Abstracts & Papers

 


 

 

    • Abstract: Pedro Texeira – Financing a Basic income in Portugal: between desirable and achievable

If a universal basic income (UBI) covering the minimum living standards would prove to be unfeasible, would it make sense then to initially set it to a lower level? Or is a UBI only worthy pursuing if it actually fulfils its stated goals?
This paper attempts to shed some light on these questions by presenting a practical example of the difficulties involved in financing a UBI: the economic simulation supplied here proposes the creation of a UBI to be paid to all residents in Portugal, given the real possibilities of the Portuguese economy. The study provided simulates a UBI based on four conditions, whose necessity stems from a concern with feasibility and widespread acceptance: (1) implementing a UBI set to the poverty threshold in Portugal (420€ per month); (2) financing it through a combination of redundancy savings, a simplified income tax system, and other external income sources; (3) yielding no impact over the public deficit; and, finally, (4) showing that the majority of the Portuguese population would enjoy a net gain from adopting the UBI. This simulation, it appears, while not being economically unattainable, certainly poses some challenges.
The conclusions to be drawn from this result suggest that the precise choice of the economic and political instruments is of fundamental importance towards the actual feasibility of the UBI. Moreover, this paper discusses the possibility of setting a ‘pragmatic’ (lower) UBI that, although not enough to deliver its promise, could represent a successful strategic move. Furthermore, this paper discusses the limitations and perils of this type of strategic approach, as well as its potentialities.

    • Abstract: Robin Jessen and Davud Rostam-Afschar – An economically Feasible Basic Income proposal for Germany

We address two common objections against an unconditional basic income (UBI) in this study. First, it is often argued that an UBI is economically not feasible, i.e. it is not possible to finance such a reform proposal. Second, an UBI scheme is expected to reduce labor supply incentives. We propose an UBI scheme which is economically feasible for Germany and study its labor supply effects.
Our proposed UBI amounts to 800 Euro per month for adults and 380 Euro per month for peo- ple younger than 18 years. These amounts are close to the the current subsistence level guaranteed through unemployment and social assistance in Germany. An important difference to unemploy- ment assistance as currently in effect in Germany is, however, that the basic income level is inde- pendent of the household size and that the transfer is not means tested. It is financed by a flat tax with a constant rate of 68.9 percent, including social security contributions.
Using data from the German Socioeconomic Panel to estimate a structural labor supply model, we find that the reform increases labor supply in the first decile of the income distribution. This effect is substantial, it amounts to an increase in labor supply of this group by 6.1 percent. However, the UBI reform reduces labor supply of households at most other income deciles. Overall, the UBI proposal reduces labor supply by 5.2 percent. Using an utilitarian social welfare function, aggregate welfare gains are realizable compared to the status quo. The stronger the redistributive taste, the higher are the welfare gains of the UBI reform.
In summary our study shows that an UBI as in our proposal is economically feasible, increases incentives for poor households to work, and leads to welfare gains compared to the status quo. This however, leaves open non-economical questions, e.g. political feasibility.

    • Abstract: Che Wagner – Direct democracy and Switzerland

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    • Abstract: Lorenz Lauer and Robert Lepenies – Basic Income, Direct Cash and Normative change

In this paper we argue that the Direct Cash (DC) approach to international poverty relief and Basic Income (BI) are closely related, mutually supportive concepts. Direct Cash (DC), continuous unconditional direct financial transfers, are a radical response that promises to both overcome poverty as well as to change aid culture. DC relies on unconditional trust and unconditional empowerment of the poorest and thereby provides a first (but necessary) step towards truly just and democratic international structures that relies on a normative ideal of “inclusive aid”. Recent empirical scholarship has lent enormous support to the thesis that “inclusive aid” can be achieved by utilizing DC. Several studies and experiments show that DC is cost-efficient way of ensuring long-term improvement of living standards, as the monetary support is invested in housing, health, education, improves employment prospects, and supports positive and peaceful political transformation. The novelty of DC lies however also in the way it treats aid recipients: as autonomous, not passive beneficiaries. Together, this promises to change aid culture: practice, policy and academia should set inclusive aid as its ambitious aim.
The idea of an unconditional Basic Income (BI) relies on unconditional trust and unconditional empowerment of citizens. We show that the extensive, and varied, normative justifications in favour of BI can help provide proponents of DC with additional arguments to accompany their findings. Secondly, the existing BI literature may help identify variables to consider when evaluating DC experiments. More far-reaching however, insights from the DC literature may help BI proponents to effect normative change in the Global North. We draw parallels from the failure of the paternalistic culture of aid in development to the failure of the political economy of the welfare state, and demonstrate how findings in moral psychology can elucidate why the poor are distrusted in both the global North and South – and how reformers might be able to overcome this. One suggestion will focus on how disseminating the success of DC should be used by BI proponents to combat distrust of the poor both at home and abroad. This requires, however, a broad incursion into other literatures of organizational change and the political economy of reform in social systems.

    • Abstract: Caitlin McLean – Building the evidence Base: How existing social policy research can inform future debates about basic income

Debates about basic income have benefited from a rich and expanding literature which has elaborated the normative and theoretical arguments for and against basic income (BI) proposals – the “ethics and economics” of basic income. Political practicalities of reform and feasibility of implementation have also recently captured renewed interest. However, a key limitation of the literature on basic income as it stands is a lack of empirical evidence. As such, future research would benefit from taking a turn toward building the evidence base on basic income proposals. This would include creating and collecting new data as some have argued, for example, through the use of lab experiments. However, it should also include making better use of existing evidence. Prior examples of this approach have included analysis of basic income pilots and experiments as well as historical and comparative analysis of real-world approximations of universal basic income. It is less common for scholars to draw parallels between BI proposals and similar or related social security measures, and as such the academic social policy literature remains a largely untapped resource. In particular, there has been remarkably little analysis of evidence on universal benefits for particular groups and/or unconditional cash transfers. As a case study, this paper reviews the evidence on universal child benefits and demonstrates how such evidence can inform recent feminist debate about the merits (and demerits) of a basic income.

    • Abstract: David Calnitsky – More normal than welfare: The Mincome experiment, stigma and community experience

This paper examines the impact of a quasi-experiment from the 1970s called the Manitoba Basic Annual Income Experiment (Mincome). I examine Mincome’s “saturation” site located in Dauphin, Manitoba, where all town residents were eligible for guaranteed annual income payments for three years. Never before or since the Dauphin experiment has a rich country tested a guaranteed annual income at the level of an entire town. Prior randomized guaranteed income experiments in the US were not able to examine the effect on community life. They could not assess the social context that motivated participants to join, how it was interpreted relative to traditional means-tested social assistance, and whether its universality did in fact reduce the stigma typically experienced by “welfare” participants in their communities. Drawn from quantitative surveys and qualitative participant accounts, which I digitized and coded, this paper finds that people who were unwilling to join welfare, were willing to join a guaranteed annual income program which made no distinctions between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. I present evidence that Mincome participation did not produce stigma. I argue that the basic material benefits and universalistic design of the scheme interact with ideological factors—the program was framed as a “test”, a contribution to science, and beneficial to “all Canadians”—to explain why Mincome participants enrolled, why participation produced little or no social-psychological cost, and why participants found the program superior to welfare. I show that the social meaning of Mincome was powerful enough that even participants who themselves had particularly negative attitudes toward social assistance—people who opposed welfare on ideological grounds, who saw welfare recipients in a negative light, and who believed strongly in the principle of earning one’s own living—felt able to collect Mincome payments without a sense of contradiction. Indeed, participants typically viewed payments in a pragmatic rather than a moralistic light.
The Dauphin design gave a realistic spirit to the experiment, making it germane to addressing difficult questions about the social meaning of a revolutionized policy regime. Understanding how people develop moral views about economic policy like the guaranteed income is critical to a deeper consideration of the question of its political feasibility. Moreover, perhaps the best way to grasp what might transpire when key components of a complex system are transformed is to observe it directly.

    • Abstract: Louise Haagh – Freedom, the Economy and Institutions – Analytical Blind-spots in BI Research

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    • Abstract: Karl Widerquist – Economic, political and public relations aspects of a basic income pilot project

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    • Abstract: Giacomo Pisani – Basic income in postfordism

According to an opinion in vogue in contemporary sociological and philosophical debate, the work has changed radically. Referring to Negri’s vision: “the starting point of this upheaval is in the conflictual dynamics through which the mass-worker has deconstructed the fundamentals of scientific work management and has led to a tremendous expansion of the collateral and collective services of the welfare state, well beyond the compatibility of Fordism. This has resulted in easing of monetary constraint referring to the wage relation and a powerful process of collective re-appropriation of the intellectual powers of production”. Today the production is not only connected to the task determined by the employment contract, but it is linked to the existence in general, to interpersonal skills and cognitive competences, which are developed into the social texture, in an autopoietic way, favoring the appropriation of the “intellectual powers of production” from the shackles of capital. The general social knowledge is subtracted from the objective trend of development of fixed capital and becomes an immediate productive force. This, then, is presented as a possibility of social antagonism against the capitalist on the one hand, and self-empowerment on the other, with the appropriation of living labor. We can’t stop on the processes that, according with Negri’s analysis, led to this change in the economy. It suffices to say that today the result is that productivity is removed from the calculation of the capital and has an autopoietic caracter, immanent to life itself. We might add, in fact, that the general intellect goes far beyond the cognitive abilities of the individual and has a structure eminently social and historical, exposed to culture and shared knowledge. But a vision of this kind would seem quite reductionist, since it ignores the historical constitutive exposition of the subject. This is not added a posteriori to the socio-economic organism, all the more for the fact that the market is not a possibility among others, as the survival itself has been left to its own logic. It is, therefore, the lattice of the real and of the subject life. The cognitive capitalism has simply succeed to make the value of life itself, eliminating the margins of decision-making ability that would undermine the stability of the system. At the corporate level, the subject disembodied, is lacking of identity and is therefore easily blackmailed into business logic, which insists on the empowerment of the worker to encourage his commitment and competitiveness. He is in fact harmless, as he is fully absorbed by the new company size and prey to a deep discomfort linked to the precarious nature of his future.
A major challenge is that of universal basic income. It should allow to subtract the survival from the market, opening possibilities in modification of reality. It is not possible any decision-making autonomy until the market is absolute and relegates the individuals to a mere activators of pre-structured functions. Without thinking about the individual outside the subsistent socio-economic system, which is the constitutional ambit of his historicity, the basic income opens glimmers of reworking that replace the man at the center of society.
This measure is not motivated by a formal amendment of the law to new social practices of post-fordist matrix, as is in the case of Negri’s matrix law of common. This proposal aims to open possibilities outside the market, to the extent that the law not only originates from social practice, but it helps to strengthen certain rights which also have in the society their own plot of growth and maturation. The universal income is also a factor in the humanization of work. At a time when the subject is subtracted from the blackmail of survival, he can refuse a job or a workplace oppressive and not suited to hisneeds, contributing to a re-discussion of the categories of work and politics. The universal basic income puts, of course, a problem of political sovereignty. The nation-state, to which generally, in the contemporary sociological debate, is assigned the establishment of the basic income, it is not able to do it, because it is not able to regulate the economic trans-national processes. As Bauman writes, “the policy must catch up with the power that has achieved the freedom to cover the space politically uncontrolled, and to this end has to create the tools that would enable it to reach the spaces in which these powers “flow” (using the term of Manuel Castells). What we need is a republican international institution that operates at the same level of transnational powers.” Only an institution of this scale may prevent the effect of “magnet income” (as defined by Bauman). But there is another possibility that opens up to us. That does not consider the universal income as a new absolute model through which to thypostatize the dialectical movement of history, but to act in the gaps offered by the current economy. It’s possible to penetrate into the subsisting economic model intervening through policy measures that can slowly undermine the absoluteness of the market, deconstructing and by thinning the solidity of reality. The basic income is an important tool of deconstruction, which allows to throw in the same technical rationality of Western Civilization, with the opening of new spaces for socializing and for the construction of meaning. The need for its universality, however, should not prevent the adoption of measures more limited as, for example, a conditioned income at national level or an income for training at citizen level, etc. The need for creation of meaning arises at all levels and requires a subtraction of the tools in the social game from the technique schematism. Labor, as the moment of highest and total expression of the person, is the most critical point of this conflict, the soil in which the voltage reaches the most dangerous peak. The greatest opportunity is exactly there: to start from ourselves, from our dreams, to make it a challenge to which we are all called.

    • Abstract: Maciej Szlinder – Basic income against capitalism: relative wage and contemporary class struggle

In this paper I argue that unconditional basic income should be perceived not only as a means of providing economic security and enforcing “real freedom” for all, but as an important part of anti-capitalist strategy. I analyse the potential outcomes of basic income for the crucial measure of the current state of class struggle i.e. the relation between aggregated wages/salaries and aggregated profits. Basing on the tradition of critical political economy of Karl Marx (rate of exploitation), Rosa Luxemburg (relative wage) and Michał Kalecki (wage share in GDP), as well as the diagnosis of the crisis of neoliberal capitalism made by contemporary heterodox economists (Flassbeck, Husson, Laski, Palley et al.) I claim that only these propositions and reforms that significantly change this relation for the benefit of the workers (and not those connected with nominal/real wage) can lead to activate transformative dynamics indispensable for re-appropriating the commons, including the common, collective control over the totality of economic life (production, distribution and consumption). The latter means a system of economic democracy situating itself in opposition both to corporate, monopoly-finance capitalism and centrally planned economy of state capitalism.
Basic income is exactly this kind of reform because of its influence on individual and collective bargaining power of workers. Moreover it is perfectly compatible with the needs and aspirations expressed by the rising precariat, which can be perceived as an emerging revolutionary class. Its political interests stand in opposition to those of the labourist proletariat attached to the achievements of the welfare state. Therefore, not surprisingly, basic income has become one of the main demands of the most important “precariat-based” social movements which emerged after the outbreak of current economic crisis. As an example of this kind of movements I analyse the place and importance of unconditional basic income in the program of Spanish 15M movement and in the process of its institutionalisation into the political party of Podemos.

    • Abstract: David Jenkins – UBI Distribution 2.0

Distributive proposals often have a bad rap with the left: Taking money from the beneficiaries of a system and moving it to the less fortunate leaves the whole system of unjust productive practices, exploitation and, should we care to draw on the concept, alienation, untouched. Distribution is thus unable to properly take into account how deep go the roots of the problems of contemporary capitalist economics and its concomitant cultural landscape. This reaction is particularly true for that part of the far-left – influenced in particular by Leninist-Marxism – which shuns parliamentary politics and the fight for more progressive policies that might form part of the struggle toward their intended goals.
I argue that it is the disruptive potential, the agitating and confrontational force generated by its being unconditional, that should make a UBI attractive as a distributive proposal to those with usually radical aversion to such policies. Despite its relevance to historical struggles, this confrontational species of action has been under-theorised within both contemporary political theory and general political discourse. With the security granted by unconditionality, citizens are given the space and freedom – a so-called ‘protected positions’ as republicans have described it – within which to withdraw from practices considered unfair as well as associate with others similarly motivated, to confront the realities of their collective circumstances. UBI thus offers an alternative to that strategy that regards the immiseration of certain part of society as the sole means by which moves toward justice can be generated.
In this regard, I hope to place UBI within the context of both social protest literature and, more widely, public discourse on citizens’ entitlements. For example, how might UBI help facilitate citizen participation in something like Bill Moyer’s ‘Movement Action Plan’? Can a UBI incite or fund the kind of citizen involvement in social movements and political activism that is necessary to resist deep, structural injustices and, moreover, help develop new institutions and practices that do not rely on and reproduce current systemic oppression?

    • Abstract: Julija Sardelic – BI and its potential impact on vulnerable minorities: a case study on the position of Roma in Europe

The position of Romani minorities presents one of the most daunting challenges for different scholars as well as policy makers. Namely most of the Romani individuals in Europe are in a very vulnerable position, which is often characterized by absolute poverty and a cultural stigma in addition. There have been many initiatives (both on EU and different national levels) to improve the position of these most marginalized minorities in Europe (addressing also their particularly deprived socio-economic position). However, in many instances they have only singled them out and made them even more vulnerable to different extremist hate crimes since they were often portrayed as welfare abusers and the policies that were put in order to improve their position were perceived as unwanted favouritism by majority populations, which were also hit by different economic downfalls.
Therefore, the aim of this paper is to normatively examine, what potential impact would the application of the universal basic income have on these most vulnerable minorities in question. My claim in this paper is that universal basic income could have a significant impact for improving the position of Roma in Europe. However, I also investigate, how would this need to be applied in practice in order not to exclude certain Romani populations, which have irregular citizenship status in different European states.

    • Abstract: Juri Viehoff – A Pluralist Justification For an EU Social Minimum: 
Why Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsirpas Should Both Be on Board?

This paper defends one seemingly utopian institutional proposal to overcome the current economic and financial crisis and remedy economic injustice in the European Union, namely a basic social minimum for all EU citizens -for short: an EU minimum. Whilst others have pledged allegiance to this idea recently [see e.g. (van Parijs 2013) and (Offe 2014)], the account presented here is novel in that it makes the detailed case why people with seemingly opposed political and philosophical commitments should all endorse such a proposal. Thus, the EU minimum suggests itself as a realistically feasible policy that is compatible with a variety of views about substantive economic justice at the EU level.
Section one sets the conceptual stage: First, I sketch different routes based on which philosophers have come to endorse an unconditional basic income as a crucial element of domestic public policy. Direct arguments stress the internal requirements of institutional fairness to which basic economic institutions are subject. Indirect arguments favour it based on concerns with social relations amongst citizens. Second, I turn to recent scholarship on theories of justice in the EU and differentiate between a transnationalist and an internationalist position. Very schematically, transnationalist arguments stress the EU’s similarity to domestic institutions and social relations and derive egalitarian economic requirements for the EU as a whole. By contrast, internationalists insist on the continuing importance of national self-determination and reject any direct interpersonal redistribution.
Section two moves to the specific case of the EU minimum and explicates the general policy mechanism that such a minimum would require at this supranational level. I also consider in more depth there why I think that the EU minimum is realistically feasible in the current context of European integration: to do so I address how such a minimum may be funded through different taxation mechanisms. Next I turn to the issue of justification: Sections four and five explain why such a minimum can be thought to be a desirable policy proposal on which direct and indirect transnationalist perspectives converge. In section six, I make the case that even though an individual-based EU minimum would not be distributively neutral between EU member states (and indeed is not meant to be so), it may still be sufficiently modest to accommodate internationalist concerns with self- determination and collective national responsibility: even those who care about the intrinsic value of state autonomy and sovereign equality should be on board once we have carefully spelled out the relevant feasible alternatives to the introduction of such a minimum. Section six concludes.
Over and above advancing a practical proposal to overcome Europe’s current economic and financial crisis, this article identifies and seeks to answer a number of more general philosophical and empirical problems: First, when does a basic income become feasible beyond the confines of the institutional setting of the nation state? Second, which received philosophical justifications remain available under such conditions? Third, how should a transnational basic income deal with the empirical fact that different participating regions have different living expenses, levels of public goods provision, and so forth? Fourth, if we believe in the value of self-determination for different political regions, then how should the costs of funding a social minimum be distributed? In an increasingly globalized world, answering these four questions should be high up on the intellectual agenda of any defender of unconditional basic income.

    • Abstract: Elena Pribytkova – UBI or a decent social minimum?

The paper will compare the conception of basic income (BI) with the principle of a social minimum (SM), which I define as a set of guarantees aimed at protecting persons from extreme poverty; enabling them to lead a decent life; ensuring their involvement in society and access to shared material and intellectual values; and, in the final analysis, providing the opportunity for their moral and intellectual flourishing. Both approaches develop the idea of freedom as “a matter of means, not only rights” (Philippe Van Parijs) and propose strategies of reducing unacceptable inequalities and poverty. At the same time, there are fundamental differences between them. First and foremost, divers interpretations of freedom (“real-freedom-for-all” in BI and “freedom from poverty” in SM) and equality (distributive equality in BI vs. equality of status in SM) underlie these conceptions. Based on this, guaranteeing a secure access to a minimum level of a dignified existence along with not exceeding a maximum of admissible burdens for taxpayers is essential for SM, but not necessary for BI. Thirdly, while BI is paid unconditionally, a social assistance provided in the framework of SM is conditional in respect to some circumstances, such as basic needs, financial situation and willingness to work or study of a recipient of social help. Finally, being a capability- centered rather than an income-centered approach, SM appears to be more sensitive than BI to difficulties of converting income into a minimally acceptable standard of living. My paper will examine the potential of BI and SM to solve the most pressing contemporary issue of global inequality and poverty reduction, which maintains, according to current negotiations, the preeminence on the Post-2015 development agenda. In the spotlight will be the problems of translatability of the demands for basic income and a decent social minimum into the language of human rights as well as of their legal and political acceptability and feasibility. From theoretical and practical perspectives, the paper will analyze strengths and weaknesses of BI and SM as well as the opportunities for, and obstacles to, their complementarity and will attempt to predict the future of both approaches.

    • Abstract: Blake Wilson – The use of eminent Domain in the pursuit of a basic income

The Anglo-Saxon legal maxim Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos or,simply,the ad coelum principle, means ‘whoever owns [the] soil, [it] is theirs all the way [up] to Heaven and [down] to Hell.’ Modified over the centuries, ad coelum is used to justify subsurface rights to the mineral and elemental goods – natural resources – that lie beneath the earth’s surface: ownership of the surface land imputes ownership of the goods below, and rights to the subsurface goods can be freely transferred, sold, or leased. In many countries, a large body of jurisprudence has wrestled with the conflict of subsurface rights against the power of the state to regulate or outright seize those rights within the common and statutory law of eminent domain. Proponents of the ‘disarmingly simple idea’ of Basic Income, who claim that the idea can be implemented by radically transforming the liberal understanding of property rights, are wise to consider the trajectory of eminent domain – ‘takings’ in the nomenclature of US Constitutional law – over the category of natural resources such as those which form the res of subsurface property rights. Until their proposed redefinition of the lexical understanding of property transpires, such that those resources which exist independently of human effort or existence – gold, aluminum, coal, boron, iron, diamonds, water, non agricultural plants and animals – are not conceptually subject to private ownership, the use of eminent domain should be investigated as a
transitional device in the pursuit of a Basic Income.
Although the trajectory of US property law has provided property owners with some
defenses against the use of eminent domain, the jurisprudence has in fact developed along lines that are strongly aligned with legal expropriation, provided that the property is taken for public use upon the payment of just compensation. These requirements are easily met, and challenges to the state’s exercise of eminent domain are rarely successful. In fact, there are no legal barriers – in terms of stare decisis or Federal or state legislation – that would preclude the seizure of subsurface rights through the tool of eminent domain in order to create the kind of res publica which entails public ownership of those resources and distribution of their profits to all, as envisioned by the Basic Income theorists. For example, because the state can permissibly prevent the owners of Grand Central Terminal from profiting from the new construction of a larger building because of aesthetic considerations,1 it can likely prevent the owners of coal mines from profiting from their investments as well as a total confiscatory taking, partial regulatory takings, or uncompensated exercise of its police power. In such a case, the State might create a national energy corporation by using eminent domain to acquire the subsurface coal for public use subject only to the constitutional requirement of compensation. Sales of the energy to free-market buyers would in turn add to the pool used to dispense a basic income for all, a pool fed by repeated implementations of eminent domain over other resources.
Eminent domain also provides the Basic Income theorist with a response to critics who claim that the theory necessarily implicates and infringes property rights. Because the State can legally seize property for public use and simultaneously compensate the owner for the fair market value of the property, the owner arguably does not suffer a loss nor shoulder more than their fair share of the public burden in terms of additional taxes or assessments; the presumption that eminent domain violates rights or is unjust is therefore rebutted by the payment of compensation.

    • Abstract: Eric Fabri and Marc Antoine Sabate – Property and UBI

It has been widely acknowledged that implementing a Universal Basic Income (UBI) would imply to re-think the link established between private property and labour, since every individual will have a right to the income regardless of his work. However, the key changes that would occur in this relation between property and labour have often been left unclear. The aim of this paper is to address the issue by exploring what the implementation of an UBI implies for the institutional structure of property rights. Thus, we would like to analyse (i) what should be the institutions of property in a ‘UBI society’ and (ii) which arguments can legitimate this kind of property relations.
1) In the first part, we will examine what are the implications of decoupling property and labour regarding a definition of property rights. UBI studies can no longer restrict their scope to its normative justifications and must try to broaden their frame, for instance by assessing the different social models of property in which it could take place. What should be the structures of property rights in a ‘UBI society’ and what would be the consequences of these potential models in terms of social justice and economic efficiency? Should a UBI be limited to the mere guarantee of a minimum income or should it be a mean to reduce inequalities? Must a claim for a UBI be associated to the one for a maximum income?
2) Having presented the several possible models of property rights that might structure a ‘UBI society’, we will then assess two different arguments to legitimate those property rights. To do so, we will first examine if the concept of ‘eco-social property’ could provide a framework to legitimate the distribution of a UBI as a dividend of an instituted common property, while providing strong reasons to limit individual appropriation of both social and natural resources. Second, we will assess whether the institutions defining property in a “UBI society” could also be supported by the main arguments developed in favour of private property: can UBI promote individual autonomy, economic efficiency, and still establish a link between work (or personal exertion) and private property? Giving particular attention to the issue of recognition, we will examine how a UBI could institute the material conditions of individual autonomy while retaining the link between labour and property.
By introducing the question of the legitimacy of private property into the field of UBI studies, our goal is to challenge our intuition that several arguments in favour of private property might also provide conclusive groundings supporting UBI. The topic of UBI and property seems relevant for the future researches on UBI, especially regarding its political feasibility, as it gives the opportunity to articulate a strong case against the abuses allowed by private property rights with another in favour of private property as an impassable base for individual autonomy.

    • Abstract: Darian Meacham and Matthew Studley – General purpose robotics and the case for an automation tax funded UBI

The “Luddite Fallacy” is the widely accepted argument that technological unemployment does not lead to structural unemployment. In this paper, we argue that developments in General Purpose Robotics (GPR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) provide good reasons to think that the Luddite Fallacy may no longer be fallacious – technological unemployment due to automation may lead to structural unemployment. This position, though until recently considered laughable in respectable circles, has been gaining considerable traction among robotics researchers, tech industrialists and some mainstream economists. Refutations of the so-called “Luddite” position have relied on old tropes of technophobia and historical data which we argue may not take into adequate consideration rapid and qualitatively significant technological change. There is also reason to be suspicious of “super-optimist” historical data: Feinstein demonstrates a near hundred-year plateau in living standards for the English working classes from 1770-1870, the period of the industrial revolution and Luddite movements.
We contend that a Universal Basic Income (UBI) presents the most feasible means for addressing the economic and social challenges resulting from a shift in the relation between technological and structural unemployment due to technological change, and specifically robotics and AI. We also think that there must be close communication between technology studies, focusing on qualitative shifts in technological development and future research on basic income.
In the first part of the paper, we will make the case that recent technological change pertaining to automation of labour processes presents a qualitative shift from previous developments. This is due to a shift in automation from force to intelligence. Previous automation of labour processes increased precision, speed and force in relation to specific, narrowly construed tasks. The development of AI and GPR allows robot labour to function with a much wider scope of activity. Advances in machine learning allow for on-the-job repurposing of robotic systems, in a fashion that seeks to mimic human intelligence and problem solving capacity. We will use Rethink Robotic’s Baxter robot as a case study. We argue that it is this shift from force to intelligence in automation that raises a serious possibility of validating the Luddite position.

In the second part of the paper we examine how a UBI could be used to offset the impact of AI and GPR related unemployment. One suggestion that we consider is the use of an automation tax to fund a UBI. UBI as a means to address techno-structural employment, as opposed to a more narrowly construed “techno-displacement insurance” (or something similar), would have several advantages from a social justice perspective. It would also however fundamentally change the landscape of work, with likely major social and political repercussions. Such a scenario is discussed in a rather utopian light by Keynes in the 1930s, we think that this must be reconsidered in light of the proliferation of AI and GPR and arguments in favour of a UBI.
The third part of the paper opens onto more speculative questions concerning the role of work in the human condition and possible political ramifications of an automation tax funded UBI. We will use Hannah Arendt’s labour/work distinction as a heuristic. Arendt conceived labour as tied to necessity and hence always forced, work, on the contrary, was the activity proper to building a human world of institutions, ideas and values over and above the task of sustaining our material existence. We ask if this world building activity would be stifled or in fact stimulated in the hypothetical situation of large scale automation in all sectors of the economy and a UBI to offset the loss of employment. We also argue that large scale automation will lead to a significant shift in the dynamics of political power. The political power of the working and middle classes has always in large part rested on their ability to slow or stop economic productivity. Automation may dispossess large portions of the populace of this power, and consequently, even with a UBI to offset economic impact, severely threaten democratic structures. We contend that this complex of forces and questions should play an important role in the future development of basic income studies.

    • Abstract: Neil Howard – Basic Income and the Contemporary anti-slavery movement

‘Modern-day slavery’, ‘human trafficking’ and ‘forced labour’ are increasingly characterised as among the great scourges of the 21st Century. Governments the world over are passing anti-slavery legislation, UN agencies are producing reports, and international civil society is channelling millions into prevention. Yet, for all this increase in attention, mainstream abolitionist discourse remains highly sensationalist, and policy is at best ineffective. One reason for this is provided by an emerging strand of critical research which calls into question the very empirical possibility of drawing a neat line between who is genuinely a victim of ‘trafficking’ or ‘slavery’ and who has simply been coerced by the ‘dull compulsion of economic relations’. Critical trafficking researchers, for example, show that those defined as victims often consent to their exploitation for want of a better alternative. Likewise, those examining forced labour point to the fact that even ‘non-victims’ suffer living or working conditions little different to those faced by forced labourers.

It is within this context that a handful of academics have begun to advocate basic income as a genuinely emancipatory way forward for the anti-slavery movement, since it is the one policy which can address the economic vulnerability at the root of all labour exploitation. In this understanding, basic income would give substance to the notion of consent, by reducing the force of economic coercion. This paper will examine both the necessity and the potential of this idea, and will further reflect on the political opportunity that the rise of contemporary ‘abolitionism’ represents for basic income advocacy itself.

    • Abstract: Jose Noguera and Jurgen de Wispaelaere – The political feasibility of a basic income: a research agenda

For much of the last two decades debate around the proposal of a universal basic income (BI) centered on arguing the ethical and economic case for instituting a policy that grants each adult citizen a guaranteed income as a right, without a means test or work requirement. The question of how to bring about such a policy – the question of political feasibility – has only recently gained traction amongst BI advocates. Leaving aside some notable exceptions, much work remains to be done to further our understanding of the challenges faced by BI advocates, and the strategies available to overcome these. In this paper we aim to contribute to this enterprise by outlining an analytical framework to think about the political feasibility of BI in a more systematic manner.
We embrace a broad conception of political feasibility according to which a policy is politically feasible when the background conditions are such that there exists a reasonable probability of the policy becoming actualized in the foreseeable future. Viewed this way, “feasibility” covers the broad domain where a policy is neither immediately realizable, nor impossible to realize. In our view, feasibility is aimed at investigating the factors (e.g., social conditions) that hamper a policy from being actualized, and subsequently comparing how different policies fare in terms of their probabilities of being actualized given a particular social environment. We adopt a similarly broad notion of “the political” by focusing on those feasibility constraints arising from the human will, as opposed to natural, physical or technological impediments.
The framework we propose in this chapter is constructed around two key political dimensions that constitute the core of the policy process: agency and constraints, respectively. When combined, these dimensions generate a matrix with four types of political feasibility: strategic feasibility, institutional feasibility, psychological feasibility, and behavioral feasibility. The purpose of the proposed framework is at least twofold. First, it offers a toolkit to think about political feasibility in a systematic comparative manner, exploring both differences and similarities across types. Second, the typology allows us to assess the current state of knowledge in relation to each type, and identify lacunae (and corresponding research priorities) that need to be addressed in order to better understand the political feasibility of BI.
Each of these types will be briefly explored with specific focus on their relevance for BI. We will also discuss which research approaches or techniques are most adequate in order to provide evidence on the issues raised by each dimension. Finally, we will illustrate the problems involved by each type of political feasibility with the example of the vivid discussion on BI which is taking place in the Spanish political agenda after the new political party Podemos (which is leading many polls in Spain) included the proposal in its programme for the last European Parliament election.

    • Abstract: Johanna Perkiö – Ideational approach to the political feasibility of basic income

Historical institutionalism is a political science approach to study drivers and barriers of institutional change. In this perspective, it has often been argued that institutions, especially in the field of social policy, are constraining and resistant to change. A newer approach within historical institutionalism, called ideational, emphasizes the role of ideas in policy making (Campbell 1998; Béland 2005; Béland & Cox 2011). It has found that at certain critical times institutions may undergo rapid and comprehensive changes, often as a result of appearance of politically attractive ideas.
The paper discusses the utility of this ideational approach, and especially the analytical framework created by Campbell (1998), to examine the political feasibility of basic income in different contexts. Campbell creates a typology of ideas based on two structural dimensions. He differentiates between four distinct types of ideas depending on (1) whether they operate primarily at a cognitive or normative level, and (2) whether they constitute the explicit arguments or underlying assumptions of policy debates. Using this typology, he identifies four types of ideas: paradigms (cognitive background assumptions), public sentiments (normative background assumptions), programs (cognitive foreground theories and proposals) and frames (normative foreground symbols and concepts).
The basic income debate in Finland is used as an empirical example to test the utility of Campbell’s framework.

    • Abstract: Cristina Blanco Sio Lopez and Josefina Cuesta Bustillo – Factors of a qualitative shift: Distilling ILO Supranational Basic Income Principles into EU, National and Civil Society Structures as a Response to the Economic Crisis

In response to the crucial question of what should be the future research agenda of basic income studies, we propose the analysis of two main approaches focusing on the multilevel factors motivating a qualitative shift from basic income (BI) feasibility studies elaborated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to universal basic income (UBI) proposals and considerations presented at the level of the EU, within its member states and as part of a dynamically transnational European civil society as a safeguard to the daunting challenges of the current economic crisis:
First of all, and departing from a large-scale exploration of the ILO historical archives, we study the theoretical and contextual factors influencing the evolving definition and sustainability parameters of a basic income (BI) notion. We start by looking at the outcomes of the 1944 International Labour Conference and the Declaration of Philadelphia on the extension of social security measures to provide a basic income to all in need of such protection, including comprehensive medical care. This concept was successively supplemented by the discussions of the ILO 27th Session in Paris in 1945 regarding the guarantee of a basic income for families, which would provide fixed benefits to overcome social risks and to guarantee basic income security. Later on, these notions would increasingly include a cost-benefit analysis of the eventual convergence of basic income schemes in Europe, thought to provide universal benefits instead of systems of selective benefits targeted at the poor. Coinciding with the progressive consolidation of the European integration process in the continent, the ILO debate on the future establishment of a BI growingly implied the idée of a minimum income for all guaranteed by the state. More recently, this trend crystallised in the elaboration of the 2002 report on a Social Protection Floor for a Fair and Inclusive Globalization, which brought back into the debate the issue of how could low income countries afford basic social protection, hence, re-opening the discussion on BI feasibility in the light of regional disparities and an actual lack of convergence of socioeconomic conditions. In the case of Europe, this open debate gained weight with the establishment of the Basic Income European Network (BIEN), which explored the implementation of a BI through the integration of tax, benefit and minimum wage systems. Against this backdrop, we also highlight the ILO emphasis in the protection of children and young workers.
The second part of our paper aims to shed light on a new interdisciplinary question to be posed in this field: The impact of the current economic crisis on the EU and its influence in the qualitative shift from the proposals of a BI -inheriting the guidelines of historic ILO debates and actions- to the support of the idea of an universal basic income (UBI) as a counteractive measure against the effects crisis itself. Indeed, the radical questioning of the productive, political and institutional models as a response to the crisis and its derived austerity measures is to be considered as a determining trigger for a qualitative leap from a BI to a UBI. In this respect, we examine the ‘European Citizens’ Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income’ and the ‘Economic and Social Committee Proposal of a European BI’ as paradigmatic benchmarks. More particularly, we analyse the case study of Spain and the different grassroots and political party proposals for a guaranteed BI in the context of the Spanish political and socioeconomic crisis mounting hardships, also taking into account future prospects of ever growing technological unemployment.
In sum, our paper aims to elucidate the role of the economic crisis in triggering a qualitative shift from the design of a BI as a principle, an auspicable norm and political priority distilled from supranational organisations like the ILO to the EU and domestic social policies, trade union and civil society initiatives and grassroots activism towards the consolidation of an UBI.

    • Abstract: Anca Gheaus – Basic income and feminism

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    • Abstract: Philippe Van Parijs – The future of basic income research

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