Sieger-Essays des St. Gallen Symposiums Und es funktioniert doch - das Grundeinkommen
2. Teil: Iran is the only country wtih a national basic income
As a result, the rate of people who were engaged in income-generating activities (above the age of 15) increased from 44 percent to 55 percent. By simultaneously expanding the purchasing power of beneficiaries, the project also spawned a market for these new products. Far from sapping people's motivation to work, the small act of introducing a dependable monthly income of ten dollars had provided beneficiaries with the collateral, basic social security and market incentives needed to participate in the local economy. Through acting as both a supply- and demand-side intervention, the BIG had served as seed funding for unleashing Otjivero's budding entrepreneurs. And, like Sarah Katangolo, most of them eagerly took advantage of the opportunity.
Although it has always been scarcely more than a peripheral idea, the notion of providing a universal basic income is in fact not a novel proposition, as philosophers from Thomas Paine to Thomas More and John Stuart Mill speculated about the potential it had for addressing the social ills of their times. But the last decade has produced powerful signals that it is an idea whose time may finally have come. Eclipsing a long tradition of philosophical in the developed world, the most powerful of these signals have come from places like Otjivero. It is in developing countries that the biggest moves towards the implementation of BIGs are being made.
A development revolution from the global South
The last few decades have already witnessed the profound proliferation of non-contributory cash transfers throughout much of the developing world. In contrast to the contributory social insurance schemes popular in developed countries, these programmes transfer money from the state to the poor directly for a specific period of time on the basis of need and their rights as citizens. Prior contribution to a social insurance fund (and, by extension, formal employment) is not a prerequisite. They are generally aimed at the most vulnerable population groups, including the impoverished elderly, children, unemployed adults and people with disabilities. The implementation of cash transfers in developing countries has been hailed as a 'development revolution from the global South', and their growth is largely contextualised by pointing to the changing dynamics of development discourses. This ideational shift also lays the foundation for the possible future implementation of BIGs in some of these countries.
While these recent schemes have extended social security to many of the most vulnerable people on earth, they largely do not yet amount to universal income guarantees. But the political momentum they have generated by denying access to income as a social right instead of an earned privilege appears likely to culminate in the introduction of BIGs in some developing countries within the next few decades. In addition to the pilot project and associated lobbying efforts in Namibia, official inquiries or actual BIG projects have been initiated in Iran, Brazil, South Africa and India.
The only country in the world where a national BIG is currently being implemented is Iran. The government introduced the policy in December 2010 as a compensatory measure for the cancellation of costly price subsidies. It pays a monthly cash transfer of 40 dollars to every citizen residing in the country, 'enough to pull a big proportion of the 10 percent of Iranians who live on less than 2 dollars a day above that bar'. The programme differs from the models adopted by the other cases under discussion in terms of its conception: It emerged by default in response to the end of the subsidies as a de facto BIG, and was not designed as a development programme. Nevertheless, the Iranian national BIG amounts to a powerful falsification of the notion that such schemes are 'only affordable and likely to arise first in more developed countries, particularly of the European variety'.
Although it is not being implemented on an equivalent scale, Brazil became the first country in the world to adopt, in 2004, a law calling for the creation of a national BIG. It immediately rolled out the now-famed Bolsa Família cash transfer 'as the first step in implementing this minimum citizen income by extending universal coverage'. The Bolsa Família currently provides income support to the 57 million most impoverished Brazilians; equivalent to 28 percent of the country's total population. Additionally, the residents of the Quatinga Velho community in São Paulo state have been the beneficiaries of a privately funded pilot project for the last three years, where all residents are paid 15 dollars per month. Although the coordinators of the programme have varied a range of positive effects generated by the BIG, they have made it clear that the aim of the project is not to study its impacts; they are already convinced. Instead, the goal is to further stimulate progress towards the full implementation of the 2004 federal BIG law.
- 1. Teil: Und es funktioniert doch - das Grundeinkommen
- 2. Teil: Iran is the only country wtih a national basic income
- 3. Teil: Public source of seed funding that enable people to create their own wealth
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