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Wednesday 3 August 2011

Basic Guaranteed Income: An End to Poverty

Basic Guaranteed Income

An End to Poverty

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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 minimumis referred to as a partial basic income. A worldwide basic income, typically including income redistributionbetween 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.



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One of the arguments for a 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.[1] However critics have pointed out the potential work disincentives created by such a program, and have cast doubts over its implementability.[2].In later years, Basic Income Studies: How it could be organised, Different Suggestions, have made a lot fully financed proposals.


Examples of implementation


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The U.S.State of Alaskahas a systemwhich provides each citizen with a share of the state's oil revenues.[3]
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.[4]

In 2008, a pilot project with a basic income grant was started in the Namibianvillage of Otjivero.[5]
The city of Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada had an experimental basic income program ("Mincome") in the 1970s.[6]



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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…

In 1968, James Tobin, Paul Samuelson, John Kenneth Galbraithand 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 McGoverncalled 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.[17]

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Economicsthat fully support a basic income include Herbert Simon[18], Friedrich Hayek, James Meade, Robert Solow, and Milton Friedman[19].

In his final book Full employment regained? James Meade states that a return to full employmentcan 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.[20]

In his Robotic Nationessays, Marshall Brainargues 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.[21] A similar argument was made by Jeremy Rifkin, in his book The End of Work.[22]



Many different sources of funding have been suggested for a guaranteed minimum income:

Elimination of current income support programsand tax deductions
Repayment of the grant at death or retirement
Fees from government created monopolies (such as the broadcast spectrum and utilities)
Money creation or seignorage
Tariffs, the lottery, or sin taxes
Technology Taxes


See also


Asset-based egalitarianism(variant of basic income)



  1. ^*BIEN: frequently asked questions
  2. ^[1]Interview with Philippe van Parijs
  3. ^See Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend; the fund's revenues are no longer only from oil.
  4. ^[2]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
  5. ^[3]BIEN, "NewsFlash of the Basic Income Earth Network", nr. 49, 2008; [4]BIG Coalition Namibia
  6. ^Story of Manitoba
  7. ^Philippe van Parijs (ed.), "Arguing for Basic Income: Ethical Foundations for a Radical Reform", London: Verso, 1992
  8. ^"Das Bürgergeld bringt einen Systemwechsel" (Citizen's Income brings a system change), interview, Kölner Stadtanzeiger, 29 March 2007
  9. ^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
  10. ^[5]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
  11. ^[6]Michael Hardt - Antonio Negri, "Empire", Harvard University Press, 2000
  12. ^[7]Keith Rankin, "Universal Basic Income: its Core and Essence", New Zealand, 1998
  13. ^[8]Daniel Raventós, "Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom", Pluto Press, London, 2007
  14. ^Osmo Soininvaara, "Hyvinvointivaltion eloonjäämisoppi" (A survival doctrine for the welfare state), Juva, WSOY, 1994, 298 p, ISBN: 951-0-20100-6
  15. ^[9]Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy, "Citizen’s Basic Income: The Answer is Blowing in Wind", USBIG 5th Congress, 2006
  16. ^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
  17. ^[10]Gravel presidential campaign 2008: "How Mark stands on the issues".
  18. ^Herbert A. Simon, "UBI and the Flat Tax. A response to 'A Basic Income for All' by Philippe van Parijs", Boston Review, 2000
  19. ^Milton Friedman, "Capitalism and Freedom", University of Chicago Press, 1962
  20. ^James Edward Meade, "Full Employment Regained?", Cambridge University Press, 1995, ISBN 052155697X
  21. ^[11]Marshall Brain, "Robotic Freedom", 2003
  22. ^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
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  1. Read, "Man Hours and Distribution" by M. King Hubbert. Social Security is a start but many simply can't live comfortably on that minimum amount of money.

  2. Interesting post. I just wanted to add that the Pirate Party, growing quickly in many countries, also supports a guaranteed income.

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