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GTI Forum

Globalizing the Challenge

Andreas Bummel

Although the idea of a basic income is often discussed on the national level, we should envision it as a global instrument that will eventually benefit each and every citizen on the planet. The proposal for a basic income is linked to the idea that everyone has a stake in global commons and a right to share the fruits of civilization. A global basic income thus has a strong symbolic dimension, promoting the idea of the equality of all people and global citizenship.

Jo Leinen and I briefly touched on this topic in our 2018 book A World Parliament: Governance and Democracy in the 21st Century. We argued that a global basic income provides an answer to the question of what the money raised by global taxes (like a carbon tax, a global wealth tax, or financial transaction tax) could be used for. A global basic income is perhaps the most sensible use for the bulk of global tax revenue, another portion of which should be used to sustain independent funding of global institutions.

The stability of any such revenue source is a key question. Revenues from a carbon tax, for example, should phase out over time as a transition to a non-carbon economy proceeds. Such income is best used to support this transition and won’t be available in the long run to fund basic income schemes.

In any case, a democratic world parliament should set the framework for practical implementation, should be the highest budgetary authority, and should exercise democratic control. The practical arrangements might involve several different models, all operating within common global guidelines, to suit differing local conditions. In the developed countries, for example, where there are functioning tax and social welfare systems, it might make sense to implement the basic income in the form of a negative income tax. In other countries, it might be better to pay it out in full, with the minimum of bureaucracy.

Andreas Bummel
Andreas Bummel is co-founder and Executive Director of Democracy Without Borders and the co-author of A World Parliament: Governance and Democracy in the 21st Century.

Cite as Andreas Bummel, "Globalizing the Challenge," contribution to GTI Forum "Universal Basic Income: Has the Time Come?," Great Transition Initiative (November 2020),

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