A Freiburg Discourse on UBI

Within the event series “Freiburg Discourses” (Heinrich Röder), Prof. Dr. Friederike Spiecker and Prof. Dr. Bernhard Neumärker met on 25 October 2019 at the University of Freiburg for a discussion on Unconditional Basic Income.

Prof. Spiecker is co-author of the book “Irrweg Grundeinkommen” (with Prof. Dr. Heiner Flassbeck), Mr Neumärker holds the Götz Werner Chair for Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory at the University of Freiburg and is founding director of the “Freiburg Institute for Basic Income Studies” (FRIBIS).

It was remarkable that Prof. Spiecker clearly and empathically saw and addressed the undervaluation of women’s work and non-profit unpaid work in general, the degrading and rather paralysing than promoting practice of the Hartz IV legislation, including its magnifying effect on the low-wage sector, structural unemployment and the increasingly precarious work and living situation of very many people, but that she resorted to the primacy of gainful employment and the demand for higher minimum wages to solve the problems. Where one could have written behind the description of the problem as a solution: “Unconditional Basic Income”, she relied on the old economic methods of calculation.

Prof. Neumärker took up statements from her lecture in order to disenchant the old way of thinking and transfer it into a logical understanding of Unconditional Basic Income.

Both were largely in agreement in the description of the problem, diametrically opposed in the perspective of the solution.

By Enno Schmidt

First meeting of the VATUBI Group

Value Added Tax and Universal Basic Income, is this a congenial couple?
One asks about its social component, the other about its financing.
A UBI as a disbursed tax allowance for the VAT included in consumer prices?
Can tax collection be switched to a sole and then high rate of VAT?
What is the effect?

On suggestion of Helmo Pape, founder of “Generation Basic Income” in Austria, on October 14th and 15th an Austrian team of scientists met with Prof. Dr. Bernhard Neumärker and Enno Schmidt in Freiburg to establish a FRIBIS group about the effects of a change in the tax system on consumption tax/value-added tax, and VAT as a form of financing the UBI.

The working group will start its proceedings in spring 2020.

Scientific team:

  • Dr. Elisabeth Dreer, Senior Sientist at the Research Institute for Banking of the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Friedrich Schneider, former Prof. of the Department of Economic Policy, Research Institute for Banking, Johannes Keppler University of Linz
  • Dr. rer. soc. oec. Florian Walkobinger, Society for Applied Economic Research, Innsbruck, Austria
  • Prof. Dr. Bernhard Neumärker, Götz Werner Chair for Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory, University of Freiburg, Germany

Transfer team:

  • Helmo Pape, Banker, Founder “Generation Basic Income”, Vienna, Austria.
  • Enno Schmidt, artist, co-founder of the initiative “Basic Income Switzerland”, Research Assistant at the Götz Werner Chair at the University of Freiburg.

Presentation of the Götz Werner Chair on the 19th World Basic Income Congress in Hyderabad, India

BIEN 2019

Presentation of the Götz Werner Chair on the 19th World Basic Income Congress in Hyderabad, India.

On 19th Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) Congress in August 2019 in Hyderabad, India, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Neumärker and Enno Schmidt presented the Götz Werner Chair of the University of Freiburg and stimulated contacts for the Freiburg Institute for Basic Income Studies (FRIBIS) to be established.

Enno Schmidt chaired the panel “Basic Income and the Financial Feasibility Question”, with Prof. Neumärker as speaker, and “Basic Income as the Foundation of a Caring Society“ with among other Bela Hatvany as an attendee.

Following the conference, Enno Schmidt travelled to Sri Lanka, where, inspired by him, a small basic income movement was created and where basic incomes were awarded to individuals for the second time.

Founding of the Götz Werner Chair at the University of Freiburg

The professorship, endowed by Prof. Götz W. Werner and his wife Beatrice Werner, is intended to serve research into the unconditional basic income and to provide the public debate with profound scientific results up to and including the implementation of the BGE.

The signing ceremony of the Götz Werner Chair for Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory took place on May 21th, 2019, in the Rectorate Building of the University of Freiburg. The Chair is held by Prof. Dr. Bernhard Neumärker, Director of the Department of Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory at the University of Freiburg.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer, Rector of the University of Freiburg, said in his speech:
“No other entrepreneur in Germany has thought of the unconditional basic income as consistently and as emphatically as Götz Werner. It is in the tradition of Ordoliberalism, the Freiburg School of Economics, to develop a regulatory framework for this model: Its founder Walter Eucken saw the main task of economic and social policy as the establishment of a ‘functional, lasting and humane order’ of economy and society. We are therefore very pleased and grateful in view of the great opportunity that the dm Foundation offers us to use its help to make further groundbreaking research contributions to the question of how economically and socially sustainable coexistence can be organized for all people”.

Prof. Götz W. Werner, founder of dm-drogerie markt, emphasized: “Our world of work has changed fundamentally in the last ten or fifteen years. In order to master the challenges of the future, we must separate work and income and recognize work as a creative activity. The Archimedean point is the idea of an unconditional basic income. Research at the University of Freiburg will provide decisive scientific and socio-political impulses for the introduction of an unconditional basic income”.

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Neumärker mentioned: “The Basic Income opens up an enormous field of activity for a ‘New Ordoliberalism’, which questions the one-sided orientation towards gainful employment and the competitive economy, which characterizes the currently dominant economic liberalism, and instead focuses much more on creative and recreational leisure, unpaid work – e.g. caring for relatives – and the sense of community service”.