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VIDEO: Standing and Widerquist speak about basic income on HuffPost Live

On December 8, Huffington Post Live hosted a debate on basic income following the coverage by mainstream news of the Finnish basic income experiment.

There were three guest speakers:


Guy Standing, BIEN’s Honorary President.

Guy Standing, economist, professor of development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (London), and BIEN’s Honorary President;

Karl Widerquist, political philosopher and economist, associate professor at Georgetown University in Qatar, co-chair of BIEN, and co-founder of US Basic Income Guarantee;

Daniel Tencer, business editor of the Huffington Post Canada.

In a broad-ranging discussion, the speakers argued that basic income is both feasible and desirable. Karl Widerquist began the conversation by clarifying that a basic income is given to all citizens and does not depend on means-testing or a work requirement. In other words, it is universal and unconditional.


Karl Widerquist, BIEN’s co-chair.

The speakers also stressed that a basic income reduces inequalities and eliminates poverty. Daniel Tencer noted that Huffington Post Canada has been writing about basic income for some time. He positively reported on the recent rediscovery of the encouraging results of a five-year experiment with basic income in the town of Dauphin, Manitoba during the 1970s.

Another topic of discussion was the relationship between basic income and other welfare benefits. Referring to the Finnish experiment, Guy Standing said that, while basic income is usually discussed in the context of wide-ranging welfare reform, it does not have to replace all existing benefits at once. It can be implemented gradually, while keeping certain needs-based benefits such as disability grants.

When queried about the standard criticism that a basic income is not affordable, Standing and Widerquist remarked that, in fact, it is affordable, and could be financed in a number of ways, from various forms of taxation to currency reform.

Click here to watch the 15-minute video of the debate.

About Vito Laterza

Vito Laterza has written 16 articles.

Vito Laterza is a research fellow at the University of Cape Town and the editor of the Human Economy Blog. He is an anthropologist, labour expert and political analyst focusing on politics, economy and society in Africa and the West. He writes regularly for international media such as Foreign Affairs and Al Jazeera English.

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.

One comment

  • Some people (me) are never satisfied. A good video with two missing elements, one minor and one major. The minor lacuna: Land Value tax as one of the ways to fund the Basic income.. The big one: Green issues: Paris and all that. After 43 years and counting, I appear to remain the only BI supporter seeing it as essential to a sustainable, zero growth economy, If all a Basic Income does is confiscate from the rich without a framework which heeds ecological constraints, we are no nearer halting climate change, which will assuredly crucify the poor first.. Are you reassured by the Paris result? It MIGHT work, if a Basic income can, be involved, even at this late stage. . I am a fly among these heavyweights. They know me, or at least we have attended several conferences together, but they still don’t take me, or my blog seriously

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