Call for BIEN Members to Register for 2022 General Assembly

Call for BIEN Members to Register for 2022 General Assembly

BIEN’s 2022 General Assembly will be held online, on 28 September at 1pm British Summer Time (UTC +1). We kindly ask members to register to be able to attend the GA meeting. This registration is required to ensure only members participate in BIEN’s decision making by voting at the meeting. Names of those registered will be checked against our members register. We therefore kindly ask you to join the meeting 15 minutes ahead of time.

The Agenda for the General Assembly is available here and will be updated as necessary.

Members should register by clicking here.

This South Korean Presidential Election is Vital

This South Korean Presidential Election is Vital

There are rare moments when a combination of threatening circumstances leads to a wonderful transformation that only a short time before would have been unimaginable. This year may be such a moment. The Republic of Korea could set an example to the world that would bring happiness to millions of Koreans, and to many more around the world.

The risks if politicians are too cautious are enormous. Before COVID-19, the global economy was already heading towards a crisis. For over three decades, more and more of the income and wealth were going to the owners of property, financial, physical, and “intellectual”. The commons, belonging to everybody, were being converted into the source of profits and rents. A new class, the precariat, was growing everywhere, suffering from multiple forms of insecurity, drifting deeper into debt. It was incredibly high debt – private, corporate, and public – that made the global economy uniquely fragile.

Meanwhile, the public across the world were realizing the threat posed by global warming and destruction of the environment. Nothing was being done. If that continues, life for our children and grandchildren will be impaired. And it is clear that mistreatment of nature has helped make this an era of pandemics. The COVID-19 outbreak is the sixth pandemic this century.

In these circumstances, policies that merely try to go back to the old normal will not work. We need a bold transformative vision, one of courage, one designed to give people basic economic and social security, one designed to make the economy work for society and every citizen, not just for the bankers and plutocracy, and one designed to revive the commons and our natural environment.

Jae-Myung Lee is campaigning for the Presidency in the March 2022 presidential election with an exciting and feasible strategy, based on a promise of a basic income for every Korean man and woman, paid equally, as a right, without conditions. It is affordable. What is important at this stage is not to set some ideal amount, but to be on the road towards living in a society in which everybody has enough on which to survive, even if they experience personal setbacks.

What makes the proposal for a basic income so profound is that Jae-Myung Lee has come from a humble background, knowing poverty and insecurity from his childhood. He understands two fundamentals. First, the income of every Korean is due to the efforts of all those Koreans who lived beforehand, and it is based on the commons, nature and resources that make up the country, which belong to all Koreans. Those who have gained from taking the commons, most of all, the land, owe it to all Koreans to share some of the gains. A modest Land Value Tax, or levy, is justifiable and fair, and should help fund the basic income.

He also understands that pollution and global warming must be combated by a carbon tax or eco-taxes. The rich cause more pollution than the poor, the poor experience the bad effects more than the rich, including bad health from exposure to poisonous air. So, the solution must include carbon taxes to discourage global warming and polluting activities. But by themselves such taxes would hit the poor harder, because the tax would amount to more of their income.

The only sensible solution is to guarantee that the revenue from eco-taxes will be recycled through a Commons Capital Fund to help pay for the basic income, as Carbon Dividends. The poor will gain, while society will be on the road to fighting global warming and ecological decay. A basic income will also encourage more care work and ecological work, rather than resource-depleting labor. It will stimulate the desirable form of economic growth.         

The second fundamental Jae-Myung Lee and his advisers have understood is that basic security is essential for rational decision-making and mental health. There cannot be individual or societal resilience against pandemics or economic crises unless there is basic security, so that people can behave rationally rather than in desperation. Experiments have shown that a basic income improves mental health and the ability to make better decisions, for oneself, one’s family, and one’s community.

In the Korean edition of my book Plunder of the Commons, I paid respect to the ancient Korean ethos of hongik ingan, which helped found Korea in 2,333 BC. It expresses a historically-grounded wisdom that Koreans should be re-teaching the world in an era of self-centered individualism and consumption-driven “success”. It conveys the sense of not just sharing in benefits of production but sharing in the preservation and reproduction of a sense of community, our sense of participation and our relationships in and with nature. A basic income would pay respect to that ethos. Jae-Myung Lee should be commended for having pioneered it in Gyeonggi Province, and would set the country on a new progressive road if elected President on March 9.


A Korean translation of this article was published by Pressian – a political news website headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. 

Arguments for UBI were presented at the Constituent Assembly in Chile

Arguments for UBI were presented at the Constituent Assembly in Chile

On the 1st of December, the Comission of Fundamental Rights received the president and secretary of the Chilean Basic Income Network (Red Chilena de Ingreso Básico) Gabriela Cabaña and Cristóbal Ramos. The intervention included the justifications of basic income as a right that should be guaranteed in the new constitutional order, as part of a wider re-articulation of the state. It also included legal considerations and different ways in which Chile’s current legal order supports the constitutional consagration of a basic income. The presenters also answered questions from members of the Convention.

The constitutional convention will present a new constitution for national approval via referendum next year. You can watch the full intervention (in Spanish) here

Spanish Text

A new project from FRIBIS: Universal Basic Income and Gender

The Freiburg Institute for Basic Income Studies (FRIBIS), a network of several faculties at the University of Freiburg, has expanded with a new international team which focuses on basic income and gender issues, pulled together by Enno Schmidt. It uses as a starting point, the study by Prof. Toru Yamamori on the British women’s liberation movement in 1970’s, which was already calling for a UBI. According to Yamamori, grassroots feminist economic and political thought forms a basis of the demand for basic income, and the beginning of this can be seen during the women’s liberation movement in 1970’s Britain. For this reason, the relationship between grassroots feminist economic and political thought and basic income deserves to be re-examined, as this area has often been overlooked.

As a comprehensive research and design goal, the initiative seeks to examine grassroots feminist economic understanding and behavior and its potential in forming a new social contract with a particular focus on asic income. Based on this main principle, to amplify the voice of women in basic income research and design, the initiative seeks three objectives.. First, the further elaboration of Toru Yamamori’s study with final book publication, supported in particular by the collaboration of Barb Jacobson and Dr. Liz Fouksman in the UK. Secondly, a study and documentation on the question of women’s understanding of and behaviour in the economy and cooperation with members of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India under guidance of Renana Jhabvala. This will be supplemented by similar empirical research by Liz Fouksman in South Africa and Prof. Dr. Kaori Katada in Japan and by the experiences, data and results of basic income projects in Canada by Chloe Halpenny. As a third goal, enriched by the outputs of the other 2 goals, the initiative aims to embed their relevance in a potential new social contract for real gender equality. This is planned to be introduced as a pilot project, in a yet to be determined region in the USA under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Almaz Zelleke and others to come. However, the team is also open to new influences and directions that arise during the collaboration, for example an additional focus on China.

For these purposes, the research programme will take place in 4 stages. The first phase will include a manifesto and presentations based on research which is already ongoing and which will start shortly. At this stage, the data, interviews and questionnaires of the participating researchers will be used. In the second phase, the focus will be on the collective reconstruction and articulation of “grassroots feminist economic and political thought”. At this stage, the experiences of relevant people in the research team will be used. In the third stage, the aim is to determine the positions of the above research in academic disciplines. In this sense, theoretical and anthropological studies will be carried out at this stage and the theoretical infrastructure of the outputs of the first two stages will be established. Based on the presentation and evaluation of the nature of women’s cooperation and work, and women’s perspectives on work and economy, this will significantly benefit from the experience of SEWA, and the Basic Income Pilot Projects for women in New Delhi and the 2009-10 pilot project in Madhya Pradesh. The fourth and final stage as envisaged so far, will include the implementation of UBI and new laws in a community in the USA.

In summary, the project aims to combine the introduction of a basic income and the creation of a new social contract from the point of view of women. The output that is intended to be reached at the end of the project is the draft of a new social contract. In other words, the main goal here is to present in a holistic way a draft programme for a society based on unconditional basic income, which is necessary to bring women to equal status with men.

The research team consists of Dr. Liz Fouksman, Chloe Halpenny, Prof. Dr. Kaori Katada, Prof. Dr. Toru Yamamori, Prof. Dr. Almaz Zelleke and as actors from social society Barb Jacobson and Renana Jhabvala. PhD student Jessika Schulz is organisational coordinator of the team on the part of FRIBIS.

Further information about the initiative and the project can be found at the following links:

Endless thanks to Enno Schmidt for his valuable contribution to this article.

Serkan Simsir

The Monetary Issues of a UBI: First annual FRIBIS conference 12 October

This year, the Freiburg Institute for Basic Income Studies (FRIBIS) will hold its first annual conference on Monday and Tuesday, 11-12 October 2021. It aims to shed light on an emerging topic in the economics of UBI: the monetary issues of a UBI. Monetary aspects are becoming more important due to an increasing economic interest in monetary innovations and major disruptions in central banking and finance. UBI research is being increasingly influenced by this development. The biggest UBI pilots use specifically minted currencies to ensure local spending, and new strands of transformative economics propose monetary financing or community currencies as financing mechanisms for a UBI. FRIBIS acknowledges this evolution by creating research teams in order to keep up-to-date with research in this field. At this year’s conference, FRIBIS will present this teams’ research, as well as other research activities. In addition, research collaborations will be presented and there will be keynotes and panel discussions with very honorable guests.

The conference provides the audience, in addition, with contributions of other FRIBIS teams in parallel sessions. FRIBIS teams integrate in a unique way the activities of civic society actors, activists, and scientists, so that civic society actors and activists can show their contributory potential.

The conference will be held online. It will be livestreamed over the FRIBIS YouTube channel. Guests are invited to ask questions in the YouTube Chat.

Programme and links to watch the sessions (free on YouTube) are on this webpage.

UBI-Europe fundraises to send youth to Strasbourg

Unconditional Basic Income Europe (UBIE), an alliance of organisations and individuals across 27 countries, is fundraising to send 20 young basic income advocates aged 16-30 to the European Parliment in Strasbourg October 8-9th, for the European Youth Event (EYE) 2021. The group this year is twice as large as the one that went on behalf of UBIE in 2018 and include many from underrepresented communities. Among other things they will be leading a workshop on ‘Policies for a fairer economy’ which will include basic income. It is also a good opportunity, they say, to advocate for UBI policies at the European Parliment and exchange their views with experts, activists, influencers and decision-makers on a high level.

Although expenses are refunded by the EU Parliament, attendees have to pay travel, etc. up front. You can make a donation here.