Commander Sir Guy Standing KBE RNVR was an English actor.
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My short bio: Guy Standing, an economist, professor at SOAS, University of London, previously programme director in the ILO, co-founder and hon.co-president of BIEN
Latest book: A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014)
The Precariat on Facebook
Indian basic income pilot video
My Proof: http://i.imgur.com/iiudD0J.jpg
Well thank you all for the questions. I've got to go now but I'll check back again tomorrow to answer any new ones I miss. Sarath may be continuing to respond. Have a good evening, Sarath!
I feel mixed about a guaranteed income. I like the basic idea, but here's my question. If someone gets a guaranteed minimum income, and they have a job that only earns them a similar or marginally higher amount, what's their incentive to keep their job?
I believe almost everybody wants to improve their lives, and the lives of those they love. A modest basic income would provide basic security, no more than that. They would not lose their basic income if they start to earn more money. By contrast, most state benefits in most countries are "means-tested", which means they go to people only if they prove they are poor. This creates crazy poverty traps -- they lose the benefit if they increase their earnings. it is that which is a huge disincentive to go out to earn money.
As far as basic income experiments go, there's been a lot of news coverage about the cities in The Netherlands looking into it, as well as Finland too.
What do you think of these experiments and do you think they're a good model for experimenting in cities all over the world? What kind of data do you think they will provide compared to what you found in India?
I am biased, in that I am involved in those new pilots. There is a long way to go. However, I am excited that local governments and, in the case of Finland, a national government are prepared to take the risk of launching pilots. I believe pilots should be conducted in a wide variety of types of community. Once people see how they work and how work and health and communities develop as a result, I think the political pressure to move in that direction will be unstoppable. And I see no reason to think the reactions will be fundamentally different in Finland, the Netherlands, Canada or wherever compared to what we have found in India and Namibia.
Hello Guy, Good to have you on AMA.
1. In most Indian families, which are considered below the poverty line have only one earning member. However funding every man, women and child a equivalent sum of the monetary value of the subsidized goods adds to more money in pocket than the usual income. ( my question - is my understanding right?)
With lack of knowledge of nutrition value of goods bought among the the families you funded, what practices did u see that bought the nutrition level higher than before.
How was the experiment funded?
Good points and questions. In fact, as you probably know, in most families in Indian villages, all adults and, usually, most children work in some sense of that word, and what we did was give each woman and each man an amount that was about one-third of an individual's subsistence, with half as much for each child under the age of 14, with that money being given to the mother or surrogate mother. What we observed through detailed statistical surveys over 18 months was that families on average spent more on sanitation, and shifted from stale subsidised goods provided under the PDS ration shops to open markets. And they used some of the money to pay for regular medicines and healthcare, which of course had feedback effects on nutrition and energy needed for productive work. As for funding, we were greatly helped by funds from UNICEF. None of us came out of the experiments richer in terms of money, since we gave a lot of our time and energy. However, I think I can speak for my friend Sarath in saying we came out of them feeling enriched as human beings.
Given the current political climate ie austerity, growth of grassroot action groups, BI interest by economists, the rise of worker politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders along with the refugee crisis worldwide;
Do you see a "timeline" on when you expect a BI to appear as a political movement or as an actual policy?
If politicians could roll out an international bailout in 1 yr how long would it take to roll out a BI?
I think the 'timeline' is encouraging. Many Green parties are supporting it, and Jeremy Corbyn's close friend and colleague, who is now Shadow Chancellor, is a supporter. I know him and know he wants to move in our direction. I think a basic income could come somewhere quite surprisingly and quite soon. I have long pinned my hopes on 2016 being the breakthrough year.
Manna is the name of a short sci-fi book written by Marshall. The name comes from a piece of software in the story that automates middle management and ends up eliminating a heckuva lot of jobs and simplifying the remaining jobs to the extent of allowing workers to just be told what to do step by step by the software.
It can be read online here: http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm
Thanks. I am not a reader of science fiction, although I do appreciate its potential value. I do not like the idea of having software telling people what to do! I think we are seeing signs of this in the so-called sharing economy.
So essentially, one of the findings of the experiments in India, was that given the choice of existing welfare or unconditional cash, people who didn't originally choose the cash, eventually did, presumably due to word of mouth and seeing for themselves how much better off people were choosing cash?
yes, that is roughly what seems to have happened. At no point, did we try to persuade anybody to opt for one or the other.
How do other economists generally respond to your proposal? Do you find more support among other sorts of academics?
The first is a good and interesting question. When we started to work on the idea there was widespread scepticism. However, in the past five years or so, a huge number of mainstream economists have suddenly declared they think a basic income is needed. Some do so thinking technological change is going to destroy jobs, others do so because they see insecurities rising. I believe the growth of fragmented labour markets and the growth of the precariat are making a basic income essential if we want to reduce inequality and chronic insecurity. And we have seen a strong rise in support among other social scientists, including political scientists who are rightly worried about the growth of neo-fascist populist politics fanned by the inequalities.
Could capitalism persist, if everyone would have a basic income that would lift them out of poverty? And if not, what would an economic system of the future look like?
Great questions. I think if everybody had a modest basic income, there would be a relative shift to forms of work that are not labour, a point I have emphasised in the Precariat Charter, in which I advocate a reconceptualization of what we mean by work. I think markets would be more rational. If the precariat are in debt and chronically insecure, those in it tend to make decisions out of desperation, rather than rationally. I have argued in the books that our 20th century income distribution system has broken down irretrievably. Inequalities will continue to grow, real wages in rich countries will continue to stagnate and fall. Unless we introduce new mechanisms for income redistribution, social discord and ugly politics await.....even uglier than they are today.
If you were to translate the amount given in India to a similar amount in the US, what do you think it would be around as one third of subsistence level in the US?
I hear a lot that $1,000/mo just isn't enough to help anyone in the US, and yet these experiments seem to indicate that even a smaller amount than $1,000/mo would have positive and even emancipatory effects here as well.
I always feel reluctant to indicate what would be an ideal or appropriate amount, since that depends so much on fiscal possibilities and what other public services are provided on a universal basis. What I do believe is that when introduced nationally or, as in the US States at State level, it should begin with a modest amount and build up to the subsistence or poverty line amount. It is important to make sure it is an individual right, and that it is for all legal residents. I know many Americans who would be very glad to have a basic income of $1,000 a month. It would surely "help". And we should never forget that it would allow anybody to earn any money above whatever is provided. They would be taxed on the earned income just like anybody else should be, equally. Overcoming the poverty trap is really important, as is moving away from the coercive practices behind workfare. And we should never overlook what we economists call the multiplier effect on local communities. An injection of a basic income would boost the local economy, and lead to more income-earning opportunities through the extra expenditure. It was a terrible mistake to hand out hundreds of billions of dollars to the financial sector after the banking crash, allowing the bankers and allied folk to boost their absurd bonuses and wealth. Had the money been disbursed to every American citizen over several years, the economic revival would have been greater and the reduction in poverty much, much greater.
Guy! I bought both your books this weekend. I was amazed that the shopkeeper at Waterstones had to dig your books all the way from an obscure part of the store. These books belong in the cabinet.
I think the Precariat will resonate with most people here. You talk about precarious people with a high education and creative skills translating this message to the rest. Where do we start?
EDIT: Bonus question. Currently your Facebook page is unoccupied (a wikipedia page is a placeholder for it now). Are you planning on doing something with it? https://www.facebook.com/pages/Guy-Standing
Extra bonus question, are you sitting on your photo on purpose? The first world anarchists love it.
I do not have a personal Facebook, although I do have one for the Precariat.
Sorry you had to dig for the books! Thousands have been sold, and I suspect many are ordered online. It has also been published in 14 other languages.
I am a huge fan and greatly respect your work thank you.
In your charter you layout a very good framework and your speak about decommodifying education and rebuilding commons. So my question is would a program of public sponsorship of "Makerspaces" in local areas align with your thoughts, as it would provide community, mentorship and education / skill improvement for the precariat?
Second question would phasing in a BI starting at zero income the first year and increasing the BI per income level overtime be a valid plan?
zero income = zero year
$25k = year 2
$50k = year 3
Thanks. No one policy should be regarded as a panacea. That is why the Charter has 29 articles. I do not know enough about Makerspaces to offer a sensible comment, except to say that I think they would help in the appropriate democratic context.
As for the phasing in of a basic income, we have had protracted debates on alternatives within BIEN -- and join if you have not done so -- and on balance my preference is to phase it in with a low amount for everybody, and then build it up over several years. I think means-testing, which would have to continue if you started by giving it only to those who could prove they had no income, is inherently unreliable, inequitable and hugely costly to conduct. When we were costing a basic income for South Africa several years ago, we made the presumption that the basic income would be paid for all children and all over the age of 60 and then gradually the middle age groups would be included. You would also need to have a pragmatic rule for migrants, excluding new arrivals (not out of a desire to do so, but treating them under different systems of support) and then phasing them into the system as they reside in the community for a longer period.
I am a member of the new international "Basic Income Women Action Group". What do you think this group, that looks at basic income from a woman's point of view, could bring to the Basic Income movement?
I confess I did not know of your group, and wish it every possible success. We have always had women playing a prominent role in BIEN, and of course our pilots in India were conducted through SEWA, the Self-Employed Women's Association of India, the union representing women outworkers. You or some of your group should surely try to come to the next BIEN Congress, to be held in Seoul, S.Korea, next June. See our web. Basic Income is a feminist issue in many, many respects. Our book on the Indian pilots showed that women gained relatively and absolutely from the universal BI.
Would not a basic income, if implemented in one nation, be an incentive for and increase so called economic / welfare migration? If so, would that undermine a policy of guaranteed basic income, or would you argue that GDP is not a zero sum game and that the more people we have, the bigger the pie will get?
Thanks for this. I have just answered that in an answer to another question. Elsewhere I have proposed that a basic income in areas of heavy out-migration would be a good development tool and deter distress migration, which as you know is the biggest single tragedy taking place in our world today.
What's your take on Marshall Brain's "Manna"?
I do not like the concept of manna, dropping from the sky. My take on a basic income is more earthly, being a human right, a citizenship right, based on distributive justice.
Hi to both of you and thanks for doing this AMA!
I'm curious to know more about the experiments in India. Could you provide a quick summary of them and how they came to be?
And to each of you, what single experimental finding surprised you most?
We launched three pilots in India, one in which we offered 450 families the option of continuing to take the subsidised goods provided by government or receive a monthly basic income of equivalent monetary value. In that experiment, we found that nutrition and health improved among those taking the basic income and that during the course of the experiment over a year, more people who had opted to continue with the subsidised goods came to prefer the basic income.
The second pilot was conducted in Madhya Pradesh, in which every man, woman and child in 8 villages received an unconditional basic income for 18 months, and what happened to them and their communities was compared with what happened in 12 otherwise similar villages where nobody received a basic income. The results have been presented in our new book, Basic Income -- A Transformative Policy for India, published by Bloomsbury. The third pilot was conducted in two tribal villages, and the results were even stronger. Nutrition, health, schooling, economic activity and sanitation all improved. The most surprising result was the emancipatory effects.
Are you the last guy standing?
I have heard worse jokes than that.