Guaranteed Income Pilot for Released Felons

Guaranteed Income Pilot for Released Felons

In January 2022, 57 people began receiving unconditional direct deposit payments and on March 31st, 58 more people began receiving payments. The guaranteed income project in Gainesville, Florida, Just Income GNV, provides these payments to those who have been recently released from either a state or federal prison or a Florida county jail with a felony. Through a financial disbursement partner, Steady, participants received a one-time $1000 deposit followed by $600 monthly payments. Payments are received directly to a bank account or a prepaid card. The program is privately funded by Mayors for Guaranteed Income, Spring Point Partners, and donations. During onboarding, recipients were offered a benefits counselor through Southern Legal Counsel so that they could understand the potential impacts participation may have on other benefits.

Just Income GVN will be evaluated based on the level of effect a guaranteed income has on justice-impacted people. Using a mix-methods randomized controlled trial, Group A (Recipients) will receive the money and Group B (Allies) will not. The Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR) at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Lucius Couloute, professor of sociology and criminal justice at Suffolk University, paired with the pilot program to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative data. They will specifically review the personal narratives, monitor spending, housing stability, and the relationship between income and recidivism.

The Program Director, Kevin Scott, explains that the largest barriers to launching the program were logistics and skepticism. The pilot program overcame logistical challenges throughout the process and learned a lot between the two separate cohorts. Skepticism, especially amongst formerly incarcerated people, presented as the belief that the program’s offerings were too good to be true. The target population of this particular pilot program is often marginalized and pushed beyond the outskirts of society. However, this project was designed by people formerly incarcerated and continues to be administered by those formerly incarcerated. This shared experience helped to build rapport and establish trust, overcoming much of the skepticism. Still, some of those who qualified did not pursue the benefits for themselves.

The project was undertaken by a nonprofit in Gainesville called Community Spring. The organization hires community members who have been impacted by poverty in order to better address the issue from an insider’s perspective. A need for resources around the release from incarceration were identified and a re-entry support group formed. Former prisoners began assisting those being released from prison, whether providing resources or emotional support.

When the Gainesville mayor joined Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, he went to Community Spring as a local nonprofit, offering the opportunity to implement a guaranteed income pilot. After careful consideration the group agreed to participate so long as the program could focus on people who have been formerly incarcerated.

An immediate difference could be seen in recipients’ lives within the first few months of payments. Recipients were and are paying off legal fees and investing in education and transportation. One recipient was able to buy a scooter at a thrift store and another was able to make payments to save his family home. The impact thus far has been extremely positive. The program’s organizers are excited to be a part of the research on guaranteed income and believe the data is compelling and could potentially lead to broader application.

Meagan Merritt, April 11th, 2022

Singapore needs a basic income

Singapore needs a basic income

Which country in the world arguably needs a Basic Income most? 

Singapore, because she has the highest reserves per capita in the world, is in the top five for per capita income in the world, the fifth most expensive city in the world (The Economist) – and yet Singapore has no minimum wage, the greatest inequality amongst developed countries (Gini coefficient before government transfers), the biggest wage gap between the top and bottom percentiles, the lowest social welfare spending among developed countries, most expensive public housing in the world (price to income ratio), highest national pension contribution rates in the world (typically up to 37 percent of income), one of the most expensive electricity, water, public transport, public universities’ tuition fees, etc, in the world.

In addition to the above, Singapore has a unique fiscal policy (from a cash flow perspective) of limited spending on the nation’s pension scheme, public housing, and healthcare. However, the annual inflows exceed the outflows in each of these three areas, currently and historically.

Some recent statistics (April 2022) demonstrate that 10 percent of households cannot pay their water bills (media reports), and 10 percent of households do not have enough money to eat nutritionally (2019 pre-Covid-19, SMU-Lien Foundation Hunger Report 2019), etc.

So, perhaps in the final analysis – without Basic Income – many Singaporeans may have to continue to struggle to make ends meet. At the same time, Singapore has one of the highest per-capita suicide rates in the world, in spite of it being a criminal offense to attempt to try to kill oneself!

Singapore’s Reserves are estimated to be $1.97 trillion. If this is the case, perhaps it is time Singapore considers a basic income and shares this wealth with the people.

Written by: Leong Sze Hian

Poem: Turn on the tap

Poem: Turn on the tap

14.5 million living in poverty

in the world’s fifth largest economy

until a global pandemic forced our chancellor

to spend £69 billion on a word

none of us had ever heard of.

Furlough showed universal basic income to be

a fundable possibility, at £67 billion net cost

paid for through reduced corporate tax breaks

and subsidies. Just 3.4 percent of GDP 

to make absolute poverty extinct.

When the first unconditional money

hit mum’s bank account she cried

with eyes that could now see a future.

But trusting it took time. You’re not supposed to eat

normally just after a fast or you’ll be sick. 

So we let relief drip into our days. 

First in seconds, dancing round the kitchen

feeding shopping into starved cupboards

now bulging till their doors wouldn’t shut.

Then in minutes, a river that brought mum 

home two full days a week. She began 

helping me with my homework.

Grades went up. A well fed mind imagined

going to university, freed from the urgent need 

to leave school early and start earning.

Knocks on the door brought not fear

but friends. Neighbours came to chat,

share ideas, our street hadn’t felt this alive

in years! Revitalised by breathing in 

something other than stress and anxiety.

Minds to the right: tick

for smaller, simpler government; tick

for healthcare appointments reduced

8% by better physical and mental health; tick

for greater purchasing power from the ground up.

Minds to the left: tick

for greater community engagement; tick

for people secure enough to believe in a future; tick

for human ingenuity previously capped 

by the poverty trap freed to help create

a society no longer chained to poor

wages for sourcing, making, selling poor

quality goods that return to poor

countries forced to burn, bury, breathe poor 

quality air. Instead, the choice to say no

from a new sense of security, dignity, universality 

we can do better. 

Harula Ladd

A Systemic Ecosystem for Socio-Economic Development (SESED)

A Systemic Ecosystem for Socio-Economic Development (SESED)

Universal Basic Income (UBI) takes care of sustenance needs, and SESED (Figure 1), can complement UBI to achieve poverty alleviation. This will be through a small business enterprise, whose success is facilitated by SESED given the peace of mind that UBI provides.

Figure 1 – A Systemic Ecosystem for Socio-Economic Development (SESED)

The SESED is a network of interconnected interdependent small businesses operated by people who are being helped to uplift themselves from poverty. These ventures are initially funded by microloans availed from sponsors, through Fintech companies. 

The success of the business is ensured by a strategy of “benefits for all” modus operandi. Thus, the vested interests of all stakeholders are procured upfront. 

The access to credit and the success of the enterprise evolves into income generation, from which aspirations, such as education for children, good health by proper nourishment and peace of mind, etc., are shaped.     

These aspirations create buying power, now that the funds for these are available.  

Though these ventures are small, the overall increased aggregate demand will create a whirlpool in the sluggish economy of the present, and result in a broader, vibrant, and sustainable one.    

A key feature for the success of the venture is the “System”. This essentially facilitates the end-to-end process, and whose main responsibilities are: 

  1. Borrower Education – Financial Literacy, Business Acumen, Skills Development, Psychological Interventions, etc.
  2. Enable access to credit via an efficient income distribution system; e.g., an interface with the Fintech company, manual distribution of funds.
  3. Manage the Supply and Demand value chain – e.g., suppliers must also be consumers, and vice-versa, of the products of the enterprises as appropriate. This could be along the lines of the Japanese innovation of “Keiretsu”.
  4. Foster a vested interest from the sponsor in the success of the enterprise for a win-win relationship.
  5. Tailor local solutions – i.e., targeted business development and bottom-up innovation; e.g., the product could be made available in a cheaper one-time use package, as well the regular one. 
  6. Mitigate the risk of loan default.
  7. Deal with the idiosyncrasies of the society – e.g., in most 3rd world countries bribes are a norm, and extortions can be present as well.  

The late Professor C. K. Prahalad, together with Professor Stuart L. Hart urged corporations to note “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid”, and espoused “Eradicating Poverty Through Profits”.   

It is thus that, not only is the primary outcome of poverty alleviation of UBI with SESED paramount, but they fall through benefits of 1) increased revenue for corporations due to the increased aggregate demand, and 2) the interest on the loans plus “fractional dividends” in the form of profits sharing for the sponsors, that stand out as unique, different and pragmatic in this model. 

Thus, UBI with SESED will then be an “Auspicium Melioris Aevi” – an Augury of a Better Age.

M.Pandurangan

linkedin.com/in/mpandurangan 

7 Mar 2022

References:

  1. Standing, Guy – “Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen”
  2. Ruskin, John – “Unto This Last”
  3. More, Thomas – “Utopia”
  4. Schumacher, E.F. – “Small is Beautiful”
  5. Prahalad, C. K. – “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits”
Basic Income Takes a Hit in Korea

Basic Income Takes a Hit in Korea

On March 9, South Korea took to the polls for the 2022 Presidential Election. Former governor of Gyeonggi province, Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party lost by a narrow margin of less than 0.7% to Yoon Suk-yeol from the People Power Party. This election outcome will likely stunt the development of basic income in the country. 

As Guy Standing has written previously, this election in Korea is a vital one as Lee Jae-myung is a proponent of basic income. Prior to his candidacy, Lee served as mayor of Seongnam and subsequently governor of Gyeonggi, the province surrounding the capital city of Seoul. Among other initiatives, he famously launched the Gyeonggi Youth Basic Income (YBI) in 2019, providing valuable insights into how this idea might work in a highly developed country as well as an Asian economy. It is not so often that we see a major presidential candidate championing basic income at a national level (Andrew Yang dropped out of the race in 2020). Lee vowed to gradually implement a universal scheme in Korea, focusing on the youth and expanding to cover the entire population.

As the world’s 10th largest economy, a nationwide programme implemented in Korea could lead to tremendous progress in the discourse on basic income. With an advanced economic structure, high automation rate, and rising youth unemployment, Korea has the conditions of a postindustrial society in which a strong case for basic income could be built. Instead, such a prospect was overshadowed by more salient topics such as economic inequality, inter-Korea relations, and China’s influence. Gender equality and anti-feminism were at the forefront of the political debate, with Yoon pledging to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

Dubbed the “unlikeable election” due to the prevalence of smearing campaigns, the presidential race was a very close one with neither candidate receiving majority support. Yoon garnered 48.56% of the votes nationwide, ahead of Lee’s 47.83%. A provincial breakdown of the election results reveals a highly divided country with democrat votes concentrated in the southwestern part of the country and conservatives in the east. Lee’s approval ratings in his own province seem to be falling – he barely received half of the votes in Gyeonggi this time, where he served as governor from 2018 to 2021. Now that Lee has resigned his governor seat and lost the presidential race, the cause for basic income in Korea will be affected to a certain extent.

This election outcome may not spell the end to basic income in Korea, however – outgoing president Moon Jae-in lost to Park Geun-hye in 2012, only to be elected as her successor five years later; moreover, a young Basic Income Party is seeking to bring this issue into the mainstream. The party fielded their own presidential candidate this year as well, critiquing Lee’s roadmap. Korea may not be the first country in the world to implement universal basic income just yet, but political tides could change and there is still room for this movement to grow.

On March 9 South Korea took to the polls for the 2022 Presidential Election. Former governor of Gyeonggi province, Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party lost by a narrow margin of less than 0.7% to Yoon Suk-yeol from the People Power Party. This election outcome will likely stunt the development of basic income in the country.

As Guy Standing has written previously, this election in Korea is a vital one as Lee Jae-myung is a proponent of basic income. Prior to his candidacy, Lee served as mayor of Seongnam and subsequently governor of Gyeonggi, the province surrounding the capital city of Seoul. Among other initiatives, he famously launched the Gyeonggi Youth Basic Income (YBI) in 2019, which provides valuable insights into how this idea might work in a highly developed country as well as Asian economy. It is not so often that we see a major presidential candidate championing basic income at a national level (Andrew Yang dropped out of the race in 2020): Lee vowed to gradually implement a universal scheme in Korea, focusing on the youth and expanding to cover the entire population.

As the world’s 10th largest economy, a nationwide programme implemented in Korea could lead to tremendous progress in the discourse on basic income. With an advanced economic structure, high automation rate, and rising youth unemployment, Korea has the conditions of a postindustrial society in which a strong case for basic income could be built. Instead, such a prospect was overshadowed by more salient topics such as economic inequality, inter-Korea relations, and China’s influence. Gender equality and anti-feminism were at the forefront of the political debate, with Yoon pledging to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

Dubbed the “unlikeable election” due to the prevalence of smearing campaigns, the presidential race was a very close one with neither candidate receiving majority support. Yoon garnered 48.56% of the votes nationwide, ahead of Lee’s 47.83%. A provincial breakdown of the election results reveals a highly divided country, with democrat votes concentrated in the southwestern part of the country and conservatives in the east. Lee’s approval ratings in his own province seem to be falling as well – he barely received half of the votes in Gyeonggi, where he served as governor from 2018 to 2021. Now that Lee has resigned his governor seat and lost the presidential race, the cause for basic income in Korea will be affected to a certain extent.

This election outcome may not spell the end to basic income in Korea, however – outgoing president Moon Jae-in lost to Park Geun-hye in 2012, only to be elected as her successor five years later. Moreover, a young Basic Income Party is seeking to bring this issue into the mainstream, fielding its own presidential candidate in the election this year as well. Korea may not be the first country in the world to implement universal basic income just yet, but political tides could change and there is still room for this movement to grow.

Truston Yu is a BIEN life member and former resident of Seoul, specializing in Southeast Asian studies including Korea-Southeast Asia relations. Their commentaries have been featured by numerous outlets including the Diplomat, the Jakarta Post and the Straits Times.