02 August 2022: “Permissionless Innovation, Freedom, and Basic Income” by Dr. Otto Lehto

On Tuesday, 02 August 2022, the Basic Income Workshop Series continues with a contribution of Philosopher & former FRIBIS visiting scholar Dr. Otto Lehto: „Permissionless Innovation, Freedom, and Basic Income. He is going to present his input and subsequently have a discussion with the audience, Prof. Dr. Karl Widerquist & Prof. Dr. Bernhard Neumärker.

Time: 4pm – 5pm (CEST)

YouTube-Livestream: https://youtu.be/89QqLIbQ2kg

Do you wish to participate in the Zoom-Meeting directly? Send an E-Mail with your request to eventmanagement@fribis.uni-freiburg.de.

Basic income has been tied to real freedom for all (Van Parijs), capitalism and freedom(Friedman), freedom as the power to say no (Widerquist), and many other conceptions of freedom. All of these theories of freedom, despite their differences, involve an institutional structure of rights that gives people the right (both formal and substantive) to experiment with new things, to deviate from the expectations and demands of other people, and otherwise to innovate in a myriad ways. In my talk, I interrogate the relationship between the notion of freedom inherent in such popular
conceptions of basic income and the theories of innovation proposed in evolutionary political economy. (Schumpeter, Hayek, Hogdson, Beinhocker) I will argue that basic income could be seen as a tool of permissionless innovation, which grants people, especially poor people, the right to innovate without having to ask anybody for permission. I will normatively justify this right, not in terms of justice or equity, but in terms of a utilitarian theory of evolutionary welfare enhancement. I will argue that radical innovation is a compelling justification for a liberal implementation of basic income, and innovation should be encouraged in order to more effectively solve the problems of the poor. Crucially, socioeconomic innovation, in this technical sense, extends beyond the economic realm of goods, services, and technologies, to the cultural realm of habits, ideas, and social norms. However, the innovation perspective only justifies certain models of basic income that a) are tied to an extensive regime of market and civil freedoms and b) pass a comparative cost benefit analysis of institutional alternatives. This consequentialist conception challenges several prominent justifications, models, conceptualizations, and implementations of basic income, especially those that see UBI more as a means of stabilizing, equilibrating, or decelerating modernity.

Establishment of “Basic Income for Nature & Climate”: Interview with the team’s coordinator

The newly founded FRIBIS team Basic Income for Nature and Climate explores the connection between basic income, climate change, and biodiversity conservation. The team’s coordinator, the Indonesian researcher Ni Made Rahayu Maitri, has agreed to be interviewed about her research group.
1. What is your team about and what are you doing?
Our Basic Income for Nature and Climate (BINC) research group is interested to explore and investigate the possibility that a basic income scheme can contribute to addressing climate change and biodiversity loss, and thus can be linked to conservation objectives. If such a scheme is possible, we see that this can be a new and doable approach that can be used to address current social and ecological challenges that are associated with climate change and biodiversity loss. We are focusing our research in Tanah Papua where we propose a basic income scheme for nature and climate whereby the scheme distributes a regular dividend payment to all residing citizens in Tanah Papua via a so called “Forest Carbon Dividend” (FCD). The FCD will be funded from mobilizing financial resources or earnings that are generated from putting a value (price) on the forest carbon stocks that are stored in Tanah Papua’s forest.

2. What motivated you to establish the team?
The initiator of the scientific investigation into the basic income for nature and climate scheme in Tanah Papua which, thus, initiate the establishment of this team is our lead scientist, Sonny Mumbunan. He recognizes that Tanah Papua holds global importance in biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation, so, designing a basic income scheme that is linked to conservation objectives can hold a promising approach to addressing climate change and biodiversity issues. By linking financing sources to carbon stock that are stored in the forest, it could serve as a powerful incentive for the local population to conserve and maintain their forest land to enable a lasting basic income payment. Interested readers can learn more about our proposed scheme from our published report here.

3. What are your goals?
Through our current collaboration with FRIBIS, our immediate goal is to initiate policy dialogue in the local, national and international level. By also doing scientific investigations on the proposed basic income scheme in forest-rich districts, we intend to initiate a policy dialogue and discussion that are based on scientific evidence. In the long term, our goal is that the central government, provincial government and/or the donor community in Indonesia are considering to pilot a multi-year basic income scheme of this kind and undertake a basic income trial in one jurisdiction (district) of Tanah Papua.

Lectures by Prof. Bernhard Neumärker on Basic Income in the Climate Crisis

In May 2022, Bernhard Neumärker gave two lectures addressing the potential of basic income in the climate crisis. His May 19 lecture was at the invitation of Students for Future Freiburg and was entitled “Climate Justice and New Ordoliberalism: The Case for Social Sustainability and Basic Income”. In his lecture, Prof. Neumärker shows how climate bonus systems can be designed as a partial basic climate income. He also demonstrates the extent to which net offset systems between CO₂ tax and basic climate income are ecologically and socially disadvantageous in terms of ecological visibility and incentivization when compared to a gross system with separate tax and transfer design. T, based on a German paper on Carbon Pricing and Social Inequality in Germany, he demonstrated that by having a per capita equal repayment of the CO₂ tax, one not only promotes fair redistribution and inequality reduction, but also achieves a higher socio-environmental target efficiency than with the usual means-tested social transfers. Watch this talk on our YouTube-Kanal.

On May 26, Prof. Neumärker gave a keynote speech at the 40th International Energy Workshop at the Konzerthaus in Freiburg. In his lecture “Decarbonization regulation by a tax-transfer system: The Carbon Tax – Climate Basic Income (CaTaBi) Scheme”, he presented his gross tax-transfer system “CaTaBi”, focusing on his governance approach of the so called “New Ordoliberalism”. Among other things, he showed to what extent only CaTaBi is politically strategy proof, while other uses of tax revenues always lead to the expectation of strategic manipulation of politics by interest groups (rent-seeking). In the ecosocial context of the climate crisis, one has to resort to ex post governance, which offers sufficient protection against unforeseen contingencies of climate development. Bernhard Neumärker, on the other hand, does not believe that tackling the climate crisis with statistical forecasts or scenarios ex ante is expedient. Instead, he argued for viewing the “environment” in terms of conflict economics and game theory as an adversary of “nature,” which would in fact react unfavorably to humans due to man-made climate and environmental damage.

In light of recent developments, Bernhard Neumärker drew a parallel between the climate crisis and the Ukraine war. Both crises would likewise reveal that “climate protection” and “national defense” as (global) public goods would only be taken seriously and sufficient investments would only be made if “protection” or “defense” were no longer only discussed in the abstract, but protection against an adversary/aggressor (be it “nature” or the Putin regime) was actively sought. The fact that Germany was only prepared to spend 100 billion euros on its military defense in a state of immediate threat clearly illustrated the underlying precautionary principle.


“Is a Penny a Month a Basic Income?” – Best Paper Award for Toru Yamamori from the FRIBIS Team Universal Basic Income & Gender

Foto: Enno Schmidt

In his new paper:Is a Penny a Month a Basic Income? A Historiography of the Concept of a Threshold in Basic Income, Prof. Toru Yamamori examines the definition of Universal Basic Income under the question of a threshold. Based on its basic pillars: unconditionality, individuality, and universality, he discusses the advantages and disadvantages of a threshold and gives a historical overview of the history and different currents of the demand and definition of a Universal Basic Income. With this paper, he is the winner of the 2021 BIS essay contest in the Journal “Basic Income Studies”.

Without the (re)definition, do we run the risk of calling even one cent a Universal Basic Income when it is paid unconditionally and universally to every individual? What are the reasons and arguments for successively removing this threshold from the definitions? Toru Yamamori discusses why and whether we should reintroduce a threshold into the definition of a Universal Basic Income in this paper, which was awarded the prize for the best paper of 2021 by the journal Basic Income Studies published by De Gruyter Verlag.
The question of the definition of Universal Basic Income is a central theme of the FRIBIS UBI & Gender team, which explores the pillars of definition: universality, unconditionality and individuality from an intersectional feminist perspective. With his historical analysis of the meaning of a threshold, Toru Yamamori has created a starting point for further reflections on the definition of what we call Universal Basic Income from different situations, perspectives and locations, and what this Basic Income means for each of us.

Find the Paper here: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/bis-2021-0037/html

Jessica Schulz is the team coordinator of the Gender & UBI Team and interviewed Toru with respect to his paper.

How did you come to deal with this question of a threshold in particular?

I’ve known that it was common to define UBI with a threshold in 1980s, and has interpreted the non-threshold definition by BIEN as a result of the difficulty of havin g a consensus on what level the threshold would be. However, by witnessing that some leading advocates condemn the definition with a threshold as ‘flawed’ and deny the existence of what I thought a historical fact, I felt to research this issue seriously.

To what extent is the question of a threshold value related to feminist questions about the unconditional basic income?

In the 1970s and 80s in Europe, there were feminist movements that demanded UBI. All of them defined UBI with a threshold. However, those movements have been almost erased both in UBI communities and feminist academia. There might be a logical connection between the easement of those feminist voices and the denial of (and historical revisionism against) the definition of UBI with a threshold. Also, what I learnt through this historical journey, the concept of UBI is a social construct, and what has been included under the label of UBI is not clear cut. Accepting this plurality of the concept, we could ask the following question: What definition of UBI could feminists embrace?


Prof. Dr. Toru Yamamori is a Professor of Economics at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan and Senior Academic Research Editor of BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network). His research includes the philosophical foundations of feminist economics and the oral history of the working class women’s liberation movement that called for unconditional basic income in Britain in the 1970s.

May/June 2022: Basic Income Workshop Series hosted by Karl Widerquist (online)

In the summer term 2022 Karl Widerquist was hosting a workshop series that featured lectures by international guest speakers from the field of basic income research. Detailed Information and the Live-Stream-Link you can find below.

Six lectures had been scheduled for May 2022. On May 10, Simon März kicked off the series, followed by Jurgen de Wispelaere & Simon Birnbaum. Michael Bohmeyer, Amy Castro & Stacia West (5-6 pm), continued on May 17. Paul Nieshaus and Jurgen De Wispelaere & Joe Chrisp  went for their talks on May 31. On June 21, the last session of this seriet took place with Anna Oostendorp & Johann Gutzmer (4 pm – 5 pm) & Jamie Cooke (5 pm – 6 pm). For more information on the topics and speakers, see below.



21 June from 4 pm – 6 pm

Anna Oostendorp & Johann Gutzmer (4 pm – 5 pm)

“The Effect of Unconditional Cash Transfers on Voting – Evidence from the Finnish Basic Income Experiment”

Anna Oostendorp is a social psychologist working as a scientific analyst for Stiftung Grundeinkommen, a German think tank with an evidence-based approach to exploring the transformation towards more universal social systems. Johann Gutzmer is a social and motivational psychologist working as a policy analyst/expert for Stiftung Grundeinkommen.

Livestream link: https://youtu.be/DlYWCGTJ2D8

Jamie Cooke (5 pm – 6 pm)

“Basic Income in Scotland – Rhetoric and Reality”

Jamie Cooke is the head of RSA Scotland, the Scottish branch of the royal society for arts, manufactures and commerce. In his lecture, he will cover the progress of RSA Scotland around the support for basic income and future steps.

Livestream link: https://youtu.be/DlYWCGTJ2D8

31 May from 4 pm – 6 pm

Paul Niehaus (4 pm – 5 pm)

Paul Niehaus is co-founder and chairman of GiveDirectly and Associate Professor of Economics at University of California San Diego. In his talk, he will be speaking about “Universal Basic Income: experimental evidence from Kenya”. A paper by Paul Niehaus closely related to the lecture topic has already been published, “Effects of a Universal Basic Income during the pandemic”.

Rewatch in full length: https://youtu.be/kLZbRTeNEuA

Jurgen De Wispelaere & Joe Chrisp (4 pm – 5 pm)

Jurgen De Wispelaere is an Assistant Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Joe Chrisp is a researcher at the University of Bath. In their talk, they will be “(Re)Thinking the Policy Impact of Basic Income Experiments”.

Rewatch in full length: https://youtu.be/kLZbRTeNEuA

17 May from 4 pm – 6 pm

Michael Bohmeyer (4 pm – 5 pm)

Michael Bohmeyer, founder of Mein Grundeinkommen e. V., will talk about the “Pilotprojekt Grundeinkommen” he initiated, which is the first long-term study on UBI in Germany.

Rewatch in full length: https://youtu.be/KoVI6Kn0x7k

Amy Castro & Stacia West (5 pm – 6 pm)

The value of pilot studies and experiments on the BGE is controversial in basic income research. In their talk “The case for Basic Income Experiments“, Amy Castro and Stacia West will argue that experiments should continue to be done in the future.

Rewatch in full length: https://youtu.be/KoVI6Kn0x7k

10th of May from 4 pm – 6 pm

Simon März (4 pm – 5 pm)

Simon März (FRIBIS) will talk about an extensive pilot study on Universal Basic Income in Germany and will provide a critical analysis of its proposed implementation.

Rewatch in full length: https://youtu.be/FGyXTguJt3s

Jurgen de Wispelaere & Simon Birnbaum (5 pm – 6 pm)

Jurgen De Wispelaere (Stockholm School of Economics in Riga) and Simon Birnbaum (Södertörn University) will talk about whether basic income is an exit strategy or an exit trap in the age of precarious employment. Following the presentations, Karl Widerquist will engage in discussion with the speakers.

Rewatch in full length: https://youtu.be/FGyXTguJt3s

16 May 2022: Lecture at University Freiburg on the prehistory of private property by Karl Widerquist

On May 16, 2022, Götz Werner Visiting Professor Karl Widerquist will give a lecture on the prehistory of private property and its implications for modern political theory.

In 2021 he published a monograph on the lecture topic together with Grant S. McCall. This book aims to debunk three false claims commonly accepted by contemporary political philosophers regarding property systems: that inequality is natural, inevitable, or a natural consequence of freedom; that capitalism is more consistent with negative freedom than any other conceivable economic system; and that the normative principles of appropriation and voluntary transfer applied in the world in which we live support a capitalist system with strong, individualist and unequal private property rights.

The authors review the history of the use and importance of these claims in philosophy, and use thorough anthropological and historical evidence to refute them. They show that societies with common-property systems maintaining strong equality and extensive freedom were initially nearly ubiquitous around the world, and that the private property rights system was established through a long series of violent state-sponsored aggressions.

Time: 6 pm – 8 pm

Place: Institut für Soziologie, Rempartstr. 15,  79098 Freiburg, Übungsraum 1, 5. Stock