USBIG NEWSLETTER Vol. 11, No. 56 Spring 2010

This is the Newsletter of the USBIG Network (, which promotes the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a policy that would unconditionally guarantee at least a subsistence-level income for everyone. 

1. EDITORIAL: I have a basic income

1. EDITORIAL: I have a basic income

In a period of about eight months, I managed to save and invest enough money to get myself a small personal basic income. It was easy—if you get the kind of lucky breaks I got. I’m telling you this story only because it illustrates how much our economic fortunes are determined by luck, how favorably our laws treat people who own stuff (people who have obtained control of natural resources) and how much unearned income is available for redistribution. 

According to my job title, I’m a philosopher. My field is not known as a big money-maker. But at least since Aristotle, philosophers have occasionally made good money by teaching the children of the rich. Aristotle went to Macedon to teach the son of the king. I went to the Middle East the children of the oil-rich. The history that made parts of the Middle East rich began more than 90 years, as the Ottoman Empire was breaking up. Britain in the France decided to arbitrarily draw lines on the map of the Middle East to create dependencies that eventually became states. Nobody knew at the time how much oil was there or where most of it was. So, they had no idea those lines would make eventually some of those countries very rich and others very poor.

Thanks to those decisions, the small Persian Gulf state of Qatar is now the wealthiest country in the world. A few years ago the Emir of Qatar (who basically owns the country) offered huge amounts of money to get big-name Western universities, including Georgetown, to open campuses there. Last year Georgetown hired me at a salary about three or four times what I made on my previous job.

What did I do to “earn” this salary? My teaching load is lighter and my skills are no higher than they were last year. The work I do now is no more important than the work I did last year. The children of the oil-rich can afford to pay more for their education, but it’s hard to argue that it’s more important to educate them than anyone else.

Partly I’m being paid for my flexibility. Most people can’t pick up and move to the Middle East. Partly I’m being paid because everybody knows the Emir of Qatar has a lot of money, and nobody with any other options is going to work there unless they get a piece of it. Just a lucky break for whoever happens to be in position to take advantage of it.

So, suddenly, I had money to invest.

Meanwhile, in South Bend, Indiana, the most depressed real estate market in the United States, my brother was a public school teacher. He had bought a couple houses, fixed them up, and was making good money renting them out. He had time and skills to invest but not money. I had money but no time. We trust each other. The arrangement was obvious—a lucky coincidence.

Because real estate prices are so low in South Bend, we already have three houses, a lien on another, and we’ll soon be shopping for another. We have long-term leases signed on the first three houses, so that, beginning August 1, my share of the rental income from those houses will be about $700 per month, or $8,400 this year, next year, and every year. The laws of the state entitle me to keep that stream of income from now until the end of time. I could leave it to my children or set up a trust fund that to direct that flow of income toward whatever purpose satisfies the whim I have in my head when I write my will.

I have basic income, not just for life, but forever.

I pay about $15 a month in property tax on each home. But because we can deduct funds spent on improvements to the homes and claim “depreciation,” I can expect to pay no income taxes out of my share of the returns. If it looks like our profit will be so strong that it will force us to pay taxes we can put a new roof on a house, deduct the cost from our earnings, see the value of our home increase (thought property taxes will not), and earn more rent. People who actually have to work for their money can expect a quarter or a third of it to go to income taxes. This is not some brilliant shelter that our accountant devised. This is how people who own stuff are treated by the tax rules from Key West, Florida to North Slope, Alaska.

Assuming no compound interest and no new investments on my part, the rent on the property I have accumulated in eight months of saving and investing will add up to $84,000 over 10 years, $840,000 over the next 100 years. Assuming compound interests and new investments that amount would go up exponentially—possibly increasing by 10 times in a dozen years.

Of course, $8,400 is a very small basic income. It doesn’t tempt me to quit my job and spend the rest of my life surfing off Malibu. Yet, it is nearly as large as what a very optimistic basic income supporter would hope to start out with. It is far larger than anything Congress is likely to approve for people who need it. People are likely to say we “can’t afford it” even though there are many people, who own much more than I do, taking in money just as easily.

Compare my personal basic income to the only regional basic income in the world today. Last year, the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend paid $1305 to each resident of Alaska. That means that after eight months of saving, I am able to pay myself a dividend more than six times the amount that the oil-rich state of Alaska can pay its citizens after more than thirty years of saving and investing. But Alaska taxes almost nothing else but oil, and they use only a small portion of their oil revenue to support the Permanent Fund. Mostly they used their oil wealth to give people who own other things in Alaska a big tax cut. If they had used all of their oil royalties to support the fund, the dividend would be at least four times what it is now.

What can I possibly have done in eight months of investing to have earned a perpetual stream of income from now until the end of time?

Not much really. Lucked into a situation. As much as people believe that we must keep taxes low to reward people who do stuff and produce stuff, our property laws and tax laws most favor people who own stuff. In part, laws are set up this way because people who own stuff are very powerful. They have an enormously disproportionate control over government policy, and very often choose policies in their own self interest. Owners have successfully pushed most of the tax burden off onto people who make salaries. 

But another important reason why the laws so greatly favor people who own stuff is that most people do not understand the difference between rewarding people who produce stuff and rewarding people who own stuff. A lot of what we spend goes to reward production, but it’s a mistake to think all income is earned. What can any investor do in a finite amount of time to “earn” a stream of income that lasts forever? 

Supposedly investors are paid for their forbearance and parsimony. Because investors have the discipline to put money away instead of spending it on consumption now, they earn a return on that savings. But I didn’t save money because I was frugal. I saved money because I had money. I have spent money more extravagantly in the past year than at any other time in my life. Because I made so much more than I was used to, I was able to buy pretty much whatever I felt like, and still have a lot left over to invest. This seems to be true of a lot of investors.

Supposedly investors are paid for taking risks, but many of the vest investments are not very risky. There is no chance that this business will go bankrupt, because we don’t owe any money. There is some chance that rental prices in South Bend will fall slightly, but probably not much. If the South Bend real estate market stays depressed I can expect my rental income to rise with inflation. If the market gets better I can expect it to rise more quickly than inflation.

Supposedly investors are paid for providing a valuable service. To some small extent this is true of me. If I hadn’t invested this money, the South Bend real estate market would be just a little more depressed. Rental properties would be just a little less available; purchase prices would be just a little lower; rental prices would be just a little higher, and other landlords would make just a little higher rate of return. That’s something. But it hardly justifies a stream of income from now until the end of time.

Supposedly the stream of income is justified by the continued maintenance and improvements that owners put into their properties. But those all come out of the stream of income. The need for maintenance or improvement might decrease the size of my returns, but there is no necessity for any new investment or even action on my part to maintain them. I can just sit back and collect. Over time, the renters pay for the maintenance themselves.

Investors might have to do something or produce something to obtain ownership of a resource, but once they own it, anyone who wants to do anything with that resource has to pay the owner for the privilege. The owners of the past get a cut of all current production whether they personally contribute anything or not. The existence of so much unearned income reorients our economy away from productive activity so that you can’t be sure that the initial investment was necessarily something productive. Much of what people do, especially in the financial, insurance, and real estate sectors revolves not around the provision of services but around using financial resources as leverage to obtain more financial resources.

Renters pay me because I own stuff that other people don’t. I’m in that position, because I just happened to have a brother who needed an investor just when I happened to have money to invest. I was in that position because I just happened to get a job in Qatar. The Emir of Qatar just happened to be able to give me that job because arbitrary decisions made long ago by the British Empire just happened to have worked out so that he owns stuff that other people don’t.

Lucky break upon lucky break upon lucky break determines who owns resources and who does not. Those who do not own will pay those who do, year after year, from now until the end of time or until we decide to change the rules. We don’t need to eliminate property to change the rules in an important way. How about a little rebate from those who own stuff to those who do not? It would compensate them for all that they have to pay just because others control the resources we all need to use.
-Karl Widerquist, begun in New Orleans, completed in Buenos Aires


On April 15 and 16 the USBIG Network and the BIEN-Canada Network held a conference in Montreal, Quebec. This was the Ninth North American Basic Income Congress and the first joint conference of the U.S. and Canadian BIEN affiliate. The theme of the Congress was “Basic Income at a Time of Economic Upheaval: A Path to Justice and Stability?” The event was organized by Centre de Recherche en Éthique de l’Université de Montreal (CREUM) and held at McGill University. The event attracted almost 100 participants from North America and Europe, including a number of people who had not previously attended Basic Income conferences or meetings.

The highlights of the conference included presentations by Dr. Louise Haagh of the University of York (UK) on “Basic Income and Public Finance”, by Dr. Guy Standing, University of Bath (UK) on “Basic Income for the Precariat”, and by Senator Eduardo Suplicy (Sao Paulo, Brazil) on “Steps Towards a Citizen’s Basic Income”. 

A “political panel” featured speakers from Quebec, Canada and the United States who focused on political openings and challenges for achieving BI in North America. The panel consisted of Amelie Chateauneuf, spokesperson for FCPASQ; Tony Martin, Member of Parliament and poverty critic for the New Democratic Party; Rob Rainer, Executive Director for Canada Without Poverty; Al Sheahen, long-time activist with USBIG; and Canadian Senator Hugh Segal. The panel was chaired by Sheila Regehr, Director of the National Council of Welfare of Canada.

Other sessions at the conference addressed education for a BIG society (Sally Lerner), pragmatic guaranteed income architecture for Canada (Rob Rainer and Jim Mulvale), exporting the Alaska model (Karl Widerquist), the ecological imperative for a BIG (three separate papers by Anita Vaillancourt, Gianne Broughton, and Michael Howard), economic crisis and income security (three separate papers by Chandra Pasma, James Bryan, and Philip Harvey), Basic Income funded through common assets (Gary Flomenhoft), Basic Income and consumption tax (Andre Presse), Geonomics (Jeffrey Smith), income security for persons with episodic disabilities (Andrea Vick and Ernie Lightman), and copyright, creative work and the Basic Income grant (Matt Stahl).

A pre-conference workshop was held at the University of Montreal. It featured three presentations: Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon, University of Oxford, “Labour Behavior, Basic Income and Social Influence: A Simulation Experiment”. Evelyn Forget, University of Manitoba, “Canada’s Experiment with Social Justice: Using Health Administration Data to Assess the Outcomes of a BI Field Experiment” (based on the Mincome Project that ran in Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970s), Guy Standing, University of Bath, “Basic Income Pilot Schemes: Ten Imperatives for Design and Evaluation”

Full details of the program can be found at
Papers from the conference will be posted on the website of USBIG in the near future:

A huge vote of thanks goes to Jurgen De Wispelaere, currently a Senior Research Fellow at CREUM (and also Co-Editor of Basic Income Studies) who took the lead role in planning and organizing this conference. Thanks also go to Jurgen’s colleagues at CREUM for financial, practical and logistical support for this event. 

BIEN Canada and USBIG are planning future joint events, building on the strong interest in and excellent program of this conference in Montreal.

Audio podcasts of the Congress are available at:
Montage : Martin Blanchard – Musique : tintamar
-Jim Mulvale, BIEN Canada


The 2008-2009 financial crises created worries that this year the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC) might not be able to payout the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD), Alaska’s small basic income guarantee. However, according to Tim Bradner, of the Alaska Journal of Commerce, the rebound in the fund over the last 12 months has ensured that the 2010 dividend will be paid out this fall. 

The state of Alaska maintains a small Basic Income Guarantee from the returns on the state’s sovereign wealth fund. Royalties from the states oil reserves go into the fund, which is invested in stocks, bonds, real estate, and other financial assets. Returns from the fund finance the PFD.

According to Bradner, “The fund closed out its most recent quarter March 31 with a value of $36.09 billion and a return on investments for the first three months of its fiscal year of 17.6 percent.” The fund reached a high of more than $40 billion before the financial crisis in 2008 and a low of about $28 billion at the bottom of the financial crises in 2009.

The APFC has not yet released an estimate of what the 2010 dividend is likely to be. The level will not be determined until the end of the APFC’s fiscal year in July. If markets hold up, I 9the author) expect that the payout will be not much more or much less than the 2009 dividend of about $1300 for each resident. But a lot could happen in the markets before the end of the fiscal year.

The Alaska Journal of Commerce article by Bradner, “Permanent fund having a good year; full dividend payout is secure” April 30, 2010, is online at:


The state of Maine has introduced a small refundable tax credit as part of a tax reform bill designed to streamline and flatten the tax system, The refundable portion of the tax credit is only $50, and residents have to apply to get it. Thus, the take-up rate and the significance of the program remain to be seen, but it is a small step in the direction of universality.

For stories on Maine’s tax reform see:
"Who Pays and Who Benefits?: 21st Century Tax Reform for Maine, the Bureau of Labor Education, University of Maine, available at:
Income Tax Reform in Maine: How It Works and Who Benefits?
Richard Woodbury, Working Paper, March 2010, available at:


THE UNITED KINGDOM: New government scrapes the child trust fund

The new Conservative/Liberal-Democratic coalition government of Great Britain has announced that it will rescind the one step in the direction of a universal basic income made by the previous Labour government. In 2002, the Labour government created “the Child Trust Fund” which gave each child born in Britain that year a 250GBP plus another 250GBP when reaching ate 7. The bonds reach maturity when the child turns 18, at which time the bonds would be potentially worth thousands of pounds. The idea was that every child born in Britain should have some small share of inheritance. The ruling government announced that the program will be entirely phased by 2011, so that only children born between 2002 and 2010 will receive any part of the fund. 

Stuart White, a professor of Political Theory at Oxford, commented, “So the party of 'property-owning democracy' (Tories) and 'ownership for all' (Liberals) combine to end the first policy ever to guarantee an asset for all young people.”

Martin O'Neill, a political philosopher at the University of York (UK), pointed out that the announcement of the repeal of the Child Trust Fund was made by Gideon George Osborne, who sits in the British “House of Commons” despite being the heir apparent of Osborne Baronetcy. He stands to become the 18th Baronet of Ballintaylor, and according to O'Neill, Osborne has already inherited a personal trust fund of more than 4 million pounds. 

A blog about the demise of the trust fund is online at:

SOUTH KOREA: Basic Income Coalition created with aim to support candidates in elections

Following the recent creation of the Basic Income Korean Network (BIKN), Koreans have now launched the Basic Income Coalition (BIC). According to BIEN, BIC held its inaugural event in Seoul on April 25. Fifty civil organizations and more than 770 people participated in this coalition. The aim of the BIC is to support candidates in favor of Basic Income in the upcoming local elections on June 2. There are 28 candidates who are members of the coalition: 23 from the Socialist Party, 3 from the Democratic Labor Party, and 2 from the New Progressive Party. Participants in the event also announced the declaration of BIC's inauguration. According to BIEN, organizers argue that BIC is the first coalition in Korean political history to focuses on a future-oriented alternative such as Basic Income. Most committee members of the Basic Income Korean Network (BIKN) are involved in the coalition.
For further information:

MONGOLIA: Thousands of protestors demand Alaska-style dividend

The Associated Press has been reporting that more than 5,000 and perhaps as many as 10,000 Mongolians have been protesting for a resource dividend. Mongolia is a poor nation, currently in the process of developing what appear to be major mineral reserves. Back in 2008, during elections, both of Mongolia’s major parties promised to set up an Alaska-style resource dividend. But the ruling parliament has not so far taken action to do so. The protestors have demanded that the government move forward on its promise. Some are also calling for a crackdown on corruption and the dissolution of the current parliament.

Two stories on the protests can be found online at:

NAMIBIA: Bishop Kameeta calls for an official study of the Basic Income Grant

Bishop Zephania Kameeta of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia and of the BIG Coalition of Namibia called for President Pohamba to establish a consultative forum on the national introduction of a Basic Income Grant. He wants the forum to spend three months to study the BIG pilot project that recently concluded in Otjivero, Namibia. The forum could then make recommendations on whether BIG should be introduced nationally. Kameeta has been responding to a government that has been unwilling to take the results of the pilot project seriously. The New Era newspaper quoted President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s saying, “money cannot be dished out for free to people who do nothing”.

Kameeta replied, “It is an insult to the young men and women who go out without food and come every morning until noon to stand at traffic lights looking for jobs. They are not lazy, they are hunting for jobs but don’t find them because there are no job opportunities,”

Results of the project have been impressive. Living conditions of people at Otjivero significantly improved. New Era reports that unemployment dropped from 60 percent to 40 percent, food poverty from 72 percent to 16 percent. Self-employment increased by 300 percent. School dropout rates fell from almost 40 percent to zero percent, and child malnutrition dropped from 42 percent to 10 percent.

A story on the issue by Irene !Hoaes is online at:

The BIG Coalition’s press release including its call for study of BIG and other information about the pilot project can be found at the coalition’s website:

BELGIUM: Senator suggests implementation of basic income in Haiti.

On February 25, 2010, Senator Roland Duchatelet (from the Flemish right-liberal party OpenVLD) raised the issue of a basic income for Haiti during question time. He referred to a proposal made by several basic income activists – and wrongly attributed it to BIEN itself, whereas BIEN did not take any official position on the matter. Duchatelet suggested a basic income of EUR9/month. In his reply, Secretary of State Bernard Clerfayt argued that a basic income certainly deserves to be studied in the framework of the long-term reconstruction of the country (i.e. Haiti). The payment of a basic income can boost economic growth. The income guarantee can help citizens to start activities that will generate wealth. But he also stressed the fact that such a basic income could only be designed in coordination with other industrialized nations. Secretary of State Clerfayt mentioned the fact that basic income was not an appropriate solution in the short term, because priority was to be given to infrastructure and food independence of Haiti. Duchatelet counter-argued by stressing the positive effects on consumption that could be expected from a basic income.
For further information:
-From BIEN

SOUTH AFRICA: Research institute points to Namibian experience as evidence that BIG could work in South Africa

Isobel Frye, the director of studies at the Poverty and Inequality Institute (a nonprofit research institute based in Johannesburg) pointed to the results of the Namibian basic income pilot project as evidence that a BIG could work in South Africa. 

In an editorial in the Sowetan, Frye wrote, “An actual experience of how bold thinking can indeed overcome inequities can be found in the two- year-old basic income grant pilot scheme in a village near Windhoek, Namibia. … The results have been incredible. From a desolate settlement of farm workers unfairly evicted after years of work by surrounding farmers, the village has grown into a community. Malnutrition rates as measured by the clinic have fallen from 42percent of children under 5 – to zero cases. Gardens bloom, children go to school and goats multiply.”

Frye wrote that income security is not only a tool for moving people out of poverty, but argued that it should be the central plank to a life of dignity for which so many fought. Frye criticized the government for a lack of action on poverty, and concluded by asking, “How long are we going to refuse to extend basic income security to South Africans with as much right to a hot meal as you or I?”

Frye’s editorial, “Basic income pilot shows the way…” is online at:

GERMANY: Petition on Basic Income at the Official “Petitions Committee”

At the end of 2008/2009, more than 52,000 German citizens signed a mass petition to the German Federal Parliament (Deutscher Bundestag) for the introduction of a basic income. The petition was submitted by Susanne Wiest. If a collective or mass petition is supported by at least 50,000 petitioners, German law allows such petitioners to be heard at a public committee meeting. Based on this, the Petitions Committee decided to consider the petition individually in a public meeting in the second half of the year. Dr. Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn, basic income supporter and member of the Petitions Committee, supported this new development.
For further information:
-From BIEN

BRAZIL: BIG Pilot project expands to 71 participants

The ReCivitas pilot project made its 19th payment in the village of Quatinga Velho, Brazil on May 8th, 2010. With this payment ReCivitas expanded the number of participants by 10 to a total of 71. The project makes a small payment of 25 Brazilian Riyals to some of the residents of a small town in the state of Sao Paulo. It is funded entirely by private donations. For more information, or if you wish to donate, go to or contact ReCivitas

GERMANY: Green parliamentary group discusses basic income pilot project 

At the invitation of Uwe Kekeritz and Dr. Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn, Members of Parliament, Herbert Jauch, labor researcher, educator and one of the initiators of the basic income pilot project in Otjivero-Omitara, Namibia, reported on the results of the project in the green parliamentary group. Inspired by the achievements of the Namibian project, especially in terms of tackling poverty and child malnutrition, Kekeritz and Strengmann-Kuhn put in a request to the federal government to answer several questions related to issues of social protection. 

See also:
-From BIEN

GHANA: Editorial calls for Alaska-style oil-dividend

A recent editorial in Peace FM online calls for Ghana to introduce an oil-dividend similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend as a measure to aid transparence, avoid the resource curse, and ensure that all Ghanaians benefit from expected oil revenues. The editorial looks deeply into the present situation in Ghana and at the positive examples of Alaska and Norway. 

The editorial, “Kosmos Energy Apologizes To The Ghanaian Government: So What?” by SS Quist, is online at:


SAO PAOLO (BR), June 30 – July 2, 2010

The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) will hold its Thirteenth Biennial Congress on June 30, July 1st and 2nd, 2010, at the Faculty of Economics, Administration and Accounting of the University of São Paulo. More than 140 paper proposals have been submitted. The Primary language for the Congress is English, but it will include simultaneous translation for Portuguese speakers and attendees. There will be some simultaneous translation into Spanish as well.

President Lula da Silva is tentatively scheduled to give the opening address of the Congress. Other speakers include Carlos Roberto Azzoni (FEA-USP), Lena Lavinas (IE/UFRJ), Fabio Waltenberg (UFF), Karl Widerquist (Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar), Louise Haagh (University of York, UK), Ingrid Van Niekerk (Economic Policy Research Institute, South Africa), Francisco de Oliveira (FFLCH/USP), Ricardo Abramovay (FEA/USP), Kari Polanyi Levitt (McGill University, Montreal), Robert van der Veen (University of Amsterdam), Luiz Felipe de Alencastro (Universite Paris-Sorbonne), Eduardo Suplicy (Brazilian Senate), Philippe Van Parijs (Université Catholique de Louvain), Guy Standing (University of Bath and Monash University), Scott Goldsmith (Alaska Permanent Fund), Nelson Barbosa (IE/UFRJ), Rubén Lo Vuolo (REDIAC – Argentine Citizens' Income Network), Pablo Yanes (Secretary of Social Development, Mexico City), Joel Rogers (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Paul Singer (Secretary of Solidarity Economics, Ministry of Labour), Christian Ydesen (BIEN, Denmark), Toru Yamamori (Doshisha University, Japan), Sugeng Bahagijo (Indonesia), Andrea Fumagalli (BIEN Italy), Bishop Kameeta (Namibia), Claus Offe (Hertie School of Governance, Berlin), Cristovam Buarque (Brazilian Senate), Marcio Pochmann (Ipea), Maria Fernanda Ramos Coelho (Caixa Econômica), Patrus Ananias (Ministério de Desenvolvimento Social), and many more.
More details about the congress are available at


Karl Widerquist is a co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) and a Visiting Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He has written and edited several books and articles on the basic income guarantee and he is the editor of this newsletter.

In the weeks leading up to the BIEN Conference in Sao Paulo, Widerquist will speak in several cities in South America on topics related to the Basic Income Guarantee. The first few speeches have already taken place:

Date, time, topic, location, organizer <organizer’s email>

-May 19, 6-8pm, “Status Freedom,” Faculty of Philosophy, National University of La Plata, La Plata Argentina, Julieta M. Elgarte <>

-May 20, 10am-noon, “Exporting the Alaska Model: How the Permanent Fund Dividend can be Adapted as a Reform Model for the World,” Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, Corina Rodriguez <>

-May 28, 6:30-8pm, “Status Freedom,” room 38, Facultad de Ciencias Economicas, the Universidad de la Republica, Gonzalo Ramirez 1926, Montevideo, Uruguay, Andrea Vigorito<>

-May 31, time to be announced, “Basic Income and the experience of the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend,” the Basic Income Research Center, the National University of Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina, Julio Leonidas Aguirre <>

-June 10-15, dates, times, places and topics to be announced, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Eduardo Suplicy <>

-June 17, TBA “Basic Income,” Department of Economics, Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Fabio Waltenberg <>

-June 20-25, dates and times to be announced, “Basic Income, ReCivitas, Instituto pela Revitalização da Cidadania, Quatinga Velho, Brazil, Bruna Augusto – ReCivitas<>

-June 30-July 2, The Basic Income Earth Network Congress, Faculty of Economics, the University of Sao Paulo, the Basic Income Earth Network <>.

For more information contact the organizers or Karl Widerquist <>.


Wacquant, Loic (2009) Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity. Durham: Duke University Press.
The punitive turn of penal policy in the United States after the acme of the Civil Rights movement responds not to rising criminal insecurity but to the social insecurity spawned by the fragmentation of wage labor and the shakeup of the ethnoracial hierarchy. It partakes of a broader reconstruction of the state wedding restrictive “workfare” and expansive “prisonfare” under a philosophy of moral behaviorism. This paternalist program of penalization of poverty aims to curb the urban disorders wrought by economic deregulation and to impose precarious employment on the postindustrial proletariat. It also erects a garish theater of civic morality on whose stage political elites can orchestrate the public vituperation of deviant figures—the teenage “welfare mother,” the ghetto “street thug,” and the roaming “sex predator”—and close the legitimacy deficit they suffer when they discard the established government mission of social and economic protection. By bringing developments in welfare and criminal justice into a single analytic framework attentive to both the instrumental and communicative moments of public policy, Punishing the Poor shows that the prison is not a mere technical implement for law enforcement but a core political institution. And it reveals that the capitalist revolution from above called neoliberalism entails not the advent of “small government” but the building of an overgrown and intrusive penal state deeply injurious to the ideals of democratic citizenship.

Loic Wacquant is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Researcher at the Centre de sociologie europeenne, Paris. He is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and recipient of the 2008 Lewis Coser Award of the American Sociological Association. He has argued that a citizens income is an important part of the solution to the marginalization of the poor.

Gregory W. Kimura (ed.), 2010. Alaska at 50: The Past, Present, and Future of Alaska Statehood. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (distributed by University of Alaska Press). 264 pages. ISBN: 1602230811
This book presents a collection of essays on the first 50 years of Alaskan statehood, including coverage of the Permanent Fund Dividend.

Colombino, Ugo, Marilena Locatelli, Edlira Narazani, and Cathal O'donoghue (2010), “Alternative Basic Income Mechanisms: An Evaluation Exercise with a Microeconometric Model,” IZA Discussion Paper No. 4781, February 2010, available at
This paper develops and estimates a microeconometric model of household labour supply in four European countries representative of different economies and welfare policy regimes: Denmark, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom. The authors then simulate, under the constraint of constant total net tax revenue (fiscal neutrality), the effects of various hypothetical tax transfer reforms which include alternative versions of a Basic Income policy: Guaranteed Minimum Income, Work Fare, Participation Basic Income and Universal Basic Income. The article includes indexes and criteria according to which the reforms can be ranked and compared to the current tax-transfer systems. The exercise can be considered as one of empirical optimal taxation, where the optimization problem is solved computationally rather than analytically. It turns out that many versions of the Basic Income policies would be superior to the current system. The most successful policies are those involving non means-tested versions of basic income (Universal or Participation Basic Income) and adopting progressive tax-rules. If –besides the fiscal neutrality constraint – also other constraints are considered, such as the implied top marginal tax rate or the effect on female labour supply, the picture changes: unconditional policies remain optimal and feasible in Denmark and the UK; instead in Italy and Portugal universal policies appear to be too costly in terms of implied top marginal tax rates and in terms of adverse effects on female participation, and conditional policies such as Work-Fare, emerge as more desirable.
-From BIEN

James K. Boyce, April 15, 2010 “Will America Buy a New Climate Policy?”
Foreign Policy In Focus: A project of the Institute for Policy Studies. (Originally published in Triple Crisis.)
This article positively examines the Carbon Limits and Energy for America's Renewal (CLEAR) Act global warming proposal, which includes a small dividend. The author describes the act proposed as a "100-75-25-0" policy:

“100 percent of the permits to bring fossil carbon into the U.S. economy will be auctioned. Polluters won't get any permit giveaways, and there will be no scope for speculation and market manipulation by Wall Street traders.
75 percent of the auction revenue is recycled directly to the public as equal per-person dividends. The majority of households will receive more in these monthly dividends than they pay in higher energy costs.
25 percent of the auction revenue is dedicated to investments in energy efficiency, clean energy, adaptation to climate change, and assistance for sectors hurt by the transition away from the fossil-fueled economy.
Zero offsets are allowed. In other words, polluters can't avoid curbing use of fossil fuels by paying someone else to clean up after them.”

The article is online at:

TATEIWA Shin'ya & SAITO Taku, 2010. Basic Income: Possibility of the Minimal State that Distributes Seidosha. ISBN-10: 4791765257 ISBN-13: 978-4791765256
According to the authors, “This book tries to consider what needs to be considered concerning the way to distribute in the world, namely basic income (BI) followed by Repairing the Tax (Written by TATEIWA, MURAKAMI & HASHIGUCHI in 2009). Part I of this book is based on TATEIWA's series in Gendai Shiso (mainly from the issue of September 2009 through that of March 2010 except for some). In Part II, SAITO, who is one of the interpreters of Van Parijs' book that is examined in Part I, not only introduces its discussions but expresses his views on basic income. In Part III, SAITO introduces, comments and describes recent discussions and statements on basic income. This book is also one of the achievements of Global COE Program Ars Vivendi: Forms of Human Life and Survival.”

CITIZEN’S INCOME TRUST (2010), Citizen's Income Newsletter, Issue 1, 2010 available
This new issue of the Newsletter of CIT, the British basic income network, contains a progress report, a review article on Wilkinson and Pickett’s The Spirit Level, and other book reviews. It is also available as a Word document or as a pdf.

Ford, Martin (2010), The lights in the tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, Acculant Publishing,
One of the book’s central arguments is that accelerating technology is likely to result in significant structural unemployment and plunging consumer confidence as machines, computers and software automation algorithms are increasingly able to perform many routine jobs and tasks. The book suggests that unless countervailing policies are adopted, the trend toward concentration of income will be relentless and may well lead to economic disruptions even more severe than the current crisis. The book employs a thought experiment or mental simulation based on "lights in a tunnel" to illustrate the potential economic impact of technologies that will soon be available. The author, Martin Ford, is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and computer engineer who is deeply concerned that the issues raised in the book are currently not widely recognized and are generally dismissed by economists. His concern is that, as information technology advances, the impact on the job market may unfold at a relatively rapid pace. The author is also a guest blogger at Angry Bear (one of the top 5 economics blogs according the Wall Street Journal and CNN) and has written several posts on this issue. He also has his own blog and writes about the economic implications of future technologies.
Reviews of the book have been published at:
Author’s address:
-From BIEN

SOCIAL JUSTICE IRELAND (2010), An Agenda for a New Ireland', Dublin: Social Justice Ireland (Socio-Economic Review 2010). Further details at
Social Justice Ireland issued its Socio-economic Review for 2010. Entitled "An Agenda for a New Ireland", it advocates the introduction of a Basic Income system as part of the solution to the many crises that Ireland faces today. The Review provides an alternative narrative to the one currently guiding policy development and public discourse on how Ireland came to be in its current situation, where it is now, where it ought to go in the future and how it might get there. The Review argues that:
1. Ireland’s policy-making for more than a decade was guided by many false assumptions concerning economic growth, taxation, services and infrastructure.
2. Many policy failures arose from these false assumptions.
3. These policy failures produced much of the current series of crises that Ireland is facing.
4. These crises have been exacerbated by persevering with failed policies and false assumptions.
5. Ireland needs a new vision to guide policy development and decision-making if it is to move beyond the current series of crises. The Review sets out four core values that should underpin a guiding vision for Ireland in the years ahead. These are human dignity, sustainability, equality/human rights and the common good.
6. These values lead to key policy priorities for moving Ireland towards a desirable alternative vision and spells out the details.
This Review is available free of charge on line. A printed version can also be purchased. For details check the website: Each section of the Review can be downloaded separately. The complete 250-page book can also be downloaded as a unit. The Basic Income issue is addressed in Chapter 3.1 which addresses the issue of Income.

Rose, Dave with Charles P. Wohlforth, 2008. Saving for the future: my life and the Alaska Permanent Fund; foreword by Arliss Sturgulewski. Kenmore, WA: Epicenter Press.
This book is the memoir of Dave Rose, who was the director of the fund when it first paid dividends. He played an important part in creating the dividend and ensuring that it remained stable in the recessionary years immediately following its creation.

Loic Wacquant 2007. Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality, (University of California, Berkeley and CSE-Paris)
Breaking with the exoticizing cast of public discourse and conventional research, Urban Outcasts takes the reader inside the black ghetto of Chicago and the deindustrializing banlieue of Paris to discover that urban marginality is not everywhere the same. Drawing on a wealth of original field, survey and historical data, Loic Wacquant shows that the involution of America's urban core after the 1960s is due not to the emergence of an 'underclass', but to the joint withdrawal of market and state fostered by public policies of racial separation and urban abandonment. In European cities, by contrast, the spread of districts of 'exclusion' does not herald the formation of ghettos. It stems from the decomposition of working-class territories under the press of mass unemployment, the casualization of work and the ethnic mixing of populations hitherto segregated, spawning urban formations akin to 'anti-ghettos'. 

Urban Outcasts sheds new light on the explosive mix of mounting misery, stupendous affluence and festering street violence resurging in the big cities of the First World. By specifying the different causal paths and experiential forms assumed by relegation in the American and the French metropolis, this book offers indispensable tools for rethinking urban marginality and for reinvigorating the public debate over social inequality and citizenship at century's dawn. The book closes its analysis of the transformation of neighborhoods of relegation in advanced society by arguing for basic income as a remedy for rise of new regime of "advanced marginality.”

John B. O'Donnell. 1997. “Three Steps to Economic Freedom — or — How to Tax and Spend to Prosperity” 
Step three of this article is “sharing nature”, which involves a basic income guarantee under the name of Citizen Dividend. The article is online at:


Joerg Drescher has compiled a video and audio series on Basic Income and posted it on YouTube. Some of the entries interviews are conducted by Drescher. Others are from video archives. The series includes discussion of basic income by former Alaska Governor Jay Hamond, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Guy Standing, Karl Widerquist, John Tomlinson, Senator Eduardo Suplicy, and others. The series playlist is online at:

On May 16, 2010 the Italian Basic Income Network (Bin Italia) opened an online television channel called Bin Italy TV. The network intends to use this and other media to make the necessity and possibility of the introduction of basic income more visible. The Bin Italy television will be airing video footage, interviews and everything will be possible and useful to raise awareness of internet users around the theme of guaranteed income. The video will also be broadcast in several languages, just to make clear to the interesting and prolific international debate. The website has normal programming and video on demand. 

It is online along with the rest of the Bin Italia webpage at:

Can basic income grants work for those living in extreme poverty? Or are grants discouraging people from taking individual responsibility? This Global Ethics Corner slideshow is based on the Namibian pilot project. It is part of a weekly series from the Carnegie Council:
For further information:
-From BIEN

-From BIEN

The Blog, Daily Kos by RiseUpEconomics on has an entry about basic income entitled “Robin Hood was Right”
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010, it’s online at:

A short piece on the Namibian pilot project by Isobel Frye, director of studies at the Poverty and Inequality Institute, a nonprofit research institute based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
-From BIEN

The National Safety: Creating a Better America and a Better World.
This website proposes a seven-point agenda. It does not directly include a universal basic income, but it goes a long way toward universality. According to the website, “The NSN [National Safety Net] could be woven together by 7 essential elements: Universal Health Care, a Living Wage, Fair Unemployment Benefits, Free Education, Affordable Housing, Fundamental Ecology, and a Department Of Peace. This list is not meant to be exhaustive or complete, and clearly Organic Food for Everyone, Life Long Pensions, Mass Transit, etc. would add to the strength and comfort of America’s social fabric.”
It is online at:

A Manifesto written by Ben Wallace, which includes a plea for basic income: "Because direct income equality from free trade is impossible, and free trade is vital, a shared base income, ensuring equal opportunity for all to realise potential, must be created by sharing the earnings we make on our trade (the earnings we make from sale of our products and services after our expenses involved in producing them)."
-From BIEN

Keith Rankin, Department of Accounting and Finance, Faculty of Creative Industries and Business, Unitec New Zealand) has published a number of tables that show, for individual taxpayers, average and marginal tax rates for: the status quo; conservative reform options that recognise the comparatively high rates of tax that low income New Zealanders pay; and less conservative (but even more principled) "refundable tax credit" options that integrate a flat tax (inclusive of ACC) with a basic universal benefit.

An online petition on basic income was started by Cheryl Ives (Community Engagement Manager with Opportunities Waterloo Region) at
See also:
-From BIEN

A short clip about basic income on Youtube:
-From BIEN

The global basic income foundation, which advocates a worldwide basic income, has added a page to its website with a brief overview of BI developments worldwide. The page includes a short reference to USBIG in the overview & introduction section and at the bottom of the page. 
The address of the webpage is:
Global Basic Income Foundation


For links to dozens of BIG websites around the world, go to These links are to any website with information about BIG, but USBIG does not necessarily endorse their content or their agendas.

The USBIG Network Newsletter
Editor: Karl Widerquist
Copyeditor: Mike Murray and the USBIG Committee
Research: Paul Nollen; and Yannick Vanderborght of the BIEN NewsFlash
Special help on this issue was provided by Rene Heeskens, Michael Howard, Claudia & Dirk Haarman, and Bin Italia.

The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network publishes this newsletter. The Network is a discussion group on basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a generic name for any proposal to create a minimum income level, below which no citizen's income can fall. Information on BIG and USBIG can be found on the web at:

You may copy and circulate articles from this newsletter, but please mention the source and include a link to If you know any BIG news; if you know anyone who would like to be added to this list; or if you would like to be removed from this list; please send me an email: Karl (a)

As always, your comments on this newsletter and the USBIG website are gladly welcomed.

Thank you,
-Karl Widerquist, editor