Eight are a Belgian charity running a basic income pilot in Uganda, previously covered in detail in Basic Income News. A web documentary following the two-year trial will be released in episodes, with the first two episodes now available on the organisation’s website.
The first episode introduces the village of Busibi, called “Village One” in the documentary. Further episodes will cover the launch of the basic income pilot and its effects. New episodes will be released each week for a total of 12 weeks. Following this web documentary, a longer film with different and more layered storylines will be released in late 2018 or early 2019.
While the long-term impacts of the basic income are yet to be seen, Eight report that they have already seen many positive effects, including increased school attendance, improved health, development of local business and increased democratic self-support within the village.
Reviewed by Kate McFarland
Image and video used courtesy of Steven Janssens
Kate McFarland, “UGANDA: Two-year basic income pilot set to launch in 2017”, November 20, 2016, Basic Income News
Kate McFarland, “UGANDA: New Two-Year Basic Income Pilot Project”, April 20, 2016, Basic Income News
Photo: Christine Cornege
Dr. Jess Berentson-Shaw, a science researcher, has co-written a book with Dr. Gareth Morgan entitled Pennies from Heaven, which advocates implementing a UBI for lower income families. Berentson-Shaw has a PhD in Health Science from Victoria University, and works for the Morgan Foundation with Dr. Gareth Morgan, an economist and public policy analyst. The Morgan Foundation is a trust with the stated aim of reducing wealth disparities.
The book argues for $200-a-week benefit for all parents with a child under three, and a basic income for lower-income families, which would be financed through the redistribution of taxes in New Zealand. For example, a CCIT (Comprehensive Capital Income Tax) for investment property owners could be used to finance the model, along with a more equitable and readjusted New Zealand Super model. Berentson-Shaw claims the children’s benefit would also lead to savings of “$1.1b in poor education and its impact on productivity, $2b in health, $1.1b in crime and $700m in social welfare savings.”
The author explains that despite the popular opinion among New Zealanders that lower-income people will spend the extra money on vices like tobacco and alcohol, research indicates otherwise. Poor families are more likely to increase spending on their children when access to more money is available. As Berenston-Shaw puts it: “New Zealanders are quick to moralize about the poor” and in respect to the administering of such a policy, she envisions it as being politically disruptive. “About half of New Zealanders can see the structural issues that feed into low incomes and poor outcomes, and that means about half don’t.” Her task then, and perhaps one of the purposes of the book, is to win over many of those who don’t, by convincing them that the benefits of a UBI do indeed outweigh the costs.
A new free publication of the Italian Basic Income Network (BIN Italia) entitled “Guaranteed income and technological innovation, between algorithms and robotics“.
This is the seventh publication (March 2017) of the “Notebooks for Income” (QR – Quaderni per il Reddito) series, by the BIN Italia. Fifteen authors contributed to the Italian debate on topics such as robotics, gig economy (task-based economies), artificial intelligence and basic income (within the Italian context).
The book is free and can be downloaded here in Italian (.pdf)
To read all the other Notebooks for Income click here (in Italian)
In a recent article for The Guardian, Jason Hickel writes that “a basic income could defeat the scarcity mindset, instil a sense of solidarity and even ease the anxieties that gave us Brexit and Trump.”
Hickel argues that a basic income is not just a privilege, nor just a nice idea – instead, basic income is a birthright.
Hickel begins by reflecting on the Charter of the Forest, 1217, a companion document to the Magna Carta, which enshrined the right of Englishmen to access royal lands, “which they could use for farming, grazing, water and wood [collecting].” Hickel argues that the Charter defended the right of individuals to access the resources necessary for survival.
This understanding of grazing rights has with time fallen out of usage. This decline began in the 15th century with the enclosure movement, which drove peasants displaced by enclosure into the labour market, “to sell themselves for wages for the first time.” It became necessary for low income farm labours to move into urban areas and become workers in order to survive. Hickel reminds us that the global south understands this scenario very well: a legacy of colonialism having taken away lands that were once common, and divided them into private allotments. For these countries, which Hickel does not note specifically, any attempt to undo this process of driving populations into the capitalist labour market was undone by the post-colonial country’s indebtedness to international corporations and creditors.
Hickel goes on to argue that first the global south has had its land taken away with the promise of employment, and in the future it risks losing its jobs to the rise of automation. For him, employment is no longer a secure economic alternative to the livelihood disparities created by the private ownership of once common land. Automation threatens jobs everywhere throughout the world, Hickel says. The solution, he argues, is an understanding of wealth where earth’s natural resources belong to everyone, where the basic necessities are understood as a birthright, and where a basic income is a way to implement this vision.
The solution, he argues, is an understanding of wealth where earth’s natural resources belong to everyone, where the basic necessities are understood as a birthright, and where a basic income is a way to implement this vision.
With the above in mind, Hickel presents a universal basic income as the most appropriate answer to the rise of automation. UBI, Hickel argues, offers a solution to inequalities that in the past were mitigated by free access to the resources necessary for livelihood. It is a return to the principles of the Charter of the Forest; a “de-enclosure” where every resident receives a dividend of what is commonly held: natural resources. For example, Hickel points to a carbon tax and dividend system.
Possible pushback is explained away by a move up in scale: he proposes a global fund, a trust for every human being rich or poor, and an expansion of our mindset so that again, natural resources and land cannot be simply understood as enclosed and private, but instead as common and vital to every individual’s survival.
De-enclosure is for Hickel an alternative to the road of further labour market integration, an alternative threatened by automation. For Hickel, we avoid considering UBI at our peril.
Article: Jason Hickel, “Basic income isn’t just a nice idea. It’s a birthright,” The Guardian, March 4, 2017.
Reviewed by Sarah Harris and Jenna van Draanen
Photo: As the covered heads move in, Credit Picture CC Veeresh Malik.
For the Global Women’s Strike on 8 March 2017 Basic Income Network – Italy published a special issue of the “Notebooks for income” (QR – Quaderni per il Reddito) entitled “Basic income for self-determination”.
Eleven italian women authored the free ebook who, with their articles, contribute to the Italian debate about basic income as an income to support self-determination.
The special “Notebooks for income” can be downloaded free by clicking here (in Italian)
To read all the other “Notebooks for income” click here
Y Combinator has filmed a video in which researchers Elizabeth Rhodes and Matt Krisiloff discuss the firm’s basic income pilot.
Y Combinator is a firm based in Silicon Valley that invests and coaches promising young startups, connecting them to potential investors. They have currently launched the first phase of their pilot in Oakland, California. (See the recent Stanford Panel for details)
Elizabeth Rhodes, a PhD in Social Work and Political Science, is the Research Director for the Basic Income Pilot at Y Combinator’s Research arm, YC Research. Matt Krisiloff joined YC Research from Y Combinator where he had worked on Y Combinator Fellowship.
Rhodes begins the discussion by defining Basic Income as unconditional cash payments to individuals to ensure a minimum level of economic security.
Krisiloff explains the Basic Income Pilot was influenced by Y Combinator´s Open A.I. project. As the team began to see the possibilities in General Artificial Intelligence, they saw the implications on the traditional work environment and a need for a more robust safety net in the U.S. to allow people to react to changes.
Rhodes gives a brief overview of Basic Income pilots to date, noting that no modern studies have been conducted in the U.S. since the 70´s. Rhodes explains that the current Y Combinator pilot is to test logistics, survey methods, recruitment, while simultaneously devising the research plan for a larger study. YC Research has pulled together a working group of 24 academics and policy people, as well as following guidelines laid out by the Institutional Review Board for research involving human subjects to ensure all ethical requirements are met.
The larger pilot will give unconditional cash transfers to a test group of individuals. Rhodes notes that past studies have focused on workforce participation, this study hopes to gain more holistic learning about the effects a basic income has on the individual’s- health, mental health, well-being, time use (family time, volunteering) and economic health.
Watch the full video to hear thoughts around possible outcomes in terms of future policy changes, welfare, unconditional cash transfers and possible effects on the economy.
Source Y Combinator, “Discussing Basic Income with Y Combinator Research,” YouTube, February 22, 2017.