PhD Fellowship on Basic Income for Nature and Climate at the University of Freiburg, Germany for applicants from Indonesia

From the website: The PhD project is part of the larger Basic Income research project that studies how basic income is potentially linked with nature protection and tackling climate change, and how these possible linkages can be addressed in an embedded social-ecological context that is highly relevant for climate stabilization and reversing biodiversity loss at planetary scale and, at the same time, enhancing human well-being. A context that is well-represented in jurisdictions that are rich in forest ecosystem and biodiversity yet with poor population as observed in the provinces in Indonesia where tropical rainforests remain intact such as those in Papua.

In the long-term, part of the project aims to explore a multi-year basic income scheme for nature and climate and undertake necessary trial in a pilot jurisdiction at appropriate scale. Rigorous scientific monitoring and evaluation should be in place for this to assess social and ecological impacts and derive lessons for potential upscaling in other jurisdictions. A policy dialogue (at sub-national, national, and international levels) about the scientific results from the intended study on basic income for nature and climate is to be initiated to prepare the grounds to achieve the purpose. Together with the team at FRIBIS, the PhD position is expected to contribute to providing science-informed insights related to a basic income for nature and climate in the target jurisdiction. Under a joint research initiative, the PhD candidate will be supervised by Professor Dr.rer.oec. Bernhard Neumärker at the University of Freiburg and Dr.rer.pol. Sonny Mumbunan at the University of Indonesia and in close collaboration with teams and members at FRIBIS, and at GIZ.

More information and application details on their website.

‘The Tyranny of Merit’ by Michael J. Sandel

Book Review by Dr. Jan Stroeken

Michael j. Sandel has written a book about the deep causes of the inequality that is a key driving force behind the populist backlash of recent years. His analysis serves as a basis for justification of the introduction of a universal basic income. For the complete review, see: https://basisinkomen.nl/wp-content/uploads/Book-Review-Michael-Sandel-Jan-Stroeken.pdf

And in Dutch:  https://basisinkomen.nl/boekbespreking-de-tirannie-van-verdienste-michael-j-sandel/

Here you will find a short summary, being the last part of the review:

Public Debate and Basic Income
Sandel’s analysis is razor sharp. What he brings to the fore more than anything is how present-day populism is only indirectly fuelled by the unequal distribution of income and essentially dominated by an ethical and cultural component. A growing section of the population feels underrated. This has everything to do with the tyranny of merit driven by the meritocratic ethos that, over the past decades, has led to meritocratic hubris. This hubris is reflected in the winners’ tendency to let their success go to their heads, forgetting about all the luck and good fortune that helped them along the way. Those who make it to the top believe with self-satisfied conviction that they deserve their fate and that those who end up at the bottom do too. This leaves little room for the kind of solidarity that could arise if we were to realise just how haphazardly talent is distributed and how randomly fate can either be kind or cruel. Merit-based pay is, according to Sandel, thus a form of tyranny – an oppressive regime.

And so, Sandel launches into a plea for a sweeping public debate on how to move from today’s individualisation to a greater sense of solidarity and more self-determination for all. What is essential in this respect is his conclusion that for many to be successful in life, all forms of education and work would have to be taken equally seriously. Without explicitly mentioning it, he points to the core of what the implementation of a universal basic income is all about: more equal recognition of current paid and unpaid work, as well as a stimulus to go to school. In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant (20 September 2020), Sandel describes this when he speaks about ‘that which contributes to the community’ as a key alternative criterion to purely performance/merit-based recognition:

 ‘It is, in any case, a more democratic method that allows us to recognise contributions that are currently ignored or undervalued. I mean contributions such as the unpaid work that is done within households, for example, such as raising children and caring for relatives. Or all the work that, due to the COVID-19 crisis, has turned out to be much more important than society gave it credit for: nursing care, cleaning work, waste collection, and logistics. Setting aside the matter of usefulness, the fact that there is equal dignity in every human being should also reverberate in the dignity of everyone’s work.’

Regrettably, Sandel hardly gets around to formulating specific solutions in his book. Nevertheless, his most concrete suggestion with respect to the revaluation of work is to improve wages at the bottom of the labour market, such as through wage supplementation schemes and by shifting the tax burden away from labour and onto consumption, speculation, and capital. While the latter suggestion is an excellent one, it would be even better if it were substantiated further to ensure that those who do unpaid work also benefit. 

This further substantiation also takes us to a second key argument for downgrading the role of merit-based pay, which is that the link between current wages on the one hand and individual work performance on the other is loosening. Pay is increasingly less personal. Our current level of prosperity, as initially reflected in people’s primary income, is the result of many years of productivity growth to which many generations have contributed. Our high income levels can, therefore, not be put down only to the labour performed and capital invested in companies at this point in time. In this context, distributing primary income only to those directly involved in the production process seems to be increasingly less of a given and implementing a universal basic income for all is an obvious alternative, i.e. regardless of someone’s position in the productivity-driven labour process. The state collecting taxes directly at the source, i.e. at the level of companies’ production, would then be the obvious choice. This would also automatically shift the tax burden to sources other than labour, which is merely one production factor.

The figures provided in the book demonstrate that there is growing support among the general public for the idea of universal basic income. Even so, there is a hard core of people who are against it and keep using counter-arguments that they cannot back up with facts, such as a universal basic income having adverse effects on the labour market and being too costly. Their rejection might very well have little to do with those counter-arguments and rather be driven by a strong meritocratic bias. There is a clear relation between implementation of universal basic income and the public debate that Sandel wants to initiate.

Finally, the results of the most recent parliamentary elections in the Netherlands can be explained based on Sandel’s The Tyranny of Merit. On the one hand, right-wing populist parties are on the rise. One in five Dutch people voted for populist right-wing parties that have become increasingly extreme since the days of Pim Fortuyn’s first populist revolt in the early 2000s: full of mistrust and bitterness directed at everything and everyone and not shy about avowing discrimination. Even in the knowledge that these parties will not be part of a coalition government and play no role in the actual governance of the country, people still vote for them. And people vote for these parties even though their election programmes are, at least in a socioeconomic sense, more likely to be prejudiced than to favour them. On the other hand, the two winners of the elections are supreme exponents of meritocracy, namely the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD, the party for the successful) and Democrats 66 (D66, the party for the highly educated). What we need to do over the coming years, therefore, is to assemble a left-wing populist programme that addresses three pressing issues:

  • How to achieve a sustainable world as soon as possible;
       
  • How to reach a post-capitalist state by shifting the balance of power;
       
  • How to accomplish lasting labour market change in line with the foregoing through a national debate as proposed by Sandel.

Some possible solutions include a large-scale shift from taxation of labour to direct taxation of companies’ production as well as implementation of universal basic income.

The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good?‘ is available from Penguin Random House, published September 2020

‘Forward to a better world!’ International Basic Income Week 2021 starts organizing

by Robin Ketelaars

History
Matthias Dilthey called for a day of basic income in 2006, which unfortunately received little support at the time.*

The first week of the basic income was held in 2008 and was designed as a sub-project of the EU-funded “Basic Income on the way to Europe.” This was initiated by Günter Sölken, from an idea the Basic Income Network Germany (Netzwerk Grundeinkommen) had proposed. It happened with the support of Basic Income Network and Social Cohesion Austria, BIEN Switzerland, Attac branches in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, along with the help of many independent basic income initiatives in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

In 2009, a significant expansion took place. A call started from various initiatives, and finally 247 organizations and over 2,800 individuals participated. In Germany a website was developed to showcase the activity and creativity, with countless ideas, suggestions, and planned actions, under the editorial supervision of Martina Steinheuer. 

The 4th International Basic Income Week was held 19 to 25 September 2011 with a focus on “Basic Income in Europe“. In Germany and Austria, there were about 100 events and activities: discussions, workshops, readings, theater and film screenings, exhibitions, etc. The fifth International Basic Income Week happened 17 to 23 September 2012 with the focus on “Ways to Basic Income”.

In 2013, the year of the European Citizens’ Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income, “Basic Income a Human Right“, a further internationalization of the 6th week of basic income took place. The Netherlands organized the “Week van het Basisinkomen” but not much action was involved, we were all too busy collecting signatures for the ECI.

In 2014 a Basic Income Week website was set up in English to further internationalize the event by Robin Ketelaars. Manja Taylor handled promotion and activities.

Unconditional Basic Income Europe (UBIE) adopted the 8th International Basic Income Week in 2015 as a key item to organize every year by all countries individually. Also at the 15th Annual North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress, International Basic Income Week was adopted as a way to publicise UBI.

That year, 19 countries participated with live events: Belgium, China, Danmark, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Malawi, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Swiss, Zimbabwe, Spain, South Korea, Hungary, USA. A further eight countries participated on the internet: Australia, Brasil, Bulgaria, Finland, India, Italy, Mozambique, New Zealand, Zambia, South Africa.

9th international Basic Income Week had the motto “Basic income goes worldwide”. In 2016 Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) contributed to the week´s further globalization by starting a group on Slack for better collaboration. Jenna van Draalen from Canada and Christof Lammer from Austria were among the promoters of the IBIW along with many more UBI activists.  Themes for other yearly events can be found on basicincomweek.org.

International Basic Income Week is a self-organised participatory week. A lot can be done, from spreading the news to friends to organising your own event with films, speakers or creative action. We can help with finding presenters and promoting your event with our shared Basic Income Week website. We welcome new participants who can share time, money or ideas! Get in touch with your regional group or the international coordination team, and let us know what you decide to do! This year there was the start of the Videothon Playlist

From 2018 onwards there have been three synchronised events.
1)    Make a photo and share it on social media with the hashtag #countonbasicincome on the Wednesday
2)    Come and socialize, organize a #basicincomebeer on the Friday
3)    Since 2019 the #basicincomemarch is part of the week on the Saturday

Basic Income Marches
In April 2019, social worker and co-founder of Basic Income NYC Diane Pagen and 2020 candidate for U.S. Congress James Felton Keith came together to organize a public event in a show of force and inclusion for basic income.

2020 saw a huge growth in support for basic income in the United States. It was important to provide different ways for the community to celebrate. All sorts of events, live and online, from a film screening, panel discussions, to a Year of Basic Income Livestream event featuring commentary from Andrew Yang, Andy Stern, and over 10 Mayors from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and more, marked the important progress made in 2020.

With COVID measures in place, city organizers got creative. From art installations, to bike and car parades, to street corner protests, Income Movement in the US built tools to make it easy for organizers to plan amazing, highly successful events while allowing for safe social distancing for community members. Many people who did not go on the streets posted a photo with the hashtag #talkonyourwalk and held Zoom sessions with shoes.

This year’s motto for International Basic Income Week is ‘Forward to a Better World!’

You can follow #basicincomeweek on the web
* Basic Income Week website
* Twitter: @basicincomeweek (for sharing)
* Facebook: basicincomeweek (also for adding events)
* Insta: @basicincomeweek
*The Basic Income March website (organizers can add your march to the calendar)

Future plans? Who knows? We hope that with BIEN’s support we can involve more countries in India, Africa, Asia and Latin America this year.

How can people contribute to or participate in IBIW this year?
Organize events and spread the B-word!
Social media activists wanted for @insta and other media outlets
There is a Slack group where activities are discussed which you can join: the Basic Income Outreach Group. Please let us know if you want an invite via the contact form.
We’re always on the lookout for more ideas!

*) Basic Income Day
In 2014 a website promoting Basic Income Day was started by Robin Ketelaars.
“If everyone is his own king, nobody has to be the king of the other.” This sentence by Michael Sennhauser (Swiss Radio DRS) in the review of the film Kulturimpuls Grundeinkommen by Daniel Häni & Enno Schmidt and the film scene at Basel SBB train station inspired the crowning of the first 500 heads 1 May 2009 on the market square in Lörrach. Since then, we want to unite with everyone who burns for an unconditional basic income to trigger a wave of change.”
The action was followed up in 2014 by Sylvia Mair and Oliver Der as a Basic Income Day on the 1st of May. This was supported by Scott Santens, a Basic Income activist from the United States, and other activists in Europe and the US.
The website is in use for more “basic income days”.
Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December. In 2013 we participated by showing the world through our profile pic that an Unconditional Basic Income is a human right. The action this year will take place 4 to10 December.
International Women’s Day on 8 March could also become  a “Basic Income Day”.

Think the Impossible: Pieter Kooistra documentary

Think the Impossible: Pieter Kooistra documentary

by Brigitta Scheepsma

Pieter Kooistra, born in Leeuwarden, was not only an artist, but also a world improver. He founded the Kunstuitleen and advocated basic income. With the Fryslân DOK “Think the impossible”, documentary maker Anne van Slageren (info@anderevertoningen.nl) sketches a portrait of Pieter Kooistra. The ideas he developed at the end of the last century are also topical today.

“Be realistic. Think the impossible. ” These are the words of artist Pieter Kooistra (1922-1998). He wanted to stop the unequal distribution of wealth in the world and the destruction of the planet. “He was a visionary,” says Annemieke Roobeek, professor at Nyenrode Business University. After seeing images of starving children in India, Pieter Kooistra understood that art, which he describes as “the spiritual”, could not do without “the material”. He went on a journey and came up with a plan for a basic world income. Economist Annemieke Roobeek now predicts: “A basic income for everyone will one day belong to our time and the world.” She even sees a role for the European Central Bank in this.

In the Fryslân DOK “Think the impossible”, Brigitta Scheepsma, party leader of GroenLinks in the municipality of Tytsjerksteradiel, goes in search of man Pieter Kooistra and his ideas. In the Veerhuis aan de Waal in Varik, where Kooistra worked, she meets Henry Mentink, who wants to keep Pieter Kooistra’s ideas alive. She visits Terschelling, where Pieter Kooistra set up an alternative holiday colony. Former partner Trees Niekus says about this passionate man: “He was unstoppable.”

This documentary was broadcast in October the 17th and 18th 2020 on Dutch Television (click the cogwheel for subtitles in Dutch and English)

For more information about Pieter Kooistra, please contact Henry Mentink of the Veerhuis in Varik, www.veerhuis.nl / info@veerhuis.nl.

For more information about the documentary and copyright, please contact Omroep Friesland (redaksje@omropfryslan.nl) or the director (info@anderevertoningen.nl).

Korea: Sea Cucumber Fisheries as Shared Property of Islanders – “rediscovering rural basic income experiments”

Korea: Sea Cucumber Fisheries as Shared Property of Islanders – “rediscovering rural basic income experiments”

Editor’s note: The use of the term ‘basic income’ for the sheme in Janggo Island does not correspond to BIEN’s definition of basic income, since it is paid not to all residents but to only participants in communal fish farming activities for 20 years, and paid not to individual but to household.

A forum took place on the meaning and issues of the basic rural income social experiment, which Gyeonggi Province plans to conduct in the second half of this year. Entitled, “The Meaning and Issues of the Community-centered Basic Income Social Experiment,” the first Rural Basic Income Policy Forum was held on the 29th of January and introduced cases and discussed India’s basic income experiment, distribution of shared assets in Boryeong, Chungcheongnam-do, and Jeju Island. The Hankyoreh Economic and Social Research Institute with the Gyeonggi-do Agricultural and Fisheries Promotion Agency, the Basic Income Korea Network, Lab 2050, the Korea University Institute of Government Studies, and the Korea Regional Development Foundation all participated in organizing the January event. Some of the presenters and debaters participated online.

Lessons from the Indian basic income experiment

Sarath Davala, the keynote speaker, is the architect of India’s basic income social experiment and chairman of the Basic Income District Network, which leads the discussion on basic income worldwide. He laid out the implications of basic income experiments conducted in India and Namibia.

Namibia and India conducted basic income experiments—in 2008 and 2011, respectively—during which Namibia paid USD 12 and India USD 4 per month to 2,000 people for a span of 12 months. “Contrary to many people’s expectations, people who received basic income did not become lazy. Start-ups and economic activity increased, new transportation facilities were opened, school attendance rates rose, household debt decreased, and other good things occurred. In Namibia, the consumption of alcohol remained unchanged,” Dr. Davala explained.

Dr. Davala also introduced changes in policies following basic income social experiments. “After the social experiment, the local government in India began providing cash allowances to all farmers proportional to their farmland area in 2018, and through this policy, the party won three-quarters of the local council. […] However, the program excluded sharecroppers and non-farmers and allowances were paid only to owners of land in rural areas, and basic income discussions focused mainly on ‘the excluded.’ […] The implications of the Indian outcomes on other basic income experiments is that one needs to follow the principle of individuality and avoid excluding anyone in the region.”

Dr. Davala emphasized the role of social experimentation in promoting social dialogue beyond the collection of evidence. “In the past, we did not conduct small-scale social experiments in advance before abolishing slavery or winning women’s suffrage. These policies were based on values, philosophy, and human rights. Obviously, the policy effect rationale is important, but the policy is not implemented only with evidence. In India, political movements took place after social experiments, and there was a close review and public discussion of what was better,” he said. Another aspect of the social experiment he emphasizes is that it triggered dialogue between the public and the media, experts, and political parties to discuss desirable alternatives. “In Korea, there have been experiments with things such as youth dividends in Seongnam City, a basic income for young people in Gyeonggi Province, and national disaster support funds amid the Corona crisis, which has attracted the attention of politicians and the public.”

Sea cucumber seeds become basic income for islanders

The forum also presented a case where a local community shares the profits generated from a shared asset. Kang Je-yoon, head of the Island Research Institute, explained how Janggo Island allocates the profits from collected seafood to the islanders. Janggo is a small island with 81 households and 200 residents and began allocating profits from sea cucumber farming grounds in 1993. In 2019, 11 million won (around USD 10,000) was paid annually to each household in basic income. Kang said, “Unlike other fisheries, sea cucumbers grow on their own when the residents sow seeds. There is nothing residents have to do with them until they are ready for harvesting. Residents of Janggo Island receive a basic income from sea cucumber farming, which requires minimal labor, and the same amount is allocated as labor income from collecting clams ten times over two months. “Since the village community provides a basic income and labor income together worth 20 million won per year (USD 19,000), Janggo Island residents earn equal and stable income, unlike residents of other islands, where large income gaps exist between those in the aquaculture industry and those who are not.

However, Janggo Island also went through a slow and painful process before residents received a consistent dividend. Initially, the fishing village fraternity rented out fishing grounds around Janggo Island to fish farmers, who paid rent to the village society. Director Kang said, “It is illegal to rent out fishing grounds, which no one owns, and beside that, the rent was 500,000 won a year, which was an absurdly low price for 1983. In 1983, the village’s newly appointed head persuaded residents to reclaim the fishing grounds, after which they managed the profits from the fishing grounds (now village property) for ten years, and gave out loans. After much controversy, the dividend first began in 1993, and residents’ complaints about fishing grounds profits subsided, and the community’s common interest in the fishing grounds increased the quality of management.” A fair distribution system supported the management of shared assets.

Kim Ja-kyung, an academic research professor at Jeju National University, who presented on the possibility of basic income through shared assets on Jeju Island, said, “Jeju Island has a tradition of distributing profits through communal operation of pastureland and fisheries. For example, one village harvests seaweed fusiforme and agar together and distributes them among the participants while allowing individuals to keep the collected seaweed for themselves. One hundred and one fishing village fraternities had their own unique customs and order.”

Recently, wind and wind power generation has been drawing greater attention as a new shared asset on Jeju. Professor Kim gave a wind farm in Haengwon-ri, Gujwa-eup, eastern Jeju Island as an example. “Six villages in Haengwon-ri receive part of their wind power generation profits and set aside the funds. […] There is always a possibility of conflict and disagreement in the village, which prevents certain people from arbitrarily exercising their decision-making authority.” There is still work left to be done to develop a system to distribute the new shared asset profits fairly.

Consideration of the impact of distribution system on residents

Lee Chang-han, director of the Korea Regional Development Foundation, which designed the basic income social experiment in rural areas in Gyeonggi Province, said the experiment’s primary purpose is to closely examine the impact of basic income on the local community. “Because of the name “basic rural income,” many people are confused whether it only benefits farmers. However, farmers in rural areas in Gyeonggi-do Province make up only about 16% of the total population. It is crucial how farmers and non-farmers interact in the same living space in these rural areas. Like Janggo Island, we will observe the impact of the distribution system on resident communities.”

Park Kyung-chul, a researcher at Chungnam Research Institute, said, “Since 2019, various local governments have introduced farmers’ allowances, and there has been a discussion on farmers’ basic income. […] However, since non-farmers are also, directly and indirectly, involved in agricultural activities in rural areas, and together they form local communities, expanding the scope of payments to all rural residents is the concept behind basic income.”

Lee Ji-eun, CEO of the Basic Income New Research Network, said, “The basic income social experiment in rural areas can be reevaluated in terms of climate justice.” She added, “We hope this experiment will lead to discussions on rediscovering ‘the commons’ (shared assets), discovering small sustainable economic models and revitalizing ecological feminism, reflecting the peculiarity of rural areas.”

Lee Won-jae, CEO of Lab2050, who headed the debate, said, “I think the basic income social experiment in Gyeonggi Province has a unique status, as does the basic income experiment in Finland…where the prime minister in power conducted a policy experiment. In Korea, the experiment is taking place when basic income is becoming a central political topic.” This means that it is an environment in which the country’s overall policy will follow the results of the social experiment.

For more information, check out Gyeonggi Rural Basic Income Social Experiment’s blog page: https://gg-rbip.medium.com/

Written by Yoon Hyeong-joong, visiting fellow at the Hankyoreh Economy and Society Research Institute, philyoon23@gmail.com
Translated by Eunjae Shin, researcher at the Hankyoreh Economy and Society Research Institute, eunjae.shin@hani.co.kr Reviewed by Toru Yamamori, Academic Research Editor of BIEN

Photo: Credit: Janggo Island, South Korea, is experimenting on sharing dividends from sea cucumber farming grounds with its residents. Provided by Kang Je-yoon.