Basic Income advocates launch a #SignStorm in the EU

Basic Income advocates launch a #SignStorm in the EU

ECI-UBI Press Release

Basic Income advocates launched a SignStorm action aimed to get extra support for the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Start Unconditional Basic Incomes (UBI) throughout the EU” before the campaign’s end on 25 June 2022.

The UBI Europe General Assembly on 21st of May in Prague, Czech Republic, following the statement of the coordinators of the ECI, decided to support the SignStorm campaign. 

“Italy is a few signatures away from reaching the threshold, let’s push other countries to follow our lead” said Michele Gianella, Italy’s coordinator of the ECI.

Last chance to sign!

“UBI is called a life jacket for both individuals and society… you can no longer wait with UBI. There is no longer a question of whether, only a question of how. This became clear already at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic”, the statement says. 

To be successful, the ECI should collect at least 1 million signatures (statements of support) while at least 7 countries should exceed their national threshold. After that the proposal must be discussed by the European Commission.  

The SignStorm statement emphasizes that the ECI ( www.sign.eci-ubi.eu ) is also a message for EU member state governments and therefore each signature counts. 

Currently, it has 225 581 signatures (21 May at 15:00 CET) but as advocates say: surprises cannot be excluded. 

 

Where does Korea’s basic income movement go next?

Where does Korea’s basic income movement go next?

On March 9th, 48.56 percent of Korean people voted for Yoon Seok-yeol of the People Power Party which won only 0.7 percent more compared to 47.83% for Lee Jae-myung who pledged to implement basic income. With less than 1 percent difference in his loss, there is a local election coming in two weeks and another general election in two years. Where will Korea’s basic income movement go after Lee Je-myeong ‘s defeat?

Yoon Suk-yeol can no longer ignore Universal Basic Income, and the world is on the verge of realizing basic income. Yoon Seok-yeol, who became the new owner of Cheongwadae (Blue House), cannot pass any legislation without the consent of the Democratic Party with 172 seats, 57 percent overall. HIs People Power Party only holds 110 seats which represent 36 percent. This will remain the case unless they get more seats in the upcoming general election in two years. On the contrary, it is also a story that the Democratic Party of Korea can legislate the basic income that Lee Jae-myung promised if he is elected as a member of parliament in the by-election.

I interviewed Oh Jun-Ho, who was the presidential candidate for the Basic Income Party about the difference between Lee Jae-myung’s basic income pledge and his.

Oh Jun-Ho: There are three differences between my UBI policy from Lee Jae-myung’s:

1) First of all, the amount of the UBI is different. We promised 650,000₩ (533$) per month, which can support enough basic need for a living in Korea but Candidate Lee Jae-myung offered a very low amount of 83,000 ₩ (68$) per month.

2) In order to raise the financial resources, I insisted on reforming the tax and tax system to solve the polarization of wealth, and to expand basic income through redistribution of wealth, but candidate Lee Jae-myung does not seem to redistribute wealth because he drew a line about raising taxes. He is weak on that point.

3) Compared to us, presenting universal basic income as a policy and pledge, candidate Lee kept it as a pledge but hid or made his choice ambiguous in the election. It was disappointing for those who supported basic income with Lee, saying, “If there is public consent, we can do it, but if not, we won’t” (as quoted by The Korea Economic Daily, Dec. 2nd, 2021). Conversely, this is also the reason why those disappointed with Lee’s basic income supported me, Oh Jun-Ho.

Limitations:

The election was only focused on both parties so there were no alternative policy debates. As a voter and candidate, there was no such place where I could talk about UBI. Since only both camps had fights and policy spaces were not open, it was difficult to inform us of alternatives by ourselves as minor and minority parties.

Nevertheless, because I was there, there could be a future alternative to basic income or a justification for basic income. Because I criticized Lee Jae-myung’s timid basic income and the attitude of the Justice Party and other political parties toward selective welfare. I was able to inform the public that basic income was justifiable a little. In addition, public voters who support basic income have been created.

Expectations:

Though the results of the vote did not appear to be significant due to the phenomenon of leaning toward both parties, it cannot be evaluated only in this election, and it will be evaluated in the long-term trend later. Even if the people did not support this time, positive perceptions must have grown, and I am optimistic that Korea will return to positive support for the subsequent movement in the next election.

Considering that we are a new party, one member of the National Assembly, and only a small number of members, I don’t think we had too few votes (0.05%). Since other parties with a lot more party members won fewer votes than us, there is still a task of expanding the organizations and the number of voters who supported us, and we have to solve it well to expand our support.

Under the Yoon Seok-yeol administration, it is unclear whether Lee Jae-myung or his supporters will be one who can lead UBI in Korea from now. However, Seoul, which held a hopeful and important election, has enough potential to ignite it again. 

Local Elections:

Local governments themselves do not have tax rights, so they cannot collect and distribute taxes. We can’t talk at the national level. However, whether it is real estate or industry, there has been a problem that the common interests created within the common body have not been distributed, so we will talk about returning them to basic income, universal welfare, and universal services that must go to the majority in each province.

I also interviewed An Hyo-sang, the chair of BIKN about the election.

An Hyo-sang: We need time to think about evaluating the process and results of the presidential election. But we have the local election soon. So we quickly need to talk about it. From a broad viewpoint, we must think about the weak points and strong points we had.

We considered 2 viewpoints.

First, what conditions can BI have in its position before the election? Basic Income gained traction for implementation because of a confident and strong politician. Lee embraced the Basic Income idea as his election pledge. Since the base of BI movement is not strong, there was a very broad gap between the front line candidate Lee was based and where the basic Income movement is positioned. So after Candidate Lee was defeated, the bubble of basic income ideas that people enjoyed blew up. 

We need to face the reality of where the basic Income movement is positioned. We will have to try to gain broad and strong support from the ordinary people step by step with education, campaigns, propagation, organizations, and so on.

Despite Lee’s defeat and still our weakness, his idea planted the seeds of the basic income idea worldwide which will be widespread someday. We will harvest the fruits of our effort. We need to take time to see these fruits.

Second, as a center of the Basic Income movement, the Basic Income Korean Network (BIKN) will have two directions for the local election.

1) We will deepen our theory of our basic Income because we need a stronger theory and legitimation in order to gain wide popular support.

2) We have Basic Income supporters without and with political preferences. Some politicians still support BI idea as his policy, especially at the local level. Academics and activist social movements still support the BI idea so we will try to link personalities, individuals, and groups who support BI. 

Korea’s basic income movement, beginning with the 2007 presidential election pledges from the socialist party, has become widespread within just 15 years. According to Kanta Korea Research Company, 38.6 percent of the respondents said they were in favor of basic income, 52.3 percent did not know and 9 percent didn’t answer. 1,012 men and women aged 18 or older nationwide were targeted (Seoul Economy, Feb. 20, 2020).

The BIEN congress will be held again in Korea on Aug 24th-26th, 2023. The title is “Basic Income in Reality.” I expect the Basic Income Party to gain wide popularity in 17 cities with 19 candidates at the local election and the 2023 Korea BIEN Congress to draw attention worldwide so that it can lead a great success in the general election for Basic Income implementation.

Local elections will be held on June 1, in two weeks. Can the Democratic Party promote the universal basic income of the entire nation as a pledge in local elections? 

Since Lee Jae Myoung is running for the MP, Lee’s election camp says ‘this is whether Lee ‘s life or death’ as former president Lee Myong bak was trying to kill Roh Moo-hyun, and he seems to be winning. But he doesn’t talk about BI in his pledges during the democratic party’s local elections as well. But the Basic Income Party does out front, promoting basic income in all cities with a UBI of $78 a month. 

Where will Koreans raise their hands again, when Yoon Seok-youl refuses to work at Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House) given by them, but they started to work in Yongsan District all of sudden due to his private beliefs? 

Lee Jae-myung’s basic income pledge was as follows below in the presidential election:

  • Universal basic income for all citizens
  • After the public debate of the Presidential Basic Income Committee, it will be implemented by collecting public opinion.
  • Starting at 250,000₩ ($205) a year. A goal of 1,000,000₩ ($820) per year within the term by 2027
  • Land profit dividends and carbon dividends
  • Basic income is paid in local currency
  • Basic income and allowances by target
  • Basic income of 1 million₩ ($820) per year to young people aged 19-29 from 2023
  • Expanding the scope of child and youth allowances (step-by-step expansion, until the age of 18 in 2027)
  • Payment of seniority allowance

Written by: Mok Hwakyun (Moka)

Ukraine’s Basic Income: an antidote to war

Ukraine’s Basic Income: an antidote to war

The idea of Basic Income is catching on around the world as it is getting more and more support, especially after cash payments many countries paid during the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine. 

A Basic Income is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without a means-test or work requirement. This is the first phrase you can see when you open BIEN’s website. So where should states get money for it? For example, from natural resources, as Alaska Permanent Fund does, and from taxes including a tax on robots, carbon tax, as well as a tax on cryptocurrencies, etc. The view that the state should supplement the income of the poor has a long history. For example, one way to increase the incomes of the poor proposed by Milton Friedman is a negative income tax. The idea is quite simple: richer people pay taxes and poorer ones get some percentage of this. 

Ukrainians receive financial aid in the amount of 6500 hryvnias (just over US$200) under the program “ePidtrymka” for loss of part of wages (income), work (economic activity), which are temporarily stopped because of military actions during the current military struggle in Ukraine. It’s just a one-time payment with several strict conditions, including a territorial one. The deadline for submitting applications was March 31, 2022. So, what should other people do after April 1? Why shouldn’t children, women, single parents, young people, the disabled, and the unemployed be taken care of? Every Ukrainian needs to be paid because of the economic collapse and losses of income.

But is $200 enough to help someone who lost a family, home, or job? Is $200 enough to help anyone start life over in Europe or in an almost destroyed country? If this person is gravely ill? What about mental health, which was destroyed, of children, women, and youth? Every Ukrainian needs to be paid at least 500 Euros every month at best for the war’s duration until normal life is fully restored. I believe these brave people deserve more! Ukrainian people should be rewarded with UBI forever. This will be the greatest social experiment in history as well as a clear example for other countries and peoples.

Not only thousands of Ukrainians but also thousands of Russians are dying because of the actions of the Russian authorities. Let’s remember the dramatic events in Bucha, Ukraine, and in other cities. The Ukrainian government suspects soldiers from Khabarovsk, Buryatia, the Far East, and others of committing crimes. These are depressed regions with low incomes and high unemployment, despite their vast territories and natural resources. Residents have little choice: either to serve in the army and security services or to migrate to richer regions of the country. So, these hungry soldiers saw that people in Bucha were living their normal comfortable life. Maybe that’s why they were so cruel? Of course, it’s hard for me to reflect on why they acted like animals. But I strongly believe that they wouldn’t invade another country if they were receiving a basic income.

The situation is similar in other Russian regions like Tuva, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, Altai, Jewish Autonomous Region. That doesn’t mean that in other regions the situation is better. Maybe just a little. Official statistics (according to the “new methodology”) indicate that there were more than 16 million people below the poverty line at the end of 2021 in Russia. According to the old methodology, there were more than 20 million people in need. Official Russian statistics are underestimated by two to three times, according to the experts. Anyway, what will happen to Russians after the war and devastating economic sanctions? Of course, I’m not making a comparison between “lost a job” and “lost a life”. However, in my opinion, very few people would participate in an unjust war if they had a basic income and a stable and prosperous life. Therefore, Russians also need a basic income. People would be critical of the propaganda if they have more opportunities.

Ukraine is a brave country that is fighting against Russia’s military intervention and is protecting the entire world from danger. Of course, the other countries support Ukraine. Ukrainians need to be paid basic income. I may repeat it forever. Basic Income has the potential to eliminate the need for war, and that’s why it is important to raise awareness of what Basic Income can do. Ukrainians need to live their calm normal life instead of hiding in their basements as they do right now. Millions of people were forced to flee Ukraine, many had to bury their children or parents in the yards. Nobody knows their feelings. I hope that nobody will ever do that again. 

The war has affected the entire global community. Does the world forget the Chernobyl accident in 1986? Doesn’t the world read or hear about Russian soldiers in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant? Quoting a CNN report, “Although Chernobyl is not an active power plant, the sarcophagus above the reactor that exploded nearly 36 years ago needs to be maintained to avoid further radiation leaks. There is also a considerable amount of spent nuclear fuel that needs to be looked after”.

These miserable soldiers were ordered to dig trenches in that area, which is particularly radioactive. This zone right now is under the control of Ukrainian soldiers, but Russian soldiers may come back. This may be a bigger ecological problem than CO2 emissions for the whole world. What about the threat of Russian use of tactical nuclear weapons? Why do people worry about CO2 while so many people keep dying right now: young, old, children, men, and women? What could happen to the world after nuclear weapons are used? 

Ukraine is a strong country. We are proud as well as terribly sorry about all the events that happen there. Crying and praying for it to end soon, to stop people’s unfair death. This is the whole world’s inexcusable mistake. We could have avoided so many deaths if a Basic Income had been introduced to the world. UBI will reduce humanity’s aggression and destroy the economic, political, and psychological causes of war.

Instability in the world is increasing. Food, gasoline, gas, and service prices are increasing all over the world, including in Africa and Asia. I know that heating prices are high right now in Europe. Soon it will be summer, but later fall and winter will come. The whole planet suffers from Russian military action in the center of Europe and is terrified at the thought of a world nuclear war. We should think about basic income today. No, that’s not right. We should have thought about it yesterday before these disasters. The 99% shouldn’t suffer from the decisions of the 1%. People need to be more independent from the government. 

Article by: Irina Soloveva, Jr.

Building Community Resiliency in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Building Community Resiliency in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The sun isn’t the only thing shining this year in Santa Fe, New Mexico as for the first time in history, single parents who are enrolled in Santa Fe Community College receive basic income support funded through the Mayor’s for Guaranteed Income (MGI). The City of Santa Fe’s MGI Project, Santa Fe LEAP, paves the way toward community resiliency through safety net funding as low-income parents strive to meet their living expenses and educational goals.  

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, single mothers are more likely to live in poverty than other women at every educational rate. Single mothers in New Mexico who graduate with an associates degree are 35% less likely to live in poverty than a high school graduate.  Direct benefits not only improve the lives of graduates but also impact the safety net budget.  Single mothers who graduate with an associate degree save New Mexico $26,842 in public assistance spending over a lifetime.  These benefits increase as women receive higher educational degrees.  For example, single mothers in New Mexico who graduate with a bachelor’s degree are 59% less likely to live in poverty than high school graduates and save New Mexico $43,711 in public assistance spending over a lifetime.

In building momentum for the program, Santa Fe’s mayor Alan Webber, along with city councilors and staff members from Santa Fe Community College and its Foundation, launched the pilot program with funding through MGI. Eligible participants are between the ages of 18 and 30 and must be the primary care provider for a child under the age of 18.  In addition, the student must have been enrolled in at least one class prior to Fall 2021, into a certificate or degree program and make less than 200% of the federal poverty rate. 100 single parents were randomly selected to receive the $400 monthly cash assistance via credit card or direct deposit. Although this pilot program is intended to last one-year, future goals are in place to increase the $400 monthly limit to $500 per month, with the hopes to last for an additional year.  Gifts that go toward the Santa Fe MGI Project are 100% tax deductible and should be sent to the SFCC Foundation and directed to the MGI Project.

Education reporter Jessica Pollard interviewed nursing student Martina, who participates in the pilot program. Martina reported that her family does not qualify for government assistance, and they struggle to makes ends meet. Martina uses the monthly income toward her $500 car payment. Moreover, the City of Santa Fe’s Communication Director David Herndon stated that although data has yet been measured to provide information on the outcomes of the project, participants report not having to make choices between food or heating and have options that were not available before the project began. Herndon observed, “For instance, this buffer may allow participants to hire babysitters, so they are able to complete class work for college degrees.” Evaluation will be conducted by a team at the University of Pennsylvania, Center for Guaranteed Income Research as it is a part of MGI funding.

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber says: “We’re committed to helping our young working families have better lives. It’s wrong for a mom or dad to have to choose between getting an education and feeding their family. We’re giving these families the support they need to realize all the things an education can provide: more security, more stability and a lot less stress. This project makes Santa Fe a leader in a national movement for real progressive change.”

The Basic Income Pilot has been replicated in cities and towns across the country. Further movement in research and funding will help in reversing the cycle of poverty, building resiliency for those who struggle to make ends meet as they strive for brighter futures for their generations to come.

Miranda Queen and David Herndon, April 13, 2022

Update on Denver Basic Income Pilot

Update on Denver Basic Income Pilot

In Denver Colorado, a cash distribution program targeting those who experience homelessness is closing in on fully launching. The Denver Basic Income Project (DBIP) seeks to give a basic income to individuals to demonstrate that recipients of direct cash payments are more likely to obtain stable housing, gain more opportunity for stable employment, and empower people to assert their dignity and agency while improving their lives and improve the lives of those around them. The project aims to implement and study methods of building a healthier society, grounded in the values of social justice, anti-poverty, anti-oppression, and self-determination.

Some cash payments have already begun under a soft launch to understand where improvements can be made in the structure and implementation of the study. This approach aims to ensure that the program is as effective as it possibly can be over the 12-month span the full launch will cover. The Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver will be the organization conducting the study of results, and multiple organizations in Denver will be assisting in the implementation of the program.

Mark Donovan, the project founder, says “Direct cash payments move toward eliminating wealth inequality and begin to build a healthier community here in Denver and hopefully we’ll create a model for other cities to follow.” DBIP is itself modeled on two successful projects based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Stockton, California. Both the New Leaf Project in Vancouver, and the SEED project in Stockton showed positive effects on the lives of participants. In comparison to what the United States has currently implemented to help these people, “Our society can do better” says Donovan.

The Mayor of Denver, Michael B. Hancock, is in partnership with DBIP through Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a network of Mayors throughout the U.S. dedicated to advocating for a guaranteed income. “The Denver Basic Income Project is an opportunity to explore how the philanthropic community and the private sector can augment public support for those living in poverty, particularly our unhoused neighbors, and extend that hand up to stability” said Hancock. Mayor Hancock is concerned about a variety of issues such as homelessness, disparity in opportunity, and a withering middle class because of a lack of equity in economic systems.

There has been a large amount of fundraising for the project that continues. DBIP is still accepting donations towards its goal of securing 7.8 million dollars. DBIP is also currently applying the lessons learned from its initial soft launch and strengthening itself and its relationship with the community, especially leaders and participants from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Everything points to DBIP being an extremely promising endeavor worth paying attention to.

If you would like to read more about the Denver Basic Income Project you can read a recent guest column written by Mark Donovan for The Pulse Institute here.

Aaron Lamb, April 11, 2022