In March of 2011, a Brazilian Senator named Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy handed a letter to the President of the United States at a dinner in Brazil. The letter was from members of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (US BIG), and the intention was to introduce Obama to a smart, efficient and just economic idea that is already being introduced in Brazil; and has been working well for decades in Alaska.
It is September. There has as yet been no response.
The idea is known as “basic income guarantee,” at times called “guaranteed income.” I have to say I don’t have a lot of hope for Obama’s receptiveness to such an innovative, radically different approach to economic growth and sustainability. I did have high hopes about two years ago. Obama has proven himself to be quite the status quo advocate. When he first won the office of the President, I sent him a copy of the essay, “Toward Full Unemployment”, written by Robert Theobald, with a well thought out letter. In return for my attempt at citizen participation I got a stale form letter back, thanking me for my “input” and assuring me that my “input” was “important.”
As a supporter of the basic income concept and a member of USBIG, I think that the United States is so in the dark in the area of social, economic and cultural rights that talking about even the simplest terms of Basic Income is, scarily, beyond the understanding of U.S. leaders and U.S. politicians. To understand Basic Income, one first has to believe that humans should have social, economic, and cultural rights (as distinguished from civil and political rights). We’d have to have a citizenry that comprehends these concepts, and wishes to ask for their own social, economic and cultural rights to be protected and fulfilled.
The U.S. does not even teach its citizens to understand nor expect these rights, nor to even understand that these rights exist today in some other national systems. Not a single American, not even ones who are living in the most dire poverty, have any impulse to ask for economic rights from our leaders. This is a problem for the basic income movement.
Anyone who DOES want to learn about this very excellent solution to unemployment is welcome to visit the site, http://www.usbig.net/.