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Back in fashion – Cash in the News

This week the National Post, while discussing Ontario’s upcoming basic income pilot, claims that “basic income is the romper of economic policy.” More attention on this newest economic fashion is one reason why it needs to be rigorously studied. And in Devex Catherine Cheney takes a thoughtful look at the upcoming research on basic income, including both GiveDirectly’s and Y Combinator’s studies.

GIVEDIRECTLY IN THE NEWS AND BLOGS

1. What Will the Evidence Say About a Universal Basic Income?
Devex, Catherine Cheney, July 18, 2016
“We know short term cash transfers work well and universal basic income is basically a long term cash transfer. We’ve never done a long term transfer like that and given the ongoing debates over basic income thought it would be an important thing to do,” said Ian Bassin, who is part of the team planning a pilot of universal basic income for the nonprofit organization GiveDirectly. It will be universal, in that everyone within a region gets it, basic, in that it is sufficient for people to live on, and income, in that it is long term with the potential to change a life trajectory.

2. Like Another 1970s Throwback, Basic Income is Back in Fashion and Ontario Could Learn from Past Mistakes
National Post, Ashley Csanady, July 14, 2016
A project based in Nairobi as well as small villages is being backed by MIT researchers. With a budget of at least US $30 million and up to US $100 million, it’s being touted as one of the largest single test runs of universal basic income in the world. It’s called GiveDirectly and is fundraising to increase its efforts.

CASH TRANSFER NEWS

3. Lessons from cash transfers
The Hindu, Kalyani Raghunathan and Purnima Menon, July 17, 2016
A few weeks ago, the then Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, announced a plan to test the use of cash transfers in the context of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme. This was followed by the Union Food Minister asking for States to initiate a pilot programme to replace the Public Distribution System (PDS) food ration with cash, a move that is already being tested in the Union Territories. Indeed, it’s fair to say that there is quite a buzz in policy circles about the potential for cash transfer schemes to address multiple outcomes while bringing administrative efficiency.
 
4. The Economics of Humanitarian Aid: Are We on a Slippery Slope?
Africa at LSE, Stephanie Levy, July 17, 2016
‘Just give them the money’ is an often quoted prescription by development economists working in the field of social protection and humanitarian crisis. It has been used quite intensively in the current debate on how to effectively support refugees during this recent wave of migration and conflict. In fact, the benefits of cash transfers (CTs) in humanitarian contexts are well documented and there seems to be a consensus emerging (Baily & Harvey 2015) in the current debate around the use of these interventions to provide immediate assistance to refugee populations, in refugee camps in particular. The WH Summit was a testament to the growing commitment by governments, NGOs and practitioners to support this form of aid delivery.

5. When No One was Watching, Congress Passed A Pretty Important Bill to Improve Foreign Aid
Vox, Dylan Matthews, July 17, 2016
On July 5, the US Congress did something remarkable: It passed a law. In a time of historic gridlock, the fact that the House and Senate were able to agree on much of anything, much less a bill that President Obama quickly signed, is fairly remarkable. It’s even more impressive when the bill in question is a substantial piece of legislation on a fairly divisive, important topic. The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016, however, was able to beat the odds. It first passed the House by voice vote in December, and then an altered version passed the Senate unanimously in June. On the 5th, the House agreed to the Senate’s changes, sending the law to Obama, who signed it on the 15th.

EFFECTIVE ALTRUISM

6. Interview With a Philosopher: The Moral Compass of Peter Singer
Luxury London, Josh Sims, July 16, 2016
Singer’s call for action gets even more nuanced – he calls for effective altruism: not just token donations to various charities that successfully press certain sentimental buttons – such donations, he says, allow the assuaging of a certain Western consumerist guilt – but a wholesale redirection of how one’s money is used with a view to maximum effectiveness.

7. ​Effective Altruism Global 2016
EA Global, July 2016
This is the fourth annual conference of Effective Altruism, a growing community based on using reason and evidence to improve the world as much as possible.

BASIC INCOME

8.  Would a Universal Basic Income Help Eradicate poverty in the US?
Desert News, Sara Weber, July 17, 2016
Economic and political leaders around the world have rekindled the debate about whether a universal basic income would eliminate poverty, or if it would even be possible to implement within the U.S. economy

9. Is the Left’s Big New Idea a ‘Right to be Lazy’?
BBC News, Sonia Sodha, July 15, 2016
Imagine this. You can sit back, relax, turn on the telly, put your feet up. And the government will pay you for it without any of that tedious job-seeking and signing on business. It sounds like a fantasy. But it’s an only slightly exaggerated version of the big idea animating many on the left of British politics, and which has just been adopted by Unite, the country’s biggest trade union.

10. Revival of Universal Basic Income Proposal Ignores Needs of Labor Force
The Wall Street Journal, Greg Ip, July 13, 2016
Imagine you’re president and Congress gives you a huge chunk of money to spend as you wish. Instead of cutting taxes or splashing out more on health care, infrastructure and defense, why not send a check to every adult? That’s the essence of universal basic income, a centuries-old idea now enjoying a revival across the political spectrum. Liberals see a cure for poverty that will be essential as robots and artificial intelligence vaporize jobs. Conservatives see an elegant, cost-effective replacement for a complex safety net crafted by nanny-state social engineers.