A round-up of articles on universal basic income, designed to whip up enthusiasm, get us over the hump of creation, and propel us into momentum.
In my opinion, this is our chance to bring in this eminently-worthwhile change to our economies – last stop before the Reval.
Second last stop before NESARA and a total change in approach to finances and life.
Universal basic income: Will it become a reality after lockdown is lifted?
Marta Rodriguez Martinez, Euronews, 17/04/2020
Pope Francis, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and European Central Bank vice president Luis Guindos all agree: it is time to think about a universal basic income in the face of the unprecedented economic abyss caused by the coronavirus health crisis.
Daniel Susskind, an economist from the University of Oxford, recently likened the current global health and economic crisis to what the world faced in the aftermath of the Second World War.
The foundations of the modern-day welfare state were laid down by British economist William Beveridge in 1942 when he was tasked by the UK government to come up with a comprehensive system of social insurance that could be implemented once peace had been achieved in order to boost the economy and reduce poverty.
He proposed that all working people should pay a contribution to the state, which in exchange would pay the unemployed, the sick, the retired and the widowed. It formed the basis of the modern welfare state.
But, nearly 80 years on, Susskind has argued it is now time for something completely different.
A safety net
“The coronavirus has revealed weaknesses in ensuring economic security across Europe,” Anthony Painter, director of the RSA Center for Action and Research, told Euronews.
“Workers face an intolerable choice between their work, their families and their health. With universal basic income they know that they are not going to bite the dust, there will always be a network that will help lighten these conflicts.”
For Painter, when we come to the end of the health emergency, each democracy will have to assess how its welfare state has withstood this intense stress.
“And where there are too many holes, a move toward basic income should be firmly on the agenda,” he argued.
“My view is that traditionally robust welfare states like Scandinavia, France and Germany will handle tensions reasonably well.
“Everyone else, including Spain and the UK, will have to reconsider their social safety nets if we want to have greater security and resistance in the future.”
Spain introduces a ‘minimum vital income’
José Luis Escrivá, Spain’s minister of social security, announced on Wednesday that a “minimum vital income” will be approved in May and be sent to nearly 100,000 vulnerable single-parent households.
“It is going to be structural, permanent, it’s here to stay,” Escrivá said in an interview with El País newspaper. “It will be something new that social security has not offered so far and that we are trying to accelerate to the maximum.”
The crisis caused by COVID-19 has destroyed nearly 890,000 jobs in Spain since a state of emergency and the subsequent confinement were declared a month ago — a figure equivalent to the worst months of the 2008 economic crisis.
However, it should be noted that a “minimum vital income” is not the same as a universal basic income, which is granted without any conditions to every citizens.
An open debate elsewhere in Europe
The United Kingdom, for its part, has so far ruled out such a measure. British finance minister Rishi Sunak rejected the proposal on Tuesday, arguing that it was not the correct answer to the coronavirus crisis.
Italy, the first European country to introduce a lockdown, started out on this road even before the arrival of the pandemic.
The Five Star Movement party, currently in power in a coalition government, introduced a minimum income in 2019 for families who meet vulnerability criteria.
The country’s labour minister, Nunzia Catalfo, is now proposing to make approximately 3 million additional citizens eligible.
In Germany, a proposal was submitted in March to the Bundestag petition committee with more than 450,000 signatures in favour of universal basic income. But it is unlikely to become law as there is no parliamentary majority for it, with the ruling CDU/CSU group against the measure.
In France, the concept was championed by Benoit Hamon, the Socialist party candidate in the 2017 presidential race. He defended his idea once more this month in an open letter published by Le Monde newspaper in which he wrote that “the strength of universal income is that it remains, no matter what happens, that it is always there when a major crisis occurs”.
“It is the social antidote to the repetition of these health crises,” he added.
But French President Emmanuel Macron has said he does not believe in unconditional universal income.
The Finnish trial
Finland is among the nations who pioneered a universal basic income scheme. It launched a trial in 2017 involving 2,000 citizens who became the first Europeans to receive a monthly tax-free €560 stipend with no requirement to be working.
Participants, aged 25 to 58, were randomly chosen from people receiving unemployment benefits.
Preliminary results from the trial showed that it failed to prompt employment, but improved participants’ well-being and confidence, according to the researchers.
With an estimated cost of around €20 million, the Finnish government chose not to renew or extend the trial in April 2018.
But two years later, as the global economy takes a dive similar to that of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the idea has once again gained in popularity.
“(The results) showed neutral impacts on employment, when detractors of universal basic income affirm that it would be detrimental to work,” Painter told Euronews.
“And trust in others, the government, and future job prospects increased,” he stressed.
Given that the welfare state emerged from the ashes of World War II, some now believe the health crisis may transform the universal basic income from a mere ideological debate to reality.
Universal basic income is the answer to the inequalities exposed by COVID-19
Kanni WignarajaAssistant Secretary-General, United Nations and Balazs HorvathChief Economist, UNDP, Asia-Pacific, World Economic Forum, 17 Apr 2020
Rule number one of crisis management: When you find yourself in a hole, first, stop digging.
In the COVID-19 outbreak frenzy, several countries are considering massive fiscal stimulus packages and printing money, to blunt the concurrent crises underway: the pandemic and the unraveling economic depression.
These plans are essential, but they need to be strategic and sustainable. Because in addressing the current crises, we must avoid sowing seeds of new ones, as the stakes are incredibly high.
Have you read?
It is time to add a new element to the policy packages that governments are introducing, one we know but have abandoned: Universal Basic Income (UBI). It is needed as part of the package that will help us to get out of this yawning pit.
The naysayers, and there are plenty, will point out that it won’t work because no country can afford to regularly dole out money to every citizen. They will argue that we will run unsustainable deficits, which cannot be financed.
This is a valid concern. But the alternative – not strongly addressing COVID-19 repercussions – will result in a greater surge in inequality, increasing social tensions that would cost governments even more and open countries to heightened risk of societal conflict.
The pandemic that began in China has raged across Asia and beyond, exposing inequalities and vulnerabilities of huge populations in the region. This includes informal workers – estimated at 1.3 billion people or two-thirds of the Asia-Pacific workforce – as well as migrants, with almost 100 million dislocated, in India alone. If a large part of an entire generation loses its livelihood, with no social safety net to catch it, the social costs will be unbearably high. Economic instability will follow the flare-up of social tensions.
During these times, when we need to kickstart sputtering economies, the payoff of social stability would be tremendous, making an even more powerful argument for UBI.
So a new social contract needs to emerge from this crisis that rebalances deep inequalities that are prevalent across societies. To put it bluntly: The question should no longer be whether resources for effective social protection can be found – but how they can be found. UBI promises to be a useful element of such a framework.
Countries like the United States and Canada are already making such plans. Alaska, in fact, has been making annual UBI-type payments, to every state resident, for decades. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau pledged CAD$2,000 a month, for the next four months, to workers who have lost income due to the pandemic – a short-term form of UBI. Now we need to expand it and make it work in the long-term, and we can.
We must approach it differently from how we have in the past. We should neither view it as a hand-out, nor as a Band-Aid solution to add on to systems already in place. Instead, we should use the current twin crises to re-evaluate where we are “still digging”.
To make UBI fly, we will need fair taxation. Countries will have to work together, exchanging data across borders, to stop people and corporations from evading taxes. Simply put, we must all pay our fair share. With good conscience, we can no longer privatize profit and socialize loss.
Then stop the subsidies, notably fossil-fuel subsidies, which hinder the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – especially climate-change targets. This would benefit us all, while generating financial resources not just for UBI, but also to support affected fossil-fuel companies.
Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, among the richest people on the planet, have both advocated for the rich to pay more in taxes, the lack of which has led to a growing and enormous disparity. According to Credit Suisse’s 2018 Global Wealth Report, 10% of the world’s richest own 85% of its wealth.
Multinationals too are not paying their fair share. Apple, Amazon, Google and Walmart to name just a few, generate mind-boggling profits and pay limited amounts in taxes, after taking advantage of all the wrinkles in tax systems. If the top 1,000 corporations in the world were fairly taxed, it would allow for a modest UBI to be tightly and reasonably dispensed in countries across the world.
Something is simply wrong and broken when governments are deprived of funds they should justifiably have to construct a better state.
Lest the naysayers think this is a theory from the left, the idea of tax competition has been touched upon, for years on end, by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Its members include the US, Canada and Western European countries.
This is what its fiscal policy experts say: “To work effectively, a global economy needs some acceptable ground rules to guide governments and business. Such a framework can help business to move capital to locations where it can optimize its return, without impeding the aim of national governments to meet the legitimate expectations of their citizens for a fair share in the benefits and costs of globalization.”
To achieve “acceptable ground-rules” and “a fair share in the benefits and costs” will require global coordination; because if one country begins taxing this way, highly mobile capital will flee to countries that do not.
There is no question that UBI will be hard to get going. It is important to impartially consider the pros and cons, the reasons why it has not been implemented at scale so far, and what modalities would make it workable.
A key complicating factor with implementing UBI – beyond its fiscal cost – is that it would not arrive in a vacuum. It would need to fit into and complement the existing set of social programmes, both insurance-based and needs-based. And rules would be needed to prevent double-dipping of benefits.
Moving to such a system would need to ensure that the incentives to have a job remain intact. That is relatively simple to do: A UBI should be sufficient, to sustain a person at a modest minimum, leaving sufficient incentives to work, save, and invest.
Finally, good arguments can be made for having very selective conditions – for instance, some that relate to public goods, like vaccinating all children and ensuring they attend school. Such selective conditions would not undermine the main purpose of eliminating poverty and allow low-income people to take calculated risks, to try to lift themselves out of poverty.
What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?
A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.
Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.
As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.
The alternative to not having UBI is worse – the rising likelihood of social unrest, conflict, unmanageable mass migration and the proliferation of extremist groups that capitalize and ferment on social disappointment. It is against this background that we seriously need to consider implementing a well-designed UBI, so shocks may hit, but they won’t destroy.
COVID-19 stimulus checks put universal basic income back in the conversation. Is it an ethical option?
Religion scholars disagree on whether universal basic income is compatible with Christian teachings
Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News, Apr 17, 2020
SALT LAKE CITY — Amid an almost unprecedented economic downturn caused by the rapid spread of COVID-19, one bold proposal to combat financial insecurity is gaining steam.
Congress has already sent out one round of stimulus checks, and many Americans are hoping for more. This week, two House Democrats proposed sending additional money out each month until the economy recovers.
“Americans need sustained cash infusions for the duration of the crisis in order to come out on the other side alive, healthy and ready to get back to work,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, according to Forbes.
Some political activists say this legislation still doesn’t go far enough. Supporters of universal basic income believe the time is right for the government to adopt a permanent monthly payment program.
“It should be a basic right of citizenship to have a certain level of resources to be able to meet your basic needs,” said former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang on NPR last month.
In an Easter letter, Pope Francis initially appeared to make a similar claim. He expressed support for a “universal basic wage” and called on societal leaders to uphold workers’ rights.
“I hope that this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot … and allow a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the center,” he wrote.
Although a Vatican official has since clarified that the pope was not advocating for universal basic income, the letter sparked a debate about where Christians should stand on the controversial concept.
Some people of faith argue monthly checks from the government would benefit efforts to build a better world, while others say such payouts would do more harm than good.
A universal basic income program would “support people’s basic needs,” said Kate Ward, an assistant professor of Christian ethics at Marquette University.
But it could also distract from other important religious values, said David Cloutier, an associate professor of moral theology and ethics at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Faith-based arguments for and against
Two key factors for Christians to consider about universal basic income and similar proposals is how they would affect people’s interest in working and whether they would do enough good for the poorest members of society, according to religion and policy scholars.
The impact on work habits matters because many faith groups emphasize the value of labor, said Heath W. Carter, an associate professor of American Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary. Christians are taught to work hard and be self-sufficient, not to rely on a monthly check from the government to keep them afloat.
“Some worry that universal basic income undermines their belief in the dignity of labor,” he said. “They think there’s something deeply important and even sacred about working and creating and that (these activities) are vital parts of a flourishing human life.”
Supporters of universal basic income argue that a monthly check from the government would lead to better work-life balance rather than laziness. People might quit their second job or side hustle, but few would leave the workforce altogether, Ward said.
“Even when people retire, they usually immediately start volunteering for a million things and taking care of their grandkids. They don’t just play video games all day,” she said.
With an extra $1,000 each month, people could reduce the amount of hours they spend at their office and increase participation in other activities valued by faith groups, Ward added.
“Most would say that, in the U.S., we value wage work too much. Many people don’t leave time for family work, time in their community, worship or time in nature,” she said.
Cloutier agreed that a universal basic income would enable some workers to spend more time with their families. However, it wouldn’t go far enough toward solving problems like high housing or medical costs that lead people to work long hours in the first place, he said.
“It wouldn’t get to the root causes (of financial instability) and, in fact, could lead to ignoring much more important problems,” he said.
It could also take resources away from the people who currently rely on the social safety net, Cloutier said, noting that such a shift would violate religious teachings on prioritizing the needs of the poor.
“Universal basic income, by definition, is supposed to benefit everyone equally,” he said. “Why devote all this money to people who have enough material resources when we should be focusing on providing those resources to the people who fall through the cracks of the market?”
It’s true that monthly checks from the government could cause more problems than they solve if the underlying policy is poorly crafted, Ward said. The money might be able to replace food stamps or housing subsidies, but it would take a lot more than $1,000 per month to cover everything that’s currently part of the social safety net.
“The devil is in the details,” she said.
Few Christians could get behind a stipend program that hurts the people who need it most, said Sam Brunson, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a law professor at Loyola University Chicago.
Most religions teach that “we have a particular duty to the poorest and most disadvantaged,” he said.
A good policy would adjust existing federal welfare policies, not end them prematurely. It would also address Cloutier’s concern about sending more money to people who already have enough, Ward said.
“You can make (the government stipend) taxable over a certain amount of income,” she said.
Even if some people who are already living comfortably were able to keep the extra money, those who currently rely on the social safety net would enjoy unique benefits, Brunson said. Most notably, the public image of government handouts would improve.
“Universal basic income, to some extent, relieves the stigma of receiving government money because everybody gets it,” he said.
It also would give poorer families more freedom to decide how to use their resources than they get from most existing programs, Ward said, noting that the gospel supports that kind of “dignifying” approach.
Universal basic income would enable people “to make the choices that are best for them,” she said.
That’s a laudable goal, but it’s achievable through less expensive and more achievable means, Cloutier said.
“If the intention is to help people who need some kind of income support, there are other ways to do that,” he said.
Add coronavirus to the debate?
The main drawback to other potential paths forward is that they’re not getting nearly as much buzz right now. Sending monthly checks to all Americans might be an imperfect solution to poverty, but it would disrupt the unsatisfactory status quo, Carter said.
“There needs to be some kind of structural response to the structural change that’s happening in our economic life,” he said.
However, some Christians will never be interested in government-led solutions, since they believe church-led charitable programs can better serve people in need.
“They don’t want the government doing this type of thing,” Carter said.
This religiously motivated preference for private welfare helps explain why a large share of Christians oppose universal basic income regardless of economic conditions.
In 2017, around 4 in 10 Protestants (45%) and Catholics (41%) said the government should not provide Americans with a guaranteed income even in the event that robots and computers could perform most jobs currently done by humans, according to Pew Research Center data provided to the Deseret News.
Christians who support universal basic income hope that actually living through a major crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic will help change some people’s minds. For too long, Christians have talked about the value of a “living wage” and the flaws of existing welfare programs without actually taking action, Carter said.
“This crisis … puts an exclamation mark on the kinds of trends people are experiencing,” he said. Problems with the current social safety net “are coming into the light in a new way.”
But so are the high costs of providing new forms of financial support, Cloutier said.
Congress found a way to send one $1,200 stimulus check, but many questions about how to pay for a broader universal basic income program remain unresolved. Cloutier and other Christian opponents of the concept hope they’ll stay that way.
“We should focus on directing money toward people who actually need it,” he said.