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Abstracts for 20th May

Currently most of the abstracts are only available in the language they were submitted in.

Only some of the sessions will be translated with the presentation languages as follows:

Session A: Time Sovereignty I
How Time Welfare with UBI Leads to Degrowth

This session will be translated (English/German).

The impact of an unconditional basic income to time welfare in a post-fordist working environment

Katharina Bohnenberger

The German text is not currently available.

Time-welfare is essential to a degrowth society for at least two reasons: Firstly, temporal autonomy and temporal sovereignty enable behaviour which is resource-saving, but time-intensive (like repairing). Secondly, partaking in time institutions (e.g. weekend) and an increased temporal well-being (e.g. through reduced time pressure) establish a positive goal essential to degrowth and which is also valued by societal groups that are not explicitly well-disposed towards degrowth.

The main reason for a lack of time welfare in our society is the need (may it be real or felt) for long weekly working hours. A working time reduction is therefore necessary for a degrowth society. An unconditional basic income can be categorized as an indirect measure to enable people the reduction of paid working time through two effects: an income effect and a security/freedom effect.

Already now many instruments exist that give people the right to reduce their working time, but the take up falls short because employees with a low hourly wage could not sustain their living with a reduced income. Furthermore many people believe that a reduced working time is associated with lower commitment for their jobs and fear reducing their working time would therefore make their jobs less secure. An unconditional basic income can combat both hurdles and hence supports people in realizing a desired working time reduction.

Besides this effect in traditional working conditions, the introduction of an unconditional basic income on so-called Post-Fordist jobs is of special interest. This type of employment relations is growing in a knowledge and service economy and is characterized by more flexible working conditions and (voluntary) unpaid overtime. There are reasons to assume that Post-Fordist work designs change the perception and handling of time such that the density of time within and beyond work increases and the need to use time efficiently is even furthered by a compulsion to constantly enhance performance. Besides negative consequences on time-welfare this undermines the ability of 'temporal empathy' and alienates people from their sense of time. An unconditional basic income establishes a security and thereby enables people to better withstand these external time claims.

In summary, an unconditional basic income advances time-welfare not only through more temporal autonomy and temporal sovereignty, but also because of an increased temporal well-being.

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Green basic income feeds time sovereignty feeds degrowth

Ulrich Schachtschneider

The German text is not currently available.

Time is our most important resource. Following contemporary growth critique (e.g. Hartmut Rosa) an overkill of production, consumption and events is hindering us to use our time for the things we describe as really necessary for a “good life”: Forcontemplative and creative leisure, free development of personality or real friendships, for example. Even the economist John M. Keynes expected for his great-grandchildren "economic possibilities“ to have a weekly working time of fifteen hours– space for the freed life beyond necessities. So what went wrong when most people today need two or three times of labour time?

The growth critic Niko Paech proposes half consumption and half gainful employment. Therewith he would nearly meet the vision from Keynes – when we talk about labour time. But Paech wants to use the freed 20 hours for subsistence: For the organisation of common use, maintenance and reparation as well as for own production. In this way everybody would become (more) independent from industrial production and from money.

But to which kinds of new dependencies from communities and networks does this lead? This problem rises in case of work for low wages or in precarious self-employment. Then even more than 40 laborious working hours overall could be possible.

My first thesis: From a degrowth perspective more subsistence is not convincing. Rather important for a good life beyond growth is a basic security. The less this is ensured the more economic activities will be hoped for, initiated, sustained only in fear of existence – without considering their ecological, social and individual costs. If we want degrowth we have to diminish economic pressure from the individual. The best way to do so is the unconditional basic income.

This allows us to choose our individual share of gainful work and subsistence. Time wealth is to be understood as the freedom to choose the way we want to work. That fits also to the degrowth imperative. Different degrowth lifestyles with basic income are possible – under one condition: The basic income must not lead to new resourceful consumer parties. This is a critic from green side, and of course we cannot be sure, that due to the redistribution effect from rich to poor this in effect will take place.

My second thesis: We can avoid this, when we finance the basic income by ecological fees for problematical use of our environment (e.g. CO2, scarce resources, nitrates), at least to a relevant share.

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Gesellschaftliche Arbeitsverhältnisse, individuelle Arbeitszeit, Grundeinkommen und Wachstumsrücknahme

Werner Rätz

The German text can be found here.

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Session B: Time Sovereignty II
The Ambiguity of UBI driven Time Sovereignty

This session will be held in English with no translation

Basic income between economic growth and degrowth. Positions among activists for the popular initiative in Switzerland

Tobias Krall

The German text is not currently available.

This thesis investigates the relationship between unconditional basic income (UBI) and economic growth. Expectations about this relationship were analysed as well as their interrelation with attitudes towards economic growth. Based on a literature review, problem-centred interviews were conducted with 8 individuals who are active for the Swiss popular initiative “For an unconditional Basic Income”. It is found that UBI cannot be ascribed exclusively to either the growth or the degrowth paradigm. The actual effect is likely to depend on various institutional circumstances of the implementation. Thus, for a given region, the intention with which UBI gets implemented is of utmost importance. Interviewees have different attitudes towards economic growth, nevertheless, they often expect similar effects. Beside unclear definitions, this is mainly due to uncertainties about how much economic activity will take place outside the sphere of market and state. In any case, there is broad agreement that the indicator of GDP will lose importance in an economy where UBI is implemented. Moreover, Van Parijs' normative principle of “leximin real freedom” has no a priori preference for either growth or degrowth, but advises the economic path that allows the highest sustainable UBI.

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From basic income to transformations of work and into degrowth?

Hanna Ketterer

The German text is not currently available.

In this presentation I will look at the triangle relationship between the introduction of a basic income, its consequences for work and the possibility of transitioning towards de-growth. The question I want to tackle is in how far the basic income would enable a transition towards de-growth by looking at the transformations of work it would possibly induce. Methodologically, I make use of theories of capitalism and a systemisation of the existing literature on the relationship between basic income and work. My argument starts from two important assumptions:

  1. the basic income does not provide an alternative production or economic model per se;
  2. de-growth, from a sociological understanding (Kolleg Post­wachs­tums­gesell­schaft­en), does not inevitably imply no growth.

Whereas the first assumption is likely to be little controversial, the second assumption is distinct from the majority view within the German-speaking de-growth movement propagating de-growth as a reductionist or shrinking economy (Schmelzer 2015). In fact, the understanding of de-growth I aim to advance stems from the diagnosis that modern societies are growth societies characterised by the compulsion to increase production rates in order to preserve social order (Dörre, Lessenich & Rosa 2009). From this perspective, de-growth simply means that a society is no longer dependent on economic growth to stabilise itself. In order to answer the question whether the basic income is to further a transition towards de-growth, it is therefore necessary to analyse the causes of growth compulsion and the conditions that sustain it. While capitalist economies expand as the aggregate effect of the competition among individual entrepreneurs in the market and capital’s need to transform itself (Dörre 2012), the conditions for growth are manifold (Deutschmann 2014): In this analysis I want to focus on the vital role of decommodification of human labour. It will be shown that the effects of a basic income on labour appear ambiguous. On the one hand, the basic income would break the “money-labour-nexus” (Deutschmann 2008) and “free work from labour” (Standing 2011), implying a decommodification of human labour. On the other hand, the basic income could be used to expand minimum and low wages furthering neoliberal labour market policies and re-strengthening the dependence of labour on capital (Spannagel 2015). Finally, the claim I aim to make goes as follows: Albeit no guarantee, by partially decommodifying human labour the basic income enables a transition into de-growth.

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Is the new 'different' really different? Thoughts on escaping the instrumentalist social logic of accumulation and acceleration

Judith Kleibs

The German text is not currently available.

This presentation deals with the question how to distinguish measures and approaches which fundamentally change the current social logic that is based on an instrumentalistic handling of time from those which maintain this logic and only seem to contribute to a time-sovereign and decelerated society.

For this intent, at first the main characteristics of the instrumentalistic social logic of accumulation and acceleration are defined, i.e. the subordination of ethic values to the necessity of economic growth as well as structural encouragement of efficient thinking and acting. The next step is uncovering this logic of instrumentalistic relations to the world in approaches which seem to create quality periods of time but, being embedded in the capitalistic and accumulative paradigm, do not accomplish any (fundamental) changes. Examples that will be presented are self-optimisation and the propagation of materialistic and instrumentalistic strategies to satisfy one's needs – measures which not only lead to the depolitisation of structural problems caused by reactive politics and the dominance of economic thinking, but also to mental infrastructures which are characterised by efficiency-based relationships to oneself, other individuals, and (life)time.

Finally examples of approaches are given which could lead to a fundamental transformation concerning the individual and collective handling of time by enabling 'real' time sovereignity. In particular, the differences between instrumentalistic and 'resonant', intuitive relations to the world and their dependence on temporal free spaces will be carved out. This presentation suggests the structural facilitation of individual and collective actions which are based on principles such as participation and institutional deceleration in order to allow and enable empathic, sensous relationships with the (social) environment. In this context the basic income, the development of sustainable mobility as well as spaces and offers for spending time and experimenting have to mentioned. Also it emphasises the importance of a social debate on a concrete vision how to use time, and the positive, tangible communication of alternatives to the status quo.

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Session C: Solidarity Economy/Alternative Economy I
Between Handicrafts and the 3rd Industrial Revolution: Effects of UBI on various forms of labour or work

This session will be held in German with no translation

Basic Income as chance for a flourishing, local, sustainable economy

Christine Ax

The German text is not currently available.

In my books “Wachstumswahn” (2014) und “Die Könnensgesellschaft (2009)” I´m treating both subjects (degrowth and basic income) in deep and argue for a basic income as chance to shape the great transition needed. Why? As expert for small and craft industries I´m came to the conviction, that a basic income would facilitate and would be favourable for a sustainable local economy, based on small businesses and sustainable arts and crafts.

Small industries and above all craft businesses are labour-intensive. Many of them provide a high share and wide range of good work and durable products and their "strucural sustainablity" dedicates them to play an important role in our future. They empower people, to teach and provide the abilities (care, share, repair, all kind of do-it-yourself) which are relevant for an economy beyond growth and a less resource intensive lifestyle.

They provide jobs allowing people to flourish. In these businesses we find a high share of people who are intrinsically motivated, which means, that they love what they do and that the work itself is for many of them part of their remuneration (not only money). Not all but many (especially in the more artisanal and artistic professions) do, what they really want. But to stabilise and support this kind of economy they need a fairer remuneration and more social security.

With my presentation I would like to stress as well the importance of practical and vocational training, practice in general and tacit knowhow for wellbeing, happiness and last but not least: For a sustainable economy.

That is, why I developed and explained in my book “Könnensgesellschaft” (2009) the hypothesis, that a basic income could be one way (maybe the most important) to reconcile economy and culture and to shape a society beyond growth.

And last but not least: When I´m doing interviews with craftsmen and entrepreneurs I rather often meet people who agree with me in this point. A strategic alliance with this part of our economy could therefore be fruitful and would help to increase the understanding of the basic-income-concepts.

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The third industrial revolution and its effect on working hours in the current economic framework; on visions, possibilities and dreams in the world of profits, costs and growth

Eva Nalbach

The German text is not currently available.

Along many others, two interesting and influential books have recently been published, which question the future of capitalist market societies in the light of the third industrial revolution. Both Jeremy Rifkin’s “The Zero Marginal Cost Society” as well as Paul Manson’s “Post Capitalism” are hopeful accounts of the inherent destruction of capitalism brought about by the collapse of the market system through the availability of abundant consumption goods and the resulting collapse of the price system so crucial for the forces of demand and supply, regulating our economic lives up until now. This paper is an attempt to model those changes within the framework of a neoclassical growth model, through the inclusion of an additional sector modelling the “sharing” economy and a division of households into capitalists/entrepreneurs and workers. The aim of this paper is to analyse the effect of those changes on the labour supply. The analysis theoretically evaluates the claim that the third industrial revolution, through the replacement of scarcity with abundance and the robotification of work, will produce a radically new reality of employment and exchange. Where it is conceivable that people opt out of full employment and shift the focus of their lives to a less growth oriented existence, which is depicted by the literature as a potential move away from the market system towards a society arranged around the idea of collaborative commons.

Our findings indicate, that even though we have now been waiting long enough for capitalism to self-destruct; there is little evidence, if we remain in the current neoclassical framework for this to happen trough technological changes alone. We therefore explore under which conditions changes towards degrowth can be expected, alongside an exploration into the effects of basic income in this respect. This paper aims at demonstrating that the changes brought about by the “third industrial revolution” give ample room for future hope, but also shows that unless we fundamentally change the rules of the game through changes in institutions, culture and values, this will just be a passed opportunity with potentially devastating consequences for equality and ecology.

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Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) and Economy for the Common Good (ECG)
–„Difficult Relationship“ or a „Dream Partnership“

Otto Lüdemann und Bernd Fittkau

The German text can be found here.

The focus is on the relation between the movements for a „Basic Income“ – and for the „Common-Good-Economy“. It is impossible to compare the operational goals of these movements; neither ECG guarantees social security for everybody, nor does a UBI in itself lead companies to a stronger orientation for the Common Good. But it makes sense to consider both movements from the point of view of their general framework of values. The ECG-framework of values becomes particularly clear through the concept of a “Common Good-Balance”, based on values like “human dignity”, “solidarity”, “ecological sustainability”, “social justice”, “democratic participation” and “transparency”.

The idea of an Unconditional Basic Income, paid to everybody and high enough to guarantee one’s existence, is based on values like basic economic security, social equity and free personal development. Relating both frameworks of values to each other shows their complementarity; the values which are relevant for the ECG correspond also to the goals the basic income society is striving for; in both cases critical questions are raised of economic growth at any price, whether it be as a result of a profound respect for socio-ecological sustainability, or because a basic income frees people from the constraint of accepting any job just to survive.

An open question is whether an unconditional basic income fits completely with the economic practice of an ECG-company. This is the crucial point where the debate starts, for example ECG-companies might be concerned that employees may lose their motivation to work when benefiting from an unconditional basic income. Another concern could be whether the need to finance the basic income will force companies to revert to the principle of profit maximisation. However a closer consideration shows that such concerns are unfounded. All the more so as ways to fund a basic income, for example through ecological taxes (Schachtschneider) or through a socio-ecological reform of corporate taxes (Lüdemann), create opportunities for a close cooperation, and even a dovetailing of the two movements. This would be achieved using specific tax saving incentives that encourage desirable socio-ecological behaviour and decisions. A mix of such funding models, possibly topped up with a moderate increase in Value Added Tax (more correctly: consumption tax), could be a worthwhile goal.

To sum up: ECG and UBI defend the common goal of social and ecological sustainability in different ways, but both have the potential to strengthen each other. So they do not represent wishful thinking in some far-off Utopia. On the contrary, they are complementary elements on the path to a realistic “transitional economy” (Fittkau).

Session D: Solidarity Economy/Alternative Economy II
How does UBI sustain both Care and the Environment?

This session will be translated (English/German).

Care-revolutionary perspectives on degrowth and unconditional basic income

Sandra Antelmann

The German text can be found here.

Currently various alternative approaches challenge the dominant capitalist market economy with its imaginary of growth. But an explicit gender perspective is mostly missing. In my Diploma thesis „Sufficiency, Commons and Care – approaches to urban degrowth movements“ I thus dealt from a feminist political ecology and feminist ecological economics perspective especially with (queer-)feminist approaches to alternative economies like Ecommony (Habermann) and Care Economy (also caring for naturecultures / Puig de la Bellacasa), I brought these into reflexive relations (Carecommony), applied them to the urban scale (Harvey, Hardt/Negri) and examplified them with urban gardening and permaculture.

Now I´m preparing a PhD project in which I would like to develop a convivial approach of a carecommony with regard to urban resistance movements.

Together with many initiatives, projects and movements like solidarity economy, unconditional basic income and care revolution in Hamburg we are currently organizing a „Week of Change – a good life for all is possible!“ (Oct. 9-14). All these approaches stand against the dominating discourse in the sustainability debate, Green Growth/Smart Growth which seeks a decoupling of economic growth and environmental impact by efficiency and technological innovations – which empirically has always been thwarted by rebound effects. Especially feminists diagnose multiple crises: economy, ecology and social reproduction and stress the sustainability strategy sufficiency, not as individualized abstinence but sociopolitical. Care economy and care revolution aim at a good life with time wealth and are oriented toward needs-oriented models of the social and collective life forms – and go well together with an unconditional basic income in questioning and redefining concepts of „work“ stressing the diversity of socially necessary occupations beyond wage labour. A UBI could thus foster a gender-just division of labour and help to resolve the dichotomization and hierarchization of production and reproduction, for example in the concept of ReProductivity (in the approach of Caring Economy / „Vorsorgendes Wirtschaften“, Biesecker et al.) which also includes the productivity of „nature“.

To change economic and nature relations socio-ecologically, it needs entrance points and transitory strategies. Many initiatives already experiment in their daily practice with alternative approaches like community supported agriculture or self-organized solidarity-based house projects. This creative diversity can foster collective learning processes in which the understanding of what is desirable and necessary changes and allows new (post-capitalist) imaginaries of becoming communities (Muraca, Gibson-Graham).

In my PhD project I am going to explore some of these practices and movements empirically and ask for differences, commonalities and possible synergies between them.

A UBI could lay the foundations for more commoning and more caring – amongst human and non-human beings in a degrowth world.

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How to compensate for social and environmental reproduction?
- Two dilemmas, one common solution -

Nina Šoštarič

The German text is not currently available.

When it comes to traditional measures, such as wealth, employment and poverty, our generation is the first to be defined by economic insecurity and overall precariousness. However, we are using the amount of resources and producing the amount of waste that sums to the equivalent of 1.6 planets [1]. Despite all the scientific facts and numbers, our behaviour has not changed. It has thus become clear, that social and environmental dilemmas are to be addressed with ethical arguments.

Since the WWII we have been sucked into the imperative of GDP, which has become not only the measurement for success, but also our religion and our ethics. Therefore, we are living in a world where 62 individuals possess the same amount of wealth as half of the world’s population [2]. The fundamental issue with growth is, that on the one hand, it is built on the unpaid work in a realm of social reproduction and on the other hand it parasites on the environmental reproduction. Care work is generally not considered as work, but petty tasks. People who are performing care work are living their lives in very precarious positions, without recognition or redistribution for their contributions to society. Care economy is traditionally powered by women workforce and although our welfare and wellbeing depends on it, it doesn’t reap the social respect as much as traditionally men dominated business economy. Care nevertheless has a specific role in our lives and relationships.

The degradation of biosphere is making it distinct that the global community will have to revive environmental reproduction and impose more regulation and taxes on pollution and resource depletion. The costs of restoring nature are being dropped on the future generations. Generational justice requires putting people before profit and enhancing solidarity. Compensating for both, reproduction in the social sphere and in the sphere of natural environment is becoming inevitable. UBI, preferably paid in a local currency as a provision for care work, financed by the green taxes, in particular the tax on consumption would reduce the environmental footprint and contribute to greater autonomy. UBI would enlarge the autonomous sphere in which we rear our children, cultivate our organic gardens and enjoy nature. When paid in a local currency it would promote local food markets and other LETS. Introduction of progressive taxes on consumption, advertising and other environmentally degrading activities, would curtail globalisation and offer the nature a chance to recover from human invasion.

On the whole, we are facing an ethical consideration. Tackling inequality and generational justice may prove as the only solution to retain democracy.

[1] www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/world_footprint/
[2] www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp210-economy-one-percent-tax-havens-180116-en_0.pdf

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Basic income and distribution

Ingrid Wagner

The German text can be found here.

The distribution of income and work is a positive side effect anticipated as well as registered along with the various efforts to implement such a basic income – which on the other hand is arising fear and even more intense grip on power and ressources. A good and widespread variety of appeals for another economy based on community and non-profit production has proved that something must change. My intention is to show that the basic income could be helpful for such nonprofit ways of alternative economy – no matter where on the world it is taking place. The projects of CSA (community supported agriculture) do practise these alternative ways already successfully in order to find ways to meet the lack of access to land and wealth or machines with a way of food production that is empowerment for those who cannot have this access for themselves alone (Regain food sovereignty). In so far the revitalization of former Commons is realized in a modern way but also the need of a Basic Income is emphasized (to be able to buy what was free for everybody originally or let's say in pre-capitalistic times).

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Open Space

The following proposals were submitted during the Open Call and have been accepted as contributions for the Open Space session.

Any further proposals for the Open Space are welcome and will be collected at the beginning of the Open Space. The allocation of rooms and time slots will then be made shortly before the session based on the preferences of the conference participants. There will be time for at least 12 group sessions.

Conflict between Unconditional Basic Income and Degrowth and a possible solution

Martin Finger

The German text can be found here.

When it comes to discussing financing models for an unconditional basic income (UBI), the increased taxation of (earned) income or consumption is the primary solution that is presented. This implies that even if the UBI could be financed in the beginning, neither gainful employment nor consumption could be reduced substantially, as this would endanger the financial basis.

My proposal for the solution of this conflict is the introduction of a complementary electronic currency named Credere. Credere applies two simple rules. The first defines the creation of money. Credere is created debt-free and is paid out as a basic income. Monthly payout ranges from 100 to 1,000 Credere per person and depends on the participation rate in a country, as the usage of this complementary currency is voluntary. The second rule defines money discreation, which is set to 1 % per month, or 12 % per year, respectively. In this way the monetary system counterbalances the accumulation of money caused by compounded interest.

Only a basic income that is basically disconnected from economic activity will enable people to gain individual freedom and control of their time. This is the most important prerequisite for a society where jobs can be abandoned and opens up a great potential for the protection of resources and the environment. Jobs, where people produce things only because they need an income, will not be required anymore. This will save more resources much faster than a reduction of consumption could ever do. In the mid-term, this could lead to a fundamentally different demand- and need-oriented economy. In such an economy production would only take place in order to meet the demands and needs of people, and not in order to accumulate money at the expense of others.

One reason why a voluntary basic income program is to be preferred is that it can be initiated immediately. It is not necessary to gain political majorities. We can begin straightaway creating a framework that we want to live in instead of burning ourselves out trying to change existing structures. In the end all institutions are maintained by people and as long as they do not see an alternative way of living, only a few can be motivated to lead a different life.

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Pathways of thought: common and uncommon ground, aims and direction when it comes to the environment

Jeremy Heighway

The German text is not currently available.

Looking at the aims of the conference page, it says very clearly: “A basic income is therefore a route to a degrowth society, however, a basic income does not necessarily start the ecological transformation that is so urgently needed,” and continues, “... addressing this ... needs to be thoroughly incorporated into any implementation of a basic income and its accompanying measures.”

The tracks appear to go cold right there, however, as a shift is made towards four other areas of discussion, none of which intrinsically address ecological transformation. It is perfectly possible for a supporter of a basic income to ignore ecological transformation; to some extent it is even possible to be in favour of increased consumption.

The degrowth movement is a mindset; the basic income is a mechanism. This provides a possible clash from the outset, based on the question of what you hope to achieve and how. On the societal side I think there is quite a good overlap and it is a great idea to get the movements working together. But opportunities can be missed if two groups do not also look hard at what is not automatically going to be addressed if you work together.

One huge area is, as stated above, ecological transformation. My proposal looks at eco-taxation and suggests that all increased revenue be returned to everyone evenly in the form of a basic income. However, I do not believe it would be able to help finance the true basic living-cost foundation much. It is certainly much more of an easy attachment to a basic income than a direct source of finance. Strangely, it is almost something which degrowth supporters need to be vigorous about from an environmental benefit perspective and argue for with basic income supporters.

The semi-sideline nature is maybe one reason why basic income supporters have not been very supportive of this idea so far: if it doesn’t do much to actually finance the true basic income, why complicate matters and potentially alienate people along the way with an unpopular taxation device? Now it’s your time dear degrowth supporters: why do environmental concerns need to be considered again? And, dear basic income supporters, you can actually gain some firm supporters and new friends if you take up this idea – "… addressing this … needs to be thoroughly incorporated into any implementation of a basic income and its accompanying measures", remember these stated aims of the conference?

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Degrowth, Basic Income and Education

Gabriele von Moers

The documentary “canmanwoman” (42 min.) follows housemen in their everyday lives and also addresses the appreciation of parents' work by way of an unconditional basic income. In this way, the film would like to encourage rethinking the protection of childhood.

Possible approach to discuss the topic of degrowth: A basic condition for self-determined human beings is thinking. For this we need time and attentiveness. However, we have no sense of responsibility for these resources. Always being pressed for time at work leaves less and less space for them. We have increasingly less time for more and more things.

The question is whether an unconditional basic income (UBI) creates the necessary leisure we so urgently need in order to e.g. make free, creative playing possible for our children, and in the end to be creative ourselves far away from all hectic scheduling.

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Ecological Euro Dividend as a Volunteers Experiment

Ulrich Schachtschneider

The German text can be found here.

I want to discuss the idea of a volunteers network for a green financed partial Basic Income in Europe.

My basic idea is: The participants will monthly measure their ecological footprint, with the help of a website (e.g. http://www.mein-fussabdruck.at/). Related to their footprint they pay „eco taxes“, which will be shared back equally to every participant. They'll get an "Ecological Euro Dividend" or in other words: a partial Basic Income. People with a small ecological footprint will get more than they give. People with an footprint over average will in effect pay. Everybody is encouraged to reduce his footprint - by alternative technology or by alternative behaviour. And everybody will get an equal share of the revenue without conditions, so that they can feel the basic income principle.

The experiment can start with very few participants and can grow step by step. The monthly eco dividend will be automatically calculated depending on the summed eco footprint, e.g. 1 gha (one global hectare) equals 100 €. (the actual average consumption is about 5 gha). We need a web platform, where the participants have to calculate and to announce their eco footprint, in order to reach transparency. A finance administrator will encash the "ecotax", pay out the "Eco Euro Dividend" and make all documentaries.

So far the idea. But there are still questions: Only persons we trust should participate. But how we can ensure this, according to which principles we could prove the confidence of participants? How valid is the measurement of the ecological footprint with the method 'global hectare'? ...

A variation could be the following: Before starting this with real money flows, we could simulate them and pay out a monthly "Virtual Eco Euro Dividend" to all participants taking part on the monthly footprint calculation.

This experiment would firstly connect the ideas of Basic Income and Degrowth. Secondly it will bring both ideas to the public. Thirdly it is suitable for the European level. Every European citizen can join the project regardless of present different national systems of social security. The only precondition is web access. Fourthly we could gain first empirical insight in the change of lifestyles and working patterns, especially through parallel scientific evaluation.

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Rote und grüne Konzepte eines Grundeinkommens – Bausteine für einen sozial-ökologischen Umbau

Gabriele Schmidt

The German text can be found here.

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Basic income for a fairer society?

Csaba Toth

The German text is not currently available.

Basic income is often hailed for its assumed ability to reduce poverty, to address the likely growing unemployment etc. What is often overlooked, however, is the ability of a properly applied basic income to reduce the unfair allocation of non-monetary public subsidies, too.

One of the most unfair allocation of public goods relates to car use. Today we live in a world where car use is strongly subsidized in most societies. First, the externalities of car use, such as health problems due to pollution, public space consumption, etc. are rarely covered at all. Secondly, the payments for car use (e.g. fuel, road fees) rarely cover even the actual costs of car use - particularly the costs of infrastructure they use. The distribution of car user's subsidies is very unequal: on the lower end we find the carless people who get no subsidize at all, while on the upper end we find those car users who park a lot at free public parking places and/or drives a lot and so get subsidies the value of which may exceed several thousands of euros a year. And as the average carless person is likely to be in a less favourable economic situation than an average car holder, such a distribution of subsidies is not only unequal, but highly unjust, too. And to make it even worse, these subsidizes encourage the overuse of the strongly polluting car that exacerbates the negative effects of car use, primarily on the poorer people who have less means to offset these negative effects.

But how could the basic income reduce these unjust inequalities? Obviously, the car users’ subsidies should be reduced - that is the fuel should be taxed more intensively, everybody should pay for public parking, road fees should be introduced at least in city centres and motorways, etc. However, today car ownership and car use is considered such a ’basic right’ that even non-car-users would disapprove such policies, particularly if they do not benefit from them directly. Therefore it is rather impossible to introduce such ’push’ policies alone in a democratic context. The introduction of basic income, however, offers a historic opportunity to address the issue of unjust car use subsidizes. If the introduction of higher fuel taxes, parking and road fees were tied to the introduction of basic income, they were much more acceptable for most people, especially, if the additional revenues from such fees and taxes were used to cover the costs of basic income. It would be a pity to miss this historic opportunity.

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