Selected Extracts from the Analytical Report of The Guaranteed Basic Income Experience in Quatinga Velho
(Paper present in BIEN Congress Munich and ISTR Congress, 2012)
from book: What we learned from the practice of Basic Income — A compendium of Writings and Data (Translation by Monica Puntel, Leonardo Puntel, Carolina Fisher and Revison by Tracy Halls. Art by Júlia Cristofi.)
Specifically, these are the most significant modifications caused, in our comprehension, by the experience. Concepts that were not only reflected on the methodology adopted, but influenced the political and strategic conduction to the achievement of the basic income. They are:
i. The need of a democratic environment for the existence of a genuine basic income;
ii. The perception of political community as a local social network, independent of geopolitical borders;
iii. The legitimacy and necessity of the organized civil society to the accomplishment of new public politics;
iv. The importance of the direct democracy and self-determination to the full exercise of the citizenship;
v. The need to approach the social action as a pedagogical process which isn’t segregated from day-to-day life;
vi. The comprehension of human development from the expansion of the life perspectives;
vii. And, finally, the measurability of the social contract — or, more specifically, of the quality of the systems destined to fulfill it — through the:
a. Effectiveness measured through the guarantee of real freedoms as equal fundamental rights;
b. Effectiveness measured through the redistributive capacity, which implements the fundamental rights;
c. And efficiency measured from the effectiveness compared to the operational economy.
The understanding formulated from the experience of Quatinga Velho about basic income is eminently contractarian, but it’s neither a social contract of resignation of rights, nor exclusively mutual, but universal. At first, a tacit disposition of human beings towards their humanity, evident on the recognition of this same humanity in each one of their fellowmen. And, thereafter, an express agreement to the establishment of a system of redistribution of real freedoms as fundamental rights, aiming at the generation of the full liberty, inherent to the states of social security constituted by the actual guarantee of the real freedoms to all as universal rights.
The establishment of this principle in practice demands, therefore, a disposition of mutual recognition at the communitarian level, as well as the disposition of universal recognition at the broader level of society; determining the dissemination of this new social contract, not through centralization, but through the multiplication and integration of the communitarian cores in the development of a social security network without borders, supported by the society through communitarian public services and not by any intermediary powers.
None of this means that we should shut ourselves off from the entrepreneurial or governmental partnerships. Strategic partnerships are pragmatically necessary [?], but we can’t allow these partnerships, like basic income, to be constituted as a favor, but a merit and right, to the extent that it’s always good to remember that the support of the companies, whether private or national, depends on the productive work of natural people. And if the natural people are the ones that will always pay for the basic income, the lower the amount of intermediaries, the lower the cost will be to carry it out.
Furthermore, we cannot and should not, consequently, wait for the initiative or leadership of none of these sectors to develop new social politics, because this isn’t the governmental or the entrepreneurial profile. The organized civil society is not only an alternative to the basic income; it’s its principle and perhaps only possible way. And we don’t defend that based on an ideological assumption, but based on the experience of the establishment of basic income in Quatinga Velho.
Of all the methods developed, we highlighted the ones that were the key to the success of the experience and of the consolidation of a model capable of being replicated:
i. The self-determination by mutual recognition;
ii. The self-management through direct democracy;
iii. And the pedagogy of inspiration;
Each one of these methods corresponding to the product of the respective approach adopted, in the same order:
i. The libertarian understanding of basic income;
ii. The identification of the community as a network;
iii. The vision of the project as an integrated pedagogical process.
The Ends do not Justify the Means
The congruence between the object and its method is inseparable from its own empirical definition and determines not only the fulfillment of the systems’ or processes’ purpose, but also the character and authenticity of the program or project. The congruence between the principles and methods isn’t only fundamental to the achievement of the goal, or does it only determine the level of correspondence between the object and its primary or theoretical conceptualization, it’s the foundation that defines the process, or more specifically, the principle that in fact constitutes it; something that implies serious objections to initiatives of a legitimate and unconditional basic income inside authoritarian regimes.
A basic income may even exist inside an environment of feeble democracy, authoritarian or populist, however not actually under the responsibility of such regimen, but as the product of the free initiative of the civil society. The way to achieve this is the democratic self-management. It doesn’t only demand disintermediation of the power of individual and collective decisions, but freedom of information and self-determination — indispensable to the exercise of the fundamental rights to life and freedom, which the basic income proposes to supply.
Small is Beautiful
The proportional small scale of Quatinga Velho isn’t a problem or limitation to be overcome, but an advantage to be replicated and multiplied. To obtain a basic income capable of being empirically defined as such, we must not only begin with little and peripheral communities, but also expand the system in a decentralized manner, through the multiplication of these basic cores integrated in networks. Allowing the decision instances to remain on the basis and preserving the libertarian purpose of the basic income.
Such cores allow a decentralized and growing expansion of the basic income according to the available resources, as well as the establishment of a plan of combat against the social inequality and the eradication of the poverty that prioritizes, inside the great territories, their most vulnerable or needy zones, allowing a more rational, targeted and efficient use of the resources, however without falling for the harmful traps and vices of the conditioned programs, promoting the productivity instead of the dependency and the social integration instead of the socioeconomic discrimination and segregation.
The key to finance that model in a sustainable way is in the creation of sustainability funds to finance new communities with the opening of financial funds so that other NGOs or municipalities can develop new communities (…). In this regard, these funds aren’t only based on the model of basic income via Social Bank, but can be considered its embryo, since they provide means for people who receive the basic income to be able to contribute with the basic income proportionally to their own stage of economic development. A process that can be optimized in association to other social technologies, such as the social coin and the micro-credit consigned to the guaranteed basic income.
Like any social conquests, the basic income isn’t going to happen overnight, much less by decrees. As we said, the basic income needs to be a process and not a mere concept in order for it to materialize. This means that, regardless of the place or scale in which it starts off, the important thing is that this process is not closed in its understanding of each and every human being. (…)
It can’t be limited to only one, singular location, state or nation as its final goal, the basic income must tend to the universality. That’s why, even if it’s not a part of the definition of basic income, the concept of self-determination, capable of transposing geopolitical borders, it is so important for us not to reduce the basic income to an income for a location — regardless the scale or territory. This principle is fundamental so we can constitute, in the next stages, basic income as a true and unconditional social security network, the first step to a true state of universal social security.
Abolition of discrimination
The radicalization of unconditionality is the only way to constitute the process of universalization. The term “radicalization of the unconditionality” means simply the complete abolition of every single form of discrimination against human beings. In respect of this principle, we can’t begin an execution process of basic income, whether we begin by 10, 100 or 1 million people; the numbers don’t matter, what matters are the principles.
(…) To keep it inside the governmental and economic spheres is to waste all the potential that social technologies developed to enable this right have to become new systems, not only economical, but political. The accomplishment of the conception of a basic income as an applied human right can imply a complete revision of the concept of social contract and of the concept of civil or peace state.
The Pedagogy of Freedom
We don’t need the permission of the governments to begin the process of the implantation of basic income. (…) In actual fact it was necessary to escape from the state framework, or the political self-indulgence, to begin a basic income experience. We can’t limit ourselves to think that basic income is an income paid by a government, financed by some kind of tax; especially because the basic income has the potential to become a whole lot more than that. And such a restricted vision of the basic income represents the opposite: political poverty, or most precisely, reinforcement of the concentration of political capital. (…) This process of political awareness is the essence to the pedagogy of freedom, profoundly connected with the fundamental concept of unconditionality; a process that tries to emancipate the citizen, removing him from the condition of being alienated from his political and associative rights; and instigating him to abandon the tutored citizenship in exchange for a full citizenship. (…)
Citizens with equal rights and obligations don’t need duress to perform their duties, much less to exercise their rights, they simply need the means and the opportunities. (…) Therefore, according to the libertarian vision, it’s not only perfectly possible to finance a basic income with voluntary contributions, but also it’s the only way compatible with the exercise of the freedom required by the concept of a basic income.
According to a systemic vision that comprehends the complex human relations, the only legitimate form of power is freedom. Empowerment is a liberation process, recuperation of the free will and of alienated possibilities. It’s fundamental to be aware of this opposition between freedom and power, and of the psychological component of frustration-compensation that nourishes the desire of power, genesis of the human misery (…).
Through the direct democracy, the self-determination and the free systems, we attempt to give the real meaning of the basic income, instrumentalization of the human right to the capital in its full sense. If we understand and apply the basic income, not only as distribution of money, but as a way to unlock the access to the capital, the method, the relation of the ReCivitas with the community, must be constituted as a process not only of income transfer, but of provision of information, and especially as a process of denial of the relation of power, in order to not usurp the necessary space for the growth, development and empowerment of a free society, or better said, of the political community, which, through the observance of the principles of self-determination and direct democracy, become synonyms.
Education through Action
Since the beginning of the project, we perceived two things, if we actually intended to put into effect any true pedagogic action: it was necessary to integrate the speech and the act; and, to the act, all the meaning which was intended in the speech. Didactically contradicting the inversion of the values that the experimentations are utopian because they are local and the theoretical lucubration is realistic if global, even if they never become reality to one single human being.
We can say that the speech that isn’t a prediction to the action, nor the reflection of an accomplished act, is more than innocuous, it’s destitute of meaning; such as a speech that doesn’t correspond to the action is not only incongruent, but “uneducational” as far as it destroys the faith of the human being in the truth of the cultural transmission (message) through the act of the word. The pedagogical act is an act that operates through the action all over the world and in the relations with people, and not apart from the world or over the people. It’s a process which is conscious that its true strength is in the inspiration, provoked by the clear symbolism as a reality contained in an act.
Pedagogy of the Inspiration
The pedagogical process is not the theory or the speech, but the act filled with sense, which produces meaning. This meaning is not transmitted by languages, signs or codes, by actions or speeches, but through acts full of sentiment and, therefore, capable of expressing sense. (…) The gesture can’t be limited only by symbolism: it’s not enough to pay the basic income; the payment of the basic income must be made with the conviction of those who profess their faith in human liberty so that it becomes an actual testimony of this faith in the human being. (…)
The pedagogic or transformation process is firstly conducted within the agents, who, by understanding, believing and acting in accordance to the principles of the basic income, especially the one that preaches respect to human dignity and freedom, give, to their actions, the necessary sense to the elaboration of the concept’s meaning by the one who witnesses it, lives the personal relation.
We call it the pedagogy of inspiration by recognizing that the main resource of who intends to educate without inhibiting or even destroying the free development is to become an example, which, if expressed with fidelity, sincerity and in particular sensibility, will allow the production of the meaning by the other, through the only possible process of production and understanding: the learning. (…) It’s the will to listen, it’s the will to understand, it’s the will to be involved; it’s to seek the development of the self-esteem through sheer respect; to seek the development of loyalty by trusting; it’s the development of the responsibility through the free initiative; it’s the promotion of the citizenship through the consideration of the person. It’s the search for emancipation, through the example of the resignation to the self-indulgence. It’s the breach of the suspicion, monitoring and bureaucracy, through the transparency. It’s the trade of the speech for the conversation; the listening (and acting) before talking.
The pedagogical act is a reiterated process of signification, which begins with the social action, validates itself through social relations and is conceptualized through the information. The learning appears from the interrogation of the experience, provoked by the new circumstances generated by the act, develops itself as a critical dialogue in the daily social relations and assumes its sense through the critical reflection about the conceptualization under the unconscious background of the acts and relations experimented.
Therefore, for the information of the basic income, as a right, to make sense and for the act of payment to be constituted, as a process of comprehension of this meaning, the concept must gain meaning in the act and the act must be manifested as a materialization of the concept. This integrality forms the sign, which inspires the will of the cognoscent to learn it, if and only he is entirely free to manifest his will to learn.
The guaranteed basic income, even as a governmental policy, does not need (Yes) to compete with conditioned minimum incomes if it acts in the field of securities and not assistances. (…) In fact the guaranteed basic income that deserves this name has a potential of not only economical, but also political emancipation that makes not only this possibility of joint adoption highly remote, but also any possibility of its adoption at the governmental level at the very least unlikely. We learned this from the pilot project before we even began: if we’re going to wait for the good, free and spontaneous will of the governors to have any public policies as the basic income, we will be in for a long wait.
A basic income can be directly financed by civil society in social contracts with the mutual commitment to make periodic voluntary contributions, or by public power with taxes or deductions. Its payment can be directly financed through voluntary contributions or compulsory collection. These resources can come from donation or taxation of the capital or revenue of individual persons or legal entities, or even from the mix of both through tax deductions.
It can be also financed indirectly through trust funds, savings accounts and investments, property rights and/or bank systems. And it can be defined as sustainable if the capital that forms the income source is not consumed or renovated in an equal or superior rate as the amount withdrawn for the provision of the basic income, or stipulating that the withdrawal never surpasses the accumulated yield of the period, as a kind of social dividend. It’s worth noting that, though it has characteristics of a social dividend or a social credit, these two aren’t always basic incomes, nor must the basic income necessarily be enabled as such.
As a fundamental right, basic income is a responsibility of civil society; and it’s an undeniable and imperative obligation of the public (hired) powers (services) to fulfill it. Therefore, the distribution of basic income can be executed by the public power through taxes, as well as by the civil societies’ organizations, whether financed by the transfer of governmental resources or directly by the taxpayer — who, in this case, should have a tax deduction, or automatically by the citizen, through savings funds in bank systems with social purposes.
Insofar as the residents mutually identify themselves as part of the community, they begin to create their own communitarian identity, having the location only as a reference. After all, if a community is not a place, but that of the people who live in it, it’s only fair that the people themselves tell us who they are, instead of being told so by us. And, when establishing themselves, people define, identify and recognize themselves not only as a community, but also as people that have the right to self-establishment. In other words, who defines the community is the community itself, where the residents identify themselves openly and mutually as members of the community. According to the principle of liberty through education and to the spirit of basic income, we couldn’t consider Quatinga Velho simply as a place or a territory with people surrounded by geopolitical or imaginary boundaries.
The place is not community, but a social network formed by the dwellers of the place. A link to housing, the reference of the location is fundamental to the establishment of a pilot-project, nevertheless it’s important to institute an eligibility not only coherent with the definition of a basic income, but which, inside a legal and social context, doesn’t produce effects that are opposite to the social purpose of basic income.
In this regard, it’s important to point out that the evidence of housing does not sprout naturally from the earth; on the contrary, they refer precisely to the concept opposed to this naturalness. All proof of residence requires, directly or indirectly,is that the person provides a document sustained by an ownership title that can: belong to him (great); belong to someone else (bad); belong to the state (awful). And in reality there’s nothing more contradictory to the principle of the basic income than to bind it, even if precariously, to the ownership of a land or estate.
To reach a basic income as not only economical, but as social equity, it’s necessary to bear in mind that all people that are theoretically discriminated will be segregated in practice. Because the ones who have proof of residence and the ones who don’t, the newcomers and the old residents aren’t going to inhabit separate worlds; even if we raised walls, everyone would have to live together daily in the same environment where, what is in theory a rule, in practice doesn’t contribute at all to the cohesion, on the contrary, generating tensions with extremely negative implications.
It’s possible to focus the project on the neediest without establishing any discrimination or bureaucracy, simply by using the definitions of basic income’s value. That premise is based on this reason: considering exclusively the financial interest, the voluntary participation tends to be proportional not to the absolute value of basic income, but to the value correspondent to the revenue or possessions of the individual. That produces an inclination not only for the neediest people to search for the project, but also for the people with better material conditions not to be immediately interested in receiving the basic income, at least not while they consider the integration or participation encouraged by the model of the direct democracy as a sufficiently interesting good.
Be aware of the fact that the goal of basic income is not to overheat consumption, nor to reinforce a compulsive, obsessive and possessive culture that demands the possession, consumption or public ostentation of completely superfluous goods, turned into necessary by marketing, social or economic pressure. But, on the contrary, to allow the values annulled by this culture to bloom.
We’re not affirming that some needs are fictitious or psychological, but simply that there is not only one and the same way to supply it; much less that the price charged for these goods or services is at the lowest possible level, or not even at a sustainable level. That is, we can’t deny that the basic income must cover a more expensive life cost of a certain locality, but what it can’t do is to cover or sustain exorbitant prices only because people who live in that place can or want to pay them.
The Cost of Life
The amount of basic income needed must rise proportionally to the level of deprivation or scarcity of the sharing of the common goods by all, or by way of explanation, the life costs tends to rise in the opposite measure as the loss of social capital, present in the quality of the confidence-reciprocity relations inside a community. Just as it inversely tends to reduce the necessary income to complete the basic, in the same proportion as the circulating capital, or it’s only generated through the sharing of the common good in the free personal interactions of the social networks.
The decisive factor of the problem isn’t basic income, but the monopoly. This doesn’t concern only the basic income, but the provision of any common good or income transfer. It reinforces, even more, our argument that the basic income must be introduced in democratic states and economies with truly free markets.
A basic income in an authoritarian regime or environment is not a basic income by definition, but also because of its flaws, it feeds national and private monopolies instead of the free initiative and the actual competition, a truly free economy, the unsatisfied consumers must not only have the right to search for better prices and improved services, they must have the conditions and credit to build or finance, if not alone at least through associated projects that meet their own expectations.
The statistics from Quatinga Velho clearly shows that the availability of basic income does not encourage any behavior that could be seen as inadequate or wasteful regarding the use of money; on the contrary, basic income seems to have the ability to promote the responsible use of resources where there’s a reasonable social integration and knowledge, because it gives rise to a healthy competition by those who make better use of the resources. Such conditions are always present in a greater or lesser degree, and can be reinforced or weakened through the method applied on the distribution program or project. It’s undeniable that the availability of resources opens a wider spectrum of choices, allowing at the very least the chance to search for alternatives that were inaccessible before. The essence of how the opportunity is provided, without the requirement of guarantees that it’s going to be properly used, works like a vote of confidence, stimulating a feeling of reciprocity towards the gesture, expressed with a craving to correspond or at least to not frustrate the trust placed.
We can’t confirm that singly, access to more money produces an improvement in the responsibility or in the capacity to use it, but as a part of a learning process based on the method of trial and error, it’s undeniable that this access is capable of causing the development of this responsibility. Regarding specifically the creation of this opportunity as basic income, we can affirm that, when seen as unconditional, as a vote of confidence in each and by each individual, it generates a longing not only by making the best possible use of it, but also the best use that this individual believes that the society expects from him. Not because of this expectation, but as a product of the congruence between theses expectations of society and the morality of the individual.
Perspective on the Future
It’s impossible for someone who only has the worry of their own immediate survival to be able to develop all his human potential, or even express it through plans or planning. Nevertheless, the fact that basic income, by itself or through an adequate methodology, is capable of promoting a gradual liberation of this state of passivity regarding the purpose of life is undoubtedly one of the most important results in the accomplishment of the main goal of the project, human development, for we begin to have basic income as an instrument not only to work in the imminent present, but in the construction of the actual future — and where the future must be constructed: not in someone else’s social planning, but inside the plans of people who become each time more responsible for their own futures.
Being the quality of the relations determined by the degree of liberty inside this social interaction; the bigger the level of interaction, not forced by rules or circumstances, but motivated by mutual interest and free initiative, the greater the potential of development of these relations based on confidence and reciprocity, generators of the social capital involved in this local social network.
In this sense, the unconditional nature of basic income, if seen in its universal approach, is by itself an optimizing factor to the formation and strengthening of these civic communities. In contrast, once this social capital is enlarged and strengthened, also through the sharing and cooperation, it also reduces the cost of life to the members of community. In a relation where the cost of life of a location is inversely proportional to the levels of social capital in the community. This reason allows us to think about the hypothesis that where there’s no monopoly of the means, nor deprivation or absolute scarcity of the resources, or still the irrational taxation, the basic income will never cause the inflation of prices, but on the contrary, it tends to reduce the real cost of living and gradually cheapen, as a consequence, the basic income.
In whatever way, independently of the levels of social capital, the basic income allows the replacement of the most brutal and violent forms of competition for survival for a healthier competition, in an individual as well as in a collective point of view, through the production of wealth inside a system that is more solidary and coherent with the human evolutionary strategy, producing more and more social capital through what we call competitive cooperation. In this sense, the basic income allows the establishment of a civility level that is essential to the fulfillment of the social contract, turning the basic income into more than a social capital catalyst, but a foundation to a non-coercive integration and the sustainability of a social life without violence.
We shouldn’t comprehend this common good, the direct democracy, as a strange or merely aggregated value to basic income, but as an essential part of basic income, as a political capital, just as the knowledge is, as cultural capital (human). Being, therefore, the money is only a third of the social capital formed by this complex: guaranteed income; information; democracy (or natural goods and vital means, free knowledge, free communion of peace).
Democracy versus Populism
To understand how indispensable the democracy is to the instauration of a basic income, we could use as an example a totalitarian state or any populist or authoritarian regime that provides to all dominated people a monthly income in cash. Would this provision be a basic income?
No. It would be dog food disguised as money, granted through the support or political submission to the state or authoritarian regimen; an instrument of domination and not of liberation and empowerment of the citizens. Without a social network formed as a political community (and political, understood without euphemism or subterfuges, is the power of collective decision making) there’s no actual basic income, because even if the conditionality is not explicit in the transfer program, it’s implicit in the obedience or subservience of the regimen.
Without a true democracy there’s no true basic income of citizenship, simply because there’s no inviolable or inalienable right in regimens founded on the power of authority and not on the liberty of the common. Where the power of decision doesn’t come from the individual to the collectivity, but from the collectivity, or in practice, from the keeper of the collective power over each individual, there’s no democracy, but a deception called, by misappropriation of the term, democracy. The more direct and equal the exercise of the political power is by each citizen, the more genuine and strong is the democracy.
From that we can easily affirm that the basic income is not only incompatible with authoritarian or populist regimen, but also that, rigorously, it can’t genuinely exist in states with a weak or no democracy. Therefore, we can say that more importantly than paying the basic income for a political community is to pay it to a political community.
A basic income provided without the participants knowing what they’re receiving; without even having an idea of what it means; or worse, without ever having it recognized as a right, may even be considered as a basic income by scholars when analyzing its definition, but it’s not exactly a basic income, especially for those to whom it matters the most that it is indeed considered, the people who receive it.
It may even seem over preciousness, but it’s not. It’s fundamental that the person knows exactly why or what that money is, for a question of principle as well as results. A question of principles because, if the understanding lies upon those who are experiencing the learning, the definition is actually verified in its understanding, and not in the intention or aim of those who teach. Although the intention is to influence the understanding, the latter is not a mere function of the former and, therefore, even if the basic income always begins to be defined by the action of the ones who propose it , its definition is actually restricted to the comprehension of each individual to whom the action is directed.
Investing in People
[The value of the basic income,] 30 “reais”, actually almost never represented the entirety of their earnings, not even most of it. Though in times of great financial difficulty this amount meant “everything”, most of the time it didn’t and, most importantly, the positive tendency is exactly this one: the basic income isn’t and doesn’t remain the main source of income, even to the neediest. (…) the basic income in fact doesn’t generate nor complement social transformations, it catalyzes them.
The basic income in Quatinga Velho didn’t work as a mere source and or even as a complement of the income, but as a catalyst of the social-economic development. The material results can’t be explained through the mere transposition of the basic income’s purchase power, because the basic income isn’t just an amount of money to be spent, but literally a constant investment or credit in the human potential, the real, generating source of this tendency to the development.
Quantity versus regularity
Without of course underrating the total amount invested, the steadiness of a basic income with a significant value forms the determining factor for the measured results, and not its accumulation or added value. Once the tendency appears not from a certain accumulated amount, but from the provision of the basic income itself, or most precisely from the safety level, or the reduction of the uncertainty it provides regarding the future. We attribute to the subtle increase on the social security level, with an eminently fiduciary character, not only the determination of these results, but the determination of the tendency to the sustained development, whose results reach the record for the period. (…) In fact we must presume that the development continues to sustain itself if the amount of basic income remains inside the limit of significance to the neediest proportion of the community.
Basic income doesn’t promote effortlessness or generate accommodation, because technically it frees the individual not only from a condition of deprivation previously configured, but also from the fear of getting into this condition, which is more than enough to unleash much more harmful behaviors into society than any kind of accommodation. The accommodation before poverty, or more precisely, the conformation before the deprivations in needy locations can’t be denied. However, poverty is not a result of the accommodation, but the accommodation is a result of a continuous stay in poverty.
Actually, if we could generalize what we saw in Quatinga Velho, we would say that the opportunities, especially when one has the means to take advantage of them, increase the free initiative and the entrepreneurial ability, whereas the deprivations tend not only to reduce, but also to paralyze them. In other words, the accommodations aren’t produced by the abundance of resources and opportunities; it’s the product of a state of generalized depression, in both its psychological and economical senses, both feeding off each other. The basic income, on the contrary, acts exactly as an instrument introduced to break this vicious cycle by not generating dependency or conformation, as well as promoting the noncompliance or nonconformities towards deprivation.
Fear and Prejudice of Public Power
Besides protecting people from the involuntary submission to miserable jobs, in conditions as well as in payments, we could observe that, comparatively, a basic income would eliminate a lot of the barriers and difficulties inherent to the conditioned programs, since there are families among the participants that, even though they fit the neediness profile demanded by the “bolsa-família” program, can’t or even fear to go through all the bureaucratic proceedings necessary to receive it and demonstrate not only concern, but even some kind of disgust to the interference of the social agent in their private lives.
It’s worth clarifying that this fear isn’t always groundless, and it’s not only a result of the interference in the private life, but sometimes of the prejudice and discrimination expressed by a lot of social agents, sometimes consciously, towards the ability of the neediest people to lead the resolution of their own problems. It seems to be disseminated among the social technicians the generalization that the ignorance and the inability are determining factors of material poverty. This prejudice added to a very low tolerance to being counteracted results in citizens that are conformed not to claim for their rights and have an aversion to everything that is public, which is extended beyond the social service.
The basic income in Quatinga Velho is not seen as a substitute to the conditioned assistance benefits that a person already receives, nor is this the purpose, but from that we can infer not only that there wouldn’t be an encouragement to the eviction or informal and precarious works, but also that the ones which are, nowadays, marginal to the social assistance could be integrated with less obstacles and fear. And not only because any rational “advantage” for the voluntary unemployment would be eliminated, but also because the possibility of embarrassment, humiliation or even any patronage intermediation, capable of happening in relations of citizen mentoring, would be eliminated as well.
The basic income, besides not being by definition a supporting program, also demonstrates a shielding quality against the assistencialism, not only from the ideological point of view, but also in its practical effects on the social basis. When implemented, the basic income constitutes a practice which is not only opposed, but also prevents and even protects against the paternalism and the patronage, allowing the formation of an economic security system as well as a social security system when decreasing the spectrum of interference of the macro as well as of the micro power, which lowers the precariousness and the risk of economic and political dependence.
Definitely basic income doesn’t generate nor stimulate the accommodation. And the biggest confirmation that basic income doesn’t cause the self-indulgence, conformism, nor promote the voluntary unemployment, is undoubtedly the appearance of productive activities or micro-enterprises that were capitalized with the basic income or emerged from its introduction.
From this phenomenon, we can infer that, on the contrary of what was expected, basic income doesn’t have an innocuous or harmful effect on the productivity, but exactly the opposite, but is in practice also an incentive to the production and to the entrepreneurial spirit. (…) The use of the basic income as a sort of micro-credit by some participants, especially the neediest ones, was undoubtedly an unexpected result, not only because of the small sum of the basic income, but also because of the clear urgent deficiency of consumer goods.
As for the families in better financial conditions, we can’t say that the use of the basic income to finance an enterprise is so surprising; after all, if the needs are already being provided by other sources of income, the basic income can perfectly be saved or invested in. As for the needier families, we supposed that the urgent need would lead them to simply supply it, spending all the money exclusively with the provision of essential consumer goods. However, we could observe that many families, regardless of their need and even the amount of family members, decided to use the basic income to initiate enterprises, perhaps too small to have a bigger impact on the local economy, but that undoubtedly represent a productive addition to the family economy; and what’s most important in a systemic point of view: they represented, against all suppositions, the spontaneous manifestation of an economically productive behavior, without the need of any training process or other added value, besides the access to the capital — which is a small value for this purpose and makes us question ourselves about how much of this hidden potential can still be unleashed.
Basic income as a preparatory stage to the formation of the entrepreneur, because it not only accelerates and optimizes an eventual instruction process, but literally unleashes the primordial factor of the learning process, the interest of those who already expressed in practice their will to undertake an enterprise. By observing the economic dynamics of the community, we consider that the basic income can work very well, jointly with the micro-credit as well as with the social coin, to the creation of a united economy. In this process, the basic income could act as a catalyst of this new economy, because of the positive effects that the basic income has over the generation of social capital and, above all, the liberation of the free initiative.
Guaranteed Basic Income Banks
Social companies (non-corporate) can’t be just one non-profitable simulacrum of private companies; they need to be based on new paradigms capable of generating new social technologies. In the specific case of basic income we are referring to the model denominated Social Bank, where instead of simply rejecting the financial system or looking to tax it, we propose the utilization of its technologies and extremely developed processes for purposes a little more ambitious than merely generating money or concentrating on power.
Banking systems (…) can be utilized to be the institutes of new, fairer and more equitable social contracts capable of providing without waste the theorized goal as exclusively of the State: equal distribution of rights as opportunities. Something that can be accomplished through social contracts which all members of a community equally contribute with their earnings to the provision of an equal basic income to all the members of this community without discrimination on the absolute value of their contributions.
If there is a social technology that requires coercion in order to execute an essential social function, there are no reasons to carry it out from the environment which it was developed nor alienate her from the developers, continuing to stay under civil society free initiative. It’s not just a question of freeing the public services from the taxation outlines, but to free them from any kind of monopoly, governmental or not.
Indeed, we are suggesting from the basic income model in Quatinga Velho, the development of new social technologies capable of creating a whole new social market, with goods and public services, which the individuals will not need to pay for, but will be able to be bought collectively and ran by companies [economic associations] which operate the most competitive services.
The reason that validates value focusing — to know: the participation in the system is derived from the comparative value of basic income with the earnings of each individual — makes the effectuation of basic income [inside the] possible value irrelevant to all; a valid action in order to gradually reach basic income, closer to the ideal and making it available for a significantly greater number of people every time.
Focus By Value
Although it wasn’t appointed as a criteria so that we would prioritize the poorest, in self-management systems, it is possible to use the value definition to promote a gradual strategic expansion of real basic income focused on the most needy ones; perfectly coherent, therefore, with the unconditionally principle, since there would be no discriminatory process or obstruction for anyone of a determined community who has come to receive basic income from the manifestation of their will.
With focus by value there is no reason to segregate the same community, or of doing any type of “sorting” of the poorest in order to prioritize them. Nevertheless we should not sprinkle the same basic income throughout a large territory.
Firstly, because the focus by value has its efficiency reduced for the greater the variety of life costs inside a same locality — being much more functional when applied in a variated form for each community or local economy.
Secondly, because, taking in consideration that social inequality tends to also reflect on the riches geographic distribution, we can make a whole lot more efficient use of the resources by redirecting them to the most needy areas, or more precisely giving priority to localities with larger social risks the necessary resources for the development and provision on new communities protected by basic income.
Still looking at it with a strategic point of view such dissemination through multiplication of the community centers added by the focus by value it is valid firstly because of the polemic: if we should or shouldn’t pay basic income to all; it is an overdue step when we come to discuss how much its value should be; and after that because a significant basic income for the more needy complies with the liberation role of the poverty conditions not only of the ones who don’t have the minimum social security, but of all, while it is certain that we are all free of such deprivations and its consequences. Furthermore, politically the integration of these community centers is much more feasible than to wait on the creation of a majority then to begin implementing any kind of unconditional basic income.
Basic Income Economies
As a rule, basic income is better when provided in cash, but through the imperfection of the markets, basic income is provided in nature or as common goods and collective services, this isn’t just perfectly valid, but it is circumstantially more efficient. However even against market imperfection, of all the possibilities that the project opens, the one that seems most promising is precisely the viability to establish an income redistribution system that isn’t starred by, or more precisely, monopolized by governmental institutions, nor necessarily supported by its taxes, or any other kind of monopoly.
Constituted through new social contracts automatically run by all bank systems, the proposition that basic income can be made possible in a systematic way by free initiative inside the own market as bank systems engaged by collective, or even particulars that acknowledge common interests (…) adds a fundamental component to its empiric definition, foreseeing in integrated form provision and financing: the product of free system of equal contributions over the income of all provisions of the equal basic income for all.
We cannot assume that those who are bound to pay more for basic income will receive the money back are going to do it only if obligated. If we presuppose that we need to hurt the liberty of part of the population in order to provide fundamental liberties to the other, majority or minority, then we don’t have a proper basic income, or a democracy.
And to think that any power structure, based on force or authority will invert such a situation instead of keeping it or reinforcing it, and it’s still more naive than any liberal proposal. Although we can’t presuppose an absolute rationality in decision making we can’t cross out the impact that the demonstration of the benefits of basic income wouldn’t limit itself by just the monetary value, nor restrict only the people receiving it.
Low values may not mobilize a sufficient number of dwellers in a way [as long as] that the direct democracy model and self-determination aren’t feasible. The level of interest in receiving is the principal indicator of the relevancy of the sum and consequently of the possible character that this resource will assume for those intended to. We can’t forget that if basic income becomes a product of civil society and not State concession, all and any value will be important, because it will stand for the recognition of an inalienable right that can no longer be denied.
Which is very important strategically speaking, because, no longer will there be questions asked regarding guaranteed basic income, or “when?”, because the question will be on another level: of “how much?”. And if in this process the decision of “how much?” be taken by a true political community, this is, by direct democracy, the only hindrance between dignified guaranteed basic income or its ideal and its practice will be just the reserve of possible, and no longer the desire of a ruling class, elected, or not.
Generally it is important that the medium value be determined by the community, because only the community holds the indispensable knowledge to define with property which are the basic necessities, and considering precisely with the financial resources available, democratically defining its value. In practice, the real value of basic income will never directly match relative common necessities, medium, ideal minimum, or whatever the basis, basic income determined in liberty and democracy will still be the product of these necessities confronted with the possible reserve, in other words, limited to only material and financial available resources.
When designing the pilot-project for Quatinga Velho our central objective was to put into practice the payment of guaranteed basic income, because the simple act of doing it, while representing civil society, already represents an important paradigm shift which puts citizen basic income between utopias: the notion that no citizen is financially disposed to finance citizens basic income to the rest and, therefore this should be the object of impositive governmental politics.
Another important element was the demonstration of the possibility of realizing a project without the necessity of great sums, especially if in the spirit of simplicity of citizen basic income eliminated all costs related to any control that could result in bureaucracy. Quatinga Velho was designed to demonstrate that citizen basic income could be conceived in gradual form, but while citizen basic income, starting at the most needy peripheral communities, expanding not geographically, but multiplying in network until is able to achieve the population total. Observing in all localities both fundamental principles so that this can become universal: unconditionality and undiscriminating.
Equitable Basic Income
The model in political communities, although currently, yet to obtain equal basic income, or even defined by the community itself, does not fail to do so for incapacity, but due to the fact that they have financial resources limitations. When the financial reserves are sufficient and, above all the community centers are associated in a way to contribute according to different necessities, in different circumstances of communities and individuals, they will be perfectly possible to reach that objective, the equal basic income.
For example, in the assembly of a particular community there could be approved the payment of a higher income, so that one person bearer of special necessities, or a larger income, during a certain period of time, for a person in health treatment. These extraordinary costs don’t need to be encumbered for a community; it is associated to cover for eventualities, such as these.
Such costs could be supplied and absorbed easily inside a safety network with countless political communities — there is no need to reinvent the wheel — this module doesn’t need to be different from the mutual, applied with great success by private insurance companies and not objectifying profit, but its real objective of security, it could even cover the reconstruction of a whole new community affected by a natural disaster.
Platform for Innovation
All technology, material, cultural or even political innovation affects all spheres of society, being always, therefore a social innovation. Every new technology in principle is a privilege to few, but not a legitimate privilege or pernicious, because it is naturally rare, in principle. However the improvement of technology tends to turn its production easier and more accessible, or even more abundant. This ends up creating the possibility of making it available without damaging all. (…)
A form of technology comes to be considered a necessity when it is used so intensively and requested of which makes it having a sine qua non condition enabling an individual to take part in society. Now once conquered, it ends the tension inside the society and breaks the monopoly, once more society finds itself in ideal conditions in order to compete for the development of new technology innovations that can produce new advantages, that in their improvement will once again be possible for all and when incorporated into society as a right for all, and will become a base in the formation of a new cycle of development and so on and so forth: The innovation to the universalization, a process of rights achievements.
The more naturalized, more incorporated to the base of society basic income is, the bigger will be the possibilities of development of new technologies and innovations, material and social, which will give rise to new achievement of rights.
If we have the sincere intention of making basic income more than a speech and putting it in actual fact into practice, we need, therefore the definite basic income which doesn’t cover just the payment process, but also the financial process. Basic income that minimally deserves this name needs financial sources (…)- consistent with the principles that are fundamental to basic income — this isn’t preciosity, or virtuosity: the realization of the ideal, of the objective of unconditional basic income is not limited to the payment of the income, it necessarily passes first, by resource caption; and how this income will be financed; the viability of your resources will define along with all known characteristics of unconditionality and universality, if this income is or not basic income.
For example: we can’t claim that a government that pays basic income, when the sum of taxes imposed on the basic needs is superior to “basic income”; or that income prevenient of an investment fund pays more the investors [or supports the institution or its members], than [re]distribute income, is properly Basic Income.
The process or system that makes an RBC viable should be in compliance with the principles of basic income, under-penalty of diluting it. It looks evidently like a principle, but in practice it isn’t, take a close look at “bolsa-família”. Soon, it was according to this same logic, and not also by the virtuosity that we decided to transfer ALL the resources destined — donations — to the project directly to basic income. 100% of the donations for basic income.
Basic income demands absolute transparency and simplicity; because transparency requires simplicity. To separate the financial sources of basic income from the operational costs is not a fundamental characteristic of a basic income system, but it is a very important tool [of control] for who finances the system — contributes — the money transfer performed is in fact Basic Income and not subterfuges for the realization of other interests, as the ones cited above.
In the P2P model — people to people — adopted, financing by individuals donation without tax exemption, although not a self-sustained model, for the time being, has an important pedagogical component or political education: remember that who finances RBC is never the governments but always the contributors. The government cannot, therefore be seen as a source of common good, because it is an intermediate, or better, should only be a means
This process of political awareness: is the essence of pedagogical liberty, profoundly connected with the fundamental concept of unconditionality; a process that looks to emancipate the citizen, taking him off of the alienated state of his political and associative rights; and instigating him to abandon the tutored citizenship for full citizenship.
Pedagogical process that is not realized only through the application of the concept of direct democracy by means of political community only for the ones who receives the income; is a pedagogy which also looks to achieve all involved in the project, NGOs and financers and even observers with a clear message: the human being has in his essence all the conditions for his development, and all the faculties to practice their rights and to perform their duties, free from coercion, repression and deprivation; free initiatives both for who receives and from who pays basic income is essential for the development of social responsibility. And if we think inside a universal model, how basic income requests it, we have to adopt the model of free or voluntary contributions.
Liberty of Communion
A fair society isn’t the one which imposes equality, but is the one who offers equality. Fair equality is born from liberty, because in this way nobody can force another to share what is theirs, nobody can prevent the person sharing what realistically belongs to them — and everyone else — and harvest the fruits of this union. This brotherly vision of humanity, inclusive with the right of receive, share and devise wealth as an inheritance of all to all, makes Basic Income an universal right of the human being as important as the right to property.