Dublin, Ireland: Basic Income Ireland Summer Forum 2014

On 7 June 2014, Basic Income Ireland organizes its “Summer Forum 2014”. Yannick Vanderborght (Saint-Louis University Brussels & Louvain University), will speak on transnational cooperation in the campaign for basic income and on recent developments in the theory and politics of basic income. His presentation will be followed by a participatory discussion.

For further information and registration (free of charge), click here.

7 June 2014, 1 to 5 PM, Carmelite Community Center – 56 Aungier Street, Dublin 2

OPINION: Global carbon tax petition calls for fossil fuel dividend

No doubt most Basic Income News readers are aware of an interesting intersection where the arguments for basic income overlap with the arguments on how to best control global warming.

In his book, “Storms of my Grandchildren,” climate scientist James Hansen proposes a global carbon tax with the proceeds to be distributed to everyone (he calls it fee-and-dividend).

In other words, Hansen sees a worldwide basic income as a major component in solving one of our most important environmental challenges.

How to get there is the question.

In his book, Hansen proposes that the different national governments each implement a fee-and-dividend system. The fossil fuel fees collected by each country would be distributed as carbon dividends to the residents within their own borders.

Although it might have some effect on a few nations in the short-term, such an approach is unlikely to achieve the desired long-term results.

Nations with limited fossil fuel production but large populations would only have small dividends to distribute, and so little incentive to participate.

Those nations with large fossil fuel industries and small populations would find the temptation to produce and sell untaxed product on the black market attractive.

A better approach might be to bypass the national governments and go directly to the people of the world.

I have posted a petition on Care2 calling for a global carbon tax that takes that approach.

The petition is addressed to the secretary-general of the United Nations and calls for a worldwide referendum on the question.

Such a worldwide vote would be difficult to achieve but far from impossible. Don’t forget that the U.N. organized and ran an election in Kampuchea when much of that nation was still controlled by the Khmer Rouge.

Here in British Columbia, we have a carbon tax of $30 per tonne.

According to Wikipedia, the burning of fossil fuels produces about 30 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in the world each year.

A carbon tax of $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide would therefore raise about $900 billion per year.

Assuming there are about 5 billion adult human beings on the planet, the carbon tax proposed in my petition would provide each of them with a basic income of roughly $180 per year – effectively doubling the incomes of hundreds of millions.

No doubt most Basic Income News readers can point out many advantages of such a global carbon dividend. However, I would like to identify two that seem to me, as a layperson, most important.

The first would be simplicity. It would be relatively easy to identify those who are eligible to receive the benefit (age 18 and over), which would lessen the possibilities for corruption.

The second is that it would not be charity. The lives and livelihoods of every human being are being put in danger by global warming. The proposed carbon dividend would therefore be in partial compensation for that risk.

Such a global fee-and-dividend system would not solve all the world’s problems – but it would be a step in the right direction. It would help us to get a handle on global warming and global inequality – two of our biggest problems.

It would also open the door for reform and democratization of the United Nations (“No taxation without representation”).

The petition seeks to get 100 million names. This is modeled on the Swiss precedent, where 100,000 signatures on a petition are enough to get an important initiative taken to referendum. The world’s population (7 billion and rising) is about 1,000 times larger than that of Switzerland (8 million).

I don’t really expect the Care2 petition to achieve that number. I do hope, however, that some international organization will pick up the idea and run with it.

You can view the petition (and hopefully sign it) at:  www.thepetitionsite.com/286/384/042/petition-for-a-referendum-on-a-global-carbon-tax

CANADA: Basic income supporter appointed as Minister in Quebec

A general election was held in Québec (Canada) on April 7th, 2014. The Parti Libéral du Québec (PLQ), under the lead of Philippe Couillard, won the elections, and now has 70 seats at the National Assembly – enough to form a majority government. On April 23rd,  2014, the new Premier, Philippe Couillard, officially unveiled his cabinet, with no less than 26 ministers.

Among them is François Blais, who has just been elected as a new MP for the PLQ (in the electoral district of Charlesbourg, in Quebec-city). Blais will be the  Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity in the Couillard government.

François Blais -Le journal de la communauté universitaire

François Blais -Le journal de la communauté universitaire

François Blais – formerly Dean of Faculty at Laval University, Québec – is a long-standing advocate of basic income, and a Life Member of BIEN. In 2001, he published an introductory book on basic income in French, which was translated into English in 2002: “Ending Poverty. A Basic Income for all Canadians” (Lorimer Publishing).

Basic income, however, was not part of the PLQ platform for this general election. It is doubtful that François Blais, as a Minister of Employment, will be able to put it on the agenda. On April 24, 2014, the daily Le Devoir wrote: “Philippe Couillard appointed François Blais as his Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity. Blais, formerly Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Laval University, is above all an advocate of a guaranteed minimum income. However, the Premier did not give a mandate to the new Minister to implement this ambitious reform”.

Further information:

Article in Le Devoir (in French)

CBC report (in English)