Hilde Latour, a long-standing basic income activist from the Netherlands, has recently made a presentation on a TEDx independently organized event, in Amstelveen, Netherlands. Latour is also a coordinator / director at Wisecolab, a forward-looking organization of thinkers, activists and technology experts, who try to bring new common good narratives to people, backed and helped by technology recent and future developments.
Summarizing Latour’s TEDx talk, the following can be said: Hilde is on a mission to create a world free of poverty. A basic income for everyone on this earth will not only eliminate poverty but will also contribute to other goals like reduce crime and increase health. It will impact us all. There is no need to wait for politicians. Innovation and technology can help to create this sustainable future.
On September 15th 2018, Donut-D-Day brought together various Dutch organizations and citizens committed to integrated systemic reforms to fight climate change, socioeconomic inequality, and unstable financial systems. The organizers used Kate Raworth‘s model of Doughnut Economics to imagine possible approaches that would balance the need for minimum standards of living for all people (the social foundation), within the environmental limits of the Earth. This day was intended to be the first encounter of longer series of meetings, aiming to connect people working on themes that are strongly linked and to facilitate their integration and collaboration.
Kate Raworth was present through a prerecorded video presentation in which she emphasized how we are currently overshooting the donut on both sides, with poverty and hunger in the center of the donut, and climate change and environmental destruction on the outside of the donut. In order to eliminate human deprivation while staying within planetary boundaries, she argues we need economies that are distributive and regenerative by design. Sources of wealth creation, particularly housing & land, energy generation, enterprise ownership, money creation, and info & technology, will need to be pre-distributed. Simultaneously, we will need to work within the cycles of the living world toward a circular or cyclical economy, investing in renewables, recognizing the potentials of waste, creating systems of repair and share, and pushing for open source standards, resources, and data. She invited people to join the discussion groups on these topics on her website.
The second presenter was Harold Boven, an economist and co-initiator of the plan Courageously Forward by the Young Democrats, which is a financially covered plan for basic income that would end all poverty in the Netherlands. Harold presented data from a Dutch study (CPB, 2016) that could not find any positive results of the 6.5 billion euros invested in activating employment policy to get unemployed people into jobs. He emphasized that basic income would not lead to inflation because it is fiscally financed and does not require the introduction of extra money. According to him, a basic income of €1200/month per single adult and €300/month per child, adding €600/month per adult when sharing a household. He presented a financing mechanism to cover the 164 billion euros annual cost for such a policy, which would come from the elimination of existing welfare programs (134 billion), the introduction of lightly progressive property taxes (14 billion), environmental and energy taxes for companies (14 billion), and inheritance taxes (2 billion). Disability payments would remain untouched. Apart from the usual advantages attributed to basic income, Harold added that it is a response to the failure to the current system and dissatisfaction with the political establishment, while presenting an alternative for emerging populism.
Anne Knol, from Environmental Defense, shared her insights on what she learned about the incredible complexities of interconnections between environmental and social problems. Anne estimated that science guides about 5% of debates, while emotion, lobby, and the interests of political parties guide the rest. She argued that campaign leaders need to present appealing stories that can compete with the story of capitalism and the widely spread and accepted idea that the market should be allowed to run its course. Anne reminded the audience about the donut economics, and to the dangers of overdoing policy on the environmental front, and then affecting people on the bottom of the income scale. On the other hand, there is the fear that if people’s standards of living are risen, that could lead to more environmental excesses. Hence the need to work on both “sides” of the donut simultaneously, ensuring a just distribution of both the costs and the benefits of environmental policies.
Herman Wijffels (Wikipedia)
The last main speaker of the day was Klaas van Egmond, professor of Geosciences at the University of Utrecht, co-initiator of the Sustainable Finance Lab, and board member of the NatureCollege. He discussed the problems in the current configuration of our financial system and the reforms necessary to break with the types of practices that led to the 2008 financial crisis and that will result in more problems in the future in they remain unchecked. Klaas explained that, in a healthy society, the main goal is the expression and implementation of values, as supported by the economy, in turn supported by the financial system. Klaas proposed that clear boundaries between the public and the private must be reinstalled, banks must not be bailed out and cannot have the power to create money. The community misses out on 40-50 billion euros per year due to money creation by private banks. This could instead be used to fund basic income and a smooth transition to sustainability. These measures would break with the cycle of growth and collapse, lead to a stable economy, and allow for complete elimination of government debts.
The day was wrapped up by Herman Wijffels, co-chair of Worldconnectors and until last October professor of sustainability and social change at the University of Utrecht. He emphasized that our current system is socially and economically dysfunctional and has been bought by capital. According to him, we are facing the end of material growth due to the exhaustion of natural resources and are on a journey through the desert to find a new promised land. Wiiffels spoke about a new type of society, with a fairer distribution of wealth, while putting the planet first. Basic income and financial reform would be key elements in the transformation of the capitalist system. In addition, he said that we need to acknowledge that masculine values are no longer appropriate for the 21st century and we should embrace feminine values, which would mean a greater care for life, connections with the Earth and all people on it.
Ive Marx. Picture Credit to: University of Antwerp
A news article posted in Flanders Today refers to a report, headed by economist Ive Marx, which concludes that introducing basic income in the Netherlands can actually increase poverty while having only a small effect on inequality.
Marx, from the University of Antwerp, concluded that introducing a 700 €/month basic income to all citizens with ages between 18 and 64, and 165 €/month to all minors would have a yearly net cost of 94 million Euros. That, according to the research, would have to be funded by extra taxes, plus cutting on unemployment and child allowances. As a result, around 75% of adult citizens would lose out financially, compared to their actual situation given the present-day benefits structure in the Netherlands. According to the study’s parameters, around 30% of the adult population would lose more than 10% of their income, which would contribute to an increase of poverty in 3%. Marx has also added that “proponents of the system must show why it is superior. You would have to be almost crazy to introduce it.”
In spite of these discouraging results, the study itself is not explicitly referred to in the article above, and no link to it is supplied. This way, base assumptions cannot be verified and a relevant discussion about it initiated. Furthermore, the author has not replied to contact attempts, which would allow to report on the study’s details, and compare it to other research reports and experiments.
A new research carried out for the European project PIE* News Commonfare, which involved three European countries (Croatia, Italy and Holland), has just been released.
In this research, several questions have been asked. How has the precarious workers lives have changed? Between unhappiness and potentiality, between fragility and autonomy, between self-exploitation and freedom? How did it turn out to be, under the blows of the crisis and also through the influence of technology? How have they perceived, and imagined to subvert, social and political difficulties?
The research offers an analysis of the transformations in the production system, of the transition between Fordism and post-Fordism era, the main changes in the labor market, the advent of mass precariousness, the transformation of welfare models and the new emerging (social) needs. Here lies a field research that also addresses the issue of how people, starting from their condition of necessity, build good practices, social cooperation and new forms of liberation. This research work represents the attempt to recount, compare and connect processes of community empowerment and autonomous planning paths, thereby re-establishing a “sense of the future”. It does so by reconstructing an existential perspective in a deeply changed environmental, material and subjective context.
The desire for freedom and autonomy among precarious generations clearly emerges, and with it the need for a new era with new rights based on guaranteed income.
1. THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC SYSTEM AND THE PIE CONDITIONS
1.1. DIMENSIONS OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHANGE OVER THE LAST DECADES
1.1.1 THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL AND PRODUCTIVE TRANSFORMATIONS
1.1.1.a The Italian context
1.1.1.b The Croatian context
1.1.1.c The Dutch context
1.1.2 LABOUR MARKET AND INCOME DISTRIBUTION
1.1.2.a The Italian Context
1.1.2.b The Croatian context
1.1.2.c The Dutch Context
1.1.3 DIMENSIONS OF THE CRISIS AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF WELLFARE POLICIES
1.1.3.a The Italian Context
1.1.3.b The Croatian context
1.1.3.c The Dutch Context
1.2 THE PIE CONDITIONS: RISK OF EXCLUSION, THE EXPERIENCE OF PRECARIOUSNESS AND UNCERTAINTY OF SOCIAL SUBJECTS
1.2.1 THE EFFECT OF PRECARIOUSNESS ON THE NEW POOR
1.2.1.a The Italian context
1.2.1.b The Croatian context
1.2.1.c The Dutch context
1.2.2 THE MULTIDIMENSIONALITY, THE TRANSVERSAL NATURE OF POVERTY, AND THE PERCEPTION OF RISK
1.2.2.a The Italian context
1.2.2.b The Croatian context
1.2.2.c The Dutch context
2. THE CHALLENGE OF NEWLY EMERGING NEEDS AND WELFARE STATE SYSTEM
2.1.a The social protection system, measures available in Italy
2.1.b The social protection system, measures available in Croatia
2.1.c The social protection system, measures available in Netherlands
2.2 PEOPLE EMERGING NEEDS
2.2.a Emerging needs in Italy
2.2.b Emerging needs in Croatia
2.2.c Emerging needs in Netherlands
3. OVERTURNING THE PIE CONDITIONS: STORIES AND EXPERIENCES OF COMMUNITIES
3.1 BOTTOM-UP WELFARE: NATURE AND IMPACT OF GRASSROOTS PRACTICES
3.1.a Bottom-up Welfare in Italy
3.1.b Bottom-up Welfare in Croatia
3.1.c Bottom-up Welfare in the Netherlands
3.2 GOOD PRACTICES: STORIES OF REPRODUCIBLE AND EFFECTIVE EXPERIENCES
3.2.a Experiences in Italy
3.2b Experiences in Croatia
3.2c Experiences in the Netherlands
ANNEX 1: THE SOCIAL PROTECTION SYSTEM, MEASURES AVAILABLE IN ITALY
ANNEX 2: THE SOCIAL PROTECTION SYSTEM, MEASURES AVAILABLE IN CROATIA.
ANNEX 3: THE SOCIAL PROTECTION SYSTEM, MEASURES AVAILABLE IN THE NETHERLANDS
*PIE (Poverty, Income, Employment) – Commonfare is a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research
and innovation programme under grant agreement No 687922
Blockchain is a kind of register, or digital ledger, of economic transactions. According to specialists, it is incorruptible since it exists as a distributed network of registers, and hence impossible to hack. Since 2008, the year of its appearance, it has evolved from a single article (by Satoshi Nakamoto) to a global phenomenon. At present, numerous applications have been found and are being researched for Blockchain, so much so that an international meeting of people working with the Blockchain has been set up. And this year that meeting, the Blockchaingers Hackathon, happened in Groningen, in the Netherlands, from the 5th to the 8th of April (some results of the Hackathon can be watched here).
The Blockchaingers Hackathon had already been organized in 2017, at the same location, but this year Hilde Latour, Co-chair of the Universal Basic Income Europe (UBIE), was there to try and plant the seed of basic income in several blockchain working teams. There have already been proposals that merge the blockchain and basic income concepts, such as the one involving artificial intelligence and autonomous assets, presented at the Blockchain Innovation Conference 2017 of Vincent Everts by Jan-Peter Doomernik. The connection of this “crazy thought experiment” with basic income was further explained by Hilde Latour at that same Conference, possible to watch on this short five-minute presentation.
At the Blockchaingers Hackathon 2018 Hilde was interviewed in twooccasions, where basic income is generally described, as well as its possible integration with what is called the “machine economy”. In any case, according to Hilde, basic income can be viewed as a transitional solution between the present day monetary economy and a future society where goods and services will be available to all, without the intermediation of money.
The 2020 BIEN Congress was to be held in Brisbane in Australia from the 28th to the 30th September 2020. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the event has been cancelled. BIEN’s Executive Committee and the Scottish and Australian congress Local Organising Committees have agreed the following statement: ‘The Scottish and Australian Congress Local Organisation Committees have agreed that the current plan is to hold the 2021 BIEN congress in Scotland and the 2022 BIEN congress in Australia.’
A Basic Income is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means-test or work requirement. Read more