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Arguments for Basic Income
Basic Income would cure most of our current economic problems.
Curated by Khannea Suntzu
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The Critics Are Wrong About the Future of Free-Market Health Care Reform

The Critics Are Wrong About the Future of Free-Market Health Care Reform | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
Earlier this week, the two of us—Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Avik Roy—published an op-ed for Reuters in which we outlined a market-based plan for entitlement reform and universal coverage that builds on a reformed version of Obamacare’s subsidized...
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This Is Your Brain On Poverty

"...Researchers publishing some groundbreaking findings today in the journal Science have concluded that poverty imposes such a massive cognitive load on the...
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Nonsense jobs prevent revolutions

Watch the full Keiser Report E497 on Saturday! In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, report from the heart of hedge fund land i...
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Some 95% of 2009-2012 Income Gains Went to Wealthiest 1%

Some 95% of 2009-2012 Income Gains Went to Wealthiest 1% | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
Research released this month shows that the incomes of the well-off have largely climbed back from the toll of the most recent recession while those of the poor have yet to start recovering.
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From ‘Inequality for All,’ a challenge for America

A new film challenges Americans to address the income gap.
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Khannea Suntzu's curator insight, September 10, 2013 4:06 PM

“Chilling.”

 

That’s how one reviewer describes the experience of watching Harvey Weinstein’s latest film. Only the movie in question isn’t “Erased,” Weinstein’s pulse-pounding thriller about an ex-CIA agent on the run. Nor is it “Only God Forgives,” in which Ryan Gosling finds himself caught up in a gritty underground world of Thai drug smuggling, prostitution, rape, and murder.]

 

The movie is, in fact, a documentary, but one more disturbing than international criminal conspiracies and more devastating than any “Sharknado.” It’s about income inequality. As Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich intones in the film, “Of all developed nations, the United States has the most unequal distribution of income, and we’re surging towards even greater inequality.”

 

“Inequality for All,” directed by Jacob Kornbluth and set to be released nationwide on Sept. 27, comes at a critical moment for America. Sept. 15 marks the five-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers — fueled by a toxic combination of deregulation, subprime lending and credit-default swaps — that precipitated the 2008 global economic crisis and laid bare the rot at the heart of our economic system. It was largely this orgy of greed that led the first Occupy Wall Street protesters to Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, two years ago next week.

 

In the half-decade since Wall Street’s self-induced crash, the country has hovered between outrage (that the perpetrators walked off scot-free and bonus-laden) and apathy (that anything will ever break the iron bond between Congress and the financial industry).

 

Until now, hopefully. Following the diminutive Reich on his “statistics-driven and impassioned” crusade, “Inequality for All” throws into sharp relief the numbers and stories we hear. Combining footage from Reich’s electrifying Berkeley lectures with interviews, news clips and rich graphics, the film weaves a compelling narrative about how and why, since the late 1970s, income inequality has risen to crisis levels.

 

The facts are breathtaking. In 1978, according to Reich, a “typical male worker” made $48,302, while the typical top 1 percenter earned $393,682, more than eight times as much. In 2010, even as overall gross domestic product and productivity increased, the average male worker’s wage fell to $33,751. Meanwhile, the average top 1 percent earner was making more than $1.1 million — 32 times the average earner.

 

Reich cleverly illustrates how the graph of American inequality over the past century looks like a suspension bridge — peaking in the 1920s, leveling out because of strong, progressive policymaking in the 1950s and 1960s, and spiking again from the Reagan years through the present. We see the consequences in middle-class families that have fallen off that bridge and are struggling to stay afloat.

 

The film’s most refreshing figure may be Nick Hanauer, a millionaire pillow company CEO who made a fortune as an early investor in Amazon.com. Hanauer acknowledges that he earns 1,000 times the average American but that he will never generate a proportionate amount of economic activity — because he will never need 1,000 Audis or 1,000 pairs of jeans. As he puts it, “Even the richest people only sleep on one or two pillows.”

 

 

Peter C. Newton-Evans's curator insight, September 13, 2013 11:31 AM

More evidence that setting a wealth threshold is essential to achieving both economic stability and true democracy.

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Exploding Wealth Inequality and the Rise of the Global Super-Rich

Exploding Wealth Inequality and the Rise of the Global Super-Rich | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
As technology continues to advance output and productivity, it is also exacerbating economic inequality at levels never before seen by humankind, says writer/economist Christia Freeland.
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Viewpoints: Is a salary of £300,000 a week too much?

Viewpoints: Is a salary of £300,000 a week too much? | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
After a summer of speculation, Welsh forward Gareth Bale has officially a world record £85m move to Real Madrid. He will earn a reported £300,000 a week after signing a six-year contract. But is it too much?
Khannea Suntzu's insight:

That is simply too much. 

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Basic Income Guarantee: Why now is the right time

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Khannea Suntzu's insight:

For 30 years, we have been watching television reports of food lines, unemployment lines, and people sleeping in the streets. The number of Americans living below the poverty line is now 46 million — 15.1 percent of our population. One child in five lives in poverty, compared to one in 12 in France and one in 38 in Sweden.

 

We have seen a lot of hand wringing, but no real solutions. Can anything be done? Or is it true that “the poor shall be always with us?”

 

The situation parallels the late 1960s, when a presidential commission, faced with the hunger and poverty of that decade, unanimously recommended that the federal government provide a basic income guarantee (BIG) — with no strings attached — to every American in need. The report was buried and forgotten. During the 1970s, Congress wrestled with four different guaranteed income bills. Not one of them passed. Today, despite the high unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, welfare is still a dirty word.

 

“If you’re poor and unemployed and not rich,” said presidential candidate Herman Cain in 2012, “it’s your own fault.”

 

Despite the increase in hunger and poverty, Congress is currently debating not whether to cut food stamps, but by how much. The Senate has proposed cuts of $4 billion. The House wants to cut $20 billion. Many Democrats are supporting the Senate version. The idea of a basic income guarantee has fallen from favor among all but its most ardent supporters. Today’s social activists are calling for a guaranteed job, not a guaranteed income.

 

The trouble with the guaranteed job plan is: Where are the jobs going to come from? If we want the government to create jobs for everyone out of work, we are talking about 14 million jobs. That is not even possible, let alone practical. And even if it were possible, the jobs would likely be of the dig-a-hole-and-fill-it-up variety. The government would become a monstrous employer. It would cost far more than just guaranteeing everyone an income. But something must be done. Economists predict we will never again see full employment in the United States. The traditional link between jobs and income has broken down, just as the president’s commission and others predicted 44 years ago. Technology and automation are changing the way we live faster than we can adjust our thinking. It is future shock, and it is here now.

 

So those outraged that hunger and poverty still exist in a country as wealthy as ours and those outraged that millions of Americans are forced to live in fear — fear of losing their jobs, fear of being destitute in old age or of winding up living in the streets — continue to come back to the basic income guarantee as the most pragmatic solution. Despite its fall from popularity, a wide range of economists still support the idea. The late Milton Friedman, adviser to Presidents Nixon and Reagan said: “We should replace the ragbag of specific welfare programs with a single comprehensive program of income supplements in cash — a negative income tax. It would provide an assured minimum to all persons in need, regardless of the reasons for their need.” Strong stuff from the right. But what about the cost? And why would anyone work if his or her income were guaranteed?

The United States is a wealthy nation. We could afford a BIG for everyone by eliminating most of the current social administrative programs, which cost north of $400 billion a year — 25 percent of which goes for administrative expenses, not to the needy. We can close many tax loopholes, which currently amount to $1 trillion a year.

 

During the debates of the 1970s, Louisiana’s tough-minded Senator Russell Long admitted, “Cost is not a problem. The problem is paying people not to work.”

 

The idea of giving money to people for not working goes against some of our most cherished and deep-rooted beliefs about the nobility of work. Is the threat of starvation needed to make people work? Or do people have a moral right to eat, whether they work or not? The evidence suggests people want to work, not just for the money, but also for the satisfaction of being useful. Government test programs of 8,700 families found people given guaranteed incomes worked 91 percent as much as those who were not.

 

With robotics becoming a household word, perhaps we should ask ourselves why it is necessary for us always to be working. “Workfare” assumes that the basic conditions of human life have to be earned. But why? Why not treat people’s basic economic existence as a legal right and then provide incentives to work to gain more? Why should it be necessary to force everyone to work? Would it not be better to begin to liberate ourselves from this necessity?

 

Former French President Francois Mitterand summed it up: “Today, with sophisticated machines – computers, microprocessors ... we can liberate man from the harshness of work. We can begin to produce more, produce better and, at the same time, give man a chance to live, to use more intelligently the moments when he doesn’t work, to have a little learning from time to time.”

 

The adoption of a basic income guarantee would virtually wipe out hunger and poverty in America. It would provide economic security to everyone. It would be like an insurance policy. It would give each of us the assurance that, no matter what happened, we and our families would not starve.

The president’s commission said that simply because one exists, one is entitled to certain inalienable human rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, “every U.S. citizen should be guaranteed a minimum income – enough for food, shelter, and basic necessities.”

 

Politically, of course, it is not so easy. Throughout history, the name of the game has been cheap labor. A basic income guarantee would provide enough economic freedom so that a person would not have to take a dirt-cheap job just to survive. It would threaten certain entrenched economic interests.

 

It is also one of the most misunderstood ideas of our time.

“After all the debate in Congress,” Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) once said, “it was not likely that as many as a dozen U.S. Senators understood the subject ... in politics, a certain patience is demanded. The idea of a guaranteed income came precipitously to public affairs. Few were prepared. Time should remedy this.”

 

Perhaps the basic income guarantee is an idea whose time has returned.

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A Wealth of Labour

Economic Mythbusting
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Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil

Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
Why "efficiency" and "productivity" really mean more profits for corporations and less sanity for you.
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CEOs paid for poor performance?

CEOs in America are among the highest paid people in the country, but according to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies, 40 percent of the top ea...
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Time to take basic income seriously? | FT Alphaville

Paul Krugman is getting serious about the effects of technology and robots on the economy.
Khannea Suntzu's insight:

Paul Krugman is getting serious about the effects of technology and robots on the economy. He’s made noises about this theme before, but this time he’s taking things a bit further by offering a potential solution to the more sour consequences of the new industrial revolution.

 

If the fight is between capital and labour, and capital is winning, it seems subsidies in the form of some basic type of income may be called upon.

As Krugman notes, the issue relates to the fact that it is now jobs on all fronts that are being jeopardised. Highly skilled, unskilled not to mention the professions most suited to little grey matter.

 

The new inequality we are seeing has little to do with how well educated you are. It’s hard to penetrate beyond the barrier on education alone. The new inequality is about capital owners and non-capital owners.

 

And increasingly, it’s about technology capital owners. Those who own the robots and the tech are becoming the new landlord rentier types.

 

As Krugman concludes:

 

Education, then, is no longer the answer to rising inequality, if it ever was (which I doubt).

So what is the answer? If the picture I’ve drawn is at all right, the only way we could have anything resembling a middle-class society — a society in which ordinary citizens have a reasonable assurance of maintaining a decent life as long as they work hard and play by the rules — would be by having a strong social safety net, one that guarantees not just health care but a minimum income, too. And with an ever-rising share of income going to capital rather than labor, that safety net would have to be paid for to an important extent via taxes on profits and/or investment income.

I can already hear conservatives shouting about the evils of “redistribution.” But what, exactly, would they propose instead?

 

This, of course, fits our counterintuitive model of the world which looks at this crisis from the point of view of efficiency and abundance jeopardising the rate of profit. In that sense, we believe this crisis really started with the dotcom collapse.

 

It was disrupted capital from the old-economy world which drove the subprime fiascos, as it strove to secure itself to anything so that it could preserve its diminishing value.

 

This is because the dotcom era created something of a self-canabalising effect for most of the capital system. The more you invested in technology, the greater the efficiencies. The greater the efficiencies, the greater the abundance. The greater the abundance the more likely capital itself would be undermined, since you can’t put a price on air, or anything else which is abundant.

 

What’s happening now, arguably, is that the canabalising effect is being stalled by the monopolisation effect instead. The owners of the capital — which has the potential to create abundance — are protecting their rate of profit by stalling efficiency (a lapatent trolling) and by means of the monopolisation effect.

 

This may not go on forever if the rise of technology jumps over into the Wiki open commons world, at which point it becomes accessible to everyone irrespective of the monopolies.

 

But for as long as the monopolies exist and gate-keep access to the higher living standards provided by their own technology, some sort of subsidising effect is needed from the government to stop people becoming totally disenfranchised from the system.

 

And to avoid this:

 

 

Either that, or governments should work harder to dissipate the tech-based monopolies which are emerging.

 

Undoubtedly, conservatives as Krugman notes will find this sort of thinking a bitter pill to swallow. But really, it’s better to think of it more as compensation for “not working” — since more work only accelerates the abundance problem, while leading us to another commodity and natural resource constraint — than redistribution of wealth per se.

 

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De "Kanslozenkaravaan" van De Telegraaf en de oplossing: Een Onvoorwaardelijk BasisInkomen - Vereniging Basisinkomen

De "Kanslozenkaravaan" van De Telegraaf en de oplossing: Een Onvoorwaardelijk BasisInkomen - Vereniging Basisinkomen | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
Kanslozenkaravaan uit Balkan komt eraan - Roemenië moedigt zakkenrollers aan hierheen te gaan: de oplossing: een basisinkomen
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Forget the unemployment rate. Here’s the chart to focus on on jobs day.

Forget the unemployment rate. Here’s the chart to focus on on jobs day. | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
Forget the unemployment rate. The employment to population ratio is where it's at — especially if broken down by age group.
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Initiative for a Basic Income in Europe

Initiative for a Basic Income in Europe | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
Several basic income networks and community organisations in Europe have decided to progress the...
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How to End the Welfare State

How to End the Welfare State | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
Establishing a universal “Basic Income” would eliminate the administration, politics, and preference that travel in the wake of the welfare state while snuffing out poverty once and for all.
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Poverty Level Basic Income With Minimal Tax Changes, Including Numbers

While I support a more drastic systematic overhaul of how wealth is distributed I also recognize that such an effort is not realistically possible in ...
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Basic Income Guarantee: Why now is the right time

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Who Are the Long-Term Unemployed?

Who Are the Long-Term Unemployed? | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
The long-term unemployed tend to be people who 1) are a little bit older, and 2) got laid off from their last job
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Years of Tragic Waste

In a few days, we’ll reach the fifth anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers — the moment when a recession, which was bad enough, turned into something much scarier. Suddenly, we were looking at the real possibility of economic catastrophe.

 

And the catastrophe came.

 

Wait, you say, what catastrophe? Weren’t people warning about a second Great Depression? And that didn’t happen, did it? Yes, they were, and no, it didn’t — although the Greeks, the Spaniards, and others might not agree about that second point. The important thing, however, is to realize that there are degrees of disaster, that you can have an immense failure of economic policy that falls short of producing total collapse. And the failure of policy these past five years has, in fact, been immense.

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America is awash in money, yet poverty grows: We need a Basic Income Guarantee

America is awash in money, yet poverty grows: We need a Basic Income Guarantee | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
  This is a guest editorial by Allan Sheahen, the author of the new book Basic Income Guarantee: Your Right to Economic Security (Palgrave/MacMillan, NYC). A previous essay from Mr.
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Lessons from Mincome: How a Basic Income Would Improve Health

Lessons from Mincome: How a Basic Income Would Improve Health | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
During the 1970's a number of experiments took place in Canada with Mincome. Evelyn Forget has revisited those studies in order to assess their impact on the health of these communities.
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The Importance of Post-Capitalist Imagination

[Jason Burke Murphy - USBIG] David Harvey, a Marxist professor of Geography at City University of New York, gives a list of important “post-capitalist” measures. A Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) ...
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Abolish The 9-to-5 Work Week: Save Money, The Planet And Your Brain

Abolish The 9-to-5 Work Week: Save Money, The Planet And Your Brain | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
This is Los Angeles, California. Downtown LA is not like most major cities, there is no real city center where jobs are concentrated.
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Martin Luther King's Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income

Martin Luther King's Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income | Arguments for Basic Income | Scoop.it
One of the demands at the March on Washington was for a $2 minimum wage, which would be $15.27 an hour adjusted for inflation today. But later in life, Martin Luther King Jr.
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