By Brian Small at Mar 18, 2009
I did a quick search of Znet to see if anyone mentioned Basic Income initiatives. Nothing came up.
From Daniel Raventos' Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom's Product Description
Basic Income is simply the idea that everyone in a given society has a right to a minimal income. This is paid by the state out of taxation. Set at a subsistence level, it would take the place of unemployment and other benefits. This would bring profound social changes. Anyone could opt out of employment at any time. Those with few skills would no longer be forced to take up jobs with poor prospects, and employers offering McJobs would be forced to offer better terms. And money wasted by the state in means testing and tracing benefit fraud is saved.
I first read of the idea in a Japanese sponsor-free weekly magazine. (Shyukan Kinyoubi 2008/12/19 - It had a pretty impressive cover Big Bearded Head photo with large-font "Talking with Marx" headline). The same magazine just had a special collection of articles on the subject in their March 6th issue also. The only reason I noticed the term Basic Income was because the subject of that first interview, Yoshiharu Shiraishi, is a student of French and sees himself carrying on in the democratic tradition of Chomin Nakae, Shusui Kotoku and Sakae Oosugi - the Japanese Anarchist tradition. (p.30 12/19 issue) He was comparing the high costs of Japan's universities to France's. No matter how much French he teaches the French language isn't worn down. Why charge students as "consumers" when they're actually producting their future. (p. 32 12/19 issue) He challenged the neoliberal conception of "The tragedy of the commons" with this idea that no matter how much you teach language and concepts they aren't degraded to become less valuable or useful.
Not only should education be free, but people should have the right to reject work, unemployment as a right. (p.34 12/19 issue). "We have the freedom to enter the labor market, but no freedom to leave it." He sees establishing a basic income as a way to guarantee a basic right to live (p.33 12/19). I was surprised that I had never heard Basic Income debated (or even mentioned) in any of the Z materials. (I might be wrong)
Shiraishi's article, in the recent magazine features on Basic Income, lists several Japanese economists that are that are warming to the idea and countries that are already moving on implementation. (p. 11 3/6 issue) Brazil unde the Labor Party's Lula administration in 2003 passed laws to bring in "renda basica de cidadania", South Africa in 2002 was about to bring in Basic Income Grants (BIG) and Namibia has started a test project (BIGC,Basic Income Grant Coalition) in Otjivero-Omitara village as of January 2008.(p. 11 3/6 issue) Wikipedia mentions this experiment also.
In 2008, a pilot project with a basic income grant was started in the Namibian village of Otjivero by the Namibian Basic Income Grant Coalition. After six months the project has been found to significantly reduce child malnutrition and increase school attendance. It was also found to increase the community's income significantly above the actual amount from the grants as it allowed citizens to partake in more productive economic activities. 
Shiraishi also writes that the Green parties in Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Canada and other places have been advocating BI and working it into their platforms. (p. 11 3/6 issue) Again Wikipedia provides this information in English
The Green parties in Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Canada and other places have been advocating BI and working it into their platforms. (p. 11 3/6 issue) Again Wikipedia provides English text to the same effect.
Many countries have political parties that advocate a basic income, such as the Green Party of Canada, Green Party of England and Wales, Vivant (Belgium), De Groenen (The Netherlands), the Scottish Green Party, and the New Zealand Democratic Party.
Worldwide, supporters of a basic income have united in the Basic Income Earth Network. BIEN recognizes numerous national advocacy groups.
Shiraishi's explanation of BI as remined me of Michael Albert's use of non-reformist reforms." Adopting Basic Income will achieve more than simply leveling the playing field with capital. We will be able to step away from wage labor and start organization to do the truly necessary work we'd like to do. The ourselves will concieve the new world. Demands for a Basic Income are not outrageous. Basic income is a modest beginning for true democracy, goverment for all by all. .. "
Shuuji Ozawa looks at the finances and taxes involved in implementing an unconditionall payment of 80,000 yen (about 800 U.S. dollars) to all citizens. A family of three with a 7 million yen annual income ends up with a bit more money after taxes, as would a single person with and income of 2 million yen (about 20,000 US dollars). A single person with a 9 million yen income (90,000 dollars) ends up with less. Poor Baby. (p. 13 3/6).
I mentioned the articles to a Japanese friend, he did some internet research and said it was an interesting way to think about taxes and social safety nets.
I did a quick search for English Material for Basic Income and stumbled on books through Amazon.com. Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom by Daniel Raventos and The Ethics And Economics of the Basic Income Guarantee (Alternative Voices in Contemporary Economics) by Karl Widerquist, Michael Anthony Lewis, Steven Pressman. The blurb for Ethics and Economics was provoking and you can read some of the book online.
Basic income guarantee (BIG) proposals have been around in one form or another at least since Thomas Paine proposed his version in Agrarian Justice (1796)...
I'd be interested to see some Z writer's analysis of Basic Income. MIght it be an easy concept to work toward? WIth a Basic Income Guarantee more people might have the wiggle room to be more active and even experiment with Parecon initiatives.