While the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is fast becoming mainstream, questions remain as to what the 'U' in UBI should mean. Does ‘universal’ refer to all people within one country, or should it mean everyone across the globe? And should we all get the same basic income, no matter where we live?
This Saturday, we are holding the world's first ever conference to explore the proposal for a worldwide basic income. We are delighted that twelve excellent speakers and around 120 guests will be packing out our small venue in Salford.
During 2016, the world's 500 richest people got even richer. Their combined fortunes rose by 5.7%, adding $237 billion to their total net worth. The worldwide basic income that we at WBI propose is $10 per person per month. That requires $75 billion per month to fund.
Imagine if the world's richest people had all decided that this year, for once, they just didn't need any more money, and decided to share out this year's gains around the world. This would have funded more than three months of world basic income – a crucial cash injection for every woman, man and child on the planet.
According to the World Bank, India is a lower-middle income country, but it still has the highest number of people living below the extreme poverty line in the world. Over a thousand existing anti-poverty programmes have not resolved the problem.
But, following successful pilot experiments and pressure from civil society, the government is now beginning to consider giving an annual basic income of 10-15,000 rupees (£118 to £177) to every person in India.
A while ago I read an article that proved to me, once and for all, that economic growth will not solve poverty. Based on data from the last two decades showing how the benefits of growth are distributed, analysts had assessed how much would be needed to lift everyone above a $5 a day poverty line. To achieve this, they found that the world economy would need to grow to 173 times its current size, and the average gross income per person would need to be over $1.3 million.
An average income of over a million dollars each, just so that the unluckiest people can earn $5 a day?
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Title photograph by Koustav2007 (Own work), CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons