Five years ago this month, Paul Harnett and I made French onion soup for 100 people (Paul chopped so many onions he had blisters from the knife). It was served up in the lunch break at our inaugural conference, which was the first in the world to explore the potential of making basic income truly universal.
In the run up to that event we went to a seminar and Paul got talking to one of the speakers. When he said where he came from, she replied, "World basic income - is that even a thing?" Five years on, it's time to consider whether we've made it 'a thing' and what needs to happen to make that 'thing' even bigger.
In the months since our book-writing crowdfunder (thanks a million to everyone who donated!), I've been working hard on the book's central chapter: how a worldwide basic income could be funded.
We've researched this before and found a raft of potential money sources. Our model is based on the global commons: the idea that there are spaces and systems in the world that we all own together (or at least we should own them).
Back in the summer I asked Malawian economist Frank Kamanga, our long-term supporter and member of our International Advisory Board, why he supports universal basic income.
“I was motivated to join the global UBI movement because of the inequality that I observed in the world, especially between the Northern and the Southern hemispheres,” he explained. “It’s a radical approach to do away with poverty at the global scale.”
Fast forward three months, and Frank, his colleague Joseph Fatch and me (Laura Bannister, Campaign Director at World Basic Income) are pinging over-excited texts back and forth. We can’t quite believe our luck.
World Basic Income, in partnership with Rahul Basu of the Goa Foundation, has submitted a paper to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty. The paper proposes an International Carbon Charge and Dividend as a key policy for worldwide "Just Transition" to a green economy.
Extinction Rebellion's Ideas Exchange invited WBI's directors and International Advisory Board members to a panel discussion on basic income. You can watch an edited version here.
Oxfam calls for $1 trillion of global money creation in order to provide cash transfers for everyone who needs them
Oxfam International is calling for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to create $1 trillion worth of 'Special Drawing Rights' (SDRs) - the IMF's global currency - to provide cash transfers to every person in the world who needs them. The aim is to stave off a massive increase in global poverty, which Oxfam's new report predicts could return to the shocking levels of thirty years ago.
The report states, "In countries like Kenya and Cambodia, tens of thousands of factory and farm workers are being told to go home. Women workers will be among the hardest hit, as they are more likely to be engaged in informal and precarious work... Today only one in five of all unemployed workers has access to unemployment benefits."
World Basic Income's Laura Bannister and Paul Harnett contribute to FEASTA's 'Bridging the Gaps' podcast, to discuss why a worldwide basic income - a regular cash payment for every adult and child in the world - is vital as part of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.
To listen, choose Podcast 3 here. Laura and Paul's contribution begins at 17:16min.
The amount that can be paid out each month as world basic income will depends on how much can be raised through global taxation and other charges. When we began this campaign we proposed a world basic income of $10 per person per month. However, our calculations have since shown that, with just a few small taxes and charges applied to over-use of the global commons, we could raise enough for a significantly higher basic income. In early 2020 we therefore began discussions about increasing the proposed starting amount.
Children in the town of Naivasha, Kenya might catch coronavirus, but like most kids their symptoms should be mild. A bigger problem for them right now is that their parents just lost their jobs. They worked in Kenya’s cut flower industry, which is currently destroying fifty tonnes of roses and other flowers every day because their customers in Europe have almost completely stopped buying. The workforce has already been cut by half, and is likely to drop further. Some families may get support from the Kenyan government’s cash transfer scheme but it’s a struggle for most African countries to support unemployed workers and many will go without.