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Sudden outbreak of common sense as Basic Income considered & piloted

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Back in 2013 I wrote my debut article endorsing a Basic Income.

“Segal says the program would cost only $30 billion a year. A mere fraction of what the Canadian Government is currently spending on programs that fail at tackling the exact same issues. Clearly there is some overhead and waste in the current implementation of those programs, if one program can get the job done at far less than half of what is currently spent. By this logic, Current recipients of social assistance programs, at most are only taking in a fraction of $30 billion, as you’d have to assume at least some overhead is included in that figure. So where is the remaining 150 billion going? Not to the people that need it, that’s for sure.
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No matter how hard ‘the right’ fights to keep people poor, homeless or in their ‘private-for-profit’ prisons, This solution isn’t going away anytime soon.”
Canada could eliminate Poverty and Homelessness overnight. But will they?

Since then the discussions surrounding and budgets implementing a basic income have seemed to have taken the world by storm.

Literally while I was drafting this, BBC Radio was having the following discussion that I’m listening to. Newshour Extra Today (4/3/2016) – Money for Nothing? – BBC World Service

Listen below

On Mar 14th 2016, BusinessInsider reported: “On Monday, New Zealand’s Labor Party leader, Andrew Little, announced that the country will consider implementing a version of the system, known formally as “basic income.”

The party will discuss the feasibility of basic income at the Future of Work conference later this month.” New Zealand is debating a plan to give people free money, no strings attached

On Feb 26th 2016, The Huffington Post reported: “In its budget documents, unveiled Thursday, the Liberal government of Premier Kathleen Wynne said it would “work with communities, researchers and other stakeholders in 2016 to determine how best to design and implement a Basic Income pilot.”

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said the province will decide whether to make a basic income permanent on the basis of that pilot project, the Globe and Mail reported.

The idea of replacing numerous government benefits with a single cheque sent to all households, regardless of income, has been gaining steam in recent years.” A Basic Income For Ontario? Province Plans Pilot Project As Part Of Budget

On Feb 25th 2016 BasicIncome.org reported: “In the December 29th, 2015 edition of the German magazine „Die Zeit“ Höttges talks about the effects of the digital revolution on the economy and society and the need to offer basic security to human beings. Höttges claims that a Basic Income would provide such security and could be funded by taxing the gains and profits of big internet firms. In this view, Basic Income would provide a long-term solution for a society that has been restructured through the process of digitalization. He repeats his stance in an interview published in the January 14th, 2016 edition of „Die Zeit“.” GERMANY: Two top managers speak favourably about Basic Income

On Feb. 16th 2016 The Independent reported: “The UK Labour Party is considering universal basic income as part of its new economic policy.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said the Labour Party would not rule out unconditional pay for all members of society during a talk at the London School of Economics on Tuesday night.

“It’s an idea we want to look at. Child benefit was a form of basic income so it’s not something that I would rule out,” he said.
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In January, Caroline Lucas MP called on the Government to commission research into the idea of paying all citizens a flat, unconditional income, which would likely come in place of existing social security measures like means tested benefits.

“The basic income offers genuine social security to everyone and sweeps away most of the bureaucracy of the current welfare system,” Lucas told the Independent in January.” Labour Party considering universal basic income policy, shadow chancellor John McDonnell says

On Feb 14th 2016 The Globe and Mail reported: “Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says he’s “dead serious” about trying it, and last month appointed a cabinet committee to that end. It is presided by Labour Minister François Blais, a former Laval University political science professor who just happens to have written a book on minimum income programs.

Last week, another Laval academic – Jean-Yves Duclos, a former economics professor who after his election last year became the federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister – says he too is willing to look at implementing it.

The concept is simple. Replace the raft of income-support provisions currently administered, means-tested, audited and doled out by various levels of government – welfare, community housing allowances, employment insurance – with a single benefit. It could be run through the tax system. If your income is below a certain level, you get a cheque.” The guaranteed annual income: A little idea that might just solve some very big problems

On Jan 30th 2016 The Independent reported: “Switzerland is set to vote on a proposal that wants to pay everyone 2,500 Swiss francs (£1,700) a month regardless of whether people are working or not.

If the plans go through, it will become the first country in the world to provide a basic unconditional monthly income, and they are already the first country to vote on the matter.
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The committee’s proposal is absed on a survey, carried out by Demoscope Institute, which reportedly showed the majority of Swiss residents would carry on working, or still look for a job, even if the guaranteed income was approved.”
Switzerland will be the first country in the world to vote on having a national wage of £1,700 a month

On Oct 21st 2015, Finlands YLE Uutiset reported: “The Finnish Social Insurance Institution (Kela) will soon begin work on a presentation for basic income, regional news group Lännen Media reports. Once implemented, the model could revolutionise the Finnish social welfare system.

If implemented, the so-called basic income would replace other benefits people currently receive, and would therefore be rather high, Kela’s Research Department Manager Olli Kangas told Lännen Media.

Under basic income all Finnish citizens would be paid an untaxed benefit sum free of charge by the government. Kangas says the model would see Finns being paid some 800 euros a month in its full form, 550 euros monthly in the model’s pilot phase.” Kela to prepare basic income proposal

On Oct 15th 2015 BasicIncome.org reported: “Political party PAN – Pessoas, Animais, Natureza – a minority party in Portugal since its inception in 2009, has increased its votes in the most recent general election (which was on the 4th of October) by 30% relative to 2011. This has allowed PAN to finally elect one congressman. This is of relevance, because PAN will be the first political party in Portugal defending the basic income concept with a seat on the Portuguese parliament. André Silva will be this congressman, who gave a short but hearty speech on the election night. PAN’s elected congressman manifests his availability to search for political stability in the country, establishing dialog with all the other political forces.

Basic income can be found as a feature in PAN’s electoral program (in Portuguese).” Portugal: First pro-Basic Income congressman gets elected to parliament

On Oct 6th 2015 The Huffington Post reported: “Call it basic income, guaranteed annual income, negative income tax, or minimum income, it all essentially amounts to the same simple solution: eliminate poverty by giving people money.

The idea — supported by 46 per cent of Canadians according to one poll — has boosters across the political spectrum because it not only helps people, it can also save money by reducing bureaucracy and poverty-related health care and criminal justice expenses.

The Canadian Medical Association endorsed basic income this past summer and nearly 200 physicians signed a letter to Ontario’s health minister calling for a pilot project because “income is the great divide when it comes to Canadians’ health.”
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The Huffington Post Canada sat down with party leader Elizabeth May to discuss why providing a basic income to all Canadians would pay off for Canada.

Tell me about the Green Party’s “guaranteed livable income”?

The goal is to make sure that no Canadian lives in poverty. Let’s skip the steps that involve what I regard as a shame-based system. The current system is very inefficient economically as well as allowing people to live in poverty who shouldn’t. We can actually have a society where no one lives in poverty.” Elizabeth May: Paying Everyone A Basic Income Will End Poverty AND Save Money

On Sep 17th 2015 New Scientist reported: “Today, with the rise of machine-learning algorithms and advanced robotics, many of them have changed their view. It’s possible that within 20 years almost half of all jobs will be lost to machines forever, and nobody really knows how we are going to cope with that.

Those who still adhere to technology’s power to create jobs fail to recognise the shift to a “superstar economy”, where a handful of companies disrupt markets, make billions and employ very few people, while the rest fight for the scraps.

So how would the millions of telemarketers and taxi drivers, for example – whose jobs are at high risk of being automated – survive in this new landscape? One of the most interesting proposals, and one that does not live in the fanciful world of “the market will figure it out”, is the creation of an unconditional basic income (UBI).

It’s a simple idea with far-reaching consequences. The state would give a monthly stipend to every citizen, regardless of income or employment status. This would simplify bureaucracy, get rid of outdated and inefficient means-based benefits, and provide support for people to live with dignity and find new meaning.” As tech threatens jobs, we must test a universal basic income

On July 10th 2015 The Huffington Post reported: “The primary goal is to eliminate poverty while reducing the current welfare system’s complicated and degrading bureaucracy, but according to the Independent, it’s also intended “to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study.”

However, Quartz reports that Utrecht’s plan, set to begin in January 2016, is focused exclusively on welfare recipients. The experiment will see some people receive the basic income stipend (around 900 euro or C$1,275) without any regulation while other groups, including a control group based on existing the welfare law, will be subject to different rules and requirements.” The Dutch City of Utrecht Is Doling Out Free Money For A ‘Basic Income’ Experiment

I will update this article with more 2016 references as they are reported and remaining 2015/2014 references I have missed.

Nigel Todman is an Independent Journalist, Technical Consultant, Social Activist, Web Developer and Computer Programmer from Ontario, Canada. Add him to Facebook and/or Follow him on Twitter, Subscribe on Minds E-mail: veritas [at] vts-tech [dot] org [PGP] This article can be republished under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, With a link back to this article and attribution to Nigel Todman