A City in Brazil Experiments with the Unconditional Basic Income
- Total Posts: 8,939
When the cashier Agnes Marques Ferreira lost her supermarket job in January, the government of her hometown of Maricá saved her from plunging into misery by providing her with a monthly basic income worth around 900 reals, the equivalent of 140 euros ($171).
In theory, the sum would hardly be enough for the single mother of two boys to make ends meet. But Marques Ferreira now pays 20 percent less for electricity and water. Furthermore, the city’s public transportation system is free of charge, and if she does need to make larger expenditures, such as renovating her bathroom, she can apply for a no-interest loan from the city.
She lives together with her family in a simple house in a Maricá suburb. “In Rio, I would be begging on the streets,” says Marques Ferreira. “Here, I have a quality of life that most poor Brazilians can only dream of.”
In a Brazil run by the extreme right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, Maricá is like an island. With a population of 160,000, the community has been led by the Labour Party of ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the last 12 years, and it is home to an experiment in new social policies aimed at equal opportunity and integration. In Maricá, policies that are being discussed as a model in many parts of the world – particularly for the post-corona era – have become reality: unconditional basic income, a free public transportation system and comprehensive, free health care. Social scientists, economists and politicians from around the world are paying close attention.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
May 23, 2021 at 3:21 PM #425077Cold Mountain TrailParticipant
- Total Posts: 12,892
The benefit… is worth 130 reals per person per month…around US $64 a month. For context, the Brazilian poverty line is set at 178 reals a month, and the minimum monthly wage for a full-time job is 998 reals; a family of four, each getting 130 reals each per month, would wind up getting over half a minimum (wage) salary from the program… (or in US$ terms, about $15.6K/yr)
An important aspect of the Maricá basic income is that it doesn’t distribute reais: it distributes mumbuca. That’s a local currency, issued by the Banco Mumbuca in Maricá, that can only be used locally. You can stash mumbucas in your account at the Banco Mumbuca, or spend them with a card, or use your cell phone to spend and receive them. The city has offered an extremely small basic payment — about 10 mumbucas, or 10 reais, per month per person — to its poorest residents for a few years now, as detailed in the above video; the new program is a dramatic expansion of that initiative.
The usage of a local currency is a crucial feature of the project, says Paul Katz, a historian and fellow in JFI’s guaranteed income project. “The fear is otherwise the money might leave the city,” Katz explains, noting that most Maricá residents who work in the formal economy do so in the city of Rio. “The idea is [the money] remains there and forms what the broader left movement calls a ‘solidarity economy.’”
…More importantly, the Maricá program is indefinite and has a dedicated funding stream. Like a number of municipalities around Rio, Maricá gets a share of Brazil’s oil royalties…
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.