The BBC has made a half-hour radio programme exploring the current universal basic income (UBI) experiment taking place in Kenya. The programme was originally broadcast on 31th of March 2018, as part of the BBC World Service.
The experiment, funded by American charity GiveDirectly, is due to run for 12 years and is now in its second year. It involves 20,000 people in more than 200 villages, and includes a number of groups including a large control group. The villages used in the main experiment have been sequestered from outside visitors, as there are concerns that these could be disruptive to the experimental conditions. However, a “test” village is open to visitors, and the programme-makers conducted interviews with a number of people living there.
These included Edwin, who had spent the extra money ($22 per month) to buy much-needed furniture for his family, and Evelyn, who had invested part of it in her business selling fried fish at the market, and had saved the rest. Irene, a teacher, says that children from the village which is being given money are much more likely to attend school regularly. Joseph, the head teacher, added, “Previously, we had a lot of absenteeism from the village children during market days.”
The programme also included a brief summary of the history of UBI, including brief references to both Thomas More and Thomas Paine. There are quotations in support of UBI from celebrities such as Richard Branson (“It will come about one day, out of necessity”) and Elon Musk (“Ultimately, I think we’re going to have to have some form of basic income”).
Michael Faye, Director and Co-Founder of GiveDirectly, said on the progamme, “When I’ve gone to some of the surrounding villages, things I will hear are ‘Well, of course we wish we had gotten the transfer, but we’re doing meaningfully better than before the transfer started.’ I’ll ask, ‘Why are you doing meaningfully better?’ And they’ll say, ‘A lot of people in the village [which is getting the transfer] decided to rebuild their house, or they go to the market more. Well, somebody needs to build the house for them, someone needs to sell things in the market. So our businesses are booming because of the capital that the village next door has received.’”
The programme-makers intend to return to the village at regular intervals, in order to see how the situation is developing as the experiment continues.
A recent YouTube video from The Young Turks, a left-wing news-based channel with close to 4 million subscribers, focuses on the universal basic income (UBI) pilot project currently being planned in Stockton, California.
The video consists of an interview with Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton, the youngest Mayor in Stockton history. He discusses the nature of the project, and what he hopes it will achieve.
The project has previously been covered in some detail by Basic Income News.
Alaska’s House of Representatives has passed a bill which sets the state’s annual PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend) at approximately $1,600 per person next year, an amount which has been confirmed after a hard-fought legislative battle over the size of the payment.
The PFD, which is funded largely out of oil revenues, has been reduced for the past couple of years due to low oil prices. In 2016, the payment, which had previously risen to about $2000 in 2015, was cut to approximately $1000.
In late March of this year, the Alaskan House of Representatives voted 21-19 to provide a dividend of about $2,700 per person, but after much debate this was reduced to the current figure of $1,600.
The bill will now go to Alaska’s Senate for further consideration.
A new book on universal basic income (UBI) will include a contribution from Brian Eno, the well-known musician and composer who has collaborated with artists such as David Bowie, U2, and Damon Albarn. The book, It’s Basic Income, is a collection of essays from a variety of contributors, including Eno, who argues that UBI will “nurture and support creativity”, according to the book’s introduction.
It’s Basic Income was published by Policy Press, an imprint of Bristol University Press, on 14 March 2018.
The India Network for Basic Income recently released two new YouTube videos aiming to highlight issues around universal basic income (UBI). The first, which lasts slightly over one minute, addresses the payment of UBI to women, and makes the argument that, as women frequently do unpaid work such as childcare or housekeeping, providing them with a regular income does not count as giving them “free money”, but rather as recognising the work they already do. The second video, which is somewhat longer at over six minutes, deals with a research project on UBI which took place from 2011 to 2013, and with a recent follow-up to this which aimed to look at the long-term effects of the original experiment.
The India Network for Basic Income is the Indian affiliate of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN).