Unified Basic Income: A Viable Solution for Israel and Palestine?

Unified Basic Income: A Viable Solution for Israel and Palestine?

While the proposition may appear daunting, the exploration of Universal Basic Income (UBI) for both Israelis and Palestinians is certainly worthwhile. Given the sustained conflicts in the region — from bombings in Gaza to raids in villages — and the current Israeli government, a unified UBI may seem implausible. 

Nevertheless, a robust discussion on the potential benefits of a shared UBI program across troubled landscapes from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River is a necessity. Despite a history of failed negotiations and a prevailing sentiment of intractability, a UBI offers a novel approach to a perennial issue.

Scholars like Diana Bashur, renowned for her research on the influence of UBI in conflict-ridden areas, argue for its potential to improve social cohesion, bolster peacekeeping initiatives, strengthen social contracts, and enhance the resilience of communities. As demonstrated in her most recent work on post-war Syria, UBI might not be a panacea, but it could be a crucial step toward a more equitable society. This innovative peace-building measure, detailed extensively in Bashur’s work, ought to be considered seriously by policymakers seeking to address one of the oldest conflicts of mankind.

Imagine the application of UBI across Palestine and Israel — in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Haifa. This shared income would not discriminate between Palestinians and Israelis but rather assert a human right to live with dignity. Such a policy could foster a sense of shared belonging and equality, thus promoting mutual respect, regardless of religious, cultural, or ethnic differences. It would necessitate a cooperative approach from both Palestinians and Israelis, forging a partnership necessary to make UBI a success.

A harmonious social connection, coupled with non-discriminatory policies, could enhance security and decrease instances of violence. Moreover, acknowledging the human rights associated with UBI could demonstrate to even the most radical factions the shared humanity of all residents. From an economic perspective, investments into UBI could foster development and societal contribution, provided these efforts are accompanied by comprehensive security measures and advancements in healthcare and education.

Contrary to critics, such a program may not be prohibitively costly. With the successful implementation of UBI and accompanying reforms, reductions in military and security spending could be realized, thus paying for itself. The benefits of UBI in terms of lives preserved and cycles of violence broken are invaluable. Providing Palestinians, particularly those in Gaza and the occupied regions, with genuine opportunities could not only disrupt the status quo but also increase their societal contributions.

The current situation in the region, marked by loss, radicalization, and animosity, is untenable. Desires for change resonate on both sides — the Israeli protests and the widespread dissatisfaction among Palestinians are testaments to this. Therefore, despite its potential complexities, the implementation of a shared UBI could be both economically and politically feasible.

While this article merely introduces the concept of a unified UBI for Israel and Palestine, the technicalities of such a policy’s execution will be elaborated in forthcoming work.

It is not asserted here that a shared UBI would be a panacea for all the region’s problems, nor that its implementation would be straightforward. The argument presented is that a unified UBI could assure the right of all residents to a life of dignity, thus breaking the cycle of violence. Once this foundation is established, politicians can convene to debate boundaries and borders in an environment free of immediate pressure.

Written by: Ahmed Elbas

A ballot initiative in Oregon is making progress towards establishing a state UBI

A ballot initiative in Oregon is making progress towards establishing a state UBI

May 23, 2023 Press Release

In Oregon, a ballot initiative is making progress towards establishing a statewide Universal Basic Income. 

Portland, OR — The Oregon Rebate (IP 2024-017) ballot initiative campaign has announced early success in collecting the necessary signatures to qualify for the November 2024 General Election. 

The Oregon Rebate will establish a statewide Universal Basic Income in the form of yearly rebates valued at approximately $750. Every Oregonian, regardless of age, income, or status will be eligible to receive a yearly rebate. For example, a 4-person household will receive four rebates, or about $3,000, tax free. 

The rebates are funded by increasing the minimum tax rate of the largest corporations doing business in Oregon. Currently, the minimum corporate tax rate for corporations with more than $25 million of annual Oregon sales is less than 1% and the Oregon Rebate proposes to increase this minimum corporate tax rate to 3%, still well below the 5-10% of personal tax rate Oregonians pay. 

“Oregonians know that the biggest corporations are not paying their fair share, and that yearly cash rebates will help them make ends meet.” said Antonio Gisbert, chief petitioner of the Oregon Rebate. 

The scope of the Oregon Rebate is noteworthy: Every year, approximately $3.0 billion of new revenue will be rebated among the approximately 4 million Oregonians. Using the UBI Center’s Basic Income Builder, the campaign estimates an overall reduction in poverty of approximately 15% and, specifically, a reduction in child poverty of approximately 26%. 

“Cash is care, cash reduces poverty and provides opportunity, and cash stimulates our local economies and communities,” said Antonio Gisbert. 

To date, among others, the Oregon Rebate campaign has been endorsed by PCUN, the Oregon Working Families Party, the Pacific Green Party, and the Oregon Progressive Party.

The campaign has until July 2024 to collect the statutorily required 120,413 signatures to qualify for the 2024 General Election. Those interested in reading the full text of the petition, learning more, and getting involved or contributing to the Oregon Rebate campaign may do so at https://oregonrebate.org/


FRIBIS Announces Annual Conference 9-11 October

FRIBIS Announces Annual Conference 9-11 October

This year’s FRIBIS Annual Conference will take place in Freiburg, Germany from 9 to 11 October and will focus on the topic “Care and Gender – Potentials & Risks of UBI“.

Over the past few decades care work and the social dimension of gender have increasingly become central issues in both academic and public debates. The close connection between them is evident from the high number of women involved in care activities. This year’s FRIBIS Annual Conference will examine both topics independently of each other but it also aims to explore their overlaps in content. The common reference point will be the Universal Basic Income, whose potentials and risks for the care field and gender-related issues will be explored.

Applications for active participation in the conference are now open for submission. The deadline is 30 June, 2023. As a university institute that strives to bring together both civil society actors and academics, FRIBIS is looking forward to receiving applications from academics in the field as well as from participants from civil society. More detailed information on the conference contents and registration procedures can be found here. Participation as a member of the public is also possible (registration opens on 5 July 2023).

Guest Contributor is Tobias Dumschat of FRIBIS

Report of the UK UBI Movement Gathering, 2023

Report of the UK UBI Movement Gathering, 2023

Saturday April 30th was a significant day for the UK UBI movement, as over 30 people from around the country came together in Sheffield to discuss movement coordination and consolidation. Attendees included politicians, researchers, civil society organisations, and activists. Institutiions represented included the Green Party and the Alliance Party, the Universities of Bath and Northumbria, the Basic Income Conversation, COMPASS, Autonomy, the UBI Lab Network, Citizens Network and, of course, BIEN.

A participatory movement mapping session preceded an afternoon talking strategy around funding, communication, engaging with critics, and building institutions to foster integration, more effective and efficient use of shared resources, and coordinated campaigning. Attendees have committed to meeting again to take forward plans that were put in place in Sheffield, and to work towards major national events such as the 2024 BIEN Congress, which for the first time in 35 years will be hosted in England.

Contributed by Neil Howard

Indonesia: Yogyakarta’s Basic Income Pilot Experiment (YBIP)

Indonesia: Yogyakarta’s Basic Income Pilot Experiment (YBIP)

Jamesta Istimewa is a Basic Income Pilot experiment that provides participants free cash payments without strings attached. “Jamesta” means Universal Basic Income Guarantee in Bahasa (Indonesian language), and “Istimewa” means “special,” which is nothing but another name for the Special Region of Yogyakarta. In this place, this experiment was conducted. Jamesta Istimewa also has the privilege of being the first Crowdfunding-Based Basic Income Pilot experiment in Yogyakarta and Indonesia, which was carried out in a structured and systematic manner.

Yogyakarta’s Basic Income Pilot (YBIP) was conducted to answer some basic questions: Do people tend to be lazy when receiving free money? Is that true, or is it just a myth? Can Basic Income – to a certain extent – positively affect a person’s mental health? How do Basic Income recipients interpret and respond to Basic Income payments for themselves and their future? As well as various other interesting questions that have been coloring the debates related to the pros and cons of UBI, especially in the Indonesian context.

This Basic Income Pilot ran from November 2021 to April 2022. Experimental participants were recruited through an online open form distributed to the public in Yogyakarta. This city was chosen because it has a unique and interesting sociodemographic characteristic. Yogyakarta is widely known as a college-student-friendly city. With hundreds of universities, students come here from all over Indonesia. Yogyakarta is also known as a city of arts and culture with various relics of the past, which attracts millions of tourists from all over the world every year. Yogyakarta is also known as an area with a relatively low minimum wage level compared to other provinces in Indonesia. Furthermore, the cost of living in Yogyakarta is also touted as one of the cheapest in the country. Of course, the attributions above are debatable. But Yogyakarta’s unique sociocultural and socioeconomic setting was considered appropriate and exciting for carrying out this first Basic Income experiment in Indonesia.

Anyone living within the province of Yogyakarta during the experimental period (November 2021-April 2022) could register as a participant. Yogyakarta consists of four regencies (Sleman, Bantul, Kulon Progo, and Gunung Kidul) and one city (Yogyakarta City). According to the results of the 2020 Population Census (BPS, September 2020), the total population of DIY was 3,668,719 people. Participants who lived in Yogyakarta did not have to have a Yogyakarta ID card. Those who had a Yogyakarta ID card but lived outside Yogyakarta at the time of the experiment could not register as participants. When registration opened online on October 15, 2021, there were 2150 initial registrants. It was found that 50 double registrants had to be removed. Thus, the total number of registrants for this experiment was 2,100 people spread across five DIY regions. The average age of applicants was 33 years, with a composition of 51.4 percent male and 48.1 percent female. Of a hundred Pilot participants, 60 percent of them are female.

From the 2,100 registrants, 100 participants were randomly selected to be involved in further experiments: 25 recipients of basic income (control group) and 75 people who did not receive basic income but were willing to be involved and fill out the questionnaire given by the researcher (control group). The drawing process was carried out via Livestream on YouTube, and the recording can be seen here

Jamesta Istimewa was run by a group of enthusiastic volunteer-young people in Yogyakarta. Most of them live in Yogyakarta, and some work remotely from outside the city, for example in Bandung and Jakarta. This experiment ran because of the full support of the CEOs of Kita Bisa (M. Al Fatih Timur) and M. Faiz Ghifari (Strategic Initiatives Kitabisa.com). Sena M. Luphdika was the project coordinator responsible for the overall management and implementation of this Pilot. Sena was supported by several other volunteers, such as Bimo Ario Suryandaru (Campaign Coordinator), Dianti Wulansari, Kurniawan Adhi, and Niko Febrianur (Webmaster). They are the ones who were behind the scenes running this Pilot from beginning to end. Yanu Endar Prasetyo (IndoBIG Network & Research Center for Population BRIN) is the research coordinator responsible for the study of this Pilot.

The final report of this pilot experiment will be released on Sunday, May 7, 2023 in a public discussion in Yogyakarta with some panelists such as Sarath Davala (Chair, BIEN), Dr. Nawawi (Chair, Research Center for Population – BRIN), Herni Ramdlaningrum (The Prakarsa) and representatives from the Yogyakarta Province Poverty Reduction Acceleration Team. The discussion also can be followed on YouTube Live Stream by clicking here.