Annie Miller, a co-founder of BIEN, has just published a new book, Basic Income: A Short Guide (Edinburgh: Luath Press). This is a clear, concise, and complete work that should be in the library of every supporter of basic income (BI).
The book begins with a critique of modern social insurance systems and means-tested social assistance safety nets and then sets forth an enhanced definition of BI that builds on the current definition found on the BIEN website. This new definition is informed by Annie’s participation in the BIEN task force currently working on improving this definition and was presented by her at the 22nd BIEN Congress in Seoul that just ended. To the five BIEN characteristics (periodic, cash payment, individual, universal, and unconditional) she adds a sixth, uniform: “the amount of a basic income is the same/equal for everyone within a given jurisdiction at a given time and does not vary according to pre-existing categories or circumstances.” She then argues that this uniform basic income should be a foundational element in a broader social protection plan that also includes “adequacy top-up payments, other differential benefits, targeted and non-uniform means-tested benefits, and other cash benefits for which basic income is not a good substitute, such as a welfare fund for emergency payments for fire or flood.”
The book goes on to discuss many practical issues such as integrating a basic income into existing social assistance programs, sources of finance, affordability issues, economic benefits, political support, empirical evidence from around the world, the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic, other recent developments, and suggestions for what BI supporters can do to advance the cause. It ends with a select bibliography – all this in 80 compact pages, a true tour de force.