Why everyone should have a basic income | Guy Standing | TEDxKlagenfurt

Why everyone should have a basic income | Guy Standing | TEDxKlagenfurt

Translator: Michele Gianella
Reviewer: Ellen Maloney All of us should have dreams. And I want to begin by saying
something that is very famous, that it’s from the impossible,
the dreamers of the impossible, rather than the slaves of the possible, that social evolution
draws its creative force. My dream is that every one of us,
in every community, should have a basic income as a right. An individual basic income
given as a right, without conditions, and paid individually. For a long time such an idea
would have been regarded as a dream. An impossible dream. But in the last couple of years
a remarkable number of people, including Nobel Prize winners
and people like yourselves, have come to realize that it is not only possible,
but feasible, desirable, affordable. So a remarkable change. And we have established
a network called BIEN, Basic Income Earth Network, and I just hope at least
one of you listening will join us in the struggle. Because it is going to be a struggle, and it will only come about
if we collectively demand it. And that is possible and desirable. Now, what is the context? The context is that we are undergoing
a global transformation, in which a global
market system is developing, but the insecurities and the inequalities
are multiplying all over the world. And in that process,
a new class structure is taking shape. And the biggest mass class
is the precariat: people who are being forced
to accept a life of unstable labor without an occupational identity, relying on low stagnant money wages, without rights. They’re supplicants,
having to ask for favors. Beggars, really. It’s a process that’s
affecting millions of people, and many of them,
since my books were published, have been writing to me
telling me their stories. But there’s a danger in this. The danger is that the winners
are getting scared, because people like us are getting angry. And so they’re beginning to listen
to debates about a basic income. Now what is the justification
for a basic income? First, and really, very importantly, a basic income is a matter
of social justice. Justice means that we should recognize – all of us, individually – that the wealth and income of anybody is far more to do
with the efforts of our ancestors than anything you or I do for ourselves. But why should we have
private inheritance of wealth, and not social inheritance? So you can see a basic income
as a sort of social dividend on the collective wealth
produced by our ancestors. It’s a fundamental demand associated
with Thomas Paine for social justice. The second justification
for a basic income is that it would improve and enhance
our sense of freedom. Republican freedom,
as the philosophers call it. This freedom means the freedom not to be dominated
by figures of authority. Be abusive husbands, bureaucrats,
government officials, or whatever. This sense of freedom has been lost
in the last 30 years of globalization for millions and millions of people. And the third justification
is that we need basic security. Without basic security,
all of us become irrational. We are unable to control ourselves,
control our time, deal with the stresses of life. But if you have basic security, as the psychologists
and economists have taught us, you not only deal better with stress but you are more tolerant towards others, you are more altruistic,
you’re more productive in what you do. And believe me, as we have found, if you have basic security
you work more, not less. And when you work, you’re more productive
and more cooperative, not less. It’s a lie to say that if we had basic income security
we would become lazy. On the contrary, it will release
the energies and the dynamism inside ourselves
and inside our communities. But we need basic security
for a more fundamental reason, which is, why elites and the rich
are suddenly listening to this debate. If we don’t have basic security,
part of the precariat the less educated part,
not you in this room, but many people, will listen to the sirens of populism, of neo-fascist intolerance. Today their hero is Donald Trump. I hope we all laugh
a little louder than that. (Laughter) Donald Trump. You have your own
charismatic equivalent in Austria, so don’t let’s be too smug. We in Britain have our own equivalents. In France, Marine Le Pen will be striding the theaters
in the next few months. But unless we have basic security
for the ordinary person in the precariat, more and more people
will be tempted to support that type. And that’s dangerous for all of us, right? A basic income would also have
instrumental advantages in the economy, boosting development and growth. And would be ecologically sustainable, because it would encourage more people to spend more time
doing work that is not labor. Labor uses up resources
in jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. The work we do in our communities, caring for our relatives,
caring for things around us, is more ecologically sustainable. We need a slow time movement
to go with the slow food movement. It’s realistic possibilities,
it means changing our concept of growth. Now I want to end my talk by reflecting on something that has been
a dream I never expected to realize. For a long time, people said
that a basic income is impossible. For a long time people said,
“Only in very rich countries.” And then I was working with the SEWA, Self-Employed Women’s
Association of India. I gave them a talk about basic income, and one young woman stood up and said, why don’t we try it here? From that point it took three years
for us to design and raise the money, and we provided 6,000 men,
women, and children, in nine areas, with a basic income for 18 months. And we compared what happened to them with a similar number
of people in other areas who were not receiving the basic income. So it was a randomized controlled trial. And what happened was this:
First of all, the welfare improved. The nutrition of people improved, the sanitation,
the schooling of the children, the health of people improved. We have a book that’s just out,
with a woman on the front. Disabled: she had no legs. At the beginning of the pilot, she was so impoverished
she had no clothes to wear in public. By the end of the pilot,
she has a beautiful sari, she has a sewing machine, and she’d become the seamstress,
the dressmaker of the village. With dignity, doing work. In addition to the welfare effects,
there were equity effects. If you have a basic income
that’s equal for everybody, the relatively poor,
the relatively disadvantaged benefit more than the rich. But it’s a right, so everybody
should have it, OK? It’s affordable, as I’ve shown in this other book
that’s just come out. Now, in addition to the equity effects,
there is also an economic effect. Contrary to all those prejudiced people, who said that if you give
people a basic income they will sit back and drink, indulge in things you shouldn’t be doing, blah blah blah. Sonia Gandhi told us that. She said, this is a waste
of money! Waste of money So we were very interested to see. As it turned out,
in every area work went up! In every area, women in particular were able to do better types of work, had access to resources. The only group for which
work went down were children! This is a terrible thing, we have to get
really worried about this. The reason was, of course,
is they were going to school. That’s a real setback. I hope none of you believe that. Now, in addition, people
were more entrepreneurial, in their small ways, like this woman buying her sewing machine
with the help of her family. And also we saw people
who had been in debt for generations, in debt bondage. And they used their little basic income and their relatives
contributed some of theirs, and they were able to buy their freedom. And that leads to the fourth effect. The fourth effect is emancipation. The emancipatory value of a basic income
is greater than the money value. We only gave a small amount,
but it meant people had liquidity. It meant people had
a certain status in their community. It meant people had control and put aside on loans and dealing with debts
and dealing with this sort of thing. And the emancipation
we’ve seen in our pilots in India has also been shown
in our pilots in Africa, and will be shown in the pilots now being undertaken
in Finland, in the Netherlands, in Canada, and in California,
where I’ve just been invited. It will show that
the emancipation matters. And I want to end my talk
by giving you two anecdotes. I went to one of the villages,
the Indian villages at the beginning. And we had to get everybody
to sign a card in order for them to get
the basic income each month. But all the young women
in that particular village wore veils so we couldn’t take their photographs. They had to go into a hut, and have their photographs
taken in private. I went back to that village
six months later, while the pilot was still going and I said to an Indian
colleague of mine, “Have you noticed
a change in this village?” And he said, “No.” I said, “All the women
are not wearing veils, Why is that?” And we called some of the women across. and we asked them, and they were
reluctant to say anything, as people are to strangers. And then one of them said,
“I will tell you. Before we had to do
what the elders told us to do. Now we have a little money
in our pockets, we can decide ourselves.” That is emancipation. In the African pilots which we did, I went at the end
and I asked some people, “What was the best thing
about having a basic income?” And I called some young women across. I asked this question, and they giggled.
They didn’t want to answer. And then one plucked the courage
and said, “I’ll tell you, for us. Before, when the men
came down from the fields, at the end of the month,
with their money in their pockets, we had to say, ‘yes.’ Now, we say, ‘no.'” That is emancipation. Thank you very much. (Applause)


  1. Seoirse O'Seagha says:

    here's crazy idea. why don't we just make housing, electricity, food and water FREE! everything else is a want and not a need therefore you must work for it.. hmmm..

  2. Taylor Townsend says:

    Hello socialism, is that a new hat you have there?

    The absolute state of the useful idiots that spout that capitalism is bad and the concept of the "free" world being free and capitalism is an uncomfortable kind of irony.

  3. Michael Samuel says:

    The gov't should provide the unemployed with a basic income to get the start to become a useful, productive, law-abiding citizen. See my video – poverty eradication worldwide/michael samuel – on youtube.

  4. darkwhitedirewolf says:

    looks good on paper

  5. mary shaffer says:

    Under former welfare it was subsistence level. How are they choosing the rate for UBI?

  6. lisa starves says:

    What i dont understand is that.. why PEOPLE are homeless… and there's rich.. people that can rent… a person… too CLEAN there house.. or a small jobs.. around… homeless people can clean.. up.. and so on.. or something…

  7. Chris Johnson says:

    UBI is a pacifier to prevent rebellion. It's temporary relief. It's like the Bush check back in 2001-02. UBI does not get to the core of the issue.

  8. anonym who says:

    What about equalizing inflation… The dollar buys less and less these days. How about making the dollar buy as much as it did 50 to 75 years ago. Reboot the US dollar. What if you went to bed on Friday you just got paid working 40 hrs a week and after taxes you brought home $500. You wake up Saturday and all of a sudden the value of the dollar doubled or tripled???? Wouldn't it be awesome to wake up to 1000$ 1500$ dollars of buying power for working the same amount of labor. You could afford to buy groceries and pay your car note this week etc

  9. Alma Galicia says:

    The idea sounds great,but how can it be guaranteed economically? where will the money come in order to guarantee everybody's UBI? will "the rich people" pay for the rest of us? the (now broken) States?
    I don't clearly see how can this be done specifically; we live in an epoch and we have seen throughout human history,that scarcity of resources,jobs,etc,is the law and that if someone has money or resources in his pocket it means that other people will have less resources on their pockets….so if humanity has completely failed to produce equity and to provide goods as really needed for everyone,how can in this time of economical crisis we can expect to give people money "by the face"? someone must have to produce that value and turn it into the money taht will flow into other's people's UBI's…..who will sacrifice themselves for the UBI's of other people,"the rich" people will? i don't see how they area going to agree with this.
    It seems much more likely that they spread a pandemics and exterminate the problem by slaughtering most of the human population before they have to release a single cent from their bank accounts.

  10. Mythak Sindorei says:

    Stop overconsuming as a protest. Dont give the big capitalists your money.

  11. Hanna5859 says:

    Emancipation? Ha! The government big enough to give everyone a UBI can threaten to take it away if you disagree with government policies and ruling party's values and goals. The Luciferian rulers will always push their rationalized hidden agendas. You don't buy their programs? Zap!!! Your carrots are taken away, and no more buying and selling for you!

  12. Sreekrishna Koppuravuri says:

    I prepared a model in which everyone gets basic income. The general excuse of governments in implementing this system is that they cannot afford it. But, we can overcome this in my plan. We, the people can do it on our own. So, golden days are ahead for mankind.

  13. Jason Smith says:

    Socialist genocide is the future.

  14. Peter Jolliffe says:

    You just cannot beat the fact that the vast majority of people who get up and go to work every day absolutely hate with a passion seeing so many perfectly fit and healthy unemployed people getting something for nothing while they are having to 'work hard' every day for whatever they have. It makes them even angrier when quite often the unemployed people who know how to work/cheat the system appear to have even more than they have. … This problem with the way all those people FEEL certainly cannot just be shrugged off and ignored…. or cured with a UBI or with any other form of extra money or benefits….It absolutely MUST be made financially worthwhile for people to be able to start sharing the jobs we actually need people to do and to work LESS….not to have more and more people unemployed.

  15. Cheng Zhong says:

    Being lazy is new style. No free money
    If time someone want free and someone paids

  16. Cheng Zhong says:

    This is joke. basic income take away from hard working and give to lazy. How about provide each humans a job?

  17. James Stevenson says:

    Let's hope we have UBI soon!

  18. żbik says:

    Are there any anti-UBI videos on TED?

  19. Furrowed Brow says:

    This guy is a hard-core socialist.

  20. Syklone says:

    Poverty is simply a lack of trust in the poor to manage their money. For years people have tried to solve the world's money problems with almost ever method possible – except actually giving people money. Poor people are not poor by choice – more that they are born into that world and then conditioned to believe that they are worthless.

    A Basic Income would give them security and options to go further without fear of stigma or destitution. They wouldn't save the money in some offshore account either, they'd damn well spend it.

    It's the 21st century – the idea that food and shelter are luxuries is utterly barbaric!

  21. Kendall says:

    He needs to argue more about how it will work in the long-term, because that is where many economists agree that a UBI system will capitulate (10-20 years).

  22. arkdark555 says:

    This guy is genuine. And what he’s talking about makes loads of sense.

  23. Paweł Lipko says:

    Has anyone thought where would one (the govt) get money to fund UBI?
    Like at least 3 TRILLION $ for US?

  24. Meh Jones says:

    We know WHY WE SHOULD GET IT. But the greedy focks don't care HOW much we demand it. They'll never let go of their greed. They don't like our freedom.

  25. Graf Zeppelin says:

    We don’t need taxes to fund UBI. Let the US government correct the money creation system. End the FED, let the goverment print it’s own money, problem solved.

  26. Michelle h says:

    Andrew Yang 2020! His main platform is Universal Basic Income.

  27. Siddhesh Patwardhan says:

    Check out presidential candidate Andrew Yang and donate 1 dollar

  28. capitandelnorte says:

    Something clearly has to be done in response to the job market created by the current conditions. My scepticism is that UBI is not enough. People need more then cash, they need the feeling that they are good at something, that there is a chance to get up, to improve. If there are not enough jobs you still miss out on the feeling of feeling that you are useful.

  29. Stanley TryHard says:

    Someone's been there, advocated that…but Karl Marx was fortunately for that period ahead of his time…now, as you see in these comments, we are eating up the growing fruits of socialism. Whatever happened to 'those who don't work don't eat. Government dependence has BROUGHT us to this point, and this guy wants government and 'collective demand' to get us out of it. Did you know that the govt has another backlog of cheese and butter it wants to hand out?

  30. Blackdogsmatter says:

    America is the land of opportunity, not financial security. You act like work is a bad thing. Sometime you need fear to get you off the couch. This is the craziest plan I’ve ever heard. Typical social justice warrior, who’s money will you be giving away?

  31. L says:

    One thing I don't like is that he has to get political with it marking UBI as a liberal idea. History has shown Nixon alone tried to get UBI going so I'd say at this point its an idea both sides can agree upon, don't exclude half the country from hearing your message.

  32. sundiii99OWS says:

    In 1923 Upton Sinclair, a socialist, said in “The Goose-Step” that Colleges teach slavery! The Wage! AND folly not wisdom, hate not love, slavery not freedom, greed not sharing. Capitalism teaches “Spend more than you have”! Don’t do what capitalists teach! The MLM CONCEPT (without many products) is for everyone before the JOBLESS FUTURE hits people worldwide. MLM uses GRI – Guaranteed Residual Income. It could quickly end world poverty if we all work together! No capitalist whoremongers etc. (Revelation 21:8 & 22:15)

  33. 738hickory says:

    Liberals are always generous with other people's money. This will not work. It will cause inflation and they will want higher and higher guaranteed free money. Let's extrapolate. If say $1,000/month will greatly help people, then $10,000/month will be ten times as good and $100,000/month a hundred times as good.

  34. Cliff says:

    Does anyone consider inflation?
    Will this be given to citizens only?
    How much is $1,000 worth if everyone has it?

    Yes, We have record high unemployements now. I just wish both sides spoke on this more. Because it can be manipulated if the wrong side does…

  35. Trovinizard says:

    Vote for Andrew Yang for president 2020, he wants to implement UBI!

  36. Jim Brauer says:


  37. Luis Cuartas says:

    The idea of a basic income is very intelligent, in this way Human suffering would be alleviated a little and will open more jobs because that basic income will be spent to create Jobs, in many different ways.

  38. siina siukola says:

    I didnt understand where the money would come from if every citizen had a basic income? The government's money doesnt come from a hole in the ground but from taxes that we pay, if I have understood well?
    What is the theory for from where they would get the money?

  39. makeitsupersized says:

    God hates pride in anyone but people twist the Bible’s words into their own god hates hubris like in conservatism.

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