Basic Income - International experience (Brazil, Namibia, Canada, India)

By Eric Walberg

Founded in 1986, the Basic Income European Network (BIEN) is the international NGO that promotes BIG around the world. It held its last conference "Re-democratizing the Economy" at McGill's Faculty of Law in 2014.

A North American congress was held in Winnipeg in May 2016 and its 16th congress in July in Seoul, South Korea. Its credo is that some sort of economic right based upon citizenship rather than upon one's relationship to the production process or one's family status is called for as part of the just solution to social problems in advanced societies. 

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Basic Income: Helicopter money

By Eric Walberg

About 10% of Canadians live in poverty. That figure is even higher in major cities, such as Toronto where the number of children living below the line is nearly 25%. In India, 22% of the people live in poverty. A "guaranteed annual income" (GAI) could wipe out this poverty at a stroke.

GAI (also BIG -- basic income guarantee) has been quietly mooted by both left and right since the 1960s. Economist Milton Friedman called it (approvingly) "helicopter money". What could be easier to administer, to end the most obvious source of social injustice, and which is welcomed even by most Canadians?

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No middle class, no democracy: A basic income remedy

By John Rondina

Today, as the world struggles toward political and economic answers to great problems, we have yet to implement workable solutions in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Automation and the rise of economic disparity since the crisis is painting a picture in tones and hues of gross inequality.

If the new revolution is all about automation, then how can we make technology serve us rather than enslave us? With the rise of populism, it’s clear that people are feeling disenfranchised. Many critics point to populism as a reactionary, if misguided, response to the adjustments brought on by our technology. These critics issue warnings that we must change or face a dim future.

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Social supports must be improved along with basic income

This ran as a letter to the editor in the Waterloo Record, in response to an op-ed piece expressing concern about Ontario's basic income pilot.

In their recent op-ed, Joey Edwardh and Peter Clutterbuck expressed their concern about the upcoming Ontario basic income guarantee pilot and argued for more emphasis on other social services, particularly job creation aimed at full employment.

I agree that the desired outcomes of our social and economic security system should be security, stability and dignity — in other words, good quality of life and well-being.

I also agree with the authors' concern that the government might implement a basic income guarantee and cut too many other supports. No one should expect any one social program to satisfy every need of every person. No basic income advocate that I know of thinks basic income alone can do that. 

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Basic Income: An equity imperative

By Roderick Benns 


It might not be surprising to learn that in Tuktoyaktuk, a community of about 900 people on the edge of the Arctic Circle, life isn’t easy.

About 79 percent of the people who live there are Inuit. In 2012, 21 percent of the population received support in the form of income assistance. A full 85 percent live in subsidized housing.

Known simply as ‘Tuk’ to the locals, for generations the village was only accessible by plane in the summer and ice road in the winter. (The village will finally be linked by a two-lane, all-season road by next year – an extension of the Dempster Highway to Inuvik south of Tuk.)

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Basic income is the best public service we could ask for

By Robin Boadway and Roderick Benns

As basic income policy gets more press as a way to drastically reduce poverty, inevitably there will be those who seek to preserve the status quo approach.

This has served us inadequately for many years and yet there are some believers who remain. These same believers often seek to create false policy choices, as Armine Yalnizyan has done in her recent offering to the Star, Basic income? How about basic services?’

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Charity, morality, or human right: Basic Income in context

By Joe Foster  

It is estimated that about 40 percent of the North American population form the “precariat,” the term coined by Guy Standing in his 2008 paper, “How Cash Transfers Promote the Case for Basic Income.”

A key result of looming poverty is the enormous financial strain placed on families, especially those hovering near the poverty line. For example, any small mishap can mean a family not being able to pay the rent and suddenly becoming engulfed in the poverty abyss.

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