Articles by Elise Klein

Dr Elise Klein is a lecturer of Development Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests span conditionality in Indigenous policy, psy-expertise in development interventions, women’s economic empowerment and economic rights. Dr Klein has a doctorate from the University of Oxford and also held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Centre for Aboriginal Policy Research at the Australian National University. Her new book Developing Minds: Psychology, Neoliberalism and Powerhas just been released by Routledge.

Towards an Historical Account of Universal Basic Income

On the 9th December, 2016, the Green Institute published the paper Can Less Work be More Fair: a discussion paper on Universal Basic Income and Shorter Working Week. As part of this release Green Agenda will be republishing a number of essay from the paper.

We start today with Elise Klein’s paper, “Towards an Historical Account of Universal Basic Income.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a simple idea which has been supported over the centuries by scholars and intellectuals including Thomas More, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, Henry George, Bertrand Russell, Franklin Roosevelt and Tony Atkinson. Universal Basic Income unconditionally provides every resident (children and adults) of a particular geographic location, a regular and unconditional subsistence wage.

Scholars, activists, and politicians have argued that UBI has radical potential for societies around the world. Reviewing the contemporary literature, there are three main ways UBI has been talked about:

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Securing Economic Rights: the time has come

It is frequently claimed that Australians live in one of the world’s best democracies. Yet in the last 30 years, we have seen a demise of power held by the people of Australia. The post war era in the West has focused on preserving and advocating for civil and political rights such as voting rights, freedom of assembly and expression. Yet, economic rights such as those relating to full and meaningful work (not labour), economic security and distribution have been eroded at best, and neglected at worst.

Economic rights are about access to resources and capabilities that promote security and dignity. They are not to be confused with private property rights nor as welfare to work strategies. The neglect of economic rights in the post war era has meant that the freedom of all Australians has been radically undermined. We now need to focus on economic rights as a means not just to restore democracy, but also as a way of fighting poverty, inequality and climate change. Continue reading →