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Letter sent on Apr 7, 2016

Basic Income on the March (a month in review)

Basic income as a global movement around an idea is officially spreading like wildfire. According to Google Trends, interest in the idea has quadrupled just in the past three months.

Source: Google Trends

The rate at which the discussion is accelerating makes it increasingly difficult to stay up to date on all things basic income without putting a lot of time into doing so, so you can now expect to start getting a monthly letter like this one to help fill you in on some basic income news you may have missed, and also give you a sneak peek at what’s right around the corner.

March in Review

To start off, probably the biggest news in March was the addition of Canada to the countries looking at experimenting with basic income, hopefully sometime later this year. This was followed soon after by Scotland’s SNP party’s decision to consider basic income in an independent Scotland, and then New Zealand’s Labor Party after that. Nigeria also had some rumblings, as did Namibia. Finally, Finland completed its preliminary report for its basic income experiment plans, with the final report due in November.

Also, in case you missed it, back in February a bill was introduced in Vermont’s state legislature to setup up a commission to “study and analyze the adoption of universal basic income in Vermont.”

Some new big names came out in support of basic income in the past month and they are: Greece’s former Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis, The Guardian’s Owen Jones, Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens, and Silicon Valley billionaire Tim Draper.

Some major outlets publishing pieces about basic income included: The New York Times (twice), The Boston Globe, The Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, and Gawker.

From the right, the libertarian think tank Niskanen Center endorsed basic income as a “long overdue affirmation of principle”, and from the left the Weekly Worker (a “paper of Marxist polemic and Marxist unity”) proclaimed that a basic income is “urgently needed.”

The defeat in March of 18-time world Go champion Lee Sedol by an AI named AlphaGo will also likely go down in the history books as a pivotal moment in the discussion for basic income as people all over the world got a real glimpse of how quickly technology is advancing.

The idea of helicopter money (aka quantitative easing for the people or QE4P) is also spreading, and Japan is leading the way by giving vouchers to their youth to spend into the economy.

In BIG activist news, a group in Switzerland is crowdfunding the action of making the biggest question on Earth into literally the biggest question on Earth by printing out a giant size question asking “What would you do if your income was taken care of?” Another group in Switzerland handed out free $10 dollar bills as their official flyer to promote their upcoming vote on June 5th, and Finland held their first “Basic Income Hack”. A website was setup to showcase all the business support for basic income. A live art show was put on in London that included a basic income exhibit. And a petition was started in Australia.

On the Horizon

Some upcoming events in April include the 2nd Create-a-Thon for basic income April 15–17 in Los Angeles, and a march in the streets of London, England for a basic income and a future without work on April 16. Both of which you can still and please do register for. On April 21 in San Francisco there will be an event called “Care and Cash” that will involve a discussion about basic income from a variety of social service sector viewpoints.

In May, there’s Basic Income Day on May 1, a Future of Work conference that’s been organized to discuss basic income in Zurich on May 4, and the annual NABIG Congress on May 12–15, this time in Winnipeg.

A new book about basic income will be available on April 19th by Rutger Bregman titled “Utopia for Realists.” Rutger is well known in the Netherlands for accelerating the discussion there with his massively popular article about basic income published back in December 2013. Also, you can already pre-order Andrew Stern’s book about basic income titled “Raising the Floor” that comes out in June.

Finally, expect a ballot initiative for a city-wide basic income in San Francisco soon…

Thank you for helping to grow the movement for basic income, and I will update you again next month!

Basically Yours,

Scott Santens for the Universal Income Project

P.S. Filling out this survey about basic income would be most helpful.

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