Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN): Development of BIEN Ireland

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A basic income is an income universally and unconditionally granted by the state to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. It is a form of minimum income guarantee, also known as a citizens’ income or social dividend. It differs from state payments that now exist in various European countries in three important ways:

  • it is paid to individuals rather than households;
  • it is paid irrespective of any income from other sources;
  • it is paid without requiring the performance of any work or the willingness to accept a job if offered.

Below you can read a summary (not comprehensive) of some of the benefits of a universal basic income (UBI).

The Basic Income Earth Network (www.basicincome.org) is an international network of individuals and groups committed to or interested in Basic Income. We believe that this is a good time to re-activate BIEN Ireland, the loose group of those interested in pursuing or studying BI in Ireland.

We are convening a meeting with a view to developing the Irish network, on Saturday May 7th, 2011, in the Central Hotel, Exchequer St, Dublin, at 2pm.

Out of the meeting, we hope that an organising committee would emerge.  Please reply to basic.income@nuim.ie if you would like to attend this organising meeting or, if not, whether you would like to be put on our mailing list for future events and developments.

Joint coordinators for BIEN Ireland:

John Baker, UCD School of Social Justice

Anne B Ryan, Department of Adult and Community Education, NUI Maynooth

Summary of the benefits of Universal Basic Income (UBI)

  • provides basic financial security for all in ways that means-tested social welfare and a mimimum wage cannot do
  • can create a social and cultural climate where everybody is free to act in morally, ecologically and socially responsible ways
  • gives people the basic financial security to undertake uncertain paid work (including farming, growing and food processing); they can be entrepreneurs or independent contractors, start businesses, participate in low-paid but valuable caring, artistic, and political work, participate in education
  • gives people the freedom to do no paid work and still have basic financial security
  • gives a basic income to those who currently receive no state or other payment, but who participate in caring work or other forms of work that are not financially rewarded
  • facilitates people to develop all sorts of economically dynamic and intelligent carbon-neutral and socially sound activities; because they have some degree of certainty that they can pay for their basic needs, they have psychological space and actual time to be creative.
  • benefits all those who currently have no access to state benefits if paid work disappears for whatever reasons
  • gives those currently on welfare a way out of the poverty trap: if they get decent paid work, they can take it without the worry of losing benefits, as they do on means-tested welfare
  • benefits casual and short-contract workers, who may find themselves with no or limited sick pay or holiday pay
  • gives those who are dissatisfied with their type of work or with their work conditions a chance to negotiate other ways to live and work; UBI would allow many overstretched in their jobs or self-employed work to cut back on the time spent in paid work.
  • gives all employees increased bargaining power within their jobs, because they are not reliant on income from work to supply basic needs
  • lessens the importance of jobs and paid work in the whole social arrangement and in doing so, gives a chance for valuable unpaid work to flourish
  • creates social inclusion by means of equal basic security for all; increased social inclusion creates conditions for increased civic participation
  • fosters social solidarity and reduces resentment and divisiveness among groups currently experiencing different levels of security
  • gives basic financial security to asylum seekers and other poor immigrants, thereby reducing the possibilities for their exploitation by gang masters, traffickers and unscrupulous employers
  • does away with the ageist countdown to retirement and pension age; everyone would have a UBI from birth to death and it would replace the state pension.
  • costs to employers are reduced; UBI acts as a subsidy (although the money goes directly to the employee) which brings down the wage bill.
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One Response

  1. Tom Scally, Leitrim

    May 4, 2011 3:32 pm

    With 400,000 to 500,000 unemployed in Ireland now and this faltering “jobs budget” (or is it a jobs initiative, or what is is) promising at most 100,000 jobs in the next five years, the message is clear. Ireland is fast becoming the real-life laboratory for Jeremy Rifkin’s “End of Work” thesis. Ireland and the other European “peripheral” countries are the first to experience this historic shift in the meaning of work. Unlike the previous paradigm shift that brought the Industrial Revolution, we will not have the “big boys” to look to as models to follow. Because the big counties are doing nicely in the global market, so they’re OK for now. We will have to work it out for ourselves. Do we have the courage to pioneer Basic Income? Will be be the ones to to light the candle as the old certainties lose their brilliance and fade to night?