What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?

Published on Five Thirty Eight, by Andrew Flowers, April 25, 2016.

Daniel Straub remembers the night he got hooked on basic income. He had invited Götz Werner, a billionaire owner of a German drugstore chain, to give an independent talk in Zurich, where Straub was working as a project manager for a think tank. He had read an article about the radical proposal to unconditionally guarantee citizens an income and spent a few years casually researching the idea.

Straub had heard Werner was a good speaker on the topic, and that night in 2009 he was indeed excellent at connecting with the audience, a sold-out house of 200. “It was a very intense evening; people were paying attention,” Straub recalled.

Werner posed a pair of simple questions to the crowd: What do you really want to do with your life? Are you doing what you really want to do? Whatever the answers, he suggested basic income was the means to achieve those goals. The idea is as simple as it is radical: Rather than concern itself with managing myriad social welfare and unemployment insurance programs, the government would instead regularly cut a no-strings-attached check to each citizen. No conditions. No questions. Everyone, rich or poor, employed or out of work would get the same amount of money. This arrangement would provide a path toward a new way of living: If people no longer had to worry about making ends meet, they could pursue the lives they want to live … //

… Researchers in the Netherlands have a similar aspiration to run a rigorous randomized controlled trial of basic income in municipalities around the country. Just don’t call it basic income. “For political strategy reasons, they’re staying away from the term ‘basic income,’ ” said Jurgen De Wispelaere, a research fellow at the University of Tampere in Finland, who is in contact with those running the Dutch experiments. Instead, the pilots are billed as “trust experiments” and the basic income is often called a “citizen’s wage.” The cities of Utrecht, with a population over 300,000, and Tilburg, at over 200,000, are the largest Dutch municipalities planning to conduct an experiment. Two other major municipalities are on board but are waiting to get a green light from the minister of social affairs; and 15 smaller municipalities are hoping to get clearance, too … //

… Cameron Ottens wasn’t going to wait on some government or company to run an experiment. “There is some steam behind basic income,” he said, so he wanted to “start the ball rolling.” For some hard-core advocates, basic income is less about pure science than living a lifestyle. Ottens is a co-founder of My Basic Income, a San Francisco-based, one-year basic income raffle. Yes, that’s right — anyone can enter, for free, to win a basic income of $1,250 per month for a year. My Basic Income successfully raised $15,000 and plans to raffle it off at the end of April or in early May. The group plans to track the winner as a case study in what a basic income can free us up to do. The idea has already attracted interest from sweepstakes and raffle enthusiasts who may not know much about basic income but like a free shot at $15,000.

Others have crowdfunded their own basic income. About two years ago, Scott Santens, a New Orleans-based writer, discovered Patreon, a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding site with a focus on creative types. It enables musicians, artists and niche bloggers to raise money directly from their fans. He took as his starting goal to raise enough to live on $1,000 per month; it took about a year to reach that goal, but at the end of last November he hit $12,000 and hasn’t looked back. Since then, he’s been living entirely off his personally crowdfunded basic income.

Popular interest in basic income has exploded, affording him the opportunity to fund a basic income for himself, mostly from fans of his writing — about basic income. Santens sees the rapid change happening in the world as driving this curiosity. “We have all this technology, and it scares some people. You’re thinking, when is my job going to be eliminated?”

In this context, Santens believes basic income will be “extremely impactful.” “We’re going away from a traditional, 40-hour per week economy … there is going to be a lot more flexibility and variety in what we’re doing,” he said.

From Switzerland to the Netherlands to Kenya to Silicon Valley, a mixture of insecurity and curiosity are driving interest in basic income, but its dominant ideology — and appeal — is utopian. The core existential struggle lurking in the debates over basic income centers on what meaning work holds in our lives. Straub, the Swiss referendum organizer, remembers his great-grandfather working 10 hours per day, six days per week. That kind of toil is no longer necessary, nor desirable. The dream of a world where we produce more than we need has come true.

Back when he was gathering signatures in 2012, he would joke about the supposedly impending Mayan apocalypse as a way to engage listeners on the core questions of basic income, questions he thinks still resonate: “Well, if the world really was going to end, how would you live this year? Why don’t you live your life like that?

“The market economy is great, but we want to substitute it with another system — take it to the next level,” he said. The big picture is about changing how we live. “This is a paradigm shift, and we want a referendum on that paradigm shift.”

(full long text, graphs, hyper-links, notes).


  • on facebook: https://www.facebook.com//videos/1981268582097283/
  • on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy5vpOkwOro
  • (mon commentaire: le monde doit apprendre ce​ que le cerveau humain peut faire. D’après mes souvenirs, cette performance vient de sa capacité d’une mémoire photographique (une vision en images abstraits en 3 dimensions, couplé à la capacité de ce cerveau spécial de performer plusieures taches en même temps, ce qu’on n’attend pas de l’humain moyen … etc).
    Mais il est possible que d’ici peu le garçonnet ne sera plus capable de cela SI on le dérange en intervenant trop, si on change sa balance entre sa créativité et sa capacité COGNITIVE​.
    Si son entourage est trop stupide, si on essaie de le former … il risque de s’emprisoner dans​ cette création. ​Pour qu’il se développe vraiment il lui faut impérativement des gens A PEU PRES de la meme envergure, sinon il se créera son propre piège mental. Il faut au minimum le laisser totalement tranquil, sinon son EGO se met à intervenir dans le procésus qui se fait dans sa tête et il risque soit de se bloquer lui-même, soit de perdre son équilibre.
    Je pense que les déséquilibres que ces génies montrent souvent vient du fait que leur entourage ne réagit pas d’une façon saine, non manipulateur, non corrompant sur une personne qui doit encore se former son identité. Trouver son chemin dans un monde en déséquilibre lui même est un défi prèsque insurmontable quand on n’est pas fait comme les autres, quand les modèles de l’entourage montrent un trop grand écart avec soi-même – Heidi).


Soaring housing costs equivalent to 10pc income tax hike, on The Telegraph.co.uk, by Katie Morley, April 26, 2016: soaring housing costs over the past 20 years have had the same financial impact on families as a 10pc rise in the basic rate of income tax, according to new research by a think tank …;

Poor asset quality of public sector banks main risk to India’s sovereign rating: Moody’s, on Daily News & Analysis, April 26, 2016: the ratings’ agency has asked the governmen to bear part of the cost for clearning up bank balance sheets;

Austerity vs. the Planet – The Future of Labour Environmentalism, on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin No. #1251, by Trish Kahle, April 26, 2016;

auf YouTube von Macht Geld Sinn:
Auf Kosten der Anderen – Prof. Dr. Dirk Löhr, 51.00 min,
Wie werden wir zukunftsfähiger? – Roland Spinola, 75.18 min,
Die Do-It-Yourself-Bewegung – Dr. Christa Müller, 43.39 min,
Finanzbeben, ein Blick in die Abgründe - Prof. Dr. Dirk Löhr, 48.43 min,

Op-ed: Utah ‘sovereignty’ is a lost cause, and that’s good, on The Salt Lake Tribune, by Robert Gilchrist, April 23, 2016;

… and this:

… und noch dies:

  • Tore zur Unterwelt, Doku mit Heinrich und Ingrid Kusch, von Querdenken TV hochgeladen: Teil 1, 30.47 min; Teil II, 52.53 min;
  • oder gekürzt, in einem StückTore zur Unterwelt, 50.11 min, Doku mit Heinrich und Ingrid Kusch.

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