by Guest Contributor | May 30, 2023 | Opinion
While the proposition may appear daunting, the exploration of Universal Basic Income (UBI) for both Israelis and Palestinians is certainly worthwhile. Given the sustained conflicts in the region — from bombings in Gaza to raids in villages — and the current Israeli government, a unified UBI may seem implausible.
Nevertheless, a robust discussion on the potential benefits of a shared UBI program across troubled landscapes from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River is a necessity. Despite a history of failed negotiations and a prevailing sentiment of intractability, a UBI offers a novel approach to a perennial issue.
Scholars like Diana Bashur, renowned for her research on the influence of UBI in conflict-ridden areas, argue for its potential to improve social cohesion, bolster peacekeeping initiatives, strengthen social contracts, and enhance the resilience of communities. As demonstrated in her most recent work on post-war Syria, UBI might not be a panacea, but it could be a crucial step toward a more equitable society. This innovative peace-building measure, detailed extensively in Bashur’s work, ought to be considered seriously by policymakers seeking to address one of the oldest conflicts of mankind.
Imagine the application of UBI across Palestine and Israel — in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Haifa. This shared income would not discriminate between Palestinians and Israelis but rather assert a human right to live with dignity. Such a policy could foster a sense of shared belonging and equality, thus promoting mutual respect, regardless of religious, cultural, or ethnic differences. It would necessitate a cooperative approach from both Palestinians and Israelis, forging a partnership necessary to make UBI a success.
A harmonious social connection, coupled with non-discriminatory policies, could enhance security and decrease instances of violence. Moreover, acknowledging the human rights associated with UBI could demonstrate to even the most radical factions the shared humanity of all residents. From an economic perspective, investments into UBI could foster development and societal contribution, provided these efforts are accompanied by comprehensive security measures and advancements in healthcare and education.
Contrary to critics, such a program may not be prohibitively costly. With the successful implementation of UBI and accompanying reforms, reductions in military and security spending could be realized, thus paying for itself. The benefits of UBI in terms of lives preserved and cycles of violence broken are invaluable. Providing Palestinians, particularly those in Gaza and the occupied regions, with genuine opportunities could not only disrupt the status quo but also increase their societal contributions.
The current situation in the region, marked by loss, radicalization, and animosity, is untenable. Desires for change resonate on both sides — the Israeli protests and the widespread dissatisfaction among Palestinians are testaments to this. Therefore, despite its potential complexities, the implementation of a shared UBI could be both economically and politically feasible.
While this article merely introduces the concept of a unified UBI for Israel and Palestine, the technicalities of such a policy’s execution will be elaborated in forthcoming work.
It is not asserted here that a shared UBI would be a panacea for all the region’s problems, nor that its implementation would be straightforward. The argument presented is that a unified UBI could assure the right of all residents to a life of dignity, thus breaking the cycle of violence. Once this foundation is established, politicians can convene to debate boundaries and borders in an environment free of immediate pressure.
Written by: Ahmed Elbas
by Guest Contributor | Mar 30, 2023 | Opinion
This month Silicon Valley Bank defaulted causing the biggest bank failure since Lehman Brothers in 2008. The US government helped in finding a solution to stop the depositors from losing their money. The main reason for the bank’s failure was a bank run because of the bank’s inability to raise enough capital after miscalculating its investment strategy and not preparing enough for the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes. Credit Suisse also faced a lot of trouble which caused the Swiss government to pressure UBS (Switzerland’s biggest bank) to acquire Credit Suisse. Those two incidents might seem irrelevant to a UBI, but such events show us the importance of UBI now.
The current economic and political scene is unstable. There are a lot of tensions between the main actors USA and China on the global stage as well as the conflict in Ukraine in combination with the aftermath of the Covid crisis which hurt the global economy and supply chains. Especially Russia’s attack and Ukraine and the resulting trade war with Europe caused a supply shock in the Energy sector which led to global inflation hence rising poverty and forcing the Fed to raise interest rates. Those hikes in interest rates, slowing economic growth, and an underperforming tech sector are causing a lot of economic instability and caused recent bank failures. But the question is how that is connected to UBI.
To understand why recent events, show the importance of a Universal Basic Income it is important to think about the potential worst-case scenario. The scenario that happened to SVB and Credit Suisse might repeat. Bank depositors might fear the repetition of such a bank failure in different banks and cause more bank runs as the whole banking sector is based on trust and there is no single bank that would survive a bank run without government support. There is also doubt in the current political climate how much possible bank bailouts are politically doable especially as most people will feel that the government supports the banking gamblers with their tax money while leaving the normal average people who didn’t do anything wrong alone when they struggle because of different reasons.
So, the first connection between UBI and the current banking problems is that the implementation of UBI would increase the population’s trust in the government as people will now feel seen and protected by society and will be less negative towards a potential bank bailout. Although possible bank bailouts would have to come with increased regulation to avoid giving the banks the feeling that they can do whatever they want, and the government will protect them while they screw the people’s money.
Another reason why the current economic situation makes UBI more necessary than before is that in a climate of increasing interest rates and declining trust in banks people will draw money from the economy, hence decreasing demand. Decreasing demand will lead to decreasing supply and will increase unemployment. A lot of economists like Larry Summers confess that and say it is a bitter pill to take to reduce inflation. Let’s assume that’s correct although I’m not sure that this is the best way out of the current situation that would mean that society is sacrificing jobs and hence the wealth of a lot of people to reduce inflation for the rest.
Such action is morally wrong, especially if people aren’t given a social net that protects them after losing their jobs to provide for themselves and their families. And we have to remember that the sole reason for them being unemployed will be that the FED and other Central Banks in other countries decided that higher unemployment is necessary to reduce inflation. This would make those people and their families suffer a lot financially and mentally and they might not find a way back to bring back structure in their life without support that relieves them of the stress of having just lost their livelihood. UBI would be the perfect measure to achieve that
The third argument which highlights the importance of UBI now has to do with the real economy and supply and demand. While a huge part of inflation is caused by the supply shocks from the Ukraine war it can’t be denied that it is also caused partly by a demand that might be higher than the current supply especially as supply chains haven’t recovered completely yet. And while many people might assume that this would be an argument against UBI as UBI would most probably increase demand we have to look at it from the other side too. Giving people a Universal Basic Income would mean giving people more flexibility and more control over their lives. People will choose the jobs they want to do instead of just taking any job. This dynamic might be crucial in overcoming the current crisis. It is expected that UBI will have a positive impact on entrepreneurship and small investments and such effects have been seen partly in previous pilot programs. Giving people a UBI would hence increase supply as smart entrepreneurs will see the gap between supply demand and work on filling that gap to make profits. This will mean a virtuous way out of inflation instead of a vicious way out of inflation. It would be also a way of directly supporting the victims instead of rewarding the gamblers
While a bank crisis is still avoidable, the current situation shows the importance of UBI on multiple fronts to help people in those difficult times. The government has tried to rescue the economy through trickle-down measures often and now it’s time to give people the chance to rescue the economy themselves by giving them a fair chance and promoting entrepreneurship by introducing a UBI and following a spirit of capitalism that left and right will be able to agree on.
Written by: Ahmed Elbas
by Peter Knight | Jan 27, 2023 | Opinion
In a blog post entitled “Re-engineering our fragile economy and democracy”, Geoff Crocker argues that UBI “addresses ethical issues of income inequality, gender inequality, precarity, and security” and should be at least in part financed by “central bank monetary funding of government expenditure, or ‘debt-free sovereign money’, by which the central bank would directly credit the government account with money it had created.”
To read the blog post click here.
by Guest Contributor | Jan 5, 2023 | Opinion
NIT, UBI, Guaranteed Income et al, are ultimately functions of our tax, fiscal, and monetary systems. Whatever initialism is used the same end results will be realized. A NIT is the most appropriate way of describing how a UBI etc. will be implemented and ultimately paid for.
The Case Against UBI
The image that pops into mind with UBI is that of a monthly cheque showing up at everyone’s door whether requested or not. Such a program will not come to pass.
UBI, through the magic of the internet and social media, has come to represent for many, the tip of the government’s spear into control over the individuals daily affairs. This negative branding has lost a sizable percentage of “never will buy into the idea” citizens.
The universality of UBI, like government-paid healthcare, is a non-means-tested entitlement with the only caveat being a citizen has to want it and ask for it. In other words just because open heart surgery is “free”, most healthy individuals won’t seek it out or want it. This caveat puts an end to the notion of an unrequested cheque showing up (or worse being automatically deposited into a bank account.) Why? Taxes, clawbacks, and the associated paperwork. A great many will still want, request, and be quite happy to fill out any required slips in order to receive what they determine to be as needed additional income.
How much monthly income is too much income is up to the individual to determine. Therefore, this amount will and should vary between $0 and a maximum (universal) amount, as determined by program administrators. As with most other forms of income, a government provided income will be taxed, and at the end of the tax year, tallied.
The behemoth that is the government’s tax department is not going anywhere anytime soon. The tax avoidance programs that higher income individuals enjoy are not going anywhere anytime soon. Government income is next to impossible to not declare, but there do exist systems of deductions and tax credits that can be used in order to reduce (avoid) tax obligations.
A standard, universally-understood tax reduction device that is built into the income tax system is the basic personal tax credit (usually the first line in the tax deduction portion of a tax calculation form). This “credit” assumes that the tax filer has in essence prepaid this amount, and therefore may reduce this from his or her taxable income. The personal credit reduction is available as a whole number, not an integer, i.e. not allowed to go into the negative and therefore not refundable. Enter NIT.
By allowing the Basic Personal Tax reduction to enter into the negative, lower and zero income tax filers will find a tax refund that will reach up to the total amount of the stated tax credit. (The personal tax credit amount usually hovers around a nation’s poverty line.) These tax refunds theoretically could be returned as a lump sum, but it are more likely and preferably to be returned as a monthly installment. Here we have the basic framework of a guaranteed monthly income program, albeit based on a persons previous year’s situation.
By tweaking the regulations in the tax system, a monthly, taxable prepayment of a refund (based on a zero income for the current year assumption) can be made available to all.
Article by Ward Smith
by Guest Contributor | Nov 19, 2022 | Opinion
Leaders from around the world are attending to discuss climate change, its consequences, and how to face them. This event is COP27 which took place in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. One of the focuses of the recent climate conference is how to support countries, especially from the global south, which are suffering the most through climate change.
In the past, developed nations had promised to support countries suffering from climate change consequences with yearly $100 billion USD to deal with the effects of climate change. While most of that money has been given in the form of high-interest loans, which might force some nations into debt traps, even those $100 billion has not been provided completely. This is especially tragic as most of the emissions causing climate change have been emitted from the industries of developed nations that profited through them and gained more wealth.
At the same time, countries across the global south are the primary victims of climate change. Floods in Pakistan this year, as well as droughts in the Sahel region in Africa, are already destroying hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives. It can only be expected that those numbers will continue to rise.
All those circumstances show the necessity of a global universal basic income, especially now. Providing the population of the regions suffering the most from climate change with a basic income will help them rapidly. People who are facing new challenges every day as a result of climate change will threaten their homes, their sources of income, and their sources of nutrition would have a reliable basic income.
Having a guaranteed basic income would not only improve the mental health of those people by reducing their stress levels, as many studies have already shown and are continuing to show. It would also give people an opportunity to think about the problems they will face in the future instead of only focusing on issues they have to survive through today. A Universal Basic Income would give people a fighting chance
For this to happen, politicians have to be cooperative and fair. They have to bare responsibility for causing climate change and support through their wealth which was based on emissions directly or indirectly, a basic income to the countries which are hit hardest by climate change. If they refuse to do that, they will continue suffering from climate change. All that does not have to happen if we take the necessary steps to save millions of lives and take the opportunity to take massive steps toward the future.
Written by: Ahmed ElBaz
by Guest Contributor | Jul 26, 2022 | Opinion
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a program that provides citizens of a country with a monthly or annual stipend. It is given to individuals regardless of their employment status, income, or resources they own. The objective of Universal Basic Income is to reduce poverty and wealth disparity in a country. So far, no country has implemented Universal Basic Income but some countries have tried to implement it. Some of the countries that have tried UBI include:
The United States has tried several programs in the spirit of Basic Income. The most notable one is the Alaska Permanent Fund. Every citizen is given a share of America’s oil and gas revenues amounting to between $1,000 and $2,000. The results of the program had no effect on employment but had an effect on fertility by encouraging people to have more kids.
There was also another program in North Carolina where every member was getting between $4,000 and $6,000 every year. The results showed that it led to improved mental health, and improved education and did not discourage people from working.
Canada has tried several Basic Income programs. The first pilot program, known as Mincome targeted the residents of Manitoba and was conducted in 1974. Every family was getting 16,000 CAD. The results of the program showed improvement in education since there was less involvement in labor among school-going children.
The second pilot project was conducted in Ontario in 2017. Single participants were getting 16,989 CAD while married participants were getting 24,027 CAD. However, the project was canceled before its completion. Its preliminary findings showed that there was decreased use of alcohol and tobacco among over 50% of the participants.
Brazil has tried a basic income-like program known as Bolsa Familia in 2004. However, this program is distinct from basic income in that it has conditions. For example, participants had to keep their children in school and visit health clinics.
Also, between 2008 and 2014, there was another basic income trial in the village of Quatinga Velho. It was targeting one hundred participants and each was receiving 30 reals ($8) every month.
In 2020, Brazil introduced another basic income program known as Renda Básica de Cidadania targeting the residents of Marica. Each participant was receiving 130 reals ($35). The program was funded through oil royalties and the fund was accessed in the form of a card.
Finland launched a basic income trial program in 2016 targeting unemployed citizens. The program targeted 2,000 randomly selected participants and each was getting 560 euros. The program ended in 2018. The findings of the trial program showed that participants were happier and less stressed leading to improved health.
Namibia had a basic income pilot program between 2008 and 2009. Every resident of Otjivero-Omitara was entitled to 100 Namibian dollars ($6.75) every month. The program was funded by donors from around the world.
Findings from the pilot program showed that cases of child malnutrition had dropped significantly while school enrollment went up. Also, social crimes such as theft had significantly dropped.
India had a basic income pilot program between 2011 and 2012. The program targeted 6,000 residents of Madhya Pradesh. The program was funded by Unicef and was run in two phases.
In the first phase, every man, woman, and child was entitled to receive a stipend. Every adult was receiving 200 rupees while every child would receive 100 rupees. The stipend for children was paid to the guardian. After a year, the stipend was increased to 300 rupees and 150 rupees for adults and children respectively.
In the second phase, every member of the village was receiving 300 rupees per adult and 150 rupees per child. The findings of both programs showed that there was an improvement in nutrition, sanitation and school attendance among children has risen.
Summary of Countries that Have Tried Universal Basic Income
Findings from countries that have tried a form of Basic Income showed that it leads to improved health since people reduced their financial stress. Additionally, it leads to improvement in educational outcomes since children can stay in school instead of working to support their families.
Written by: Vincent Nyoike