OPINION: A Three-Step Proposal to Get to a Basic Income For All Brazilians
Marina P. Nóbrega – for the Municipal Council for the Citizen’s Basic Income, Santo Antonio do Pinhal, SP, Brazil
Humanity has to rescue the human solidarity that used to pervade tribal societies where wealthy was evenly shared. In our days money has to be used to that effect as great social thinkers have been preaching. In Brazil, President Lula´s law 10,835 from 2004 says that “A monthly benefit enough for the basic needs of a person will be paid equally to all. This basic income is to be instated by steps, taking care first of the most in need.” This law is still unregulated but the government, immediately after, created the successful Bolsa Familia (BF) program. Law 10,835 is unique in the world and needs to be regulated as to the steps to be taken to gradually universalize the benefit.
The Municipal Council for the Citizen’s Basic Income in the city of Santo Antonio do Pinhal has such a proposal.
Our initial proposal was to have a municipal pilot project fueled by a percentage of gross earnings from private businesses and private donations plus 6% per year from the city’s revenue. The idea was to create a fund to operate as the Alaska scheme. The Council analyzed carefully this proposal in the light of basic income principles and the practical attempts made to collect funds. We came to the conclusion that the Alaska way is impossible to succeed in our conditions besides we also do not accept that the annual and variable dividends represent the idea we have about a basic income.
Instead, we suggest that the path to Basic Income should go through 3 stages. We do not think this to be the best way for other countries but, considering Brazil’s situation, with almost 50 million under the support of the conditional BF (average of US$ 17.50 per person), we have a stepping stone to approach the final goal of including all in basic income. The steps suggested are:
Step 1 – Start the unconditional and universal basic income with all newborns in Brazil in the near future. The Council suggested that the caring parent receives US$ 35.00 per month and the same amount is deposited monthly in a savings account in name of the child, to be withdraw when he/she reaches legal age. This will be particularly valuable in two ways: it is financially viable, progressive and amenable to planning, will carry a strong symbolic value benefitting the children of the nation and pointing to a better future. This move will have a crucial educational value by giving people of all social classes time to understand the revolutionary value of a minimum income independent of work.
Step 2 – Next we suggest remove all conditionalities linked to the Bolsa Familia program. This will require that the funds for the almost 50 million involved (about 25% of our population) be doubled. We can predict that the result will be impressive economically and socially. The humiliation of means test, the complexity of the paperwork that opens the opportunity for political manipulation will vanish. The economy will benefit, and the results will be boosted by the possibility of taking regular jobs or opening a small business, both banned under the present conditionalities. These people will be freed from the known “poverty trap” created by the requirements for admission.
Step 3 – The Bolsa Familia bureaucracy can now be directed to monitor people that are still economically vulnerable but outside the government lists or people that fall into the “precariat”. They and their dependents should immediately receive the unconditional basic income.
PS: The Council can be reached by sending mail to email@example.com
Phones: 55 12 9777 9115 or 55 12 3911 3839