This week basic income was covered by a range of publications, from Wired‘s description of a new policy resembling a basic income introduced in the US Congress, to a mention of the policy in an overview of the political landscape in Italy by the Financial Times. Also, ODI released a new report this week that calls explicitly for more action, namely, more cash transfers as a share of humanitarian aid.
GIVEDIRECTLY IN THE NEWS
1. Stuffing shoe boxes for the world’s poor? Maybe you should reconsider
Baptist News Global, Blake Tommey, March 29, 2017
In fact, atop GiveWell’s list of top-rated development organizations is GiveDirectly, a nonprofit organization that transfers cash to extremely low-income households in developing countries, where families and individuals are consistently proven to boost their own food security, education, living expenses and economic opportunities with the cash transfers. Sharing the list of highly vetted charities is a host of organizations working to fight malaria, the single greatest burden on the economy of African nations, according to the Against Malaria Foundation, as well as the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, a deworming initiative working to fight soil-transmitted parasites.
2. Guess Which Side Obama Alums Took in a Debate Over Basic Income
The Observer, Brady Dale, March 28, 2017
Nevertheless, the idea of a universal basic income has been taking up a lot more cultural space lately. Elite startup accelerator Y Combinator has been cooking up an experiment to test how cash without conditions compared to prescriptive help (such as support specifically for housing, job training or child rearing). The non-profit GiveDirectly is testing the same question, but in the developing world, which Annie Lowrey took a close look at for The New York Times Magazine. Wired even ran a science fiction story about a world in which everyone had a guaranteed income, called “The Hunger After You’re Fed.”
CASH TRANSFERS IN THE NEWS
3. Time for change: harnessing the potential of humanitarian cash transfers
ODI, Sarah Bailey and Paul Harvey, April 2017
At the same time, however, aid agencies and donors are missing out on meaningful opportunities to harness the efficiency and effectiveness of cash transfers because of restrictive interpretations of mandates, organisational self-interest and incentives to continue with well-established approaches.
4. The world has made great progress in eradicating extreme poverty
The Economist, March 30, 2017
In short, India and countries like it need proper welfare systems. They are still some way from getting them. In general, government spending is a smaller share of GDP in lower-middle-income countries than in poorer or richer ones. South Asia is especially mean compared with Latin America. In 2014 India spent just 0.7% of its GDP on social safety-net programmes. Three years earlier Brazil had spent 2.4% of its GDP on such programmes. And half of India’s spending went on rural public-works projects and feeding children in schools. Brazil’s payments were nearly all cash transfers, which are more efficient. India has trimmed some spectacularly ill-targeted handouts, such as fuel subsidies, and is musing about a universal basic income, made possible by its biometric identity system, which now covers an astounding 1.1bn people. But that is still talk.
EFFECTIVE ALTRUISM IN THE NEWS
5. Facebook’s little-known billionaire cofounder is funding a London charity
Business Insider, Sam Shead, March 30, 2017
“The Open Philanthropy Project awarded a grant of $1,032,947 over two years to Founders Pledge, executed through the Center for Effective Altruism, for general support,” the page reads. “Founders Pledge is a new organisation, based in London, that encourages technology entrepreneurs to pledge at least 2% of their proceeds upon exit to charity, and supports them in making thoughtful and impactful decisions about where to give. This grant is intended to enable Founders Pledge to expand to Germany, France, and Sweden, and to hire a developer.”
BASIC INCOME IN THE NEWS
6. We need a New Deal to address the economic risks of automation
Tech Crunch, Rob LoCascio, March 31, 2017
Others, like Elon Musk, have suggested that a universal basic income is our best way forward to ensure even those who are left with no options for employment are still able to reasonably take care of themselves. Y Combinator also ran a basic income experiment in Oakland.
7. A Silicon Valley Lawmaker’s $1 Trillion Plan to Save Trump Country
Wired, Issie Lapowsky, March 30, 2017
That’s why many Silicon Valley leaders, even as they innovate entire industries and livelihoods out of existence, have started gravitating toward a not-so-new concept: basic income. Under the idea, the government would provide every citizen with a stipend, no strings attached. Especially in times of economic upheaval, when technological change is both rampant and unpredictable, the thinking goes, a basic income would ensure a baseline of stability.
8. Five Star leads the way in Italian poverty politics [Gated]
The Financial Times James Politi and Davide Ghiglione, March 30, 2017
In terms of substance, the Five Star and Democratic party proposals fall short of the kind of “universal basic income” rejected by Swiss voters in a referendum last June and has been floated by Benoît Hamon, the Socialist candidate for the French presidency. This is because they are means-tested, so do not apply to everyone.