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Category Archives: Basic Income Guarantee

Australia Needs A Universal Basic Income, And We Should Start … – Huffington Post Australia

Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Universal basic income — or #UBI — has been gaining traction in recent years as a utopian alternative to the punitive, stigmatising and declining welfare state in neo-liberal societies. The confluence of increased automation, declining wages and under-employment has been seized by the Left as a powerful reason for the establishment of a basic income (although interestingly, the UBI has always had supporters on the Right who want to do away with big government).

For women as mothers, however, the UBI opens up the possibility of a hitherto unseen equality that includes freedom from dependence on a male wage.

A basic income is a sum of money sufficient to live on, paid to all citizens unconditionally by the government. Basic income scholar Phillipe Van Parijs defines it as “an income paid by a political community to all its members on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement”.

There are other definitions, including a basic income that operates as a supplement but is insufficient to live on, also called a ‘non-liveable basic income’; a negative income tax whereby all those who earn below a minimum threshold are reimbursed by the government (up to a minimum standard); and basic capital, sometimes referred to as stakeholding, which is a lump sum paid at the onset of adulthood.

I am concerned here with the first definition — that is a regular income paid to all citizens without conditions at a frugal but functional standard. This is also referred to as a Basic Income Guarantee or BIG.

UBI research and commentary has gained momentum over the past decade with an increasing focus on the social problems associated with declining employment resulting from automation and digitisation (think tram conductors and bank tellers); the declining welfare state resulting from neoliberal austerity policies — the so-called ‘welfare to workfare’ regimes; and as a result of increasing income disparity in late capitalism.

For example, in Australia over the past 15 years, incomes of the top 10 percent have grown 13 percent higher than the bottom 90 percent, while incomes of the top 1 percent have grown 42 per cent higher.

Former Greek finance minister and economics professor, Yanis Varoufakis argues, somewhat polemically, that ‘capitalism died in 2008’ and was replaced with what he calls ‘bankruptocracy’– a system in which financialisation trumps labour deflating wages and undermines extant systems of social welfare (or, in other words, the conventional forms of redistributing income).

He notes that the original bargain struck between capital and labour altered after the financial crisis of 2008 and that the working class — a broad term that ultimately includes anyone who works for wages — no longer has the capacity to insure itself, producing a situation of deep economic precarity.

Wage-labourers have to increasingly accept the parsimonious terms of capitalism, generating the well-known situation of falling wages (relative to profits),less job-security and a widening income gap. As political theorist Kathi Weeks says, “Today’s ‘jobless recovery’ is perhaps the most obvious sign that the wage system is not working.” While profits are increasing, jobs and wages are not keeping apace and are indeed falling.

This divergence, also referred to as the ‘productivity wedge’, shows the growing gap between productivity and wages (or GDP and wages) and, in turn, the monopolisation of profits by the 10 percent and, more still, by the 1 percent. Indeed, one of the defining characteristics of the neo-liberal era has been the divergence between real wages growth and productivity growth.

Automation and digitisation will greatly exacerbate this process in the coming decades leading to further massive job losses.

Australia is no exception to this pattern. According to the Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA)’s 2015 research report, Australia’s Future Workforce — somewhat ominously titled with a question mark — we are on the cusp of a ‘very different industrial revolution’.

Indeed, according to CEDA’s Chief Executive Professor Stephen Martin, “More than five million jobs, almost 40 percent of jobs that exist today, have a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years”. While “…in some parts of rural and regional Australia there is a high likelihood of job losses being over 60 percent”.

UBI is proposed as a utopian alternative to this confluence of technological, economic and social change because it offers a viable alternative for the redistribution of wealth; something the nexus of capitalism, waged labour and the (declining) welfare state is no longer achieving.

Basic income has become a very hot topic over the past year with a number of pilot programs being developed in Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, and California, a referendum in Switzerland, a lengthy parliamentary debate on the topic in France (resulting in this recent report), a parliamentary report in Australia as well as a discussion paper by Australian think-tank the Greens Institute. In a 2016 report, the Australian Productivity Commission stated: “While Australia’s tax and transfer system will continue to play a role in redistributing income, in the longer term, governments may need to evaluate the merits of more radical policies, including policies such as a universal basic income.”

What I find interesting immersing myself in the basic income literature — including academic and journalistic articles alike — is the assumption that this precarious access to employment is something new.

Certainly, on a mass scale it is for most (though not all) men and the spectre of middle class professionals losing their jobs — something already happening in fields such as journalism and academia and likely in the health sector next — a very significant social and economic change; but for all but the most privileged women this economic precarity is the historical and contemporaneous norm.

While a full-time, well-paid job over a lifetime is the route to economic security, notwithstanding the rhetoric of gender equality, very few women have ever had such jobs.

So, my argument isn’t just that basic income is the only viable macro-economic answer to increasing economic inequality — specifically, the decline of full-time, secure jobs — but that it is a crucial answer to the as yet unresolved issue of gender justice under capitalism.

While I support a UBI for everyone — that is, I support the ‘U’ in ‘UBI’ — why, you may ask, am I singling out mothers in particular?

I think it is important to identify the specificity of mothers in this debate, given both the tendency to ignore the centrality of gender justice and the extent to which gender is centred around motherhood. My view is we need to make the socio-economic impact of becoming a mother and of mothering work explicit.

But first, a word on the ‘standard female biography’: one of the reasons a ‘matricentric feminism’ — to use Andrea O’Reilly’s excellent term — is required is that we can no longer conflate the categories of mother and woman given delayed and declining fertility, and the increasing numbers of childless women.

Women who are not mothers, not-yet mothers, or long past actively mothering dependent children are all in quite different socio-economic positions (although of course the structural effects of mothering last a lifetime). It’s not that gender doesn’t matter; it’s just that motherhood matters more.

We can look at this more demographically variegated landscape by looking at the gender pay gap, and then looking at how motherhood impacts this.

In Australia as of March 2016, women’s full-time wages were 82.8 percent of men’s, with a wage gap of 17.2 percent. The gender pay gap has grown over the past decade from 14.9 percent in 2004, to a record high of 18.8 percent in February 2015 before falling slightly again in 2016.

As a result, women are earning less on average compared to men than they were 20 years ago.

However, this figure is calculated without including overtime and bonuses, which substantially increase men’s wages, or part-time, which substantially decreases women’s wages. In other words, ’83 cents in the dollar’ substantially overstates wage parity.

When this difference is factored in, the pay gap widens to just over 30 percent. And in the ‘prime childrearing years’ between ages 35-44, this gap widens to nearly 40 percent.

A more realistic figure is gained by looking at full-time versus part-time earnings, as well as average male and female earnings directly. Here we see the pay gap more clearly.

For example, in 2016, average weekly earnings were $1,727.40 for male employees and $1,010.20 for female employees (a difference of close to $720 per week). However, most mothers work part-time which exacerbates this pay gap yet again.

If we consider full-time and part-time work, the wage disparity widens further: average weekly full-time earnings were $1,727.40 for full-time male employees and $633.60 for part-time female employees; now we have a gap of over $1100 per week!

Close to half of all Australian women worked part-time in 2015-16 — 44 percent (double the OECD average). However, this figure rises to 62 percent for mothers with a child under 5, and almost 84 percent for those with a child under 2.

Close to 40 percent of all mothers worked part-time regardless of the age of the child, while only 25 percent worked full-time.

The remainder, it needs to be remembered, were out of the workforce altogether. As the ABS put it:

“Reflecting the age when women are likely to be having children (and taking a major role in child care), women aged 25-44 years are more than two and a half times as likely as men their age to be out of the labour force.”

Age of youngest child is a key predictor of women’s labour force participation, although it has almost no bearing on men’s labour force participation and when it does it is in the opposite direction: fathers of younger children typically undertake more paid work.

Moreover, a quarter of all female employees work casually and their average weekly earnings were just $471.40.

Think about that — a quarter of all working women earn less than $500 a week! These days that barely covers the rent, let alone food, bills, educational and commuting costs.

Occupational segregation and motherhood wage penalties also kick into this mix. If we look at labour force participation we see that coupled mothers have higher rates of participation than single mothers given the additional support they receive with childcare and income.

As the government report, ‘Parenting, Work and the Gender Pay Gap’ points out:

“Economists have reported that raising children accounts for a 17 percent loss in lifetime wages for women. Many women move into ‘mother-friendly’ occupations when they have children. These occupations may be lower-paid than the work a mother may have done prior to having a child, and often do not reflect the woman’s abilities, education level or work experience (‘human capital’).”

Given the average full-time male wage is significantly higher than the average female wage and, moreover, that women carry the overwhelming share of unpaid care and domestic work and thus typically work part-time in their key childrearing years — and, we should add, fully a quarter do not work at all — this is not simply a matter of two incomes being better than one (which is of course true), it is that access to a share of male monopolised wealth — that is, to put in in stark terms, access to a husband — is essential for mothers to avoid poverty.

I’m not talking about the small number of high-earning, professional mothers, but the great majority of women. In broad terms, the closer we are to mothering dependent children, including especially infants and pre-schoolers, and the further we are from access to a male wage, the poorer we are as women.

Never married single mothers with dependent children are the worst off and it moves progressively from there with young, educated, urban, never-married, childless women in fact outstripping average male wages. This contrast gives us a sense of the variegated nature of women’s socio-economic position and again highlights that mothers are a distinct group and, more fundamentally, that the life course transitions of marriage and motherhood continue to negatively affect women’s (independent) socio-economic status.

As a recent government report, Parenting, Work and the Gender Pay Gap put it:

“Women’s disjointed career trajectories are mirrored in the way the gender pay gap changes over the life course.

The gender pay gap exists from first entry to the workforce and increases substantially during the years of childbirth and childrearing, a time when many women have reduced their engagement with paid employment to take on family care work.

The gap then stabilises and narrows slightly from mid-life, when many women increase their paid work and sometimes develop new careers after their children have grown up. The pay gap narrows further in the years leading up to retirement with a substantial drop during retirement when men’s income is usually reduced.”

So, often when we’re talking about women’s lower labour force participation and lower earnings, we’re actually talking about mothers’ lower labour force participation and lower earnings and, more specifically again, we’re talking about mothers with dependent children; although the lasting effects of caring labour means women across the spectrum have reduced earnings, assets and retirement savings if they have mothered.

To highlight this point, Australian sociologist and time use scholar Professor Lyn Craig has shown that many of the socio-economic disadvantages affecting women are, in fact, specific to mothers. As she says:

“An implication of this is that the marker of the most extreme difference in life opportunities between men and women may not be gender itself, but gender combined with parenthood. That is, childless women may experience less inequity than women who become mothers.”

Another important reason we need to differentiate mothers from women is that over the past 40 years, the standard female biography has changed significantly. Whereas once adulthood was by and large synonymous with marriage and motherhood for women, on average women now have a long stretch of adulthood — from the late teens to around age 30 — before they have a first child.

For educated and/or unpartnered women, the birth of a first child is often later again into the 30s, and sometimes up to age 40. Moreover, while only around 10 percent of women did not become mothers in the mid and later twentieth century, this has now risen to 24 percent. So, not all women are mothers, and many women experience a large chunk of adulthood before they become mothers and after they are actively mothering dependent children.

So, to clarify my point, there are structural and individual injustices that are specific to mothering dependent children including an unequal division of domestic labour, unequal access to jobs given the unpaid work load at home, employment built on an implicit breadwinner model that is incompatible with parenting (including school hours, school holidays, sick kids and the like), discrimination in the workplace and, in the event of unemployment and/or divorce, an increasingly punitive welfare state and a high risk of poverty.

Single mothers and their children make up the bulk of those under the poverty line in the western world. In Australia, of all family groups, single parents constitute the largest single group of those living in poverty (proportionally).

Marriage is no longer the safety net (or gilded cage) it once was, with just over 30 percent of marriages ending in divorce in Australia and predicted to rise to 45 percent in the coming decades.

Additionally fewer people are entering into marriages and cohabiting relationships have even higher rate of relational breakdown than marriages.

This means a large and growing number of women who are mothering children — the next generation no less — are caught in this literal economic no-man’s land without adequate access to waged employment, a breadwinner husband or welfare. I am not suggesting that access to a husband is a right; I am suggesting that the liberal dissolution of the institution of marriage has not been followed with any viable economic alternatives.

Mothers undertake the bulk of unpaid care work, without which our society would cease to function. To turn this around: is it acceptable that as a society we free-load on this care?

Mothers’ economic autonomy — that is the very foundation of their citizenship and their liberty — is undermined by the extant intersection of the institutions of marriage, employment and welfare. It is on this basis that I am identifying mothers, and more still single mothers, as a specific socio-economic and political group in urgent need of basic income. This is a human rights crisis given that lone parent families are one of the fastest growing family forms in western societies and, moreover, that women head 80-90 percent of these families.

Unlike the contemporary issues put forward for basic income — namely, mass unemployment from automation and digitisation — the issues facing mothers are not new.

Indeed they have been with us since the very inception of capitalism and the waged-labour system. Moreover, they are among the most compelling given that women and their dependents comprise the majority of the poor.

With the liberalisation of markets and marriage, a large and growing body of women and children are being left out of the social contract. Basic income is the critical policy answer to this problem.


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VIDEO: Basic Income presentation at Meeting of the Minds Summit – Basic Income News

Posted: February 22, 2017 at 4:08 am

Sandhya Anantharaman, data scientist and co-director of the Universal Income Project, spoke on basic income at the tenth annual Meeting of the Minds summit.

In a 10-minute talk, Anantharaman argues that the United States needs a new social contract in the form of a basic income.

Setting out the problem, she explains that increases in productivity over the past half-century have not been matched by increases in income for the majority of Americans. Income inequality has risen, and a growing number of people are juggling part-time and contract jobs.

According to Anantharaman, the best solution is to guarantee all Americans an income floor sufficient to meet their basic needs. She contends that the economic security provided by a basic income would, for example, allow individuals to develop the skills and training needed to pursue new careers, promote entrepreneurship, and allow scientists to carry out research for its own sake, without worrying about how to commercialize it. It would, moreover, permit people to devote their time to caregiving, parenting, volunteer work, and other endeavors not traditionally compensated with wages.

Following Anantharamans presentation, the host of the event issued a prediction that the accompanying video (posted below) was one of the most likely to go viral.

Meeting of the Minds 2016 was held October 25-27, 2016 in Richmond, California. The event brought together 480 participants from the public and private sectors, non-profit organizations, and academia, with 23 countries represented.

The Meeting of the Minds network states that its mission is to bring together a carefully chosen set of key urban sustainability and technology stakeholders and gather them around a common platform in ways that help build lasting alliances.

Reviewed byMadhumitha Madhavan.

Cover photo: Still from YouTube video.

Kate McFarland has written 366 articles.

Kate began reporting for Basic Income News in March 2016, joined BIEN’s Executive Committee in July 2016, and was appointed Secretary of BIEN’s US affiliate (USBIG) in November 2016. She has received funding from the Economic Security Project and Patreon for her work for as a basic income news reporter.

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Ben Wray: Why both the right to work and the right not to work can set us free – CommonSpace

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:12 pm

Ben Wray: Why both the right to work and the right not to work can set us free
In a world where the idea of robots taking over our jobs is no longer in the realm of sci-fi, basic income is usually proposed as an alternative to the guarantee of employment. The logic of this is simple: the guarantee of an income replaces the

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Expert: We Can Have Universal Basic Income and Jobs – Futurism – Futurism

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:11 am

Basic Income and Jobs

The debate about the effectiveness of a universal basic income (UBI) program has been fueled by concerns over job displacement due to increased automation. Several studies have shown that a number of jobs from several industries including transportation, manufacturing, finance, law, and even ITare going to be affected by this trend. This has generated support for UBI from a number of economic experts and tech industry giants, including Elon Musk.

Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) proponents also see UBI as a better alternative to current social welfare programs. Brad Voracek, who holds a degree in Applied Mathematics in Economics and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a masters in Economic Theory and Policy from the Levy Institute at Bard College, shared his thoughts on how proponents of BIG and Job Guarantee (JG) shouldnt be at odds with one another.

Supporters of either of these policies should be working together to get either one implemented and we can debate adding the other later,Voracek writes in The Minskys.Today, we need to move beyond our current disjointed welfare system to one that will help Americans, and either policy (or both!) seems like a step in the right direction.

In the article, Voracek also tackles several of the arguments against UBI.

Contrary to what some critics say, he doesnt seeUBI as incentivizing not having ajob. I havent seen any proof an income stops people from working, he writes. Its all speculation. He also points out that many of the jobs that are available to those who qualify for the current welfare system arent beneficial to society.

We have to keep abject poverty as a social option so that people keep working at McDonalds making the McObese, and keep stocking the Wal-Mart shelves so that Wal-Mart can pay starvation wages which allow people to be eligible for the [welfare] in the first place, says Voracek. Im not really sure those are the jobs that need to be done.

Voracek has a plan on how we should pay for a new system as well. He argues that the total cost of the welfare programs currently in place is higher than the potential cost of UBI, so we could get rid of all of those programs (with the exception of the complicated Medicaid) and apply all of that money to a singular UBI program.

At the moment, its all about trying it out. Lets see what happens when everyone has some cash on hand, Voracek writes. BIG and JG proponents, lets not quibble. Were on the same side. Theres work to be done. Get organized. Make it happen.

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World Economic Forum blog: Canada’s basic income experiment will it work? – Basic Income News

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:12 pm

In January, Apolitical published an exclusive interview with two leaders behind the planning of a pilot study of a basic income guarantee program in Ontario, Canada: Helena Jaczek, Ontarios Minister of Community and Social Services, and project advisor Hugh Segal.

Earlier this month, the interview was republished in the official blog of the World Economic Forum, the Switzerland-based organization responsible for the prestigious annual Davos meeting (which this year held a panel discussion and debate on basic income: dream or delusion).

In the interview, Jaczek and Segal explain the reasons for their interest in and optimism about basic income. Jaczek sees the program as a means to provide economic security to allow individuals to contribute to society. Segal supports basic income as a way to avoid the poverty trap that occurs when poor individuals lose benefits after taking a job, as well as a way to empower the poor to make decisions on their own behalf.

The Government of Ontario has recently completed public consultation hearings on an initial proposal for the pilot study, and will release its final plan in Spring 2017. As proposed, the pilot will consist of both a randomized control study in a large metropolitan area (in which randomly selected individuals receive the basic income guarantee) and several saturation studies (in which all members of a small city receive the basic income guarantee). If Segals initial recommendations are followed, subjects will be eligible to receive an unconditional cash transfer of up to 1,320 CAD (about 1,000 USD) per month, gradually tapered off with additional earnings, which would replace existing unemployment programs in the province.

Read more:

Exclusive: Inside Canadas new basic income project, Apolitical, January 4, 2017.

Canadas basic income experiment will it work? World Economic Forum blog, February 2, 2017.

Reviewed by Danny Pearlberg

Photo (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) CC BY 2.0Brian Burke

Kate McFarland has written 358 articles.

Kate began reporting for Basic Income News in March 2016, joined BIEN’s Executive Committee in July 2016, and was appointed Secretary of BIEN’s US affiliate (USBIG) in November 2016. She has received funding from the Economic Security Project and Patreon for her work for as a basic income news reporter.

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Guaranteed basic income proposed. – Bayshore Broadcasting News Centre

Posted: at 12:10 am

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 Regional | by Claire McCormack

Queens Park looks at a pilot project, which is supported by the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force supports the Ontario Government’s pilot project of a basic income guarantee, but says the province needs to realize poverty isn’t just an urban issue.

Task Force Co-ordinator Jill Umbach says the idea is to provide a government subsidy for low income people that would go right to them in a similar way to the Ontario Seniors’ Benefit Program.

Umbach says the plan is to have income information go to the government at tax time and if someone qualifies, the rest would be automatic.

The Task Force likes the idea of enabling low income people to receive the money they need in a more dignified way without being micro-managed by the province and regularly required provide documentation about how much money they’ve made.

The program began to take shape in June 2016 with a discussion paper from the province called Finding a Better Way: A Basic Income. Consultation sessions followed and the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force attended a number of them.

Umbach says they made sure the rural perspective was clearly conveyed to others during the consultations which all took place in urban centres.

She notes rural issues cannot be ignored, and believes more robust economic development and local investment will reverse the rise of precarious work, loss of benefits to families and out-migration of young people and families from the community.

Umbach says the pilot would be rolled out in just a few communities within the province for a span of three years. It would replace Ontario Works subsidies in those instances.

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Left-Wing America Steps Up Calls For Free Money, Jobs Guarantee – Daily Caller

Posted: February 10, 2017 at 3:09 am


Following a devastating election cycle where the American voting public sent a sharp rebuke to the status quo and policies of the Obama Administration, the left is now preparing to push for a universal basic income (UBI).

Left-leaning Americans are largely opposed to President Donald Trumps cabinet picks, all the way from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the presidents pick to lead the Department of Labor: fast food executive Andy Puzder. (RELATED: Big Labor Curtails Spending As It Braces For Trump Presidency)

Labor unions have blasted Puzder for past comments about the future of low-wage workers in the fast food industry. Puzderwarned that the fight for a $15 minimum wage will hurt low-wage workers more than it can help, arguing that a better policy would be to encourage the private sector to create more middle class jobs.

Professors Mark Paul and William Darity, Jr. from Duke University, along with Darrick Hamilton from the Milano School of International Affairs, argued that the country needs a federal jobs guarantee in an article published recently in Jacobin Magazine, a self-proclaimed leading voice of the American left.

Supporters of a UBI argue that a government-subsidized wage guarantee to all citizens would stave off job loss from automation and advancements in technology.

Why We Need a Federal Job Guarantee, theorizes that giving everyone a job is the best way to democratize the economy and give workers leverage in the workplace.

Paul, Darity, and Hamilton argue that a UBI could successfully cover workers who have lost their jobs due to technological advancements. Existing social insurance programs are insufficient, the professors write. They offer five reasons in support a federal jobs guarantee, including the notion of preempting the problem before it is widespread. Robots havent taken over yet, they write, suggesting that getting ahead of the problem will reduce the number of poor Americans.

A UBI would redefine the relationship between individuals and the state by giving government the role of provider, said Orin Cass, domestic policy director for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romneys 2012 presidential campaign, inJune, 2016.It would make work optional and render self-reliance moot, he continued.

An underclass dependent on government handouts would no longer be one of societys greatest challenges but instead would be recast as one of its proudest achievements, Cass warned in a piece published by the National Review.

Labor experts seriously question free cash as sound economic policy, but some experts, including those who do not identify left, are not completely opposed to a jobs program.

Giving people cash is not the solution to improving opportunity, Aparna Mathur, a labor policy expert with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Mathur did not rule out the idea of a federal jobs program but warned against unconditional handouts.

If cash transfers are conditional on work or job training, they are much more likely to be effective in improving mobility than if we simply give everybody an unconditional cash transfer, she told TheDCNF, refusing to rule out the idea of a federal jobs guarantee completely.

The professors said that a federal jobs guarantee could build an inclusive economy, and that it could provide socially useful goods and services.

The language fails to take into consideration the additional benefits that may compel a company to install automation for certain jobs.

Some jobs dont produce enough economic value to bear the increase [minimum wage], Puzder said to theWall Street Journalin 2014.

In the long-run encouraging people to work or acquire skills and training and education is the only way to help people move up in life, Mathur explained, a statement that could comport with a federal jobs program.

If we gave people the money without making it conditional on work, it might reduce their incentive to work, Mathur concluded.

Finland experimented with a UBI, with some unemployed Finnish citizens taking home a salary regardless of whether or not they are working.

The nations largest labor union, The Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), said that the policy might reduce the labor force. SAK also asserted that aUBI makes it easier for potential prospects to turn down unpleasant jobs, opting to just take the government handout instead.

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OPINION: Human rights, basic needs – The Guardian

Posted: at 3:09 am

A basic income guarantee (B.I.G.) would transform the current social welfare system and policies to a system based on human rights and basic needs. Why is basic income especially important for people with disabilities?

A basic income guarantee would be a move away from determining a persons value based on their work. It would eliminate the discriminatory attitudethat people with disabilities are takers, not contributors, and challenge the harmful idea that wealth is for the blessed.

Disability and poverty are interlocking. Today, 70 per cent of people born with a moderate to severe disability will live their whole lives in poverty. The current social assistance system designed to support impoverished people is not working, and it is discriminatory in its effects. The statistics are astonishing: two-thirds of households in which social assistance is the main source of income are headed by people with disabilities, and almost three-fifths of persons with disabilities are unemployed or under-employed. The vast majority of Human Rights challenges on P.E.I. are related to disability and work.

When Islanders with disabilities talk about their experience, they say that many people with disabilities don’t have enough to live on. Healthy food isn’t affordable for people. Isolation is also something many people with disabilities face and housing is a huge issue. Too many people are living in unhealthy places, and this is making people sick. A basic income guarantee would allow people to live in healthier, safer places.

People with disabilities don’t have equal access to jobs. Many are unemployed or underemployed. When people with disabilities do get jobs, they often have to be more qualified than other job-seekers in order to be hired. In the workforce, people with disabilities are often paid very little. Social Assistance rules claw back earnings above $75 per month, and this is unfair. People with disabilities, especially people with intellectual challenges, are sometimes expected to work for free.

A basic income guarantee would reduce discrimination against people with disabilities. If every Islander received a basic income guarantee, it would be a step towards true equality among people with different abilities. A basic income guarantee recognizes what people contribute to society just by being human as people who are valuable for themselves, valuable for their relationships and connections, valuable whether their contribution looks like a traditional job or not, valuable whether what they do is paid or unpaid in the workforce.

A basic income guarantee designed to meet peoples real day-to-day needs would, of course, need to recognize that the basic needs of a person with a disability may be different from others basic needs. A basic income guarantee could replace social assistance, for instance, but would not replace disability supports. For example, for some people with mobility issues, a wheelchair is a basic need. Disability supports are basic needs, not extras.

A basic income guarantee would promote inclusion, about including people better in society, and it is about equality and being treated fairly. A basic income guarantee could reduce isolation (make it more possible to use transit for instance) and make it easier to have a social life which is good for individuals mental health and good for all of society.

A basic income guarantee would celebrate all of our uniqueness, instead of pressuring people with different abilities to be normal. By valuing people as people, rather than just as earners, a basic income guarantee would help normalize differences.

– Marcia Carroll represents the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities and Leo Garland represents P.E.I. People First on the P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income.

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CANADA: Over 10000 people have signed to support Basic Income – Basic Income News

Posted: February 6, 2017 at 3:15 pm

(Image credit: Basic Income Canada Network)

The Basic Income Canada Network (BICN) has just passed their goal of signing 10,000 people who support a basic income guarantee in Canada.

This milestone marks the culmination of over a year of collecting supporters. BICN now looks toward its next milestone: reaching the 15,000-person threshold.

BICN is a non-profit organization affiliated to BIEN that advocates for basic income in Canada. It does so by publishing regular news stories as well as annual reports about basic income developments. BICN also disseminates resources for getting involved in the struggle for basic income, in addition to educational sources informing about relevant debates and issues. A central part of this organization is its ongoing petition, open to everyone, which calls for the implementation of a basic income in Canada.

BICNs website was launched in August 2015, when this counter for supporters of basic income began. It has taken BICN almost a year and a half to reach 10,000 supporters, 8,000 of which coming in the last nine months. The 10,000 person threshold was surpassed on December 13th.

This event marks the latest in a series of positive developments for basic income in Canada. Recently, on December 7th, a unanimous decision was reached by the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, Canada, to pursue a partnership with the federal government for the establishment of a universal basic income pilot project. Also, in Ontario, the regional government is moving forward with plans to test a universal basic income. These plans began in early 2016, when Ontario tasked Hugh Segal with an outline paper concerning the C$25m pilot project. The project is set to start this spring.

More information at:

Ashifa Kassam, Ontario pilot project puts universal basic income to the test, The Guardian, October 28th 2016

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CANADA: Over 10000 people have signed to support Basic Income – Basic Income News

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Basic income is superior to the job guarantee – Basic Income News

Posted: at 3:15 pm

There are studies (such as the Gallup World Poll) which point to a correlation between the unemployment situation and a relative reduction in peoples happiness. At first glance, one might immediately conclude that what we need is to provide jobs for everyone problem solved. However, a rushed conclusion like this under-evaluates the situation, ignores its alternatives and can even become counterproductive.

These studies conclude that, beyond the obvious issue of income, jobs seem to be a source of meaning and self worth for people. This apparently only reinforces the above results, and so it seems that a Job Guarantee (JG) is a policy for the future and that we must implement it as soon as possible.

But lets calm down.

First, lets think awhile on why individuals with jobs show higher relative happiness levels, when compared with unemployed individuals.

Part of the answer lies in the stigma associated with being unemployed. The thing is, in a society so dependent on jobs like ours, being unemployed is, unquestionably, a source of stigma. According to many in society, people are unemployed because he/she is incapable of finding a job, because she has not tried enough, because she not got enough education, because she has deficient social capabilities, or due to a wide range of reasons, real or imagined. Turn it as you like, that person is to blame. If structural unemployment is on a systematic rise due to automation and other factors, if incomes drop so low that people simply give up, if precarity is a daily reality, or if working conditions may be physically or psychologically degradingthose are only considered circumstantial excuses from someone who is lazy, case closed.

However, if proof of this argument is needed, retired people are relatively less unhappy than unemployed people, although they do not have jobs (Clemens Hetschko et al., 2012). Why? Because retirement is socially accepted; it is expected that, after decades of valid contributions to society, through a job, the person can finally rest and became free to spend the rest of his/her life just walking at the park (if so he/she wishes).

And, of course, getting help from the state to ease the income situation does not solve the problem. The reason is because the stigma is still there: now the person has to prove that he/she is factually incapable of gaining his/her own income. Apparently, the unemployment stigma was not enough: on top of that now comes the stigma of receiving a handout in order to survive.

Whats really at stake here, and again beyond the mere income situation, is that we live in a culture based on jobs as a source of meaning and value, and so the lack of a job is seen as a problem. However, the income situation is a major one, since lacking income represents a great source of unhappiness for individuals. So, the unemployeds relative unhappiness when compared to employed individuals is only clear when seen in the context of our present culture, and not necessarily outside it. Basic Income (BI) can and hopefully will create conditions under which that connection does not exist. To guarantee jobs for everyone, in this first sense, does not necessarily generate more happiness for individuals than BI, simply because the cultural environment around work gets totally transformed.

Secondly, it is wrong to assume that people want jobs, as traditionally defined. And, to be clear, that doesnt mean in any way that people do not want to contribute to society through their work. As living proof we observe all those individuals who, despite working in jobs in order to survive, can still (sometimes with great effort and sacrifice) manage to surmount enough energy and time to do voluntary work. That means that, for all those who have trouble believing these people actually exist, jobs are not necessarily a source of meaning and self-worth in humans, which is shown in greater detail in an informal study by Robin Chase (as presented in an article by Kate McFarland).

Thirdly, I think it is not necessary to list the growing quantities of jobs seen as unattractive, monotonous, unchallenging and/or offering no carrier development perspectives, recently labelled as bullshit jobs. Its hardly understandable the point in having people doing jobs that are not interesting to them, from which they do not get satisfaction, that do not allow them to explore their talents and that suck their precious lifetime, only to provide them with an income (which may not even be enough to cover basic expenses). If those jobs are not necessary, then lets have them eliminated. If these are necessary, then lets automate them. If that is not possible, then lets pay more to whoever is willing to accept them.

The JG will only be beneficial to those searching for jobs any job, we can assume in desperation and cannot find them. For those currently and comfortably employed it would be innocuous, and for those who actually choose not to be employed (whether presently employed or not), in order to have time to pursue their passions and talents, it would only cause suffering and would be a waste of time.

On the other hand, BI is beneficial for all those who prefer not to be formally employed, are currently unhappily employed, or are indifferent, such as those individuals who are satisfied with their job at the moment. Moreover, BI will benefit the presently unemployed, offering them the chance to informally contribute to society and/or develop their capacities in order to be fit for jobs they see as more adequate to their profiles and preferences.

On a finer assessment, it seems that BI can be the strategy that will enhance peoples happiness, in respect to their relation to work. Its also worth noting the potentially more complex and policing nature of the EG structure. To guarantee employment, the state will have to create it first, since apparently the marketplace is destroying it; To do that, these jobs must first be invented, and then distributed to people who will, supposedly, be willing to take them. There will have to be an effort to categorize each persons abilities in order to establish a match between them and the jobs being created. It seems to be an enormous task, and a potentially highly bureaucratic one (more than we already have in our present welfare states). Even on the assumption that the state would be able to create all these jobs and to get people on them, it would still be necessary to have some system that would guarantee that the latter would stick to the former. Or at least have a way to generate new jobs for all those who want one or for some other reason had to change jobs. But maybe all this is unnecessary.

Alternatively, because basic income allows everyone to work creates conditions for each person to initiate his/her activity. If, for any reason, that person cannot do it (or does not want to do it that way), BI gives him/her the possibility to pursue education and/or skills to apply for the job he/she really craves. In time, BI will effectively put everyone to work. Thats because, one way or another, everyone wants to contribute to society, given the chance. Unfortunately, our current system prevents many people from working, precisely (and ironically) due to the coercive effect of needing a job any job, even if the person gets actually sick from doing it in order to survive.

To work in something meaningful and aligned with ones values will render a completely different social environment than what we have today. To trust people to do what they think is best for their lives will completely change work, for the better. Unlike the JG, which will only mean more coercion and entrenchment of the present day job culture.

This article draws upon the articles by Kate McFarland:

Kate McFarland, Basic Income, Job Guarantees and the Non-Monetary Value of Jobs: Response to Davenport and Kirby, Basic Income News, September 5th 2016 Kate McFarland, The Greater Happiness for the More Workers: Basic Income vs Job Guarantee Pt 2, Basic Income News, October 21th 2016

More information at: Clemens Hetschko, Andreas Knabe, Ronnie Schb, Identity and wellbeing: How retiring makes the unemployed happier, CEPR VOX, May 4 2012

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Activist. Engineer. Musician. For the more beautiful world our hearts know it’s possible.

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