will be implement have yet to be finalised.


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.