Basic income featured prominently in the news this week with an op-ed on the shortcomings of the Finnish study in The New York Times, coverage from Vox dispelling common critiques of basic income, and a handful of articles about Silicon Valley’s rising interest in basic income. GiveDirectly’s CFO Joe Huston also spoke with Brazilian magazine Época Negócios about our UBI study in Kenya. Elsewhere, a new study about paying people not to cut down trees in Uganda gained attention.
GIVEDIRECTLY IN THE NEWS
1. Industry billionaires of technology sector in the universal basic income movement
Época Negócios, Dubes Sônego and Edson Caldas, July 20, 2017
[Translated from Portuguese] The American NGO GiveDirectly, a darling in Silicon Valley, receives donations from around the world and, as the name says, gives directly to poor rural villagers in Kenya – so poor that in some of them, eating in public is “to boast” about the food. Cash payments started arriving in a pilot village in October last year and have been used by beneficiaries to build houses, buy livestock, fishing nets or simply food – which would otherwise not be possible.
CASH TRANSFERS IN THE NEWS
Oxfam, Divya Amladi, July 20, 2017
To cope with the effects of drought, Oxfam is providing conditional cash via an E-wallet mechanism, which allows beneficiaries to regain some control over their lives. With her allocation of 900 Kenyan shillings (roughly $9), Nabulon purchases clean water to care for her child. The aid gives her peace of mind and lets her focus on her dream of starting a business.
BASIC INCOME IN THE NEWS
The Boston Globe, Jacob Haqq-Misra, July 23, 2017
The idea of a universal basic income is gaining traction, in think tanks and in Silicon Valley, as a response to the rise of outsourced and automated labor. If everyone were guaranteed a minimum salary to meet the basic needs of food and shelter, so the argument goes, then people would be free to allocate their time according to their own preferences.
4. Silicon Valley’s push for universal basic income is — surprise! — totally self-serving
The Los Angeles Times, Douglas Rushkoff, July 21, 2017
Just a year ago, proposing a concept like universal basic income could practically get me laughed off the stage at a tech industry conference. The idea that everyone should be guaranteed a minimum subsidy from the government seemed to go against every fundamental tenet of creative destruction: Don’t reward the obsolete!
5. Why Finland’s Basic Income Experiment Isn’t Working
The New York Times, Antti Jauhiainen and Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen, July 20, 2017
Universal basic income is generating considerable interest these days, from Bernie Sanders, who says he is “absolutely sympathetic” to the idea, to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and other tech billionaires. The basic idea behind it is that handing out unconditional cash to all citizens, employed or not, would help reduce poverty and inequality, and increase individual liberty.
6. The 2 most popular critiques of basic income are both wrong
Vox, Dylan Matthews, July 20, 2017
At first blush, basic income — a proposal where every American gets a regular stipend from the government, just for being alive — sounds like a radical, even absurd, idea. It says that people should be guaranteed enough money to live on whether they spend most of their time working, or in school, or taking care of loved ones, or taking drugs and surfing. It says that the government should tax people who work to pay for a check that goes to some people who don’t do anything conventionally viewed as productive.
DEVELOPMENT AND AID IN THE NEWS
7. Is It A Good Idea To Pay Villagers Not To Chop Down Trees?
NPR Goats and Soda, Angus Chen, July 20, 2017
A new study published on Thursday in Science reports the best evidence yet that the payout programs can make a difference in reducing deforestation, says Jack, who was not involved with the research. “I think this is a really exciting study,” she says. “This really solidifies the research that had suggested these kinds of programs can have positive effects where deforestation rates and poverty levels are high.”
8. In an era of mass dislocation, we need new approaches to aid
The San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Laugharn, July 24, 2017
Cash — which currently accounts for just 6 percent of all humanitarian aid — empowers refugees to buy exactly what they need. The committee studied 90,000 Syrian refugee families in Lebanon who received preloaded ATM cards. Families overwhelmingly spent the money on food, water, winter clothing and shelter. And cash keeps kids in school — “households receiving cash assistance were half as likely to send their children out to work,” according to the IRC.