News; News & Events

NAMIBIA: Labor union’s withdrawal from BIG Coalition sparks outpouring of defense for the BIG proposal

The National Union for Namibian Workers (NUNW) announced in early July that it would withdraw from the Basic Income Grant Coalition. The Union’s Secretary General said that NUNW did not see income distribution, as per the BIG model, as a viable way to address poverty in the country. Many editorials followed with renewed support for BIG. For example, the Windhoek Observer, a Namibian Weekly, devoted a recent editorial to the current BIG debate in Namibia. It compares President Pohamba’s remarks that BIG would encourage laziness to the famous apocryphal saying of the French Queen Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake.” Evidence from the recent BIG pilot project in Namibia is consistent with the contrary hypothesis that in places with deep poverty, cash grants stimulate people to work more by relieving them from the immediate needs that often keep them from engaging in productive activity.

Links to recent articles about BIG in Namibia are below.

“NUNW withdraws from BIG Coalition,” Richard Swartbooi, Namibian Broadcasting Company:

“Let them Eat Cake,” Editorial, The Windhoek Observer:

“The NUNW and the Basic Income Grant,” Herbert Jauch, the Namibian:

“BIG: Time to separate fact from fiction,” by Lucy Edwards, May 28, New Era Online, 2010:

“Namibia: Social justice and solidarity – think ‘BIG,’” Henning Melber, Pambazuka News, Issue 485, June 10, 2010:

“Academic justifies BIG,” Irene !Hoaës, New Era Online, June 4, 2010:

About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 950 articles.

Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Widerquist holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquist’s writing is available on his “Selected Works” website ( More information about him is available on his BIEN profile and on Wikipedia. He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.