Donnerstag, 20. Juni 2019

Sieger-Essays des St. Gallen Symposiums Und es funktioniert doch - das Grundeinkommen

In Deutschland wirbt dm-Markt-Gründer Götz Werner seit Jahren für ein bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen. Er ist längst nicht mehr der einzige.

In einem weltweiten Essay-Wettbewerb hat das St. Gallen Symposium die drei besten Texte ausgezeichnet. Wir veröffentlichen hier den zweitplatzierten Essay des diesjährigen Wettbewerbs, "Small yet big: The Basic Income Guarantee", im englischen Original.

From the thirsty plains of the Namib to the seemingly impervious jungles of the Amazon and the cramped slums of Seemapuri, a revolution is quietly brewing. A small idea that appears almost self-evident has taken root in some of the world's forgotten corners. In contrast to the convoluted development theories of structural adjustment, economic convergence, and trickle-down - all of which ultimately aim to ensure that everyone has enough money - this idea offers but a single proposal to help address the destitution of so many millions: If we want to live in a world that is free from poverty and where the poor are able to become wealth creators, then by definition, everyone needs to have at least some money.

This once utopian vision is gaining ground, fast. A global network of academics, activists, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private groups are working towards the implementation of Basic Income Guarantees (BIGs) in some of the world's most impoverished regions. It is a small idea, both in terms of its simplicity and in terms of the sums of money involved. But it is having a big impact. In addition to reducing poverty and inequality, assessment results from pilot projects overwhelmingly indicate that providing a monthly income of only ten dollars to every person in some of the poorest communities on earth is good for business. By ensuring a basic level of social security, these programmes simultaneously boost demand and operate as a public source of seed funding that enables beneficiaries to make the vital capital investments required to start businesses. Politicians and policymakers are starting to catch on, and the rapid recent spread of these programmes has the potential to fundamentally transform the landscape of development policy through a single small idea: just give money to the poor.

Zur Person
  • Copyright: St. Gallen Symposium
    St. Gallen Symposium
    Leon Schreiber ist Doktorand der Politikwissenschaft an der Freien Universität Berlin.

Sarah Katangolo's already brisk walk quickened even more as she approached the corrugated structure on the street corner. In her left hand, she tightly gripped the very symbol of wealth in the modern world: a plastic debit card proudly emblazoned with her personal details. Sarah was on her way to withdraw money from an ATM machine, an act so numbingly habitual in the developed world that it has become all but invisible. The ostensible banality of the entire scene was further enhanced by the fact that she was on her way to withdraw a measly 80 dollars. But here on the dusty streets of Otjivero, 100 kilometres east of the Namibian capital Windhoek, Sarah was engaging in an act amounting to nothing less than a personal revolution.

Poverty, malnutrition, household debt fall - economic activity increases

She was one of the first beneficiaries of a pilot project administered by Namibian NGOs that had introduced a BIG in Otjivero. For the past year, Sarah, whose husband had passed away a few years earlier, had been receiving a monthly payment of ten dollars for every person in her household. The money was primarily going towards school fees and food for her seven children, but she had used five dollars from her very first BIG payment to purchase two chickens. After only twelve months, Sarah had become the proud owner of 40 chickens, which she was now selling for as much as 30 dollars each. After deducting the cost of feed, this amounted to a potential profit of 1000 dollars. Sarah Katangolo, a single mother who had never managed to find work in a country with a female unemployment rate of at least 30 percent and where more than two-thirds of the population lives on less than 1 dollar a day, had become an entrepreneur.

She wasn't the only one. The eminently small act of providing every person in the village with a mere ten dollars every month had transformed the lives of its 930 residents. Using the food poverty line as a measurement proxy, the project assessment found that household poverty had dropped from 76 percent to 37 percent in a single year. Among households that were not affected by immigration, the rate dropped to 16 percent. Child malnutrition fell from 42 percent to 10 percent, while average household debt was reduced from 121 dollars to 77 dollars. Perhaps most significantly, the BIG generated a significant increase in economic activity by enabling people like Sarah to make the necessary investments to become small business owners.

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