Press Release: New Group Launches Effort to Win a Basic Income in US

Here's our official press release announcing Basic Income Action's launch.

For Immediate Release: Monday, September 14, 2015

Contact: Dan O’Sullivan, danosully@gmail.com, 301-775-8011

BasicIncomeAction.org, @basicincomeact

 

New Group Launches Effort to Win a Basic Income in US

 

Basic Income Action to advocate for guaranteed financial security for every family, call on presidential candidates to publicly support

 

WASHINGTON, DC - As International Basic Income Week begins around the globe, a new organization, Basic Income Action, has been launched in the United States to promote a basic income for every American.

 

A basic income is money provided directly to people -- enough to cover basic needs, independent of any job, with everyone getting the same amount. It would make possible a world where basic economic security is guaranteed and everyone has enough money to live with dignity.

 

“Basic income is a remarkably powerful and timely idea, and Basic Income Action will be a great resource for longtime activists and people who are learning about this for the first time,” said Steven Shafarman, an author of several books on basic income, including the forthcoming The Basic Income Imperative: for peace, justice, liberty, and personal dignity.  

 

Support for basic income is growing around the world, with an upcoming referendum in Switzerland and pilot projects in Utrecht and other cities in the Netherlands. Basic Income Action is the first national organization in the US to push for a universal basic income, and activities are planned with local groups in Washington, DC, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington and California, and a Reddit “Ask Me Anything.”

 

“If we are to achieve basic income, it will be because we did it together,” said Scott Santens, a writer and blogger who has a crowdfunded basic income and has been a moderator of the basic income community on Reddit since 2013. “It’s about the act of connecting, online and off, and recognizing that no matter our differences, we can at least agree on one thing -- an unconditional, mutually enabled right to free life.”

 

The group is launching a petition calling on the presidential candidates to support a basic income. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were recently asked if they supported the idea; Clinton didn’t respond during her Facebook chat and Sanders seemed vaguely supportive in his interview with Vox’s Ezra Kkein.

 

The group’s strategy is inspired by recent successful movements for marriage equality and marijuana legalization, ideas that once seemed outside of the mainstream. In addition to the focus on the presidential candidates, their strategy includes winning small short-term goals, such as getting resolutions passed by city councils and statements of support from members of Congress, and building toward more long-range goals such as passing state ballot initiatives.   

 

The idea behind basic income goes back as far as our nation’s Founders Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, and proponents over the years have included Martin Luther King, Jr. and economists such as John Kenneth Galbraith and James Tobin. Recently, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich announced his support for the idea.

 

A basic income would stimulate the economy by putting money directly in the hands of working moms and dads who will spend it in our communities. Many supporters believe that it would also all but eliminate poverty in America and give everyone a fair shot at a decent life.

 

“Since block granting to states began in 1996, we have states who give cash to fewer than one percent of their poor,” said Diane R. Pagen, a social policy analyst, social worker and co-author with Theresa Funiciello of The Adventures of Carrie Giver: The Cost of Caring. “Each year states turn their backs on millions of families in poverty and use their block grants to plug their budget gaps. We must create a new system in which the states cannot abscond with life sustaining funds while families go homeless and hungry.”

 

Basic Income Action will also focus on educating the public through an aggressive online outreach program, including email, social media, and web ads. The group’s founding committee members have been involved in the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network, USBIG, which was founded in December 1999, and work closely with the Basic Income Earth Network, BIEN.

 

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