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USBIG NewsFlash Vol. 14, No. 69, Summer 2013 (B.I.G. = Basic Income Guarantee)

By Karl Widerquist  Posted by Scott Baker (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Is there a Money Tree to cure Poverty? by N.A.

The USBIG NewsFlash is both the newsletter of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network and the U.S. edition of the Basic Income Earth Network's NewsFlash. The USBIG Network ( promotes the discussion of the basic income guarantee (BIG) in the United States. BIG is a policy that would unconditionally guarantee at least a subsistence-level income for everyone. If you would like to be added to or removed from this list please go to:
For questions, contact the editor, Karl Widerquist


1. ALASKA: Future of the state's dividend in the balance during oil tax fight

2. Opinion: Important study finds that giving money to the poor increases both employment and wages
3. UNITED STATES: Allan Sheahen tours to promote his book, the Basic Income Guarantee: Your right to economic security
4. BIG news from around the world (India, Switzerland, Germany, Malaysia, Venezuela, and international)
5. Events (Alaska, New York, California, Namibia, Montreal)
6. Publications
7. Links
8. Audio-Video
9. The NewsFlash and BI News request volunteers
10. Links and other info

1. ALASKA: Future of the state's dividend in the balance during oil tax fight

The future of Alaska's small basic income guarantee, the Alaska Dividend, is in the background while a fight is going on over the state's oil tax policy.

The Alaska Dividend is a small basic income guarantee financed out of the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF), a pool of investments, accumulated from savings from Alaska's state oil revenue. The future financing of the Alaska Dividend is indirectly related to all state government financing, for two reasons. First, if tax revenue ever falls short, the government could dip into the APF to finance state spending instead of the dividend. Many experts think the government is very likely to do this if and when oil revenues run short. It has in the past done so in surreptitious ways. For example it gives the penal system dividends for each prison inmate to help pay the cost of incarceration. Second, when revenue is high the state can (and often does) add either to the fund or directly to the dividend.

This spring, the Alaska state legislature passed--and the governor signed into law--a bill to greatly reduce taxes on Alaska's oil industry, claiming that it will stimulate greater oil production in the state. The hope of greater oil exports comes at an enormous cost. The new law reduces taxes on oil to 20 to 25 percent below the international average. Oil taxes account for most of the states income, and because of this bill the state budget will go into deficit spending for the first time in years. Yet, the bill has no provisions requiring oil companies to increase production to get the cuts. The oil companies get an unconditional increase in their share of revenue, and Alaska residents get oil the hope that oil companies might respond by increasing production.

A petition movement, called "Vote Yes -- Repeal the Giveaway," has begun in the state to force a vote to repeal the tax cut. The movement has turned in nearly 50,000 signatures to state authorities. If the state certifies that at least 30,169 of the signatures are valid, a referendum on the issue will be held in August of 2014--eight months after the law goes into affect.

Bella Hammond, former first lady of Alaska and widow of Jay Hammond, the father of the Alaska Dividend, has campaigned and written editorials in favor of repealing the cut. She and several other commentators argue that the cut is a significant threat to the future of the Alaska Dividend. -Karl Widerquist, Beaufort, NC July 31, 2013

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For more information, see the following articles and opinion pieces about the issue:

Hammond, Bella, "My Turn: Protecting our legacy and future," the Juneau Empire, June 19, 2013:

Gutierrez, Alexandra, "Oil Tax Referendum Meets Ballot Requirements," Alaska Public Radio Network, July 29, 2013:

Dischner Molly, "Parnell spares budget vetoes, signs SB21," Morris News Service - Alaska, May 29, 2013:

Forgey, Pat, "With stroke of governor's pen, Alaska back in deficit spending," the Alaska Dispatch, May 21, 2013:

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Metcalfe, Ray, "Give away Alaska's fair share of oil wealth, give away Alaskans' PFD checks," the Alaska Dispatch, May 20, 2013:

2. Opinion: Important study finds that giving money to the poor increases both employment and wages

A randomized field study recently conducted in Uganda found that giving money to people without conditions actually increases both how much they work and how much they earn per hour. The study gave a $400 one-time grant to 20 young people, chosen randomly out of a group of rural Ugandans who applied to be a part of the study. Essentially, this grant amount is a one-time basic income, sometimes called a basic capital grant.

Perhaps, $400 doesn't sound like much, but because poverty is so high in rural Kenya, the $400 grant is equivalent to an entire year's income for the people in the study. Researchers then followed the recipients for two and a half years to see how they behaved relative to rural Ugandans who did not receive the grant. What they found might surprise some readers.

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