Basic Income: ‘But what about the irresponsible?’

I recently asked American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks about his thoughts on the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG). He told me that he was against the idea because there are some people in society that cannot be trusted to spend the money wisely. This is notable since Brooks is one of the leading conservative voices advocating for a social safety net. And the simplicity of the BIG is what typically attracts many conservatives and libertarians to the idea, including Brooks’ colleague Charles Murray. As many Americans would find objection to the universality of the BIG, it is important to address this issue head-on and either defend universality or at least offer some proposals to mediate this issue. One of the most common objections to a BIG is that there are some people that will take the income and drop out of the workforce altogether. Economist Read More …

UNDP discusses basic income in China

Chinese academics and officials last week hosted a roundtable on Universal Basic Income with the United Nations Development Program in Beijing, suggesting China may be prepared to trial experiments on the social dividend in the same manner as countries such as Finland, Scotland and India.   In a sign of the major progress Universal Basic Income (UBI) has made in Asia, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Beijing hosted a roundtable discussion on basic income last week. Professors from China’s most influential universities spoke at the roundtable about the potential for a basic income pilot program in China.   Patrick Haverman, UNDP Deputy Country Director for China, said he wants to work with academia and government to determine if basic income experiments in different areas of China are feasible. “With the Sustainable Development Goals firmly focused on the need to ‘leave no one behind’, Read More …

Does the Basic Income overlook disabled individuals?

The Universal Basic Income movement continues to pick up steam around the world, with reports that Finland is interested in starting its own UBI pilot program, joining a growing list of countries around the world. Still, many important questions surround the details of a basic income system. One criticism raised even by some supporters is that many recent discussions of the UBI have overlooked the disabled and chronically ill. For example, in its groundbreaking UBI report the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) mentioned disability only to say specific benefits for the disabled were excluded from its model. This silence has led some commentators to be skeptical of the UBI’s ability to accommodate the specific needs of disabled individuals. In an article recently published in the Independent, one critic worried that a basic income would either be too low to assist the disabled or too high to be affordable. Read More …

Will basic income lower crime?

This week, I had the opportunity to be a guest on New York University’s Students for Criminal Justice Reform podcast. I spoke with Thurston Powers about the positive effects a basic income may have on American society. One overlooked potential benefit is the effect of basic income on crime rates. I noted that a basic income could create more stable households and increase the likelihood of parents spending time with their children. Unstable and low-income households are linked with creating long-term issues for children that grow up in these situations. Those that critically point out single mothers work slightly less under a basic income do not understand this is probably a good thing. Considering it is single mothers in the data that show reduced work hours, it is likely they are spending their extra time raising their child. In the long-run, raising a well-adjusted adult will produce social Read More …

UBI Taiwan 施行政策白皮書新聞稿

目前台灣提倡無條件基本收入(Universal or Unconditional Basic Income,UBI)唯一的正式團體:無條件基本收入台灣(UBI台灣),於10月13日舉辦了「無條件基本收入政策白皮書發表會」,分析台灣需要UB的理由、成本、好處、實行的方法與時程、稅制及社福制度的改革等,希望藉由這次發表會期引起社會大眾討論此議題。 發表會中提起了三種UBI在台灣的可能方案:全稅收方案、漸進式方案及永久基金方案。以每月每位成年人發放10,000元新台幣、未成年人5,000元新台幣來算,其實行的淨成本預估需要5500億元,僅佔GDP的3.2%。實施UBI後將有70%的台灣人民受惠,貧窮家庭降低66%,有效減少貧窮與貧富差距問題,並且可以大量簡化了現行複雜的社會福利制度與行政成本。 以下將會簡單介紹這三種方案。 第一種方案為全稅收方案,透過各種稅制改革提高國家之稅收來達成無條件基本收入的財源籌措。此方案粗估需新增2.55兆元新台幣的稅收,並使台灣的租稅負擔率由原本的13%提升到30%左右。值得一提的是即使如此台灣的租稅負擔率也只是追上北歐福利國家的腳步而已,並不是一個完全無法負擔的重擔。 第二種方式為漸進式方案,是以出生年份為依據,在某年度出生後的公民可以領取基本收入的方案。該方案的優點在於實施初期財政負擔較低,政府有較多時間籌措資金;但是缺點在於某些人一輩子都將無法取得基本收入卻必須為支付基本收入而增加其稅收,可能會有不公平的質疑。 第三種方式為永久基金方案,是參考美國阿拉斯加永久基金所提出的方案。該方案財源主要有兩種,一種是政府提高的稅收,而另一種則為政府投資基金的收益。永久基金的運作方式為政府提高稅收並將新徵得之稅收放入一個基金庫,同時委託投資經理人對基金庫中之基金進行投資,並將投資收益繳回基金庫中,待基金庫中資金足以發放無條件基本收入時便開始發放。這種方案的好處在於政府提高之稅收不用像第一種方案提高那麼多;缺點則為必須面對投資的風險,如果投資失利則會造成財源籌措困難。除此之外,該方案也會將開始實施無條件基本收入前的準備期拉長,因此該政策無法在短時間內付諸實行。此方案在每年徵收9,000億元稅收的保守預估下,台灣要完全實施UBI需要約38年。 UBI的討論近幾年逐漸在台灣熱烈起來。除了UBI台灣之外,台灣工黨日前也發表了對台灣實施UBI的想法與提案。而在台灣之外,UBI也引起世界各國的關注。例如加拿大的多芬市(1974-1979)、納米比亞(2008- 2009)、印度的北部村莊(2011-2013)均曾經實施成功的無條件基本收入制度的試點方案。而芬蘭則從2017年1月1日開始實施為期2年的試點實驗,由25至58歲的失業者中挑選2000名,每位月領596美元(新台幣17,975元)作為其基本收入。荷蘭的第四大城烏得勒支,亦於2017年進的UBI的試點實驗,隨機挑選250名的荷蘭公民,每月給付他們1,100美元(新台幣33,175元)作為基本收入。瑞士則於2016年6月舉行公投來決定是否實行無條件基本收入制度,雖然結果是多數群眾反對此一提案,然而卻也引起大眾對於UBI的好奇與討論,進而使社會和國際對UBI有更多聲音與想法。 以台灣目前的財政狀況而言,不論哪種方案皆無可避免地要提高稅收,因此可以預見的是將面對非常大的政治阻力,而這也是UBI台灣要舉辦這場發表會的原因之一,若能促成民眾注意並引起討論,最後達成社會對於實施無條件基本收入的共識,則可降低增加稅收的阻力,政策的實行也變得並非如此遙不可及。 作者:王傳翔、韓詠翔、蘇嘉冠

UBI Taiwan National Proposal Press Conference

PDF of Simplified White Paper: 簡易版白皮書美化版v2 Agenda 19:00 – 19:30 UBI Taiwan History and Global Movement 19:30 – 20:30 UBI Taiwan National Proposal 20:30 – 20:40 Rest Time 20:40 – 21:10 Q&A 21:10 – 21:30 Networking Time   Thank You UBI Taiwan Summer Fellowship Team 冬阿姨 International Master’s in Asia Pacific Studies, National Chengchi University Wei, Mei-Chuan, Director of IMAS, National Chengchi University Wang, Shinn-Shyr, Director of IMES, National Chengchi University Andy Stern Sarath Davala Enno Schmidt 林宗弘, Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica Peter Knight, Sufficiency 4 Sustainability Network Yu-Hsuan Su, GIDS, NCCU

Interview: Basic income can create 'fulfilling lives'

In his new Kindle book Mending the Net, author Chis Oestereich describes how a basic income can address some of the “wicked problems” facing humanity. For Oestereich, the basic income can help society rethink its consumption patterns and possibly upend the “treadmill of subsistence.” In the book, Oestereich predicts that the economy could be headed toward a recession. In the interview he said that basic income can be a “shock absorber” of economic downturns. Without a basic income, Oestereich said he worries that the next recession will be much worse than the last for many people. One of the most unique effects of the basic income is its potential to change how we view careers and allow “self-determination,” Oestereich said. “By standing individuals up on an income floor, we could open the door for many to create unique, fulfilling lives that might not otherwise be possible,” Read More …

The largest basic income trial in history

Joe Huston, the CFO of GiveDirectly, speaks with the UBI Podcast about the largest basic income trial in history. The trial is in its earliest stage and will expand later, giving entire communities a basic income in Kenya. A 12-year basic income will be provided to 40 villages, 80 villages will receive basic income for 2 years. A lump-sum payment will be given to 80 villages. There will be 100 villages that will act as control groups. One interesting takeaway is that Huston said they are already seeing some “spillover benefits.” “I expect there will be spillover benefits. We kicked off in one pilot village, and already the surrounding villages have mentioned people are buying more services and goods,” Huston said. When discussing pilot programs, the environmental impact of basic income is often overlooked. Huston said that GiveDirectly does not take a position on this, but he said developed Read More …

Will basic income cause inflation?

I recently led a round-table discussion on basic income at National Chengchi University (NCCU), which was attended by students from various countries. The participants vigorously debated whether a basic income would result in inflation, with some parties worrying that the greater spending power will push up the demand for goods and, in turn, prices. The increased prices could possibly erode much of the spending power from a basic income. To confirm whether these worries were justified, I reached out to three experts on basic income (BI), co-editors of the Ethics and Economics of a Basic Income Guarantee, to see what the research says about basic income and inflation. It turns out: it depends. Overall, the scholars agreed that there could be some areas where prices are pushed up, but that it would depend on how the BI is implemented. Knowledge about the topic is limited since none Read More …

Massive cash transfer study shows ‘impressive’ results

The Overseas Development Institute just released the largest meta-analysis of cash transfer programs ever, spanning 15 years of data and 165 studies. The main takeaway is that studies show a consistent reduction in poverty measures. Perhaps an even more important conclusion is that most evidence showed an increase in work participation after receiving the basic income. The Overseas Development Institute is an independent think tank based in the United Kingdom. The meta-analysis reviewed tax and donor financed cash transfers to individuals and households. Retirement and unemployment were not included in the analysis. The studies had to meet “methodological rigor” to be included in the analysis. Though these cash transfers differ somewhat from a pure basic income, the study provided the strongest evidence yet that a basic income-type approach is a crucial tool to eliminate poverty. “There is strong evidence that cash transfers are associated with reductions in monetary poverty,” The Read More …