This article is about a system of unconditional income (Earnings) to every citizen. For the specific form financed on the profits of publicly owned enterprises, see social dividend. For social welfare based on means tests, see Guaranteed minimum income.
Unconditional Basic Income Europe
A Non-profit Association working on an European Union Citizens’ Initiative 2020-2021
Our aim is to establish the introduction of unconditional basic incomes throughout the EU which ensure every person’s material existence and opportunity to participate in society as part of its economic policy. This aim shall be reached while remaining within the competences conferred to the EU by the Treaties.
We request the EU Commission to make a proposal for unconditional basic incomes throughout the EU, which reduce regional disparities in order to strengthen the economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU.
This shall realize the aim of the joint statement by the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, stated in 2017, that “the EU and its member states will also support efficient, sustainable and equitable social protection systems to guarantee basic income” in order to combat inequality.
Information from the European Commission
Basic income as a part of a post-capitalistic economic system
Erik Olin Wright
Harry Shutt proposed basic income (Earnings) and other measures to make all or most enterprises collective rather than private. These measures would create a post-capitalist economic system.
Erik Olin Wright characterizes basic income as a project for reforming capitalism into an economic system by empowering labor in relation to capital, granting labor greater bargaining power with employers in labor markets, which can gradually de-commodify labor by decoupling work from income. This would allow for an expansion in the scope of the social economy by granting citizens greater means to pursue activities (such as the pursuit of art) that do not yield strong financial returns.
James Meade advocated for a social dividend scheme funded by publicly owned productive assets. Russell argued for a basic income alongside public ownership as a means of shortening the average working day and achieving full employment.
Economists and sociologists have advocated for a form of basic income as a way to distribute economic profits of publicly owned enterprises to benefit the entire population, also referred to as a social dividend, where the basic income payment represents the return to each citizen on the capital owned by society. These systems would be directly financed from returns on publicly owned assets and are featured as major components of many models of market socialism.
Guy Standing has proposed financing a social dividend from a democratically-accountable sovereign wealth fund built up primarily from the proceeds of a levy on rentier income derived from ownership or control of assets—physical, financial, and intellectual.
During the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak rejected calls for the implementation of a Basic Income, stating that the government were “not in favour of a universal basic income,” whilst Business Secretary Alok Sharma said that the UBI has been “tested in other countries and hasn’t been taken forward”
Petitions, polls and referendums
2008: an official petition for basic income was started in Germany by Susanne Wiest. The petition was accepted, and Susanne Wiest was invited for a hearing at the German parliament’s Commission of Petitions. After the hearing, the petition was closed as “unrealizable.”
2013–2014: a European Citizens’ Initiative collected 280,000 signatures demanding that the European Commission study the concept of an unconditional basic income.
2015: a citizen’s initiative in Spain received 185,000 signatures, short of the required number to mandate that parliament discuss the proposal.
2016: the world’s first universal basic income referendum in Switzerland on 5 June 2016 was rejected with a 76.9% majority. Also, in 2016, a poll showed that 58% of the EU’s population is aware of basic income, and 65% would vote in favor of the idea.
2017: Politico/Morning Consult asked 1,994 American people about their opinions on several political issues. One question addressed attitudes towards a national basic income in the United States; 43% either “strongly supported” or “somewhat supported” the idea.
2019: in a September poll conducted by The Hill and HarrisX, 49% of US registered voters support basic income, up 6% from a similar survey conducted six months prior.
2019: In November, an Austrian initiative received approximately 70,000 signatures but failed to reach the 100,000 signatures needed for a parliamentary discussion. The initiative was started by Peter Hofer. His proposal suggested a basic income of 1200 € for every Austrian citizen.
2020: A public poll by YouGov in 2020 has found that the majority of the public in the United Kingdom support a universal basic Earnings, with only 24% unsupportive. In March 2020, over 170 MPs and Lords from all political parties signed a letter calling on the government to introduce a basic income during the coronavirus pandemic.
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