Dr Guy Standing, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, Professor in Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, joins this programme. To the leading question – in which countries UBI will be introduced, he said that when we started advocating for a universal basic income we all presumed that it would take place in western European countries first, but we are amazed to see a lot of support for this in developing countries. This is in addition to on-going, successful programmes in Canada, the Netherlands, Finland and other western countries, where we have been running pilot programmes which have been very successful. What is even more extraordinary is that several billionaire plutocrats in Silicon Valley in California have shown interest, and said that they would like to help launch pilots both in developing countries and in the United States.
So it could start really in any of these countries. Dr Standing said that he has been rather surprised because the support that the UBI movement has been getting “cuts across all sorts of political lines. We are getting support in the USA for example from people on the political right. They see Basic Income in a different way, they see that for a market economy to function properly, everybody must be able to make rational decisions, and that means having enough personal security to be able to make rational decisions. People on the left see it as being a way to establish a new income distribution system.”
The implementation of UBI programmes will not happen in a universal way, Dr Standing feels, but develop in a piecemeal fashion. It will start in one place then spread to another and will be built up in different ways in different countries. “If you look back at any social movement that has been profoundly important, it’s like jigsaw pieces which gradually come together, and it is easy to see how it happened after the event rather than before. I’m very encouraged by this period of experimentation when politicians and policy makers are moving to thinking outside of the box.”
One question that is in many people’s minds is: will wealthy people also receive UBI? Dr Standing’s answer is that UBI should be universal, every citizen should receive it. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t tax back from the rich. But if it is universal, it is easy to administer, transparent, and can be implemented in an easy way.