EDITORIAL: A Popular Legislative Initiative for a Guaranteed Citizenship Income in Spain

A Popular Legislative Initiative (PLI) for a Guaranteed Citizenship Income (GCI), already being presented to the network of notaries, and once to the Catalan Parliament, will start to collect signatures for the next 4 months.

Syndicalist and collective entities giving their support to the PLI will have to make an important effort in order to get at least 50,000 signatures.

The reasons of such an Initiative:

This PLI is the fruit of many months of preparation work, to be able to answer to the important crisis situation of the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). Its value is only 412 euros (far under the poverty threshold) that was brought under the Mas government, on summer 2011. It allows a right be subjective and comes to be linked to the budget’s disposition. It did not actualize, depending on Consumer Price Index (CPI), is unable to exceed International Money System (IMS) and was fixed to a maximum period of 5 years to perceive it. It puts aside people with “only” unemployment matters and not showing added social difficulties, having to live at the same place for 1 or 2 years to get it. Finally, the JSA was totally mutilated by Convergence And Union’s (CiU) government from right, and despite protestations from social organisms, the social services, syndicates and other agencies were integrated in the fiscal and financial measures Law approved on the 14th of March 2011 parliamentary session.

Consequences of such a measure:

Far from improving unemployment, poverty, and social exclusion situation of this summer 2011, the poverty rate was estimated at about 25% of the population. Nearly 32% of Catalans’ families have difficulty making ends meet. Tens of thousands persons don’t have means to live. The number of persons living in the streets, under bridges, or close to cash machines increased by 32%, and the median age of homeless people dead in the street last summer was 58 years old.

Effects researched by this Initiative:

These are reasons why the PLI for a GCI is very important in this period. Red Renta Basica [the Spanish Basic Income Network) has been present since the beginning in its elaboration. Without setting any Universal Basic Income, as defended by our association, we believe this PLI is necessary in those moments of important economic depression. The proposition considerably improves the JSA that Catalan’s government has left aside. The GCI is clearly higher than existing JSA in the different Autonomous Communities, first by its ability to get back a subjective right, second by its non-arbitrariness since it is an income with for value the level of a sufficiency income in Catalonia (about 600 euros), and finally by the fact it is given during the whole time while the recipient lacks income.

(translated by Florian Martinon)

Palma de Mallorca (Spain), 16-17 November 2012: 12th Symposium of Red Renta Basica

The proposal for a universal basic income, namely an unconditional allowance to the whole population, first appeared several decades ago. The world-wide organisation, the Basic Income Earth Network consisting of 20 organisations from as many states, including the Kingdom of Spain, has been working in support of basic income for 26 years now. The basic income network (www.redrentabasica.org), the section of the Kingdom of Spain which was founded in 2001, is holding its Twelfth Symposium in the cultural centre Can Alcover, in the city of Palma de Mallorca, on 16 and 17 November. The symposium is organised by the Ateneu Pere Mascaro.

Does it make sense to talk about a basic income in a situation of economic crisis affecting ever greater numbers of people around the world, including the badly hit Kingdom of Spain? As some authors have argued, a basic income is even more desirable in an economic crisis than in boom times. More importantly, a considerable range of political organisations and some widely supported social movements, have begun to take an interest in basic income and, understanding what it represents, are incorporating it in their programmes. To give just one example, in the last elections in Galicia and the Basque Autonomous Community, at least three parties included it in their agendas: Bildu and EQUO Berdeak, in the Basque community, and the newly formed Anova, which performed successfully in the Galician elections, all champion the proposal in their programmes in different ways.

Moreover, the very large 15-M protest movement added basic income to its claims on its first anniversary in May this year. One of the big differences with regard to the founding programmes drawn up by the movement’s various assemblies in May 2011, was the condensation of its demands into just five points: 1) not one euro more to bail out the banks; 2) quality education and public health; 3) rejection of job insecurity and the “reforms”; 4) adequate, guaranteed housing; and, last but not least, 5) universal basic income.

For further details, please visit: www.redrentabasica.org

Barcelona (ES), 19 June 2012: Discussion of basic income and minimum income

On 19 June 2012, at 7PM, Manuel Aguilar Henrikson, professor at the University of Barcelona, Daniel Raventós, professor at the University of Barcelona, and Sixte Garganté, member of the Working Group to promote a Citizens’ Initiative on a Guaranteed Minimum Income (a means-tested income with lower levels of conditionality but still targeting poor individuals) will meet in Barcelona to discuss Basic Income and some of its alternatives.

The three speakers will respond to the following questions:

–       Who should receive the basic income?
–       Should the basic income be universal or granted in keeping with personal income or wealth?
–       What amount would be sufficient to guarantee a dignified existence?
–       Should a basic income be associated with any contribution or obligation for the beneficiary?
–       How can a basic income be financed?
–       Is it economically viable in the present context of crisis?
–       What positive or negative consequences might it bring about?
–       What successful experiences are there in other contexts?
–       Any other issues that seem relevant.
Location: Pati Llimona, C/ Regomir 3, Barcelona, at 7PM.

Raventos & Wark (2012), 'Beyond Indignation'

Like their previous paper on basic income (see https://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/14/taking-it-to-the-streets-in-spain/), this essay by Daniel Raventós and Julie Wark is published by the influentiel left-wing political newsletter Counterpunch (USA). They wrote it at the occasion of the first anniversary of the ‘indignados’ movement (also called ‘the 15-M movement)  in Spain. According to Raventós and Wark, this movement “has been a timely reminder of the old lesson that if ideas, however good they are, don’t take root in powerful movements that reach a large number of individual citizens and groups they don’t have much future.” The example they take is the 15-M’s call for a universal basic income. “The movement has done more to promote this proposal than thousands of seminars, books, articles and lectures, which are necessary, of course, but not sufficient. In the case of Spain, much of this groundwork has been done but the idea has taken off quite spectacularly with 15-M. Even though it hasn’t yet achieved overwhelming mass-based support, basic income is much better known, understood and accepted now than it was a year ago.”
The article is online at: https://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/29/beyond-indignation/

Full references: RAVENTOS, Daniel & WARK, Julie (2012), ‘Beyond Indignation’, Counterpunch, May 29th, 2012.

BARCELONA (ES), 15 May 2012: 15-M movement ("indignados") anniversary

Given the gravity of the present social situation, an increasing number of activists from different social movements, unionists and citizens are coming to the conclusion that Basic Income is a proposal to be taken seriously. An outstanding example of this is the 15-M movement in Spain (in reference to the first massive demonstration of May 15th, 2011; also known as “indignados” movement).

Within the framework of the activities celebrating its first anniversary, a five-point programme was formulated: 1) not a single euro more to be spent on rescuing banks; 2) decent public education and health services; 3) rejection of job insecurity and austerity measures; 4) decent, guaranteed housing; and 5) universal basic income.

Many people have helped to organise talks on Basic Income given by some members of the Red Renta Básica (Edgar Manjarín, David Casassas and Daniel Raventós) as part of the 15-M anniversary activities in Barcelona. Basic income was presented as a measure not only to combat poverty, but also to foster bargaining power and therefore effective freedom of all working populations. These took place in the Plaça de Catalunya with very large audiences, exceeding one thousand people in some cases.

For further information: https://www.nodo50.org/redrentabasica/index.php