Basic Income

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A Basic Income is a monetary sum allocated unconditionally to citizens of a government. Guaranteed Minimum Income requires more than citizenship as it is provisional and may require a means test or contribution to community service.

Basic Income can be compatible with Peer-to-Peer philosophy by providing a sense of economic equality that suites the voluntary nature of peer networks. The equalization of financial, or better, the material equality finance represented by Basic Income can help develop even richer economic foundations of existing and as yet developed peer networks. Reduced forced labor by societal pressures and a conditioned proprietary mindset can provide an additional influential stream in which a material based peer network or network series to come will have room to blossom without end. With it, in consequence, the demise of proprietary agency altogether.

Material below may relate loosely with the two political economic conceptions of Basic Income and Guaranteed Minimum Income, including the many shades thereof.


Basic Income Guarantee

"A Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) is a government-ensured guarantee that all citizens will receive an unconditional income on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement – enough for food, shelter, and basic necessities." Allan Sheahen, It’s Time to Think BIG! How to Simplify the Tax Code and Provide Every American with a Basic Income Guarantee

Citizen's dividend

"Citizen's dividend or citizen's income is a proposed state policy based upon the principle that the natural world is the common property of all persons (see Georgism). It is proposed that all citizens receive regular payments (dividends) from revenue raised by the state through leasing or selling natural resources for private use. In the United States, the idea can be traced back to Thomas Paine's essay, Agrarian Justice, which is also considered one of the earliest proposals for a social security system in the United States. Thomas Paine best summarized his view by stating that "Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds."

This concept is a form of basic income, where the Citizen's Dividend depends upon the value of natural resources or what could be titled as "common goods" like seignorage, the electro-magnetic spectrum, the industrial use of air (CO2 production), etc.

The State of Alaska dispenses a form of citizen's dividend in its Permanent Fund Dividend, which holds investments initially seeded by the state's revenue from mineral resources, particularly petroleum. In 2005, every eligible Alaskan resident (including their children) received a check for $845.76. Over the 24-year history of the fund, it has paid out a total of $24,775.45 to every resident." Wikipedia

Negative Income Tax

"In economics, a negative income tax (abbreviated NIT) is a progressive income tax system where people earning below a certain amount receive supplemental pay from the government instead of paying taxes to the government. Such a system has been discussed by economists but never fully implemented. It was developed by Juliet Rhys-Williams in the 1940s and later by United States economist Milton Friedman in 1962 in Capitalism and Freedom. Negative income taxes can implement a basic income or supplement a guaranteed minimum income system.

In a negative income tax system, people earning a certain income level would owe no taxes; those earning more than that would pay a proportion of their income above that level; and those below that level would receive a payment of a proportion of their shortfall, which is the amount their income falls below that level.

Typically, this is proposed to be implemented as a flat tax combined with a fixed government payment. For example, if the flat tax rate is 25% and a government payment of $10,000, then:

  • A person earning $40,000 per year would be at the break-even point. They pay no taxes, because their tax payment equals their government payment.
  • A person earning $1,000,000 would pay close to the full 25% tax, as the government payment would be negligible compared to the $250,000 in tax payments.
  • A person earning only $4000 per year would pay $1000 in taxes but receive $10,000 in payment, for a net income of $13,000, or $9,000 in net government payments. The net payment is 25% of the difference between their income and the break-even income." Wikipedia

Asset-based egalitarianism

"Asset-based egalitarianism is a form of egalitarianism which theorises that equality is possible by a redistribution of resources, usually in the form of a capital grant provided at the age of majority. Names for the implementation of this theory in policy include universal basic capital, basic capital and stakeholding, and all are generally synonymous within the equal opportunity egalitarian framework." Wikipedia

A Brief History of Basic Income in the United States


"In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared a “War on Poverty” in America. He said we have a moral responsibility to end poverty. Four decades later, that war has yet to be won.

In 1969, a Presidential Commission recommended that America adopt a Guaranteed Income – often called a Negative Income Tax – with no mandatory work requirements, for all citizens in need. The idea was endorsed by Martin Luther King, the National Council of Churches, the California Democratic Council, the Republican Ripon Society, the 1972 Democratic Party platform, and several Nobel-prize-winning economists.

In his 1972 Presidential campaign, Senator George McGovern proposed giving $1000 to every needy American. During the 1970s, Congress debated four guaranteed income bills, but none of them passed.

However, some good things came out of these struggles. In 1974, Congress passed Supplemental Security Income, a negative income tax for people over age 65. In 1976, Congress adopted the Earned Income Tax Credit, which gives money to low-income workers.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the trend turned to cutting social programs. Homeless people reappeared for the first time since the Depression. Food banks and soup kitchens sprang up. This trend culminated in the 1996 welfare reform bill.

The new law was sold as a way to get people off welfare, and it did. Welfare rolls in the United States are down more than 50 percent from 1996. But it didn’t reduce poverty. That’s because welfare reform dumped many recipients into low-paying jobs – with no benefits or ability to move up.

A better strategy is available. In 1980, the state of Alaska began distributing revenues from state oil revenues to every resident. The Alaska Permanent Fund gives about $1000 to every man, woman and child in the state each year. There are no work requirements. It is not enough to eliminate poverty, but it is a model on which to build a simpler and more effective system of social protection." Allan Sheahen, It’s Time to Think BIG! How to Simplify the Tax Code and Provide Every American with a Basic Income Guarantee

The Tax Cut for the Rest of Us Act of 2006

"On May 2, 2006, the first-ever Basic Income Guarantee bill, written by USBIG members Karl Widerquist and Al Sheahen, was introduced in the U.S. Congress by California Congressman Bob Filner."

"If we think USBIG should just stick to our annual conferences and remain nothing more than a discussion group, okay. We can all just write papers and schmooz with each other every year. If we think promoting a bill in Congress is too much for our little group, we should admit that to ourselves and I should probably tell Filner to forget about it; that we’re just too small to be effective.

But if we think we should keep at it and try to use the bill to advance what we are spending a good deal of our time on, then I feel each one of us has to do something to help out. A couple of us can’t do this alone. We need each one of us to somehow persuade our respective legislators to sign on as co-sponsors of the bill (which will be given a new number in the 110th Congress). Or we should write some op-ed pieces. Or write a letter to the editor. Or get on talk radio. Or give a talk to the Rotary Club or Lions Club and have them write their legislators. Or do something that we can take back to Filner to show him we’re not dead in the water. Otherwise, it is a certainty this will be our last shot and our credibility will be zero.

And it won’t be easy. The House of Representatives adopted a pay-go budget rule on January 5. Under this rule, a bill cannot be considered on the House floor if it changes tax and entitlement programs in a manner that increases the deficit. In other words, any entitlement spending increase must be offset by either tax increases or entitlement spending cuts of the same or greater magnitude.

Our bill has no such pay-go in it. It will cost $186 billion a year. I’ve been saying: “Well, we can pay for it by reversing the Bush tax cuts of 2001-03.” (Those cuts amounted to a $224 billion, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.) But that’s about as vague as you can get.

What we need is for a legislator to co-sponsor the bill just because he/she feels it’s the right thing to do, and the cost be damned; that it’s an investment in America, not just an expense." Al Sheahen The Rise and Fall of a Basic Income Guarantee Bill in the United States Congress

The bill, considered a small BIG rather than a big BIG, provides $2,000 for each legal adult and $1,000 for others per year. See Text of H.R. 5257: Tax Cut for the Rest of Us Act of 2006 for details in finely woven governmental prose.

It can be done

Excerpts from various proposals demonstrate the ability to redistribute financial wealth.

Allan Sheahen, It’s Time to Think BIG!:

"In 1997, Irwin Garfinkel of Columbia University and Chien-Chung Huang of Rutgers University produced a comprehensive paper which became the foundation of Leonard Greene’s 1998 book: The National Tax Rebate. Using 1994 government data, Garfinkel and Huang calculated that the U.S. could afford an annual BIG of $4000 per adult, $2175 per child, and $8000 per senior by eliminating 115 federal welfare programs, abolishing the income tax personal exemption, and taxing BIG benefits.

In 2004, Charles Clark of St. John’s University estimated the U.S. could afford a BIG at the 2002 poverty level of $9359 for an adult and $3500 for a child by eliminating some federal welfare programs and by replacing the individual income tax rates with a flat tax of 35%.

Those studies followed on previous work done by Michael Murray of Drake University, in his 1997 book: …And Economic Justice for All. Murray judged that a 35% flat tax could pay for a mid-ranged BIG of $6000 per adult and $2000 per child."


Jean-Marc Ferry on the Basic Income

What is the relation of the basic income proposal, to the socialization inherent in work? This is an important point, since the critics often argue that a basic income would destroy such socialization. While this argument might appeal to the older generation of salaried workers, to the networked generation, it seems to become a moot issue, since we know from experience that we socialize in a different, and just as valid way. But this intuitive understanding needs sociological and philosophical refinement. It is this which is provided through the work of French philosopher Jean-Marc Ferry.


«Le principe redistributif en question: instaurer un droit au revenu", Sécurité sociale CHSS 4/2005, special issue on 'Justice sociale - éthique et pratique', Office fédéral des assurances sociales, Bern, July-August 2005, pp.197-205.

"For many years Jean-Marc Ferry, a French philosopher from the University of Brussels (B), has been one of the most prominent advocates of basic income in French-speaking countries. In this new article, he argues again for a European basic income. According to Ferry, a high basic income can be first justified by looking at the past: the wealth which has been accumulated through the ages is a collective good which should be fairly distributed among citizens. But a high basic income can also be justified by looking forward: it is an investment which should allow for the creation of a "secteur quaternaire" (a quaternary industry). In this sector of the economy, individuals could engage in socially useful activities which are not market-related. Ferry stresses the fact that he does not defend basic income "as such", but as a way of reinforcing social integration and participation." Available in PDF at

Interview (french)

"Pour ma part, je considère plutôt l'allocation universelle comme ce qui renforce, non pas cette liberté négative du droit au travail, mais plutôt la liberté positive de choisir son activité et la capacité du demandeur d'emploi de se présenter sur le marché du travail en tant qu'offreur de travail.

L'argument est le suivant : si vous disposez d'un revenu de base, vous avez moins le couteau sur la gorge que si vous n'avez rien et, par conséquent, vous êtes déjà plus à même de négocier vos conditions de travail et de rémunération. D'autre part, vous avez la possibilité de définir vous-même des activités indépendantes : vous pouvez former une entreprise, tenter des activités atypiques qui ne sont pas encore reconnues socialement. Nous nous en remettons donc aux potentialités de la créativité sociale qui sont très élevées en Europe occidentale mais où, comme on le sait, l'initiative individuelle est, hélas, bureaucratiquement gênée, fiscalement entravée et structurellement bridée par la limitation des offres d'emploi et la définition, à travers celle des profils de compétence requis, de l'utilité socialement reconnue par les groupes privés et la puissance publique.

Si les individus disposaient de ce revenu de base, ils pourraient participer à la définition de l'utilité sociale et prendre des risques parce que la précarité économique serait diminuée. L'imagination productive ne fait pas défaut, sous nos latitudes, pour inventer les activités nouvelles rentables. De même, la création esthétique et l'innovation scientifique pourraient s'en trouver renforcées."


The basic income as a form of 'rent'

The basic income as a form of rent for what the population is creating in social wealth:

“Pour l’économiste écologiste Bernard Guibert il faut trouver la justification du revenu social garanti qu’il place au centre du programme social des écologistes, dans une réhabilitation du rapport de rente. Non pas une rente parasitaire mais une rente sur ses propres qualités, sociales et productives, sur son propre corps. La régulation de cette rente comme celle du développent durable est un acte de nature politique Le but de cet article est de tenter de fonder théoriquement la revendication qui est au coeur du projet de l’écologie politique, celle d’un revenu social d’existence qui soit inconditionnel, universel et de niveau suffisant pour permettre à chacun de vivre d’une manière autonome et décente. Il s’agit de transformer tout citoyen de notre pays en rentier : il faut donc rappeler ce qu’est le concept de rente, réfuter les préjugés idéologiques dont ce il est victime et en énoncer le contenu positif et même révolutionnaire comme condition de la réalisation du projet politique du développement durable." (


Belgium: Debate on the Basic Income

"On the occasion of the ublication of "L'allocation universelle", an introductory book on basic income by Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght (see NewsFlash 32), the Belgian media seem to be paying renewed attention to the idea, at least in the French-speaking part of the country. On Sunday June 12, 2005, both authors were invited to talk for one hour about basic income in a live broadcast of the public radio RTBF. On June 22, 2005, one of the main Francophone daily newspapers, "La Libre Belgique", published a double-page debate on the topic.

Van Parijs and Vanderborght restated some of the arguments presented in their essay, and tried to show their relevance in the Belgian context. Three intellectuals were asked to give their opinion on the feasibility and desirability of the proposal. Claudine Leleux (University of Brussels) argued in favour of basic income and explained why she feels most attracted by a version of the idea defended by Jean-Marc Ferry, a French but Brussels-based philosopher. The two others were much more skeptical. Jean-Marie Harribey (University of Bordeaux IV and member of the Scientific Council of ATTAC) criticized the idea of disconnecting work and income, arguing that the left should rather go for full employment. Paul Palsterman (scientific council of Belgium's main trade-union CSC-ACV) argued that basic income proponents were too skeptical about the remaining possibilities of collective action in the field of welfare.

Finally, on July 9, 2005, the picture of the front cover of the popular weekly "Télé Moustique" featured a typical manager in his three-piece suit, lounging on the beach. It ran as a title: "Tomorrow, paid to do nothing?" While in a long piece a journalist presented the basic income idea and the international debate, including a reference to the Alaskan Permanent Fund Dividend, in a short interview unionist Paul Palsterman restated again some of his main objections. "The BI proponents", he said, "might be good science-fiction authors, but they are bad philosophers."


Resources in English


Article by Andrea Fumagalli (not available online yet):



  • WIDERQUIST, Karl, LEWIS, Michael Anthony & PRESSMAN, Steven (2005). The Ethics and Economics of the Basic Income Guarantee. Aldershot: Ashgate, ISBN (Hardback).

"Governments in the US, the UK and other nations around the world routinely consider and, in some cases, experiment with reforms of their income support systems. The basic income guarantee, a universal unconditional income grant, has received increasing attention from scholars as an alternative to the kinds of reforms that have been implemented. This book explores the political, sociological, economic, and philosophical issues of the basic income guarantee.Tracing the history of the idea, from its origins in the late eighteenth century through its political vogue in the 1970s, when the Family Assistance Plan narrowly missed passage in the US Congress, it also examines the philosophical debate over the issue. The book is designed to foster a climate of ideas amongst those specifically interested in the income support policies and more widely for those concerned with public, welfare and labour economics. Its coverage will enable readers to obtain an in depth grounding in the topic, regardless of their position in the debate." Publisher's website:


RAVENTOS, Daniel (2007), Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom, London: Pluto Press, 240pp., ISBN: 9780745326290 (Paperback), ISBN: 9780745326306 (Hardback),

Basic Income is a policy idea that could help us revolutionise the way we organise society, Daniel Raventós argues. Raventós is chair of the Spanish Basic Income Network, and Professor at the University of Barecelona. His book is a first-class introduction to basic income - what it is, how we can organise it, and how it can benefit the majority in different spheres of their lives. Basic Income is simply the idea that everyone in a given society has a right to a minimal income. This is paid by the state out of taxation. Unconditionally set at a subsistence level, it would take the place of unemployment and other conditional benefits, and enhance effective freedom. This would bring profound social changes, Raventos argues. The campaign in favour of basic income is growing and governments are beginning to take notice. This is a clear, concise guide to the principles and practicalities of this revolutionary idea.

According to Philip Pettit, L.S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values, Princeton University, Raventos' book is 'The best introduction. It offers a first rate history of the idea, develops a powerful case in its support, and explores all its implications'. In his endorsement, Philippe Van Parijs, Professor of Economic and Social Ethics at the Université Catholique de Louvain and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University indicates that "in several countries, no one has contributed more to the public emergence of [basic income] than Daniel Raventós.'


Three books based on American movements are listed here at


  • Arneson, Fred Block, Harry Brighouse, Michael Burawoy, Joshua Cohen, Nancy Folbre , Andrew Levine, Mieke Meurs, Louis Putterman, Joel Rogers, Debra Satz, Julius Sensat, William H. Simon, Frank Thompson, Thomas E. Weisskopf, Erik Olin Wright. Edited and introduced by Erik Olin Wright (Volume II, Real Utopias Project Series, London: Verso, 1996)
  • Redesigning Distribution: basic income and stakeholder grants as cornerstones of a more egalitarian capitalism, by Bruce Ackerman, Ann Alstott and Philippe van Parijs, with contributions by Barbara Bergmann, Irv Garfinkle, Chien-Chung Huang , Wendy Naidich, Julian LeGrand, Carole Pateman, Guy Standing, Stuart White, and Erik Olin Wright (Volume V of the Real Utopias Project Series, London: Verso, in press 2005)



Two documents from Eric Olin Wright:

A 35-page summary from Philippe Van Parijs


Basic Income Studies (BIS)

(the website below doesn't exist anymore, description left for reference)

Basic Income Studies: An International Journal of Basic Income Research (BIS) is a new international journal devoted to the critical discussion of and research into universal basic income and related policy proposals. BIS is published twice a year by an international team of scholars, with support from Red Renta Basica, the Basic Income Earth Network and the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network.

The inaugural issue of BIS will appear in 2006 with articles by Joel Handler, Stuart White and Yannick Vanderborght, and a retrospective on Robert van der Veen and Philippe Van Parijs's seminal article on "A Capitalist Road to Communism". The retrospective includes a reprint of the original article and a set of specially written comments by Gerald Cohen, Erik Olin Wright, Doris Schroeder, Catriona McKinnon, Harry Dahms, Gijs van Donselaar and Andrew Williams.

BIS is currently inviting contributions from academic scholars, researchers, policy-makers and welfare advocates on a wide variety of topics pertaining to the universal welfare debate. The editors are interested in publishing research articles, book reviews, and short, accessible commentaries discussing aspects of basic income or a closely related topic. BIS accepts research from all main academic disciplines, and welcomes research that pushes the debate into previously uncharted areas. BIS aims to promote the research of young scholars as well as seasoned researchers, and the editors particularly welcome contributions from non-Western countries.

For more information, please visit our website at or contact the editors, Jurgen De Wispelaere and Karl Widerquist. Scholars who want to have their books considered for review or who would like to review a book for BIS should contact Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon.


Basic Income Earth Network is a global resource.

The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (The USBIG Network) is an informal network promoting discussion of the basic income guarantee in the United States.

The Citizen Policies Institute is a Basic Income advocacy group in the United States.

Resources in French


  • GROULX, Lionel-Henri (2005). Revenu minimum garanti. Comparaison internationale, analyses et débats. Québec: Presses de l'Université du Québec. ISBN 2-7605-1365-3

"The expression "Revenu minimum garanti" (RMG - guaranteed minimum income) has often been used by French-speaking intellectuals in Quebec (Canada), where it has often led to misunderstandings. If for some it is a synonym for "basic income", others use "RMG" to refer to means-tested minimum income schemes such as the British National Assistance or the French "Revenu minimum d'insertion". This is the case of Lionel-Henri Groulx, the author of this extremely well-documented essay, who teaches social policy at the Université de Montréal. Even if the book mainly focuses on conventional minimum income schemes, the two last chapters discuss a negative income tax (NIT) and a basic income (BI), respectively. The chapter 5 on NIT includes a thorough discussion of the American NIT experiments (1970s), as well as of the Canadian project Mincome (1975-79). Groulx also examines what he calls "the NIT's of the new generation", i.e. the US Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and related schemes such as Canada's self-sufficiency experimental project. Chapter 6 is entirely devoted to basic income, and starts with a short presentation of BIEN. Having examined various ethical and economical justifications, Groulx briefly focuses on its political feasibility." (Publisher's website:


Article by Carlo Vercellone and Jean-Marie Monnier:,2581.html

Article by Carlo Vercellone and Patrick Dieuaide:

Article by Yann Moulier-Boutang :

Article by Yann Moulier-Boutang :

Article by Maurizio Lazzarato and Antonella Corsani:

Article by Jean ZIn:

Very clear explanation on the universal wage, and why it is so necessary, by Philippe Van Parijs, at

Article by Yann Moulier-Boutang :



Starting from a strong critique of the so-called "Modèle social français" (the French Social Model), BIEN Life-member Marc de Basquiat has developed a model for the introduction of a basic income in France. It can be downloaded via his website: M. de Basquiat welcomes any suggestion or comment at: [email protected]


Jean-Pierre Baron has designed a model called "Le Salaire de Vie", which he sees as a form of a participation income. It is presented on

Resources in German


  • Filme zum Grundeinkommen aus der Schweiz, Deutschland und Österreich

Contributor Reflections

Nathan Cravens, one contributor to the textual mesh, believes a Basic Income of living wage will mark a turning point in capitalist society toward the end of the ownership enterprise, to give further influence to the deepest of hidden affections, peer development, and material abundance without the usual egoism formerly attached by composite its deductive and often conclusive superiority in proprietary agency, a being that divides, diminishes, reduces, and continuously aggravates without end until it destroys the very activity that insists its growth: competition.

If competition is understood to ultimately reduce everything to nothing, surely the nothingness or freedom will escape the monopolizing grasp of proprietary agency, and with the despair of the proprietary mind diminished to an abstraction the birth of a new open standard disagreeable to no one, a standard series beyond want.