‘Forward to a better world!’ International Basic Income Week 2021 starts organizing

by Robin Ketelaars

History
Matthias Dilthey called for a day of basic income in 2006, which unfortunately received little support at the time.*

The first week of the basic income was held in 2008 and was designed as a sub-project of the EU-funded “Basic Income on the way to Europe.” This was initiated by Günter Sölken, from an idea the Basic Income Network Germany (Netzwerk Grundeinkommen) had proposed. It happened with the support of Basic Income Network and Social Cohesion Austria, BIEN Switzerland, Attac branches in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, along with the help of many independent basic income initiatives in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

In 2009, a significant expansion took place. A call started from various initiatives, and finally 247 organizations and over 2,800 individuals participated. In Germany a website was developed to showcase the activity and creativity, with countless ideas, suggestions, and planned actions, under the editorial supervision of Martina Steinheuer. 

The 4th International Basic Income Week was held 19 to 25 September 2011 with a focus on “Basic Income in Europe“. In Germany and Austria, there were about 100 events and activities: discussions, workshops, readings, theater and film screenings, exhibitions, etc. The fifth International Basic Income Week happened 17 to 23 September 2012 with the focus on “Ways to Basic Income”.

In 2013, the year of the European Citizens’ Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income, “Basic Income a Human Right“, a further internationalization of the 6th week of basic income took place. The Netherlands organized the “Week van het Basisinkomen” but not much action was involved, we were all too busy collecting signatures for the ECI.

In 2014 a Basic Income Week website was set up in English to further internationalize the event by Robin Ketelaars. Manja Taylor handled promotion and activities.

Unconditional Basic Income Europe (UBIE) adopted the 8th International Basic Income Week in 2015 as a key item to organize every year by all countries individually. Also at the 15th Annual North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress, International Basic Income Week was adopted as a way to publicise UBI.

That year, 19 countries participated with live events: Belgium, China, Danmark, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Malawi, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Swiss, Zimbabwe, Spain, South Korea, Hungary, USA. A further eight countries participated on the internet: Australia, Brasil, Bulgaria, Finland, India, Italy, Mozambique, New Zealand, Zambia, South Africa.

9th international Basic Income Week had the motto “Basic income goes worldwide”. In 2016 Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) contributed to the week´s further globalization by starting a group on Slack for better collaboration. Jenna van Draalen from Canada and Christof Lammer from Austria were among the promoters of the IBIW along with many more UBI activists.  Themes for other yearly events can be found on basicincomweek.org.

International Basic Income Week is a self-organised participatory week. A lot can be done, from spreading the news to friends to organising your own event with films, speakers or creative action. We can help with finding presenters and promoting your event with our shared Basic Income Week website. We welcome new participants who can share time, money or ideas! Get in touch with your regional group or the international coordination team, and let us know what you decide to do! This year there was the start of the Videothon Playlist

From 2018 onwards there have been three synchronised events.
1)    Make a photo and share it on social media with the hashtag #countonbasicincome on the Wednesday
2)    Come and socialize, organize a #basicincomebeer on the Friday
3)    Since 2019 the #basicincomemarch is part of the week on the Saturday

Basic Income Marches
In April 2019, social worker and co-founder of Basic Income NYC Diane Pagen and 2020 candidate for U.S. Congress James Felton Keith came together to organize a public event in a show of force and inclusion for basic income.

2020 saw a huge growth in support for basic income in the United States. It was important to provide different ways for the community to celebrate. All sorts of events, live and online, from a film screening, panel discussions, to a Year of Basic Income Livestream event featuring commentary from Andrew Yang, Andy Stern, and over 10 Mayors from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and more, marked the important progress made in 2020.

With COVID measures in place, city organizers got creative. From art installations, to bike and car parades, to street corner protests, Income Movement in the US built tools to make it easy for organizers to plan amazing, highly successful events while allowing for safe social distancing for community members. Many people who did not go on the streets posted a photo with the hashtag #talkonyourwalk and held Zoom sessions with shoes.

This year’s motto for International Basic Income Week is ‘Forward to a Better World!’

You can follow #basicincomeweek on the web
* Basic Income Week website
* Twitter: @basicincomeweek (for sharing)
* Facebook: basicincomeweek (also for adding events)
* Insta: @basicincomeweek
*The Basic Income March website (organizers can add your march to the calendar)

Future plans? Who knows? We hope that with BIEN’s support we can involve more countries in India, Africa, Asia and Latin America this year.

How can people contribute to or participate in IBIW this year?
Organize events and spread the B-word!
Social media activists wanted for @insta and other media outlets
There is a Slack group where activities are discussed which you can join: the Basic Income Outreach Group. Please let us know if you want an invite via the contact form.
We’re always on the lookout for more ideas!

*) Basic Income Day
In 2014 a website promoting Basic Income Day was started by Robin Ketelaars.
“If everyone is his own king, nobody has to be the king of the other.” This sentence by Michael Sennhauser (Swiss Radio DRS) in the review of the film Kulturimpuls Grundeinkommen by Daniel Häni & Enno Schmidt and the film scene at Basel SBB train station inspired the crowning of the first 500 heads 1 May 2009 on the market square in Lörrach. Since then, we want to unite with everyone who burns for an unconditional basic income to trigger a wave of change.”
The action was followed up in 2014 by Sylvia Mair and Oliver Der as a Basic Income Day on the 1st of May. This was supported by Scott Santens, a Basic Income activist from the United States, and other activists in Europe and the US.
The website is in use for more “basic income days”.
Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December. In 2013 we participated by showing the world through our profile pic that an Unconditional Basic Income is a human right. The action this year will take place 4 to10 December.
International Women’s Day on 8 March could also become  a “Basic Income Day”.

Think the Impossible: Pieter Kooistra documentary

by Brigitta Scheepsma

Pieter Kooistra, born in Leeuwarden, was not only an artist, but also a world improver. He founded the Kunstuitleen and advocated basic income. With the Fryslân DOK “Think the impossible”, documentary maker Anne van Slageren (info@anderevertoningen.nl) sketches a portrait of Pieter Kooistra. The ideas he developed at the end of the last century are also topical today.

“Be realistic. Think the impossible. ” These are the words of artist Pieter Kooistra (1922-1998). He wanted to stop the unequal distribution of wealth in the world and the destruction of the planet. “He was a visionary,” says Annemieke Roobeek, professor at Nyenrode Business University. After seeing images of starving children in India, Pieter Kooistra understood that art, which he describes as “the spiritual”, could not do without “the material”. He went on a journey and came up with a plan for a basic world income. Economist Annemieke Roobeek now predicts: “A basic income for everyone will one day belong to our time and the world.” She even sees a role for the European Central Bank in this.

In the Fryslân DOK “Think the impossible”, Brigitta Scheepsma, party leader of GroenLinks in the municipality of Tytsjerksteradiel, goes in search of man Pieter Kooistra and his ideas. In the Veerhuis aan de Waal in Varik, where Kooistra worked, she meets Henry Mentink, who wants to keep Pieter Kooistra’s ideas alive. She visits Terschelling, where Pieter Kooistra set up an alternative holiday colony. Former partner Trees Niekus says about this passionate man: “He was unstoppable.”

This documentary was broadcast in October the 17th and 18th 2020 on Dutch Television.

For more information about Pieter Kooistra, please contact Henry Mentink of the Veerhuis in Varik, www.veerhuis.nl / info@veerhuis.nl.

For more information about the documentary and copyright, please contact Omroep Friesland (redaksje@omropfryslan.nl) or the director (info@anderevertoningen.nl).

‘Could a basic income support a circular economy?’ summary of the discussion on Basic Income Network Scotland

With the increase in  research on the circular economy system, the basic income and circular economy relationship has also started to be considered. For example, this relationship was examined in the article ‘‘How could a Basic Income support a Circular Economy?’’ published on the Basic Income Network Scotland website on 23 July 2019. In fact, this article is based on the transcript of an interview between Timothea Armor, Basic Income Network Scotland Editor, and Teja Hudson, a zero waste consultant and founder of Zero.

  The current system of capitalism, free markets, and endless growth, according to Hudson, disappoints us socially. She points out that there are many people who want to make the world a better place, but this disappointment forces them to struggle just to survive. Therefore, she claims that we have lost many bright and creative minds due to preventable social inequalities such as poverty, hunger, disease, gender inequality, persecution, violence and lack of education. Finally, she suggests we need social change, and  these people represent a great untapped potential for that social change.

   Adding to Hudson’s argument, it is very difficult to be creative when you are stressed, under pressure or not inspired, and especially when you are worried about money. As a result of this, there are a lot of artists and creative people struggling to practice their art and instead  interrupted by the need to earn a living. Hudson summarizes the potential contribution of basic income to this problem with the following statement: “This is where Basic Income would be a revelation.”  She claims that by implementing a Basic Income, highly experienced creative people, free thinkers and problem solvers will be ready to help solve the problems of 10 billion people on a small planet instead of getting stuck in a dead end.

  According to Hudson, circular economy is a way of looking at resources on our planet and understanding that everything is part of a circular system rather than a line. She believes the aim is to keep resources circulating in this cycle for as long as possible, minimizing the use of unused raw material and maximising productivity in the production process. 

  As for the potential relationship between basic income and the circular economy, Hudson points out that environmental and social concerns are very closely linked and that the goals and values of both systems are the same; “for humanity and the planet to survive and flourish together, so what helps the environmental movement to accomplish that will also help the social movement to accomplish that, and vice versa.” She argues that these two systems acting together could be more effective and bring sources and audiences together.

To read the article : https://cbin.scot/2019/07/23/basic-income-and-the-circular-economy/ 

A Basic Income trial could be coming soon to Wales

Over two thirds of Wales is in favour of a basic income trial in the country. The poll, carried out by Survation and commissioned by Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, included over a thousand respondents.

Ahead of the country’s general election in early May, Future Generations is pressuring the Welsh government towards implementing more progressive measures destined to protect the economic and labor interests of the younger generations of the country, which have been remarkably affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these policies they included a petition to start a basic income trial.

According to Howe, a basic income could be highly beneficial for the Welsh. Howe states that a basic income could successfully address the issues that the welfare stated has failed to tackle (increase in poverty, automation and unstable jobs). Howe claims that “a basic income could be that stronger safety net which keeps people from falling through the cracks of support now and in the future.”

The think tank Autonomy is working alongside Future Generations to make the basic income trial happen. Will Stronge, co-director of Autonomy, claims that is critical to provide financial security to everyone, especially in these times of crisis. “The time has come for a universal basic income in Wales”, Stronge demands.

Calls for basic income in Wales are not new and Future Generations and Autonomy are not the only ones demanding the implementation. In 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Plaid Cymru, the biggest nationalist party in the country, called for an emergency UBI and, more recently, the party has expressed support towards a cultural basic income to support culture. On a local level, the councils of Swansea and Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) have passed motions in support of piloting the trial, while the leader of the council of Cardiff has expressed interest towards the measure.

Read the full article here: https://www.futuregenerations.wales/news/majority-in-wales-support-a-basic-income-trial-new-findings-by-the-future-generations-commissioner-for-wales/?link_id=3&can_id=880b7724c6d0d6ac2b841bfd84458ca2&source=email-basic-income-budget&email_referrer=email_1097025&email_subject=basic-income-budget

Key findings from the first year of the Stockton study released

In February 2019, then-Stockton Mayor Michael D. Tubbs launched the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (‘SEED’), a 24-month guaranteed income initiative, the first mayor-led initiative of the sort in the US. Two years later, the preliminary results from the first twelve months of the experiment (through to February 2020, before the pandemic) have been released and the key findings are positive with the guaranteed income reducing income volatility, enabling access to full-time work, improving mental health and allowing better control over one’s time and decisions.

Program design

Under the SEED program, 125 Stockton residents were randomly selected to receive $500 per month for two years with no conditions attached to the handout and limited eligibility criteria namely: being at least 18 years old, being a Stockton resident and living in a neighbourhood at or below the median income ($46,003 in Stockton). A control group of 200 individuals meeting those same criteria was also established for research purposes.

The experiment is funded with private donations including a $1 million grant from the Economic Security Project, an initiative that aims at “making the economy work again for all Americans” with a specific focus on guaranteed income and anti-monopoly action. 

The program is being evaluated by two researchers, Dr. Stacia Martin-West of the University of Tennessee, and Dr. Amy Castro Baker of the University of Pennsylvania under a ‘mixed-methods approach’ consisting in both a quantitative and qualitative analysis of data collected before and during the experiment. The data was collected through both surveys and in-person or group interviews (participation in the experiment was not conditional on participating in these interviews).

The experiment was designed in close cooperation with public authorities and community members to tailor it to local specificities (disbursement timing and mechanism for instance) and to build trust between recipients, control group members and SEED staff. This work was necessary to address initial concerns around the unconditional and guaranteed nature of the income (considered ‘too good to be true’) and the risk of loss of eligibility for other benefits (covered through specific work by the Economic Security Project).

Key findings

The preliminary results show that recipients made rational decisions about the income they were receiving, mostly spending it on ‘necessities’ (food, utilities, auto care). The researchers also found positive spillover effects with recipients being able to assist people in their extended networks more. Recipients also faced less income volatility and, noticeably, reported being more able to face unexpected expenses with cash or a cash-equivalent than before.

The guaranteed income gave recipients more time to engage in meaningful activities (socialising, spending time with children). This, according to the researchers, highlights how “financial scarcity generates time scarcity”. Participants also reported improvements in mental health when members of the control group did not experience the same improvements. Participants also reported improvements in mental health compared to the baseline measures when members of the control group did not experience the same improvements.

Finally, the program also resulted in an increase in full-time employment. 28% of recipients had a full-time job at the beginning of the project. After a year that proportion had risen to 40% (in the control group the proportion only moved from 32% to 37%). Some individuals indicated that the guaranteed income allowed them time to train or complete a degree or simply gave them more confidence to apply for certain positions.

Reactions

Reactions to the release of the study have been positive with the findings seen as further evidence that these programs do not remove incentives to work and that, as the researchers put it, “poverty results from a lack of cash, not of character” making cash transfers an effective way of addressing poverty (the researchers as well as Mayor Tubbs are quick to point out however that these cash transfers cannot be the only solution to the issues faced by residents of a city such as Stockton).

On the other hand some have pointed out that SEED remains a small-scale and relatively short experiment and have cautioned about drawing conclusions too rapidly from the study. Another limitation of the study is that tracking of expenses from the guaranteed income relied on recipients collaborating with the researchers (the income was transferred to a prepaid debit card to be used directly and through which researchers had access to spending records, or to be withdrawn as cash or to another account. In those cases, about 40% of the recipients, researchers had to conduct specific surveys). Finally, some critics have used the fact that the experiment was being privately funded to argue that basic income was too expensive for public authorities.

Regardless, these results are sure to add to the growing debate about basic income in the US. Other experiments are ongoing, and in June 2020, Michael Tubbs and the Economic Security Project founded Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a network of around 40 mayors across the US working on implementing guaranteed-income experiments in their cities.

https://www.stocktondemonstration.org/

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/6039d612b17d055cac14070f/t/6050294a1212aa40fdaf773a/1615866187890/SEED_Preliminary+Analysis-SEEDs+First+Year_Final+Report_Individual+Pages+.pdf

Korea: Sea Cucumber Fisheries as Shared Property of Islanders – “rediscovering rural basic income experiments”

Korea: Sea Cucumber Fisheries as Shared Property of Islanders – “rediscovering rural basic income experiments”

Editor’s note: The use of the term ‘basic income’ for the sheme in Janggo Island does not correspond to BIEN’s definition of basic income, since it is paid not to all residents but to only participants in communal fish farming activities for 20 years, and paid not to individual but to household.

A forum took place on the meaning and issues of the basic rural income social experiment, which Gyeonggi Province plans to conduct in the second half of this year. Entitled, “The Meaning and Issues of the Community-centered Basic Income Social Experiment,” the first Rural Basic Income Policy Forum was held on the 29th of January and introduced cases and discussed India’s basic income experiment, distribution of shared assets in Boryeong, Chungcheongnam-do, and Jeju Island. The Hankyoreh Economic and Social Research Institute with the Gyeonggi-do Agricultural and Fisheries Promotion Agency, the Basic Income Korea Network, Lab 2050, the Korea University Institute of Government Studies, and the Korea Regional Development Foundation all participated in organizing the January event. Some of the presenters and debaters participated online.

Lessons from the Indian basic income experiment

Sarath Davala, the keynote speaker, is the architect of India’s basic income social experiment and chairman of the Basic Income District Network, which leads the discussion on basic income worldwide. He laid out the implications of basic income experiments conducted in India and Namibia.

Namibia and India conducted basic income experiments—in 2008 and 2011, respectively—during which Namibia paid USD 12 and India USD 4 per month to 2,000 people for a span of 12 months. “Contrary to many people’s expectations, people who received basic income did not become lazy. Start-ups and economic activity increased, new transportation facilities were opened, school attendance rates rose, household debt decreased, and other good things occurred. In Namibia, the consumption of alcohol remained unchanged,” Dr. Davala explained.

Dr. Davala also introduced changes in policies following basic income social experiments. “After the social experiment, the local government in India began providing cash allowances to all farmers proportional to their farmland area in 2018, and through this policy, the party won three-quarters of the local council. […] However, the program excluded sharecroppers and non-farmers and allowances were paid only to owners of land in rural areas, and basic income discussions focused mainly on ‘the excluded.’ […] The implications of the Indian outcomes on other basic income experiments is that one needs to follow the principle of individuality and avoid excluding anyone in the region.”

Dr. Davala emphasized the role of social experimentation in promoting social dialogue beyond the collection of evidence. “In the past, we did not conduct small-scale social experiments in advance before abolishing slavery or winning women’s suffrage. These policies were based on values, philosophy, and human rights. Obviously, the policy effect rationale is important, but the policy is not implemented only with evidence. In India, political movements took place after social experiments, and there was a close review and public discussion of what was better,” he said. Another aspect of the social experiment he emphasizes is that it triggered dialogue between the public and the media, experts, and political parties to discuss desirable alternatives. “In Korea, there have been experiments with things such as youth dividends in Seongnam City, a basic income for young people in Gyeonggi Province, and national disaster support funds amid the Corona crisis, which has attracted the attention of politicians and the public.”

Sea cucumber seeds become basic income for islanders

The forum also presented a case where a local community shares the profits generated from a shared asset. Kang Je-yoon, head of the Island Research Institute, explained how Janggo Island allocates the profits from collected seafood to the islanders. Janggo is a small island with 81 households and 200 residents and began allocating profits from sea cucumber farming grounds in 1993. In 2019, 11 million won (around USD 10,000) was paid annually to each household in basic income. Kang said, “Unlike other fisheries, sea cucumbers grow on their own when the residents sow seeds. There is nothing residents have to do with them until they are ready for harvesting. Residents of Janggo Island receive a basic income from sea cucumber farming, which requires minimal labor, and the same amount is allocated as labor income from collecting clams ten times over two months. “Since the village community provides a basic income and labor income together worth 20 million won per year (USD 19,000), Janggo Island residents earn equal and stable income, unlike residents of other islands, where large income gaps exist between those in the aquaculture industry and those who are not.

However, Janggo Island also went through a slow and painful process before residents received a consistent dividend. Initially, the fishing village fraternity rented out fishing grounds around Janggo Island to fish farmers, who paid rent to the village society. Director Kang said, “It is illegal to rent out fishing grounds, which no one owns, and beside that, the rent was 500,000 won a year, which was an absurdly low price for 1983. In 1983, the village’s newly appointed head persuaded residents to reclaim the fishing grounds, after which they managed the profits from the fishing grounds (now village property) for ten years, and gave out loans. After much controversy, the dividend first began in 1993, and residents’ complaints about fishing grounds profits subsided, and the community’s common interest in the fishing grounds increased the quality of management.” A fair distribution system supported the management of shared assets.

Kim Ja-kyung, an academic research professor at Jeju National University, who presented on the possibility of basic income through shared assets on Jeju Island, said, “Jeju Island has a tradition of distributing profits through communal operation of pastureland and fisheries. For example, one village harvests seaweed fusiforme and agar together and distributes them among the participants while allowing individuals to keep the collected seaweed for themselves. One hundred and one fishing village fraternities had their own unique customs and order.”

Recently, wind and wind power generation has been drawing greater attention as a new shared asset on Jeju. Professor Kim gave a wind farm in Haengwon-ri, Gujwa-eup, eastern Jeju Island as an example. “Six villages in Haengwon-ri receive part of their wind power generation profits and set aside the funds. […] There is always a possibility of conflict and disagreement in the village, which prevents certain people from arbitrarily exercising their decision-making authority.” There is still work left to be done to develop a system to distribute the new shared asset profits fairly.

Consideration of the impact of distribution system on residents

Lee Chang-han, director of the Korea Regional Development Foundation, which designed the basic income social experiment in rural areas in Gyeonggi Province, said the experiment’s primary purpose is to closely examine the impact of basic income on the local community. “Because of the name “basic rural income,” many people are confused whether it only benefits farmers. However, farmers in rural areas in Gyeonggi-do Province make up only about 16% of the total population. It is crucial how farmers and non-farmers interact in the same living space in these rural areas. Like Janggo Island, we will observe the impact of the distribution system on resident communities.”

Park Kyung-chul, a researcher at Chungnam Research Institute, said, “Since 2019, various local governments have introduced farmers’ allowances, and there has been a discussion on farmers’ basic income. […] However, since non-farmers are also, directly and indirectly, involved in agricultural activities in rural areas, and together they form local communities, expanding the scope of payments to all rural residents is the concept behind basic income.”

Lee Ji-eun, CEO of the Basic Income New Research Network, said, “The basic income social experiment in rural areas can be reevaluated in terms of climate justice.” She added, “We hope this experiment will lead to discussions on rediscovering ‘the commons’ (shared assets), discovering small sustainable economic models and revitalizing ecological feminism, reflecting the peculiarity of rural areas.”

Lee Won-jae, CEO of Lab2050, who headed the debate, said, “I think the basic income social experiment in Gyeonggi Province has a unique status, as does the basic income experiment in Finland…where the prime minister in power conducted a policy experiment. In Korea, the experiment is taking place when basic income is becoming a central political topic.” This means that it is an environment in which the country’s overall policy will follow the results of the social experiment.

For more information, check out Gyeonggi Rural Basic Income Social Experiment’s blog page: https://gg-rbip.medium.com/

Written by Yoon Hyeong-joong, visiting fellow at the Hankyoreh Economy and Society Research Institute, philyoon23@gmail.com
Translated by Eunjae Shin, researcher at the Hankyoreh Economy and Society Research Institute, eunjae.shin@hani.co.kr Reviewed by Toru Yamamori, Academic Research Editor of BIEN

Photo: Credit: Janggo Island, South Korea, is experimenting on sharing dividends from sea cucumber farming grounds with its residents. Provided by Kang Je-yoon.