Tag Archives: EU

Yanis Varoufakis on Universal Basic Income

Guaranteed Minimum Income, Universal Basic Income and Universal Basic Dividend

In the midst of the worst global pandemic since the 1918 flu — inappropriately named Spanish flu, since it didn’t originate in Spain—  some countries such as the USA are implementing economic emergency measures or, if you like, actions, to prevent millions of citizens from going bankrupt. In a sense, it could be argued that it is similar to a Guaranteed Minimum Income.

Meanwhile, the European Union, to put it mildly, doesn’t cut the mustard and is disappointing everybody once again: uncoordinated, lacking in solidarity, aimless, drifting… In one word: lame.

It is in this context that we should listen to the ones that got it right during the last financial crisis; people like Yanis Varoufakis, an eminent Greek economist, academic, philosopher and politician.

But before going into further details, we should know what we are talking about. First of all, we must distinguish between the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) and the Universal Basic Income (UBI). Afterwards we can tackle the Universal Basic Dividend brought forward by Professor Varoufakis.

Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI), also called minimum income, is a system of social welfare provision that guarantees that all citizens or families have an income sufficient to live on, provided they meet certain conditions. Eligibility is typically determined by the following: citizenship, a means test, and either availability for the labor market or a willingness to perform community services. The primary goal of a guaranteed minimum income is to reduce poverty. If citizenship is the only requirement, the system turns into a universal basic income.

On the other hand, Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a model for providing all citizens with a given sum of money, regardless of their income, resources or employment status. The purpose of the UBI is to prevent or reduce poverty and increase equality among citizens.

That said, let’s pay close attention to what Professor Varoufakis has to say:

So, according to the renowned economist, the Universal Basic Income shouldn’t come from taxation, since it might become a source of conflicts within the working class. He points out that nowadays capital is socially produced, so he brings forward the idea of a Universal Basic Dividend where a percentage of shares of all companies should go to a public equity trust that works as a wealth fund for society. The dividends should be distributed to every member of society equally, so the income comes from return of capital, not from taxation.

Contrary to what many may think, Varoufakis is for a global governance. He is not against free trade, but he stresses that it should be accompanied by binding rules in order to avoid social dumping.

One thing is for sure: something must be done, asap. Countries can’t just let their people and SMEs go bankrupt overnight. We might be about to face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and this pandemic and its consequent lockdown could take a while. Util we don’t have a vaccine, what can’t be cured, must be endured, and unprecedented economic measures must be put into effect. A more egalitarian society fits everyone, since it means a more stable, safe, human and prosperous society. For once, let’s be smart. We are in this crisis together and we will come out of it together. There is no other way.

Recommended posts:

The European Debt Crisis: Fiscal Union or Breakup

The European Debt Crisis

EU: Fiscal Union or Breakup

my opinion

Creating a monetary union without a fiscal union was certainly getting off on the wrong foot. We have recently seen how the UK’s left the EU in the lurch after a surprising outcome of the referendum (arguably against their own interests). But there’s no use crying over spilled milk. At this point, rather than focusing on blaming one another and letting the sparks fly, we should consider the most urgent measures to be taken.

The crux of the matter is that there is no system in place to prevent the European debt crisis from breaking out again. As things look at the moment, it is highly likely that in the next few years we fall into the same debt trap, with all the suffering, sacrifice and cutbacks it entails. Amazingly, such tax harmonisation is still up in the air.

One thing is for sure: the euro area requires a fiscal union to match its monetary union. There must be an entity with the ability to implement fiscal policy throughout the European Union, raising taxes and setting laws when necessary. That would be the way of preventing excessive borrowing and spending.

As one may expect, in some member states of the EU it would be a very unpopular step to take, because it would mean to hand over more national sovereignty to a supranational entity. As we have seen, it is common among the extreme right to blame the EU —and, of course, immigrants— for the nation’s ills, even when it has little or no connection at all. Nevertheless, It is an easy way to capture the gut reaction votes from an often uninformed society.

On the other hand, further redistributive polices are required to ensure social justice. As a matter of fact, these are precisely the sort of measures which can project a more sympathetic image of the European institutions. As I see it, MEPs should take this consideration on board and start racking their brains to design a sound fiscal union if they don’t want to face disaster. We cannot push the issue onto the back burner any longer.

While the future of the Union is at stake, the lack of leadership is a troubling indicator of the big gap between institutions and citizens. Whether the EU will do what it takes to create a centralized fiscal policy or the monetary union will break up, remains to be seen.

financial translation

Recommended posts:

Wörgl: the miracle of a local currency

Business idioms Illustrated

Most expensive and cheapest cities in Europe

How can we avoid the next financial meltdown?

The Great European Disaster BBC film

Will Europe descend into the apocalyptic future presented at the beginning of the film?

The Great European Disaster is a BBC fictional film that explores the hypothetical crisis facing the Europen Union. Directed by the Italian journalist and film-maker Annalisa Piras and the former director of The Economist Bill Emmot, the film doesn’t make a case against the EU, but it warns us about the risks and challenges that are threatening the countries and citizens of the Union.

The action takes place in the near future, when the archeologist Charles Granda explains to an eight years old girl the factors that  led to the collapse of the European Union, such as social inequalty, tax evasion, debt, deflation, xenophobia, austerity, the immense power of the status quo or identity challenges across the continent.

Following six different European individuals and their stories, the director shows the immense positives of a Union that has prevented major wars since the end of the Second World War, but also highlights that it is an organisation in need of major reform.





Links:

http://www.thegreateuropeandisastermovie.eu/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b054v0v2

 

By Financial Translator