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Unconditional Basic Income – IOPS Austria calls on other IOPS members and chapters to reflect on a “beautiful and simple idea”

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We, the members of IOPS Austria, have recently organised talks and discussions on the idea of an unconditional basic income (UBI). We think that the idea fits very well with IOPS' mission and vision. Therefore we decided to support the demand of the European Citizens' Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income (http://basicincome2013.eu/): This initiative is “asking the Commission, to encourage cooperation between the Member States (according to Art 156 TFEU) aiming to explore the Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) as a tool to improve their respective social security systems”. It aims primarily at stimulating a broad public discussion about an unconditional basic income. One million statements of support need to be collected before January 14, 2014.

We call on all IOPS members and chapters, and in the light of the current petition especially the European ones, to make up your minds about the idea of an unconditionally guaranteed basic income and to draw your own conclusions!

Apart from drawing the attention of European IOPS members to this specific initiative, our blog also aims at initiating an IOPS-wide discussion about the topic. Therefore you find a short introduction to the idea of the UBI and some of our thoughts on it in the remainder of this text.

What exactly is the unconditional basic income?

The UBI does not replace the welfare state. Instead it aims at transforming the compensatory into an emancipatory welfare state.

The emancipatory UBI is defined by the following four criteria: It is universal, individual, unconditional, and high enough to ensure an existence in dignity and participation in society.

Universal: In principle every person, irrespective of age, descent, place of residence, profession etc. will be entitled to receive it.

Individual: Every woman, every man, every child has the right to a basic income on an individual basis, and definitely not on a couple or household basis. The UBI will be independent of their circumstances: of marital status, cohabitation or household configuration, or of the income or property of other household or family members. This is the only way to ensure privacy and to prevent control over other individuals. It enables individuals to make their own decisions.

Unconditional: We regard basic income as a human right which shall not depend on any preconditions, whether an obligation to take paid employment, to be involved in community service, or to behave according to traditional gender roles. Nor will it be subject to income, savings or property limits.

High enough: The amount should provide for a decent standard of living, which meets society’s social and cultural standards in the country concerned. The net income should guarantee a life in dignity, material security and full participation in society.

How to finance the UBI?

We think that one first has to negotiate the question if one politically wants the UBI or not, before dealing with the secondary, but equally important, question of how to finance it in detail. However, as the issue of financing is often leveled as an argument against the UBI idea, it should be noted that several concrete calculations exist. Proponents of the UBI make different suggestions on how to finance it. We tend to prefer those versions that put emphasis on a financial transaction tax as well as on progressive taxes on capital and income, rather than on sales. To some extent the UBI would also simply dispense with already existing costs of means-tested benefits and connected bureaucratic costs of determining entitlement. Another important question to be discussed is whether or not the UBI should replace other social benefits such as public health, housing, education and transport. We think it should not. Nobody should be excluded from these essential services. Furthermore, one needs to reflect if the introduction of the UBI might induce inflation and what kind of additional measures might be necessary to prevent this from happening.

IOPS and the unconditional basic income

We think that the UBI is in accordance with IOPS' mission and vision. Most importantly the UBI will empower every individual to say “No!” to wage labor. Hence, it will take us a good deal closer to achieving self-management as well as equity and justice. In accordance with IOPS' values, the UBI is a payment that is not according to property, bargaining power, or the value of personal output. Those unable to work will receive the UBI nonetheless. Based on the possibility to refuse to work under certain conditions, workers who work longer or harder or at more onerous conditions doing socially valued labor could be more likely to successfully claim to earn proportionately more for doing so and to demand improved working conditions.

Furthermore, not having to worry any more about competing for scarce jobs with others in order to live a dignified life, there are less reasons for constructing others as enemies and more reasons to act together in solidarity.

As it is unconditional, the UBI appreciates existing diversity. It does not prefer certain family or kinship arrangements over others. It does not privilege some identities over others. Moreover, the UBI will foster diversity as it materially recognizes that currently unpaid work, that is work considered worthless by market and state standards, may be valuable and even necessary for society. Having a UBI, everyone will be able to engage in tasks that seem important to them, even if others do not (yet) appreciate it. Last but not least, the UBI opens up additional space for a myriad of experiments with alternative economic organization, be it solidarity economy, commons-based peer-production, parecon, community economy, gift economy… you name it.

The advantage of a simple demand

The universal UBI is a simple demand that can potentially be shared by very different people in very different situations. The living conditions of many get worse or more insecure but different people are experiencing this general tendency in many different ways. Hence, it is hard for us to unite based on more detailed commonalities and to agree on more detailed demands or visions for a better society. With a universal UBI we can achieve more self-management, more payment according to effort and sacrifice, better working conditions and so on (even if they are not organized in large bargaining organizations, a strategy well suited for the bygone era when people were not as individualized as they are in today’s economy). Even if the basic income for everyone is not realized immediately, it can already give a positive orientation to present day defensive struggles against social security cuts and against the change from welfare to workfare measures.

Also, even if more complex demands are not raised directly and explicitly, as people do not have to primarily worry about how to make their living, we get individually empowered to strive for the realization of our goals.

While we think that the UBI should be a central demand and will contribute to transforming society, it seems also clear to us that we cannot expect that it serves as an universal remedy. The demand for the UBI has to go hand in hand with commitments against all sorts of discrimination. Furthermore, the UBI alone does not automatically prevent so called market failures including massive environmental destruction. There is always more to be done, but this could be a step in the right direction.

Discussion 52 Comments

  • Lambert Meertens 6th Jan 2014

    If you're an EU citizen reading this and you've not already done so, support the European Citizens' Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income at https://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/REQ-ECI-2012-000028/public/index.do?lang=en .

    One million signatures needed. Just one more week to go from today until the deadline!

  • LedSuit ' 7th Jan 2014

    This could be another area where IOPS Austria could get in contact with IOPS Ireland and maybe fellow IOPS member Prof John Baker in particular, due to his own involvement in the area of a basic income.

    http://eprints.nuim.ie/3823/1/ABR_Baker-Ireland-final.pdf

    • Johannes 8th Jan 2014

      Thank you for the suggestion James! I have contacted John. Hopefully we can work something out!

  • Mark Evans 7th Jan 2014

    It is true that the idea presented here is "simple" (although "simplistic" might have been a better choice) but the claim that it is "beautiful" - if by this the author is referring to economic justice - is almost certainly false.

    First, an unconditional basic income has little, if anything, to do with economics.

    Second, an unconditional basic income has little, if anything, to do with justice.

    The authors claim that "the UBI is in accordance with IOPS' mission and vision". Here I would like to make two counter claims for members to consider:

    1) this campaign is more in-keeping with a strategy for the old left vision generally referred to as communism - which typically entails remuneration for need.

    2) a strategy that is more in tune with IOPS vision would be a campaign for full employment and quality jobs for those who can work, plus guaranteed support for those who can't.

  • Lambert Meertens 7th Jan 2014

    Where does the IOPS vision suggest that full employment is desirable?

    • Mark Evans 8th Jan 2014

      The primary functions of any economic system are production, allocation and consumption of goods and services.

      If you have an economy that is part of a participatory society - a participatory economy - then this suggests that everyone is involved in all of the above primary functions, including participating in production - hence full employment.

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Jan 2014

      One of the primary functions of any economic system is distribution. Hopefully we can have a participatory society even if not everyone is involved in distribution.

      Even if everyone is involved in all primary functions of a participatory economy, it does not follow in any way that this has to be as an employee.

    • Mark Evans 10th Jan 2014

      Well it depends on what you mean by "distribution".

      If you simply mean the physical moving around and delivery of goods, then yes - not everyone needs to be involved in that.

      But if you mean the process by which we determine who gets what, then I would say no - in an IOPS style economy everyone needs to be involved in that.

      However, this has nothing really to do with my main claim about how an economy in a participatory society, and more precisely participatory production, implies full employment.

      If we agree that production is a primary function of economics then it follows that in an economy that claims or aspires to be participatory will need to be moving towards, or already have, full employment.

      If you are going to reply again then please reply to that point.

    • Lambert Meertens 10th Jan 2014

      By "distribution" I mean making sure the stuff produced gets from the producer to the consumer. I do not mean "allocation".

      I agree that production is a primary function of economic systems, but I do not agree that it follows that a participatory economy needs to aim for full employment. Maybe there are good arguments why it should aim for it, but I haven't seen them. The mere quality of being participatory is in my eyes not by itself an argument for full employment.

    • Mark Evans 12th Jan 2014

      Lambert, you write:

      "I agree that production is a primary function of economic systems, but I do not agree that it follows that a participatory economy needs to aim for full employment. Maybe there are good arguments why it should aim for it, but I haven't seen them. The mere quality of being participatory is in my eyes not by itself an argument for full employment."

      Quick question:

      How do people participate in production if they are unemployed?

    • Lambert Meertens 12th Jan 2014

      I find this question hard to understand. Also now there are many people who are actively producing but who are not employed.

    • Mark Evans 12th Jan 2014

      which bit of the question are you struggling with?

  • Lambert Meertens 7th Jan 2014

    Communists seek a classless society. So does IOPS. "Old left vision" is not always an outdated vision.

    • Mark Evans 8th Jan 2014

      Communists, like anyone else, can pay lip-service to whatever they like. We should only take peoples stated values seriously if they can back them up with institutional proposals that would actually make those values real.

      If the old left have a vision for a classless economy - and I don't mean nice sounding words or half baked ideas, I mean an actual comprehensive model that accounts for classless production, allocation and consumption - then please share with the rest of us.

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Jan 2014

      "Communists like remuneration for need. So if you like remuneration for need you smell like an old left communist."

      Clearly, this is a fallacy, not very different from the chestnut, "Hitler loved dogs. So if you love dogs you are a Nazi." I exposed the fallacy by pointing out that both communists and IOPS want a classless economy. You cannot invalidate the example by repeating that communists smell.

    • Mark Evans 10th Jan 2014

      Lambert - if you want to have a debate with yourself then fine!

      But if you want other members to join in then please reply to what they actually write.

    • Lambert Meertens 10th Jan 2014

      Mark, I did respond to what you actually wrote; I only paraphrased it to bring out the absence of a real argumentation more clearly.

    • Mark Evans 12th Jan 2014

      If, as part of a conversation, you attempt to paraphrase what someone has said, and the other person "shakes their head", so to speak - indicating that you got it wrong - you do not just carry on insisting that your interpretation was right and their understanding of their own statement was wrong ... at least not if you want to conversation to continue.

  • Lambert Meertens 7th Jan 2014

    seeks changes in society both for citizens to enjoy immediately, and also to establish by the terms of its victories and by the means used in its organizing, a likelihood that citizens will pursue and win more change in the future. In my opinion the UBI is in perfect agreement with this programmatic approach.

  • Lambert Meertens 7th Jan 2014

    That should have been: IOPS seeks changes ...

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 7th Jan 2014

    I fully agree with Lambert.

    Mark, how is 'full employment' not a very 'old left' demand staying fully within the dreary logic of capitalism and wage slavery, whereas it could be argued that a UBI at least has the interesting potential for breaking that very logic, a break I thought defined the very word 'revolutionary' IOPS uses in its self-definition?

    • Mark Evans 8th Jan 2014

      Sorry Peter - I don't understand your question.

      An IOPS style economy would involve (1) participatory production, (2) participatory allocation, and (3) participatory consumption. The first of these implies full employment - no?

      In an IOPS style economy "no individuals or groups own productive assets such as natural resources, factories, etc." so there is no capitalist class.

      Also in an IOPS style economy "there is no corporate division of labor giving about a fifth of workers predominatly empowering tasks and four fifths mainly rote, repetitive, and obedient tasks" so there is no coordinator class.

      As a result we have classlessness, and in addition to this "workers have a say in decisions to the extent possible, proportionate to effects on them". If that is not a revolution then I do not know what is.

      And if there is no class system and workers have a fair and meaningful say in decisions then to who are the workers enslaved?

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 8th Jan 2014

      Thanks Mark, but perhaps we're talking past each other. Your reply is talking about a future 'IOPS style economy' (Parecon to be precise, the two terms however are not identical as we know).

      The UBI proposal on the other hand is talking about a possible reform within the present capitalist economy. Not the same thing, no?

      Isn't demanding 'full employment' within capitalism an old Labour/social democratic/Keynesian demand, not a revolutionary one? More wage slavery for all at the cost of more economic growth to destroy the planet, more jobs through 'national competitiveness' at the cost of workers elsewhere etc etc?

      Future 'participatory production', of course! But if there are THEN no longer employers, will there still be 'employment', i.e. 'employees' being 'employed' by someone or by themselves? If not, why still talk of full 'employment'? A little confusing, no?

    • Mark Evans 10th Jan 2014

      Possibly! I often feel frustrated with the limitations of communicating via forums etc and sometimes think about how much easier and nicer the discussions would be if we were face to face - hence the importance of working towards local chapter meetings, national and international gatherings.

      Just to be clear, the quotes in my reply were from the IOPS Economic Vision section of this site and not ParEcon - and yes they are not identical. Same with quotes here.

      I see both the UBI proposal and full employment as possible reform campaigns - my argument is that the latter is more compatible with IOPS economic vision than the former. My feeling is that full employment would be a good first step towards an IOPS style economy - the second step could be redesigning jobs for so that all workers have a "socially average share of empowering tasks".

      To back up my claim I highlight participatory production as a necessity for an economy / society that claims to be participatory. You seem to agree on this. From participatory production, it seems to me, full employment naturally follows.

      With regards to future participatory production you ask:

      "But if there are THEN no longer employers, will there still be 'employment', i.e. 'employees' being 'employed' by someone or by themselves?"

      This could just be semantics but I would say yes. The crucial difference in an IOPS style economy is that there would be no capitalist or coordinator class employers.

      Instead, people have jobs whereby:

      "workers have a say in decisions to the extent possible, proportionate to effects on them..."

      and...

      "each worker enjoys conditions suitable to be sufficiently confident and informed to participate effectively in decision making..."

      So, in a sense, a very new sense, there is employment and there are employees - but it would be within a rich participatory democratic context. The details of how we might go about this remain an open question - but the ParEcon model does offer some suggestions.

      I hope that makes things less confusing.

  • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

    I've heard a lot of talk about UBI, but I've never really gotten the grasp of it – or rather, what's supposed to be so good about it – and every person I've heard recommend it has always recommended indirect actions (such as signature campaigns). Now, I do understand that a simple UBI would give some ppl – artists, activists, inventors, etc. – advantages, but I'm unsure about the advantages to other ppl:

    * Won't it necessarily be exclude those that don't have citizenship?
    * Won't women be staying more at home if UBI would be implemented?
    * Won't activists be even more separated from the workplaces than they currently are (I regard the workplace as one of the most important arenas to engage in)?

    Just some questions… Are there any good books or research publications that delves more deeply into the pros and cons of UBI.

  • Lambert Meertens 8th Jan 2014

    Some resources are listed (or referred to by web pages listed) under the forum topic http://www.iopsociety.org/forum/strategy/basic-income-as-an-empowering-tool-a-strategic-demand. Generally they don't discuss this from a revolutionary perspective, though.

    A major advantage we can foresee is that it will force employers to make major improvements to the working conditions – less dangerous, unhealthy or mind-numbing; more varied and inspiring. It will also do much to strengthen the struggle for a shorter work week: why work excessively long hours if you don't have to? (This is good for full employment too! – and not at the expense of producing more stuff we don't really need.) These are "reformist" but still very desirable) effects, but, moreover, all this will result in workers having more time and energy to spend on issues like how we got into this mess and what we can do about it.

    I'm against exclusionary notions of citizenship, and if it's up to me, we will not exclude non-citizens. I do not believe it is necessary, but I expect that with the current explosion of xenophobia it is what most societies will choose. The implementation may lead to more men sharing in the household work and even to more women participating in paid outside work because it has been made more attractive (see above). And workers may be more inclined to become activists at their workplaces, since it is not that easy to find replacements any longer.

  • Kim Keyser 8th Jan 2014

    Lambert: "A major advantage we can foresee is that it will force employers to make major improvements to the working conditions – less dangerous, unhealthy or mind-numbing; more varied and inspiring."

    Maybe… If the UBI is sufficiently big, fought for and defended by an active union movement: Yes. If the UBI is much less than the minimum wage (if the territory even has such a thing), if the society is extremely consumerist, or if UBI will be brought into effect by liberals in a country w/o a strong union movement: no. (I.e. perhaps likely for Austria, but less likely for UK).

    "[W]orkers may be more inclined to become activists at their workplaces, since it is not that easy to find replacements any longer."

    I do not find this convincing. Today, when there's no such thing as UBI, already way too few activists are involved in union work - among young revolutionaries in OECD countries there are almost none. But if these activists would get paid more by doing whatever they already do (studying, part time working, and extra-union organizing) you find it likely that they'll instead choose union activism?

    Lambert: "The implementation may lead to more men sharing in the household work and even to more women participating in paid outside work because it has been made more attractive (see above)."

    But for other such solutions (i.e. getting money for caring for a child, instead of sending it to kindergarden; paid parental leave; rich couples which can afford one parent staying home) there's massive evidence of the opposite of what you postulate: More women stay home.

    The only counter-example is that of paid paternal leave with dedicated time for each parent (not mandatory for either, but if the father doesn't take his share, he'll loose paid paternal leave, and the mother can't take it for him). That works though, and fathers are even more happy than mothers, about such systems.

    I'm not arguing that UBI would be more bad than good, but thus far I'm not sufficiently convinced of the opposite to even argue for – not to mention /organize for/ – UBI.

    @James: Thanks, but I was really asking whether there's a book someone can /recommend/ (@Lambert: I don't read German yet, I'm sorry… :/ ). I know that there are probably a lot of ppl that have written different stuff about it, and I know how to use a search engine. :)

    • LedSuit ' 8th Jan 2014

      Yeah, I know Kim:) but I was just putting the stuff up there to make it easier.

      There is a lot of stuff by ppl and there is a really interesting article by Al Sheahen, http://www.basicincome.org/bien/pdf/dublin08/2aiibiuscongress.doc. who has also written a book (Basic Income Guarantee: Your Right to Economic Security (Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee). It documents an attempt by some members of USBIG to get a bill passed in Congress between 2004 and 2008. It wasn't a major basic income bill but what they called a small one. It was actually a standard tax credit for those who filled out a tax form and those who didn't file for deductions. It added up to about $2000 at the highest, so well below the $10000 poverty level at the time.

      It was to pave the way for more discussion on poverty and basic income with the hope that some time in the future a big BIG bill could be introduced, perhaps at the poverty level. Then I assume it would mean further pushing for something that brought dignity to once existence. Nevertheless it is an insight into attempts via the existing legislative institutions to get things done. Probably unsurprising to many but I found it interesting.

    • LedSuit ' 8th Jan 2014

      Sorry, "...one's existence."

    • Kim Keyser 10th Jan 2014

      Thanks, James.

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Jan 2014

      If the left cannot unite itself behind the demand – thus continuing the proud tradition of making itself irrelevant – there is no chance of this being voluntarily introduced by the ruling classes. You are right that to have a real strong effect the basic income has to be commensurable with a living wage, but I bet you'd start to see some improvements well before that, enough for sustaining a permanent movement for increasing it.

      I don't know the situation elsewhere, but in the Netherlands many workers would actually like to work shorter hours but their financial position doesn't allow it, and if it does their employers don't. With a sizable UBI more people will financially be in a position to demand shorter hours and also be in a better position to go on strike for such demands, for long periods if need be. The dynamics are hard to predict, but there are men who actually resent that they can't spend more time with their kids and helping their wives with the household chores.

    • LedSuit ' 9th Jan 2014

      Yes, without doubt Lambert. In fact, I think someone Al Sheahen approached, an aide or Democrat or Republican just flatly said without a mass movement, forget it.

      I also agree that some improvements would come well before it became a living wage.

      The problem is a living wage with dignity- not just "I can live". If the poverty level is $10000, where does dignity begin. $20000?

      If it's something of that order how would that affect the current system. Better or worse for those milking it for their own gain? If better, then there is still a major problem with capitalism. If worse, won't they just smash it? Of course this doesn't mean you don't try I guess.

    • Kim Keyser 10th Jan 2014

      Ok, but this is all within the realm of the hypothetical… At the same time as there's empirical data about similar schemes (re: sex, gender and child care). It's just not convincing… (That's ok tho, we aren't always able to convince each other, and some times differences are ok.)

    • Lambert Meertens 10th Jan 2014

      As long as they have not been realized, all thought of the effects of proposed ideas is hypothetical. This applies to all of the IOPS mission and vision.

      I haven't seen the data, so I can't judge if these schemes you mention are indeed similar, but I must say that if you give people money for caring for children instead of letting them attend kindergarten, it does not surprise me that the effect is that more women opt for staying home. (I also happen to think going to kindergarten is not detrimental to a child's psyche; I'd rather allocate community money to allow working people to use high-quality child daycare facilities.)

      Women working jobs outside the house must not be a goal by itself; the priority should be to create the conditions under which they can freely choose to do so without being made to feel guilty or getting all stressed and overworked (or both).

    • Kim Keyser 11th Jan 2014

      "Women working jobs outside the house must not be a goal by itself"

      If we're talking independently of class society, I'd might agree with you, but the issue we're talking about now is UBI as a reform within the capitalist system, right? In that case, _the_ major cause of the wage gap (and hence most – though not all – of the power gap, as money is power under capitalism), in OECD-countries, is due to what happens from the moment the woman gives birth: women get a career break in order to take care of the child, men get a career hike (overtime and promotion) in order to compensate for the smaller total revenue of the family. For each child the woman has, the more the wage gap (and hence also the power gap) increases.

      Now, would UBI have the same effect? Like you say, we can't _know_. But I'd find very, very likely…

      Would not only women, but also men, stay at home with their babies? Again, if we look at data for those that have the economic possibility to do so, the answer would be, yes, but only for a fraction of the time women will stay home… What works – the only thing it seems – is a paid paternal leave, reserved for fathers (as implemented in Iceland, then Sweden, then Norway). Why? Because if you have a _right_ – and not only economic possibility – you can go to your employer without _asking_, but simply _informing_ about your paternal leave, and thus norms will form, which'll make this perfectly normal.

      Again, does this single – but quite big – counter-argument to UBI invalidate organizing for UBI? No. Not necessarily. The pros might be so good that it outweighs the cons. But if that is the case, it will need some real need info – and not only indirect attacks about contributing to the irrelevance of the left – in order to be convinced. ;)

      Another thing which makes me hesitant to organize for UBI is the lack of performative potential. While we might take the 6 hour normal work day by coordinating a date from which we'll all go home from work after 6 hours from that date onwards, but it's difficult – extremely difficult – to apply such a direct actionistic tactic to UBI. Basically we're left with indirect actions such as lobbying parties and such (indicative of all campaigns for UBI I've seen to this date).

      Both forms have a valuable prefigurative potential though – they both reflect the future we'd like to live in – but as performative potential is just a great a component of direct action as prefigurative potential, UBI looks weak compared to a 6 hour normal work day, as a strategic reform.

      Of course, a 6 hour normal work day, would also have positive effects on sex and gender relations too, while UBI would (most likely) have adverse effects.

      Lastly: The 6 hour normal work day is an older demand than UBI (at least when it comes to momentum, but not necessarily when it comes to which single person was first recorded arguing for one of these). As you said: "'Old left vision' is not always an outdated vision." ;)

      (For me, a 6 hour workday isn't _the_ most strategic reform out there, but here it was just used to compare with UBI, as it had some interesting aspects that were good for comparing.)

    • Lambert Meertens 11th Jan 2014

      Any measure for improving the condition of workers will be subverted unless it is supported by a powerful workers' movement. The wage gap is hardly the cause of the lesser power of women as a group; it is the consequence of persisting oppression and discrimination that predates capitalism and cuts across the traditional distinction between workers and capitalists, and likewise across Albert–Hahnel's coordinator class. If the workers' movement does not wholeheartedly extend its solidarity to women, this discrimination and wage gap will persist.

      While a UBI will not by itself rectify the issue, I think it will help create conditions that make it easier to address it for men who are serious about gender equity, also at home. But as long as they continue to think that a woman's place is in the kitchen, neither the introduction of a UBI nor shorter work days will avail.

    • Kim Keyser 11th Jan 2014

      Hmm… What causes sexism is a longer discussion. Suffice to say here, is that we agree that the wage gap is not _the_ cause of sexism, and also that sexism predates (but is perpetuated by) capitalism.

      However, a huge part of sexism in contemporary capitalism goes _through_ the wage gap (ie. economic power as an intermediary form/variable between reproductive/labor division power and generalized power). There's no doubt about it. But all? Certainly not (overlapping systems are amongst other things, the system of masculine and male military institutions, which has independent effects on the sexist system). But yeah, that's a longer discussion that would constitute a digression in this specific thread.

  • Nathan Redding 8th Jan 2014

    Time for some healthy criticism:

    "High enough: The amount should provide for a decent standard of living, which meets society’s social and cultural standards in the country concerned."

    So the amount will admittingly be artificially determined by factors other than duration, how hard you work, and how onerous workplace conditions are. I believe this unintendingly nests inequality. People will end up being paid more even though they worked less, and vice versa.

    How UBI will treat people in, redrafting the above phrase quoted above, "countries with low standards" is also dubious, but it's concluded that UBI is not a "cure-all", so I'll lay that discussion down.

    "We think that the UBI is in accordance with IOPS' mission and vision. Most importantly the UBI will empower every individual to say “No!” to wage labor."

    I am confused on what "wage labor" is defined as here. If it's definition is the current concept of wages that we currently use in capitalism, then ok.

    If it's "wage labor" as in "disempowering work", then it is not in tune with the IOPS mission and vision. We do not bar ourselves from menial labor entirely, we instead work under equal job complexes, which is a mixture of empowering and menial labor, so that everyone does a fair share of the work.

    I wish I could see UBI as at least a stepping stone from capitalism, but if UBI stands in the way of our IOPS goal, it shouldn't be supported.

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Jan 2014

      There are people who do filthy and dangerous work for very low wages. The work could be made less filthy and less dangerous, but since this would be at the expense of the employer's profit, it doesn't happen. It would be good if people could say "No!" to such work without fear of having to starve.

      In the IOPS vision workers earn more by working under onerous condition – but I think we should aim to abolish onerous work conditions altogether as much as avoidable, and even in an economic system that conforms to our vision a UBI will help to make it more human friendly.

    • Kim Keyser 10th Jan 2014

      If there's filthy work needed to be done, I predict the employers will find workers to that work anyhow (ie. migrants w/o good papers etc., who won't be eligible for UBI).

      I could see a benifit for a certain group of ppl – artists, activists, inventors; ppl who now turn to bureaucratic social services shame; and so on – but I would presume that the group you talk about would not benefit.

    • Nathan Redding 11th Jan 2014

      I see what you mean on that point. That part of UBI doesn't abridge and even lays further groundwork helping IOPS.

  • Nathan Redding 8th Jan 2014

    "Moreover, the UBI will foster diversity as it materially recognizes that currently unpaid work, that is work considered worthless by market and state standards, may be valuable and even necessary for society. Having a UBI, everyone will be able to engage in tasks that seem important to them, even if others do not (yet) appreciate it."

    Before I begin, let's look briefly in the IOPS vision of how art is treated, you and other people can create an art worker council and the council (your art peers, ect.) will remunerate you based on your artwork, rather than the current capitalist system where art is sold almost entirely based off market advertising (your corporate executives, ect.), which restricts creativity.

    Now about 'undesirable' art, Michael Albert probably said it best (paraphrasing) "If I redecorate my room, do I get income for doing so?"
    We have trouble coming up with a definition of art, and opinions about it are plenty. If your art is "not appreciated", you'll be more free to work on it on your spare time than capitalism would allow, but please do not force social acceptance and mandatory income for that art, because there are hundreds of ways a system like that will be abused.

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Jan 2014

      I don't think there is the slightest chance, even in the richest countries, that we'll see an unconditional basic income being introduced at the same height as the present minimum wage. I further think it would actually not be wise to introduce a UBI immediately at that level right from the start, thereby giving a shock to the economy that may have rather undesirable side effects and thus risking to make the concept very unpopular. A more prudent approach is to start at a modest level and gradually increase it as the economy adjusts and shows itself able to bear higher levels.

  • Dave Jones 11th Jan 2014

    If capitalism as it is currently operated can accommodate an Unconditional Basic Income then we have no need for a revolution, capitalism will prove itself to be dynamic enough to survive the next historical period.

    All revolutionary anti-capitalist organizations would have to admit they have been "reformed" out of existence as their base would disappear at once.

    Of course it can't, it won't and we won't. But precious energy will be drained off in the meantime and this is the odious nature of "utopian" reform such as UBI IMO.

    • Kim Keyser 11th Jan 2014

      I'm not so sure if I agree with that, Dave. Even though I too regard the prospects for UBI on a real living wage basis as quite slim, for most OECD-countries anyhow, there'd still be A LOT of bad stuff left(!). You know… like the survival of the species due to environmental destruction and nuclear world war, or simply everyday boredom and alienation, or like sexism, racism or militarism, or [here one can fill in any of the thousands of ills that capitalism produces, as one pleases]…

    • Lambert Meertens 11th Jan 2014

      In the eighties the Scientific Council for Government Policy (in Dutch: Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid, WRR), a think tank of the Dutch government, advocated introducing a basic income. In a report entitled "Safeguarding Social Security" (in Dutch: "WRR- rapport 26: Waarborgen voor zekerheid"), issued in 1985, they proposed a system combining a partial (but unconditional) basic income with a loss-of-earnings insurance for all employed workers. I can assure you that the people at the WRR were most definitely not a bunch of wild-eyed utopians.

      The current opposition against the introduction of a UBI is primarily driven by ideology (as in, "Thou shalt not suffer a moocher to live"). Depending on how the operation is financed, the relatively more labour-intensive corporations (which constitute the vast majority, even though they are not the largest) could actually profit from it.

    • Kim Keyser 11th Jan 2014

      Interesting.