Why more than 500 political figures and academics globally have called for universal basic income in the fight against coronavirus

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Wednesday 18 March 2020 15:26 GMT
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We, a growing group of now over 500 academics and public figures on all continents, have signed the following open letter, calling on our governments to enact emergency basic income to save lives.

We are living in unprecedented times – as the Covid-19 virus spreads rapidly across the globe, it undermines the very foundations of the global economy.

And, just as pandemics cannot be dealt with using ordinary public health measures, global economic collapse requires more than traditional welfare policies.

Across the globe, businesses are going to the wall; jobs are being lost; the self-employed are without work; mortgages are being defaulted; savings are being run through; and rent cannot be paid. Societies where a large majority of the population works in the informal sector will be hit especially hard beyond earnings, there is next to no safety net.

Our entire economic system relies on continual motion and right now, it is grinding to a halt. Without drastic government intervention, countless numbers will suffer, businesses will close, unemployment will skyrocket, and the economy will go into a steep recession and possibly even a second Great Depression.

It is time for governments to enact emergency universal basic income, ensuring that everyone in their jurisdiction has enough money to buy the food and other essentials they need to survive.

Alone, basic income will not be enough – migrants and detainees, for example, will need support specific to their circumstances, and evidently food and healthcare must be provided for all. But an unconditional basic income should play a central role in the emergency response to this crisis. Without it, lives will be lost.​

Dr Sarath Davala, India Network for Basic Income, India
Dr Isabelle Guérin, French National Research institute for Sustainable Development, FR; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, US

Dr Guy Standing, FAcSS, Professorial Research associate, SOAS University of London, UK

Dr Asha Amirali, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Dr Neil Howard, University of Bath, UK

Professor Barbara Harriss-White, (Emeritus), University of Oxford, UK

Dr Kamal A Munir, University of Cambridge, UK

Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy, FC College, Lahore, Pakistan

Dr Pauline von Hellermann, Goldsmiths University, UK

Dr Natalia Paszkiewicz, University of Bath, UK 

Professor Roy Maconachie, University of Bath, UK

Dr Philip Mader, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Dr Zenobia Ismail, University of Birmingham, UK

Dr Luke Kelly, University of Manchester, UK

Professor Danny Burns, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Dr Ciara Holden, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, UK

Dr Cordula Reimann, Core, Switzerland

Dr Inka Barnett, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Dr Peter Manning, University of Bath, UK

Kevin Hernandez, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Dr Aasim Sajjad, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Jerker Edstrom, Institute of Development studies, UK

Marian Carty, Goldsmiths University, UK

Dr Tooba Syed, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Dr Theo Papadopoulos, University of Bath, UIK 

Emeritus professor Hilary Standing, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Dr Hadas Weiss, The Madrid Institute for Advanced Study, Spain

Dr Indrajit Roy, University of York, UK

Dr Andrew Bowman, University of Edinburgh, UK

Dr Shahram Azhar, Bucknell University, US

SJ Cooper-Knock, University of Edinburgh, UK

Dr KP Kannan, Honorary Fellow, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, Kerala, India

Dr Becky Faith, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Dr Tina Skinner, University of Bath, UK

Dr Jean-Benoît Falisse, University of Edinburgh, UK

Rupert Horlick, Extinction Rebellion, UK

Shreya Nanda, economist, UK

Dr Aseem Prakash, professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad, India

Bruno Bonizzi, University of Hertfordshire Business School, UK

Dr Rajeswari S Raina, Shiv Nadar University, India

Dr Dhruv Raina, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

Sadaf Aziz, Lums University, Pakistan

Professor Tatek Abebe, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Dr Miki Kashtan, author and facilitator, Bay Area Nonviolent Communication, US and Israel

Professor Louise Brown, University of Bath, UK

Dr Keetie Roelen, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Dr Elizaveta Fouksman, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, University of Oxford, UK

Prof Baroness Ruth Lister, Loughborough University & House of Lords, UK

Dr Theodore Nicolaides, NYU, USA

Dr Karl Widerquist, Georgetown University-Qatar, USA/Qatar 

Professor Susana Narotzky, Department of jSocial Anthropology, University of Barcelona, Spain

Dr Andolie Marguerite, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Dr Pamela Karantonis, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Telemaque Masson, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France

Benedict Seymour, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK

Professor Graham Room, University of Bath, UK

Dr Marina Vishmidt, Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor William Gaver, Goldsmiths, University of London

Scott Santens, Basic Income Today

Christian Bouvard, vice président de l’Association pour l’Instauration d’un Revenu d’Existence, France

Professor James Copestake, University of Bath, UK

Professor Michael Howard, University of Maine, USA

Dr Ludek Stavinoha, University of East Anglia, UK

Dr Catherine Jere, University of East Anglia, UK

Dr Sara de Jong, University of York, UK

Dr Jens Lerche, SOAS University of London, UK

Professor Diego Sánchez-Ancochea, University of Oxford, UK

Dr Kimberly Walters, California State University, Long Beach, USA

Professor Nicola Mai, Kingston University London, UK

Dr Jamie Forth, Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr Aparna Nayak, California State University, Long Beach, USA

Vincent Liegey, Cargonomia Degrowth Research and Experimentation Center, Budapest, Hungary

Dr Christine L Jocoy, California State University, Long Beach, USA

Dr Sophie Bremner, University of East Anglia, UK

Andy Stern, president Emeritus, SEIU, USA

Frank Thompson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

Fred Block, University of California, Davis, USA

J Young, Austin, TX, USA

Dawn Howard, NJ, USA

Oliver Warders, NY, USA

Gerald Howard, NJ, USA

Antonios Triantafyllakis, UBIE, Germany/Greece

Dr Jurgen De Wispelaere, University of Bath, UK

Barb Jacobson, Basic Income UK

Dr Eri Noguchi, Association to Benefit Children / Columbia University, USA

Roland Duchatelet, business leader, former member of the Belgian Senate

Dr Suryakant Waghmore, associate professor of Sociology, IIT-Bombay

Hilde Latour, Vereniging Basisinkomen / Mission Possible 2030, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Wim Kiezenberg, founder everyday.earth, France

Diane Pagen, LMSW, co-founder Basic Income March, co-founder Basic Income NYC, USA

Victor Chudnovsky, physicist/software engineer/activist, organiser of Basic Income Action, Seattle; Seattle WA, USA, 

Professor James Ferguson, Stanford University, USA

Gaspard Koenig, founder of think-tank GenerationLibre, Paris, France

Dr Francie Lund, Social Policy Analyst, South Africa

Scott Baker, Public Banking Institute senior advisor, Common Ground-USA Board Member, Author of America is Not Broke!

Monica Sanchez de Ocaña, founding partner, Baobab Development Consultancy, Barcelona, Spain

Dr Simon Duffy, director of the Centre for Welfare Reform, Sheffield, UK

Juliet Schor, professor of Sociology, Boston College, USA

Dr Gregory E Ellcessor, assistant professor of Audiology at Ball State University Muncie Indiana, USA

Dr Hannah Hoechner, University of East Anglia, UK

Professor Arto Laitinen, Tampere University, Finland

Johanna Perkiö, Tampere University, Finland

Troy Hendeerson, lecturer in Political Economy, University of Sydney

Ping Xu, Founder, UBI Asia Pacific 

Dr Julia Elyachar, associate professor of Anthropology, Princeton University, USA

Dr Kimberly R Kelly, California State University, Long Beach, USA

Mark Erickson, Skokie USA

Aoife Hegarty, Galway, Ireland

Natalie Barbosa, Manchester, UK

Pavel Vassiliev, Basic Income Geoblock, RF

Bop Hoek, Nijmegen, Netherlands

Ebony Grace Thompson, Sussex, UK 

Dr Uma Rani, Switzerland

Michelle MacDonagh, London, UK

Brenda Lee Quiles Alvarado, Puerto Rico 

Sarah Bracking, King’s College London, UK

Evamaria Langer-Dombrady founder and secretary of The First Hungarian

Unconditional Basic Income Association

Ursula Pfleger vice-chairman of The First Hungarian Unconditional Basic Income Association

Györgyi Szentpeteri chairman of The First Hungarian Unconditional Basic Income Association

Zita Stockwell-Szabadka vice-chairman of The First Hungarian Unconditional Basic Income Association

Jorge Pinto, Centre for Ethics, Politics and Society, University of Minho, Portugal

Lesley Jansen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

John Harriss, professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada

James Mulvale, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

Dr Samuel Arnold, Texas Christian University, USA 

Sheila Regehr, chairperson, Basic Income Canada Network

Johannes Mehrer, Cambridge University, UK 

Dr Ali Mutlu Köylüoğlu, Citizen’s Basic Income Research Development Culture and Dissemination Society, Istanbul, Turkey

Ashwin Subramanian, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Goettingen, Germany

Nikola Boskovski, MD, Miami, Florida, United States

Dr Jenna van Draanen, University of British Columbia, Canada

Michael Anthony Lewis, professor at Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, USA

Alia Amirali, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Louise Stinchcombe, teacher, Exeter, UK

Ashutosh Pandey, student at Jindal School of Governance and Public Policy, India

Peter Brake, accountant, New Zealand

Julio Linares, Social Outreach Basic Income Earth Network, Guatemala

Dr Elise Klein (OAM), Australian National University

Halvor Haugan, Frontline AIDS, United Kingdom

Giulia Gaia,TA, Trinity Primary Academy, United Kingdom

Gabriela Cabaña, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Dr Leah Hamilton, Appalachian State University, NC, USA

Loriana Luccioni, PhD student, The University of Queensland, Australia

Talon J Powers, JD, San Diego, CA, USA

Fabio Waltenberg, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil

Brett D Buckner, Minnesota, USA

Professor Frances Stewart, professor Emeritus, University of Oxford, UK

Jeremy Schwartz, associate professor of Economics, Loyola University Maryland, USA

Dr Kathryn J Perkins, California State University, Long Beach, USA

Fernando Freitas, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil

Dr Rodney Dobell (PhD, MIT) Emeritus professor of Public Policy, University of Victoria, Canada

Sid Frankel, PhD, University of Manitoba, Canada

Gert Van Hecken, PhD, Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp, Belgium

Cameron Thibos PhD, openDemocracy, USA

Geoff Taylor, St Clare’s, University of Oxford, UK

Dr Peter T Knight, Instituto Fernand Braudel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Leandro Ferreira, chair of the Brazilian Basic Income Network

Dr Katharina Lenner, University of Bath, UK

Sam Gregory, chair of UBI Lab Sheffield, UK

Sadia Tasleem, lecturer, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, QAU, Islamabad, Pakistan

Professor Greg Marston, Basic Income Guarantee Australia, Australia

Robin Ketelaars, UBIE, Basic Income Avocat, The Netherlands

Brazilian Basic Income Network Executive Committee

Professor Philippe Van Parijs, UC Louvain, Belgium

Professor, Joshua Ruiz, Puerto Rico 

John Baker, Emeritus professor, University College Dublin 

Dr Kerrie Thornhill, Résolu Ltd

Michele Gianella, UBIE Italy

Dr Anjali Dutt, University of Cincinnati, USA

Dr Dario Azzellini, Cornell University, USA/Berlin, Germany
Christoph Meier, Farmer, Dominican Republic

Chris LaPlante, Blacksburg, VA, USA

Assistant professor Tony Hughes, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr Simon Parker, University of York, UK

Dr Tracy Smith-Carrier, King’s at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada

Jeff Tangel, adjunct professor of Philosophy, Saint Xavier University Chicago

Hazel Gray, senior lecturer, University of Edinburgh

Paul Stoneman, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Will Stronge, director of Autonomy

Dave Fary, carpenter, Silver spring, MD, USA

Dr Andrew Watt, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr Michael Lew, University of Melbourne, Australia

Professor Ofer Sharone, University of Massachusetts, USA

Dr Thibault Laurentjoye, EHESS, Paris, France

Dr Miguel Loureiro, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Gunmin Yi, Institute for Political & Economic Alternatives, South Korea

Professor Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy, São Paulo city councilman, former senator, EAESP/FGV-SP, Brazil

Nam Hoon Kang, professor, Hanshin University, Osan, Korea

The Honourable Kim Pate, CM, senator, Senate of Canada

Tyler Prochazka, chairman, UBI Taiwan

Anja Askeland, chair BIEN Norway

James Davis, MPP candidate Harvard Kennedy School

John LaRocco, Singapore

Dr James Morrissey

Josh McGee, Basic Income Australia, Melbourne, Australia

Jim Bryan, professor of Economics, Manhattanville College, USA

Tim Hollo, The Green Institute, Canberra, Australia, visiting fellow at RegNet, Australian National University 

Mario Yaco, Peacetrust philosopher, Washington State, USA

Sjur Cappelen Papazian, Board member BIEN Norway

Tadashi Okanouchi, professor, HOSEI University, Tokyo, Japan

David Knezevic, MSW, RSW, Basic Income London, Woodstock, ON, Canada

Dr Liane Gale, BIGMN,  Basic Income Guarantee Minnesota, BIWAG, Basic Income Women Action Group, Minnesota, USA

Professor Wayne Simpson, Department of Economics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

Susan Abells, Victoria, BC, Canada

Professor Emeritus William H Cooper, Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Professor Seungho Baek, the Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, South Korea

For the full list of signatories, click here

A good outcome?

When initially I learned that the chief scientific adviser stated that 20,000 dead would be considered a good outcome, I thought the article was satire. As was indicated, 8,000 per year die from the seasonal flu for a point of comparison.

Let us briefly consider the case of China. Despite no prior warning and an extremely high population density China has, at the time of writing, limited deaths to 3,237. The number of new cases in China is now almost negligible. While fatalities might still increase within China, it is reasonably safe to say that they will almost certainly keep total deaths within their borders to under 20,000.

Why then, if a country with 20 times the population of the UK can keep deaths to below this number, would we consider this a goalpost? It is the responsibility of the state to do all it can to protect its most vulnerable citizens. The government should set itself loftier ambitions than allowing 20,000 of its citizens to die.

Alexis Gkantiragas
London NW5

The NHS can’t cope with this

The government’s announcements on the latest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases feels meaningless to me given the crazy limitations imposed on who is able to have the test.

When will Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak admit that the NHS probably does not have the capacity to enable them to follow WHO advice: test, test, test?

I don’t suppose it has anything to do with the NHS being on induced life-support itself since 2010?

Eddie Dougall
Bury St Edmunds

Delay Brexit

I could not agree more with your editorial (Boris Johnson has another no-cost option to soften the blow of coronavirus – delaying Brexit, 18 March) and this is surely the only legitimate and sensible way ahead.

The talks have been postponed and this country and the EU have a lot more on their hands than the matter of negotiating a trade deal.

As you rightly state, it would be unforgivable to approach Brexit as business as usual and it is time the prime minister and the leading gung-ho exponents realised this.

Lives are at stake now, not trade deals. Let’s get the necessary perspective on this, and fast. We have been led by the nose by ultra-Brexiteers for long enough, time for them to wake up and appreciate that this is a worldwide Titanic iceberg and not a small inconvenience.

Judith A Daniels

Today’s editorial in The Independent is spot on. Bill Shankly, the former Liverpool manager is reputed to have said “some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”

Over the last three years, for a section of the British population, it has seemed that you could substitute the word football with Brexit. At this moment of crisis for the nation, when we are literally talking about life and death, surely every organ and sinew of the state should be focused on attempting to reduce mortality and relieve the impact of the coronavirus. Anyone advocating in the next few months that we should still rush to get Brexit done would show a level of fanaticism and lack of humanity worthy of all our contempt and opprobrium.

MT Harris

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