News Release

Guaranteed Income — Brazil, U.S., Iraq


A senator from Brazil, Suplicy was the sponsor of the “Citizen’s Basic Income” legislation that was signed into law last year. The law is grounded in the concept that an unconditional and guaranteed minimum income is the simplest and most effective step toward the eradication of poverty. It will be implemented gradually in Brazil beginning this year.

He said today: “All people — regardless of their ethnicity, gender, whatever — should be able to share in the wealth of the nation. This should be done in a way that is just and provides for dignity and real freedom. Ensuring a guaranteed unconditional income does several things: It ends bureaucracy of reporting and checking on people. It eliminates the stigma attached to getting resources from the government. It does not penalize someone for earning money from a job. And it removes uncertainty.”

Suplicy added: “In the U.S., the Alaska Permanent Fund provides for a guaranteed income to all its [Alaska’s] citizens. When the Brazilian Sergio Vieira de Melo was nominated to be the coordinator of the United Nations’ actions in Iraq, in May 2003, I contacted him, suggesting that the Alaskan model be applied for the Iraqis. He quickly replied positively and said that he would share the suggestion with the relevant authorities. The following month, on June 23 in a speech in Jordan, Ambassador Paul Bremer, the chief administrator in Iraq, said: ‘Some profits from oil sales could be distributed to Iraq’s citizens as “dividends,” along the lines of the system used by the State of Alaska.'”

Suplicy argues that the idea of a guaranteed income is to be found in virtually every religion and in writings as diverse as Confucius and Thomas Paine. He is author of several books, most recently The Citizens’ Income: The Exit Is Through the Door (in Portuguese), and is a professor of economics. Suplicy was one of the founders of the Workers’ Party along with Brazil’s current president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Suplicy has recently completed a period of research in residence at the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C. and will be giving a talk there Thursday at 10:30 a.m.; RSVP Alex Parlini, Woodrow Wilson Center.
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President of the Citizen Policies Institute, Shafarman said today: “If Brazil, a poor, highly unequal country, can move toward a guaranteed basic income for its citizens, surely we in the United States can do something similar. Current approaches toward ending hunger, homelessness, and poverty are obviously not working. With regard to these fundamental concerns, the Bush budget plan is taking us in the wrong direction. It’s time to guarantee economic security for every American, at least at a basic level. We can do that. And it will greatly strengthen our democracy by ensuring that people can afford to participate more actively as citizens.”

Shafarman added: “Supporters of a ‘negative income tax’ or ‘guaranteed income’ included Richard Nixon and George McGovern; economists Milton Friedman, James Tobin, and John Kenneth Galbraith; and Martin Luther King Jr. A guaranteed income bill, Nixon’s ‘Family Assistance Plan,’ was endorsed by major newspapers and passed by the House of Representatives by a decisive 2 to 1 ratio, but was defeated in committee in the Senate.”

Sen. Suplicy and Shafarman will be speaking on Saturday, Feb. 12, 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. at Mimi’s American Bistro, 2120 P Street NW, Washington D.C.; RSVP to Shafarman at above contact information. They will also be giving talks at the fourth annual conference of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network in New York City, March 4 to 6.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167