The arguments for implementing a basic income are many and varied, yet the proposal remains controversial. And nowhere is this controversy more prominent than among feminists, who have hotly debated the merits of a basic income in terms of its potential contributions to gender equality. Feminist advocates for basic income have pointed to its potential to correct the paid-work bias of contemporary social security systems, and to increase women’s economic autonomy and power within the household by providing a source of unconditional income support that is not tied to paid employment. Critics have argued that basic income will do nothing to directly challenge the gendered division of labour – and may well reinforce it, especially to the extent that unconditional cash benefits increase the incentive for women in particular to reduce their labour market participation, given their relatively weaker attachment to the labour force as a group relative to men, and the central role that this plays in broader inequalities such as income gaps and poverty risks. Accordingly, the feminist debate about basic income has reflected wider feminist disputes about how the state can recognise the unpaid work largely done by women, such as the care of children and the elderly, without reinforcing existing inequalities between men and women.
Do you remember when you were young enough to say: “When I grow up I want to ... have a house with a garden/be a vet/fly to space/get married?” It was a lighthearted conversation encouraged by older generations to inspire ambition. But now you’ve grown up, how many of the more moderate goals have you achieved? And how many have you filed under “unobtainable”?
Young adults’ incomes are now as much as 20% below the national average, as revealed by a Guardian investigation this week. Low incomes, coupled with rising living costs, debt and a lack of employment mean that some of us are not only unlikely to fulfil our more inventive childhood fantasies, but will fail to meet even the basic milestones of adulthood: a full-time permanent job, a life partner, a home, a pension and earning enough every month to put something into a savings account.
Here Guardian readers share their experiences of missing milestones.
The idea of the UBI is so contrary to everything that has been drummed into us about preventing the “something for nothing society”, it’s worth advocating it just to see the Daily Mail and Iain Duncan Smith implode with outrage. The predictable argument that will be rolled out is that it will turn the masses from “strivers into skivers”; it will lead to welfare dependency, a lack of initiative and lots of programmes on Channel 5 called Fat Ugly People Spending Your Money on Crisps and Big Tellies.
But in fact it is the current situation that prevents initiative and holds back entrepreneurs. Anyone who ever invented or created anything did so with a modicum of financial security behind them. That’s why so many of our statues are to upper-class white men; that’s why Virginia Woolf needed “a room of her own and £500 a year” (slashed to £27.85 after that spare room fell under the bedroom tax). For centuries we have tapped the potential of only a small proportion of the British people; the rest have been powerless to initiate or discover where their true talents lay. With the UBI, innovators would be given the room to experiment knowing they would still have something to fall back on; it would see more small businesses and less grovelling on Dragons’ Den.
(Health Secrets) A significant number of people who have undergone treatment for cancer over the past several decades may not have ever actually had the disease, admits a new report commissioned by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI). Published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), this government study identifies both over diagnosis and misdiagnosis of cancer as two major causes of the growing cancer epidemic. These two together have led to millions being falsely treated for cancer with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, who in reality had no such cancer.
The report drops a few major bombshells on the way that many cancers are diagnosed. For example, breast cancer, is sometimes not breast cancer at all but rather a benign condition such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). However, untold millions of women with DCIS have been misdiagnosed as having breast cancer, and subsequently treated for a condition that likely never would have caused them any health problems. And similarly in men, high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN), a type of premalignant precursor to cancer, is commonly mistreated as if it were actual cancer.
The move comes as part of the Swiss Sovereign Money Initiative (known as the Vollgeld-Initiative in German) that seeks to put an end to financial speculations. The group is concerned with the current state of affairs in traditional fractional reserve banking, where real coins, banknotes and central bank liabilities account for only a minor part of money in circulation, while most of it exists as electronic cash created by private banks.
“Most people believe that the money they have in their bank accounts is real money... This is wrong! Money in a bank account is… a promise the bank makes to provide money, but it is not itself legal tender,” they group explains in their statement.
The initiative claims that it strives to change the system so that it complies with the Swiss Constitution, guaranteeing safety and avoiding such phenomena as finance bubbles and empty money.
If the change is introduced, Swiss banks would have to look for a workaround to continue providing their clients with the usual set of services.
Physical pain and financial strain appear to be two of the primary forces driving suicide and addiction rates in the U.S. And, according to a report17 by The Atlantic, undereducated middle-aged white Americans are "dying from despair" in increasing numbers. When you consider the interconnectedness between pain, depression and subsequent addiction, it's easy to see how the end result can be lethal, which is why we really need to reevaluate how we treat pain in the first place.
The most unique aspect of the business model is that it has a “pay as you feel” rule. This policy encourages patrons to pay what they feel they can pay. If that amounts to nothing, then they can work for their meal.
The Independent reports that in only 10 months, Smith has helped feed 10,000 people on 20 tons of unwanted food. In addition, he’s raised over 30,000 pounds (UK).
Since its success, forty-seven other similar style cafes have popped up in Manchester, Bristol, Saltaire, Los Angeles, Brazil, Warsaw, and Zurich.
In the United States, a similar grocery store called The Daily Table transforms unwanted or ‘expired’ leftovers into perfectly nourishing and tasty food for customers. The founder of that endeavor is Doug Rauch, the former president of Trader Joe’s.
It’s difficult for entrepreneurs inspired to repurpose food to carry out their vision, as in many areas of the world, retailers can be prosecuted if they sell food after the use-by date. The ‘best-before’ date is allowed, which is why Smith’s organization wants the law to be changed to prevent supermarkets from disposing of so much food at the fear of prosecution.
For the third time in a year, the tight-fisted, austerity policies of the European Union (EU) took a beating, as Spanish voters crushed their right-wing government and overturned four decades of two-party reign. Following in the footsteps of Greek and Portuguese voters earlier this year, Spaniards soundly rejected the economic formula of the Troika—the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund—that has impoverished millions of people and driven the jobless rate to almost a quarter of the country.
Author David Dayen explains that some years ago, as hundreds of U.S. corporations left the island because they lost their tax-exempt status, unleashing a deep economic crisis, Puerto Rico tried to deal with the crisis by issuing more debt. The vulture funds egged them on, since municipal bonds are free from federal, state and local taxes
Vitality Air’s Mr Lam admits that he started out the company as a joke as well when he and co-founder Troy Paquette filled a plastic bag of air and sold it for less than 50 pence on the auction site Ebay.
A second bag sold for $160 (£105).
“That’s when we realised there is a market for this,” says Mr Lam.
Vitality Air sells bottled fresh air and oxygen across North America, to India and the Middle East. But China remains its biggest overseas market.
The company's China representative, Harrison Wang, says their customers are mainly affluent Chinese women who buy for their families or give away as gifts. But he says senior homes and even high end night clubs have also stocked up on their product.
“In China fresh air is a luxury, something so precious,” says Mr Wang.
It sounds far-fetched, but it’s looking likely that Finland will carry through with the idea. Whereas several Dutch cities will introduce basic income next year and Switzerland is holding a referendum on the subject, there is strongest political and public support for the idea in Finland.
A poll commissioned by the government agency planning the proposal, the Finnish Social Insurance Institution or KELA, showed that 69% support (link in Finnish) a basic income plan. Prime minister Juha Sipilä is in favor of the idea and he’s backed by most of the major political parties. “For me, a basic income means simplifying the social security system,” he says.
Four years into The Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth, the families of roughly a quarter of the children saw a dramatic and unexpected increase in annual income. They were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and a casino had just been built on the reservation. From that point on every tribal citizen earned a share of the profits, meaning about an extra $4,000 a year per capita.
For these families, the extra padding was a blessing, enough to boost household incomes by almost 20 percent on average. But for the fields of psychology, sociology and economics, it has been a gold mine, too. The sudden change in fortunes has offered a rare glimpse into the subtle but important ways in which money can alter a child’s life. The dataset is so rich that researchers continue to study it to this day.
We still haven’t realized of something extraordinary that is happening.
A few months ago, I freed myself from society, I’ve released myself from attachments I had and fear that locked me to the system. And since then, I started seeing the world from a different perspective. The perspective that everything is changing and most of us have not even realized that.
Why is the world changing? In this post I’ll list the reasons that take me to believe this.
So poor parents struggling just to cover basic food and shelter face both massive income inequality in their day-to-day lives, plus a seven-fold gap in the amount they can “invest” to help their children thrive in the future. Given that social mobility is already suppressed at all income levels—with children’s future earnings highly correlated with the earnings of their parents—the Herculean amount of “catch up” poor parents must undertake just to get on the same footing as their higher-earning peers makes the great American wealth gap seem even more devastating, for both today’s working households and generations to come.
The scale of this problem may require some radical, even counterintuitive solutions, like giving money away. A growing chorus of tech cognoscenti, from all-star investor Marc Andreessen to Barack Obama’s onetime director of analytics Jim Pugh, have espoused the idea of a "living income." Not welfare or charity, living income is a stipend—roughly enough to live on and with few frills—paid to every adult in the country, whether they’re working or not. In the U.S., numbers thrown around have averaged from $15,000 to $20,000 per adult per year.
The conventional view of America as a classless society has long sided with Hemingway—the only difference is the money. But our results suggest that, at least when it comes to attitudes toward inequality, Fitzgerald is right: Elite Americans are not just middle-class people with more money. They display distinctive attitudes on basic moral and political questions concerning economic justice. Simply put, the rich place a much lower value on equality than the rest. What’s more, this lack of concern about inequality among the elite is not a partisan matter. Even when they self-identify as progressive Democrats, elite Americans value equality less highly than their middle-class compatriots.
This finding has profound implications for public policy. Contemporary American politics presents an enduring mystery. Why does the public policy response to nearly five decades of rising economic inequality remain so tepid, even as large majorities of Americans consider inequality excessive, and even under a two-term Democratic president?
A new lobby group has formed in the US, Basic Income Action, to coincide with the eighth International Basic Income Week, and the campaign to give every human being a basic minimum wage, no questions asked, appears to be picking up steam.
The group, taking a cue from recent similar campaigns around gay marriage and marijuana legalisation, has launched a petition calling on US presidential candidates to support basic income.
New data released today show that the share of Americans with incomes below the poverty line stayed flat between 2013 and 2014 at 14.8 percent. Six years into the economic recovery, poverty and economic insecurity remain far more widespread than they should be—or than they need to be. This is because policymakers have failed to make decisions—such as increasing the minimum wage and strengthening collective bargaining—that would help ensure that low- and middle-income families get their fair share of the gains from economic growth. Instead of addressing the real problem, congressional conservatives are pushing hard for policies that would make the situation far worse for families, including deep cuts to public programs that promote economic security and opportunity.
In 1928, famed British economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would advance so far in a hundred years – by 2028 – that it will replace all work, and no one will need to worry about making money.
“For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem – how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.”
We still have thirteen years to go before we reach Keynes’ prophetic year, but we’re not exactly on the way to it. Americans are working harder than ever.
Keynes may be proven right about technological progress. We’re on the verge of 3-D printing, driverless cars, delivery drones, and robots that can serve us coffee in the morning and make our beds.
But he overlooked one big question: How to redistribute the profits from these marvelous labor-saving inventions, so we’ll have the money to buy the free time they provide?
But none of these factors compare to the way that poverty makes us sick. Prescribing medications and lifestyle changes for our patients who suffer from income deficiency isn’t enough; we need to start prescribing healthy incomes.
Decades of studies have shown that healthcare accounts for less than 25 per cent of health outcomes. The upstream factors that affect health such as income, education, employment, housing, and food security have a far greater impact on whether we will be ill or well. Of these, income has the most powerful influence, as it shapes access to the other health determinants. Low-income Canadians are more likely to die earlier and suffer from more illnesses than Canadians with higher incomes, regardless of age, sex, race or place of residence.
No wonder doctors and policy-makers are beginning to line up behind the notion of a basic income guarantee.