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Mats Kaarbø

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Why Basic Income should become a Human Right

The U.S. Basic Income Network define Basic Income as, "...an unconditional, government-insured guarantee that all citizens will have enough income to meet their basic needs." http://basicincome.org/bien/aboutbasicincome.html

This program could eliminate poverty resulting in a more predictable and stable society as crime and violence would decay.

It could also move innovation beyond traditional employment as everyone would have access to the necessities of life by a basic income thus economic flexibility.

It could, in addition to deliberate automation, diminish the work hours for full-time employers, giving people more time to friends and family and activities that enrich their lives thus increasing quality of life.

It would in fact save significant costs by liquidating cumbersome and bureaucratic government agencies, to a much simpler program that could be automated.

Furthermore, since there is no means test; the richest as well as the poorest citizens would receive it which could manifest a positive psychological effect in people to spend less and appreciate leisure, which is ultimately good for the environment.

An example of a 'mini-basic income' is the Permanent Fund Dividend which in an annual individual payout to Alaskans. Though the payout is relatively small and only annually distributed, it still goes to show that this kind of program is being used today: http://pfd.alaska.gov

Research from Namibia revealed that the introduction of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) led to an increase in economic activity which contradicts critics' claims that the BIG will lead to laziness and dependency. Learn more about it here: http://bignam.org

Namibia had amazing results in a number of other things as well, namely poverty reduction, which is a pivotal point in and of itself, and a reduction in crime rate by 40%. Now, imagine what a global basic income guarantee could do.

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    Oct 17 2012: Many modern constiutions and the "people's law" f many indigenous cultures affrm that every person deserves dignity and freedom from want, affirms in effect that a measure of the hallmark of the culture is its commitment to these values for all members. They also all require and affirm the obligation of each member to contribute according to their abilityy and even for the most impaired, there are always tasks that contribute to the well being of all. These cultures are "conviviocracies"..they are inclusive and uphold a commitment to every member thriving.

    The original democracy in greece, Democracy as re invented by the United States, democracy as replicated throughout the world ( except fr these new modern constitutions) did not affirm and institute these values. We created and replicate a version of democracy and freedom that is virtually syonymous with capitalism and with the idea that each individual is born with equal opportunity ( ot at all true) and is responsible for his/her on destiny.

    What we have created as "free societies", democratic nations do not emrbace the idea that every single person should have a guranteed minimum income and even the assistance that is given in unemployment befits, health benefits, welfare payments and housing assistance are resented by more than half of all Americans judging by the.far right control of our legislature who want to end all these things.

    Perhaps oe way to begin to thik about everyonne having some sort of basic stake is to reconsider who owns a nation's natural resources and how much of a nations income from natural resources rights and extractions should be distributed equally to all the people ( as for example in Alaska's Permanent Fund) instead of going into general treasury. Shouldn't the subsidies the government creates to facilitate extraction of resources be recouped in a "peoples share " of earnings and be distributed to the people each getting an equal share?
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      Oct 17 2012: Do you believe in the establishment of private property being a fundamental driver of our current standard of living?

      What effect do think the tyranny of democracy has on countries?
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        Oct 17 2012: Pat,

        I don't think the idea of "private property" is inconsistent with the idea of "the commons"..a common ownership of natural resources including public lands .and a per capita distribution of public income derived from it.

        Property rights are a cornerstone of America's tea party movement and obviously a fundamental aspect of most modern democracies. On my island where billionaires have descended onto a tiny fishing village of working poor where island folk work 2 or 3 jobs just be among the working poor owning property the effects of property ownership on standard of living results largely in a drain on the working poor who have owned their land for generations. Most can't afford to keep the land they inherit.

        So in a system that tolerates and perpetuates income inequality and has no foundation value that all people should be free of want, property rights also are not equal., the benefits of of property ownership are not equal..

        Not sure what you mean about the "tyranny of democracy" but suspect you are pointing to the same thing I am..

        What we need to build into our foundation is a desire to be a "conviviocracy"

        Being a democracy, at least in the way the U.S. and other nations who have copied us are, is not enough in terms of our stewardship for humanity..
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          Oct 17 2012: That is quite an anomaly you have your island,. but it is an anomaly that may not be to the liking of everyone, perhaps they could sell their property for a bigger profit and move to a place that is not as expensive. Here in Calif that is often what people do.

          As far as the idea of the commons goes why would the oil company take the risk if there is no profit? as it is the government makes more money off of oil than the oil companies do especially in Europe.
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        Oct 17 2012: Pat,

        I don't agree that folk should have to sell their land to acomodate gentrifiers..that's a whole other discussion and off topic for this one..

        To your point on oil profits..the problem with the subsidy system for il, natural gas, etc. is that we ahre the risks through subsidy but at the other end we don't recoup that public investment and we could and should. There's no reason why allpublic income ( ege licensing fees) to do with mining and natural resources on public land should not be shared with the public equally.

        Even resource extraction on private land involves a shared public risk..eg cyanide heap leach processing to extract gold.

        Resources in the commons..waterways lakes, waters where fish breed and grow, wetlands that are breeding grounds for the worlds oceans, the air we all breathe are all put at risk in these endeavors. These are commons . Beyond the fees for oversight and application approval and ongoing public monitoring , could we consider whether activities that put the commons at risk to derive profit shouldn't involve some ongoing fees that benefit each and every owner of these commons ( in addition to the total public cost of protecting these commons) .

        The system we have now shells out subsidy from we the people" to encourage certain endeavors deemed to have an inherent general public benefit..but we don;t earn that investment back at the other end when these endeavors start paying huge profits. The Sovereign Wealth funds are a model on how to capture some of that and the Alaska one a model of how redistribute that back..
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          Oct 17 2012: Lindsay

          The people who own property in the affected areas will realize a greater profit on their real estate if they have to move they can rent to someone as well. No meddling necessary.

          I understand that some regulation is needed, whether that has to be by the government is debatable.

          Cyanide leaching sound bad but it is safe. Who ever created that advancement should profit from it, if not for the innovation the mining would no occur and the world would be paying that much more for gold.

          As far as the inherent public interest subsidies go just get rid of them. The market is the only true indicator of public interest.

          Everyone pays that much more for oil because of what dividends are paid out to the residents of Alaska. Or more greatly because of the regulations on refineries.

          There is too much conjecture on this subject.
    • Oct 17 2012: "Perhaps oe way to begin to thik about everyonne having some sort of basic stake is to reconsider who owns a nation's natural resources and how much of a nations income from natural resources rights and extractions should be distributed equally to all the people ( as for example in Alaska's Permanent Fund) instead of going into general treasury. Shouldn't the subsidies the government creates to facilitate extraction of resources be recouped in a "peoples share " of earnings and be distributed to the people each getting an equal share?"

      Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem touch upon something really interesting here, where equal distribution of wealth goes beyond the usual taxation to sustain a social program, and where the carrying capacity of the nations natural resources is measured to understand how much resources there is available on a local and national level and that this alone should be the determining factor of how much resources people can access, based on their need, in correlation with the finite resources within that nation. Am I way off?
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        Oct 17 2012: Thanks for your engagement on this idea Mats.

        Of course ay nation ( or fr that matter in the U.S., any state) can decide who owns public lands and how any income from public lands should be managed. One way, in addition to and side by side with any other systems of taxation and benefit t that are in place is to set up a "sovereign wealth fund" like Alaskas, where a specific portion of income is redistributed back per capita and also offsets taxes. Alaska is basically tax free ( no income taxes) and in addition every person gets a disiiribution every year from natural resources .

        Alaska is one of the few Sovereign wealth funds to have this feature of distribution back to the people.

        I like that it is per capita ..that every one gets the same amount. It's simple. It;s fair. Its consistent wiht the idea of civic equality that is fundamental to all democracy

        (see my earlier TED conversation on this for more information and discussion) .

        The equal sharing of income from a country's or a State's "commons" most likely would not be enough to meet basic needs for food, housing, medical care etc. .Even fr a very wealthy state like Alaska, the per capita distribution is only about $3,000..

        It is a way though to take a step towards everyone having a basic economic stake.

        In general, don't you agree, any society should build in stewardship for one another, stewardship for future generations. The idea of each of us giving back , being stewards is certainly core to the most successful societies. So in our modern capitalistic corporatocracies we could think about "monetizing" these contributions.

        Already we have a credit card program called snap for food benefits. A holder of the card has a "credit limit" that is the benefit they are entitled to. They present it like any debit card for eligible food purchases .

        Something like the snap card could monetize stewardship? .

        I certainly don't think a free lunch society would be very worthwhile.

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