Sweden: MP Rebecka Le Moine introduces a motion in Parliament for the investigation of basic income

Sweden: MP Rebecka Le Moine introduces a motion in Parliament for the investigation of basic income

Rebecka Le Moine. Picture credit to: SLU (

 

The Member of the Swedish Parliament (MP), and Green Party representative Rebecka Le Moine has submitted, on the 30th of November 2018, a motion for the deep investigation of basic income in Sweden. Rebecka, a 28 years old ecologist particularly dedicated to natural conservation issues, is a member of both the committees on Taxation and Environment and Agriculture.

 

The motion itself doesn’t go into a large detail about basic income itself, although it does provide a firm justification to pursue with deeper studies related to it. For instance, it refers to John Maynard Keynes’s predictions of a 15-hour working week, and the generalized usage of automation to replace most repetitive and/or too demanding (or dangerous) jobs. It also names Martin Luther King, particularly his voicing on eradicating poverty through the introduction of unconditional cash transfers. The most notorious basic income experiments around the world – Namibia, Finland, Canada, India – are also mentioned, as a way to contextualize the motion and show-reel some of the advantages of basic income (on an experimental setup).

 

The motion also draws on a human-rights approach to basic income, by referring to the United Nations Charter of Human Rights. Concretely, it appeals to article 22, where it says that all members of society shall have the right to a dignified life, according to each country’s capacity. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are also referred to, since these call for poverty eradication and equal rights to financial resources for all people.

 

On a more personal level, the motion justifies studying basic income deeper on the experimental fact that people get more creative and less risk-aversive when given unconditional money. It also testifies for the relation between freedom and civility, democracy and conscious environmentalism. More secure and less needy people are also more amenable and generous. It goes on to add that unconditional money equates to a power shift from society’s main institutions – governments, corporations, churches, ONG’s – to the individual, who gets a higher ability to say no to oppressive work and life conditions, or yes to tasks or life paths which are not sufficiently valued nowadays. That, of course, leads to major disruptions in the labour market and generalized social constructs.

 

As for financing, the motion swiftly mentions international prized economists who affirm basic income is affordable. That affordability can come from cost savings, with the reduction or elimination of certain conditional social benefits, together with increased taxes on the extraction of natural resources, carbon emissions, fortunes and on the financial sector.

 

More information at:

[in Swedish]

Rebecka Le Moine, “Basinkomst”, Motion till riksdagen, Sveriges Riksdag, November 2018

SWEDEN: Developer Conference in Malmö gets session by Scott Santens on basic income

SWEDEN: Developer Conference in Malmö gets session by Scott Santens on basic income

Scott Santens. Credit to: Enno Schmidt
Scott Santens will present a keynote session in the Developer Conference in Malmö, Sweden, on the 9th of November. His key points will be:
  • Technological unemployment is real;
  • Technological unemployment is not something we should fear;
  • In order to not fear technological unemployment;
  • The best way to decouple income from work is with unconditional basic income.

Scott summarizes his talk the following way:

“Advances in artificial intelligence present a clear and present danger to societies built around the idea that all members must be gainfully employed in order to survive. The threat posed by technological unemployment is not something that’s just years down the road however. It’s already here and the effects can be observed all around us. Furthermore, in a sane society, technological advances would not be something to fear, but something to embrace, by benefiting all members of society. In order for this to happen, the productivity gains of technology must be shared universally and unconditionally. For reasons that will be made clear for those listening, the idea of a basic income is not only an effective way to accomplish this critical goal, it’s an absolutely necessary idea to implement immediately in nation after nation around the world in order to create a better present and future for all of human civilization.”

SWEDEN: UBIE Vice-Chair launches Basic Income Political Party

SWEDEN: UBIE Vice-Chair launches Basic Income Political Party

Lena Stark, Vice-Chair of Unconditional Basic Income Europe (UBIE), member has founded a new political party, Basinkomstpartiet, to promote basic income in Sweden.

Basinkomstpartiet plans to develop a specific model of basic income for the country, and to run candidates for election in Sweden’s general election in September 2018.

At present, however, the party is still under development–as is the exact model of basic income that it will promote. To become an official political party, Basinkomstpartiet needs 1500 signatures; at the time of this writing, it had approximately 700. In addition to gathering signatures, Basinkomstpartiet, whose core leadership presently consists of five people, is now focused on raising funds and developing a party platform. The party is also gathering a team of researchers and academics to draft a model for its basic income proposal.

While other basic income focused political parties have been described as “single-issue” parties (such as Germany’s Bündnis Grundeinkommen, launched in October of last year), Stark rejects the label of a “single-issue political party” for Basinkomstpartiet, stressing the broad ramifications of the introduction of a basic income.

Basinkomstpartiet promotes a view of basic income as a human right, linking it to the right to an “adequate standard of living” demanded by the United Nations Conventions on Human Rights, while also advancing the policy as a way to reduce stress in society and promote ecological sustainability.

Stark has been involved with the basic income movement since 2013, and began developing her idea for a political party in 2016, in light of the slow adoption of basic income among existing Swedish political parties. Although a few individuals in most parties support basic income, no party has come out in favor of any version of the policy. Sweden’s Green Party has never promoted a basic income, despite calling for an investigation of the idea at its 2015 conference.

For more information, follow Basinkomstpartiet on the web and Facebook.  


Reviewed by Sarah Harris.

Photo: Lena Stark at Nordic Conference on Basic Income Pilots; credit: Filip Stadler

Philippe Van Parijs lectures on “Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy”

Philippe Van Parijs lectures on “Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy”

Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy, a comprehensive book by BIEN’s Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght, was published last month on Harvard University Press.

In honor of the launch of the book, Van Parijs has delivered several public lectures, beginning with events in Copenhagen, Denmark (March 28) and Stockholm, Sweden (March 30).

Copenhagen (Video Below)

The former was part of a workshop on basic income organized by the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen in conjunction with two political parties, the Alternative and the Social Liberal Party, and held at the Danish Parliament, Christiansborg.

In his talk, Van Parijs describes the origins of his own support for basic income and his discovery of previous supporters of the idea. He goes on to discuss the current popularity of the idea, examining three events that have popularized basic income within the past year: the Swiss basic income referendum, the decision of the Finnish government to conduct a basic income pilot study, and the election of president candidate Benoît Hamon in France’s Socialist primary.   

Van Parijs’s lecture was followed by two additional presentations on the topic — a critical perspective from Otto Brøns-Petersen of the think tank CEPOS, and a sympathetic one from Torsten Gejl of the Alternative, who relates that the party is beginning to investigate a model for a feasible basic income for Denmark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eraDjPAiC-E

Stockholm (Video Below)

The second launch event was a seminar at Stockholm University, moderated by Institute for Future Studies Director Gustaf Arrhenius.

In this lecture, Van Parijs considers basic income from the standpoint of philosophical ethics and social justice, addressing the common objection that it is unjust to provide money to individuals without requiring some type of work or contribution. In countering the “freeloader” objection, Van Parijs begins with what he calls “ad hominem” replies — accusing the objectors of applying inconsistent principles. He proceeds to provide a positive account to justify the provision of a basic income without requiring anything in return, viewing it instead as a social inheritance. According to Van Parijs, most of the wealth in society cannot be ascribed to the contributions of any particular individuals, and is best conceived as rightfully belonging to all of us collectively. At the same time, he stresses that we still need an “ethos of contribution”, which is compatible with the provision of an unconditional basic income.

Ingrid A.M. Robeyns (Chair Ethics of Institutions at Utrecht University) and Andreas Bergh (Associate Professor in Economics at Lund University) provided comments on Van Parijs’s talk.

Robeyns praises Basic Income, especially for its balanced and sympathetic treatment of critical views. Her comments provide a general critique of the discourse surrounding basic income, arguing that one cannot be “for” or “against” a basic income outright without specifying amount, funding source, and what other programs would be replaced.

Bergh also praises the book, calling it “convincing”, although he too has complaints with the current state of basic income discourse–beginning with the book’s subtitle. According to Bergh, basic income is not a “radical” proposal and, moreover, calling it such is unhelpful with respect to its political popularity. Bergh urges basic income advocates to “get their hands dirty with national politics”.

 

United States

After the European book launch events, Van Parijs traveled to the United States for additional public lectures. These included a talk at Bowling Green State University in Ohio on April 7, where he was one of three keynote speakers (along with Evelyn Forget and Matt Zwolinski) at the university’s annual Political Theory Workshop–which, for 2017, focused on basic income and the future of work. On April 12, Van Parijs spoke at Stanford University, as the second major event hosted by the university’s newly founded Basic Income Lab.


Reviewed by Cameron McLeod

Cover photo credit: Enno Schmidt

Christian Engström, “A concrete and financed proposal for basic income in Sweden”

Christian Engström, “A concrete and financed proposal for basic income in Sweden”

Former MEP Christian Engström has written a “concrete proposal” for a basic income guarantee in Sweden. Originally published online only in Swedish, Engström’s paper is now available in English.

Christian Engström, a former Member of the European Parliament 2009-2014 for the Swedish Pirate Party, has prepared a detailed proposal for an unconditional guaranteed income of 900 EUR (8333 SEK) per month, tax-free, for every Swedish resident between the ages of 19 and 65.

The basic income would replace Sweden’s current social assistance programs, student aid, and unemployment benefits, but no other government-funded programs. Disability and sickness benefits, child benefits, and the state pension would remain in place.

Engström’s basic income guarantee is designed as a negative income tax rather than as a universal grant, with the amount of the grant tapering off as the recipient earns income. Specifically, Engström proposes a 33% income tax with a reduction of the basic income grant by the same amount. (For example, someone who makes 300 EUR would pay 100 EUR in income taxes, and see their basic income lowered by 100 EUR, but would still net 100 EUR.)

Engström proposes no increase in income taxes, and points out that 33% is Sweden’s current normal marginal tax rate for low- and middle-income earners.

The basic income grant would be financed in part through money saved on the social assistance programs to be replaced. The rest of the funds, according to Engström’s proposal, would come from eliminating certain industry-specific discounts on value-added tax (VAT), such as those enjoyed in the food and restaurant industry.

In presenting his specific plan, Engström is motivated by concerns about political feasibility. He states that, ultimately, he would prefer a higher level for the guaranteed minimum income–and that his “concrete” proposal might be seen as an initial step toward bigger and more refined variants of the basic income:

“I hope that in time we will see a basic income of maybe 1,100€ or more in Sweden. But it is not strictly necessary to start at such a high level. It is enough that the basic income is livable, and not lower than today’s social assistance benefits. Then we can introduce the new system, which is the big and complicated step. Once we have done that, and can see in practice how it works and what it costs, we can continue improving the basic income through the ordinary political process.”

To date, basic income has received little mainstream political support in Sweden — unlike neighboring Finland, where an experiment on the effects of an unconditional basic income will begin next year.

Read the details of Engström’s proposal in the full report, available here:

Christian Engström “Basic Income: A concrete and financed proposal for basic income in Sweden“.

 

Video of Engström presenting his proposal at Finland’s International Basic Income Seminar in Turku, August 2016.


Reviewed by Genevieve Shanahan

Stockholm photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Stina Stockholm