Why more than 500 political figures and academics globally have called for universal basic income in the fight against coronavirus

We, a growing group of now over 500 academics and public figures on all continents, have signed the following open letter, calling on our governments to enact emergency basic income to save lives.

We are living in unprecedented times – as the Covid-19 virus spreads rapidly across the globe, it undermines the very foundations of the global economy.

And, just as pandemics cannot be dealt with using ordinary public health measures, global economic collapse requires more than traditional welfare policies.

Across the globe, businesses are going to the wall; jobs are being lost; the self-employed are without work; mortgages are being defaulted; savings are being run through; and rent cannot be paid. Societies where a large majority of the population works in the informal sector will be hit especially hard – beyond earnings, there is next to no safety net.

Our entire economic system relies on continual motion and right now, it is grinding to a halt. Without drastic government intervention, countless numbers will suffer, businesses will close, unemployment will skyrocket, and the economy will go into a steep recession and possibly even a second Great Depression. 

It is time for governments to enact emergency universal basic income, ensuring that everyone in their jurisdiction has enough money to buy the food and other essentials they need to survive. 

Alone, basic income will not be enough – migrants and detainees, for example, will need support specific to their circumstances, and evidently food and healthcare must be provided for all. But an unconditional basic income should play a central role in the emergency response to this crisis. Without it, lives will be lost.

Dr Sarath Davala, India Network for Basic Income, India
Dr Isabelle Guérin, French National Research institute for Sustainable Development, FR; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, US
Dr Guy Standing, FAcSS, Professorial Research associate, SOAS University of London, UK
Dr Asha Amirali, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Dr Neil Howard, University of Bath, UK
Professor Barbara Harriss-White, (Emeritus), University of Oxford, UK
Dr Kamal A Munir, University of Cambridge, UK
Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy, FC College, Lahore, Pakistan
Dr Pauline von Hellermann, Goldsmiths University, UK
Dr Natalia Paszkiewicz, University of Bath, UK
Professor Roy Maconachie, University of Bath, UK
Dr Philip Mader, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Dr Zenobia Ismail, University of Birmingham, UK
Dr Luke Kelly, University of Manchester, UK
Professor Danny Burns, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Dr Ciara Holden, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, UK
Dr Cordula Reimann, Core, Switzerland
Dr Inka Barnett, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Dr Peter Manning, University of Bath, UK
Kevin Hernandez, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Dr Aasim Sajjad, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
Jerker Edstrom, Institute of Development studies, UK
Marian Carty, Goldsmiths University, UK
Dr Tooba Syed, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
Dr Theo Papadopoulos, University of Bath, UIK
Emeritus professor Hilary Standing, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Dr Hadas Weiss, The Madrid Institute for Advanced Study, Spain
Dr Indrajit Roy, University of York, UK
Dr Andrew Bowman, University of Edinburgh, UK
Dr Shahram Azhar, Bucknell University, US
SJ Cooper-Knock, University of Edinburgh, UK
Dr KP Kannan, Honorary Fellow, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, Kerala, India
Dr Becky Faith, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Dr Tina Skinner, University of Bath, UK
Dr Jean-Benoît Falisse, University of Edinburgh, UK
Rupert Horlick, Extinction Rebellion, UK
Shreya Nanda, economist, UK
Dr Aseem Prakash, professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad, India
Bruno Bonizzi, University of Hertfordshire Business School, UK
Dr Rajeswari S Raina, Shiv Nadar University, India
Dr Dhruv Raina, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
Sadaf Aziz, Lums University, Pakistan
Professor Tatek Abebe, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
Dr Miki Kashtan, author and facilitator, Bay Area Nonviolent Communication, US and Israel
Professor Louise Brown, University of Bath, UK
Dr Keetie Roelen, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Dr Elizaveta Fouksman, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, University of Oxford, UK
Prof Baroness Ruth Lister, Loughborough University & House of Lords, UK
Dr Theodore Nicolaides, NYU, USA
Dr Karl Widerquist, Georgetown University-Qatar, USA/Qatar
Professor Susana Narotzky, Department of jSocial Anthropology, University of Barcelona, Spain
Dr Andolie Marguerite, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Dr Pamela Karantonis, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Telemaque Masson, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France
Benedict Seymour, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK
Professor Graham Room, University of Bath, UK
Dr Marina Vishmidt, Goldsmiths, University of London
Professor William Gaver, Goldsmiths, University of London
Scott Santens, Basic Income Today
Christian Bouvard, vice président de l’Association pour l’Instauration d’un Revenu d’Existence, France
Professor James Copestake, University of Bath, UK
Professor Michael Howard, University of Maine, USA
Dr Ludek Stavinoha, University of East Anglia, UK
Dr Catherine Jere, University of East Anglia, UK
Dr Sara de Jong, University of York, UK
Dr Jens Lerche, SOAS University of London, UK
Professor Diego Sánchez-Ancochea, University of Oxford, UK
Dr Kimberly Walters, California State University, Long Beach, USA
Professor Nicola Mai, Kingston University London, UK
Dr Jamie Forth, Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Aparna Nayak, California State University, Long Beach, USA
Vincent Liegey, Cargonomia Degrowth Research and Experimentation Center, Budapest, Hungary
Dr Christine L Jocoy, California State University, Long Beach, USA
Dr Sophie Bremner, University of East Anglia, UK
Andy Stern, president Emeritus, SEIU, USA
Frank Thompson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
Fred Block, University of California, Davis, USA
J Young, Austin, TX, USA
Dawn Howard, NJ, USA
Oliver Warders, NY, USA
Gerald Howard, NJ, USA
Antonios Triantafyllakis, UBIE, Germany/Greece
Dr Jurgen De Wispelaere, University of Bath, UK
Barb Jacobson, Basic Income UK
Dr Eri Noguchi, Association to Benefit Children / Columbia University, USA
Roland Duchatelet, business leader, former member of the Belgian Senate
Dr Suryakant Waghmore, associate professor of Sociology, IIT-Bombay
Hilde Latour, Vereniging Basisinkomen / Mission Possible 2030, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Wim Kiezenberg, founder everyday.earth, France
Diane Pagen, LMSW, co-founder Basic Income March, co-founder Basic Income NYC, USA
Victor Chudnovsky, physicist/software engineer/activist, organiser of Basic Income Action, Seattle; Seattle WA, USA,
Professor James Ferguson, Stanford University, USA
Gaspard Koenig, founder of think-tank GenerationLibre, Paris, France
Dr Francie Lund, Social Policy Analyst, South Africa
Scott Baker, Public Banking Institute senior advisor, Common Ground-USA Board Member, Author of America is Not Broke!
Monica Sanchez de Ocaña, founding partner, Baobab Development Consultancy, Barcelona, Spain
Dr Simon Duffy, director of the Centre for Welfare Reform, Sheffield, UK
Juliet Schor, professor of Sociology, Boston College, USA
Dr Gregory E Ellcessor, assistant professor of Audiology at Ball State University Muncie Indiana, USA
Dr Hannah Hoechner, University of East Anglia, UK
Professor Arto Laitinen, Tampere University, Finland
Johanna Perkiö, Tampere University, Finland
Troy Hendeerson, lecturer in Political Economy, University of Sydney
Ping Xu, Founder, UBI Asia Pacific
Dr Julia Elyachar, associate professor of Anthropology, Princeton University, USA
Dr Kimberly R Kelly, California State University, Long Beach, USA
Mark Erickson, Skokie USA
Aoife Hegarty, Galway, Ireland
Natalie Barbosa, Manchester, UK
Pavel Vassiliev, Basic Income Geoblock, RF
Bop Hoek, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Ebony Grace Thompson, Sussex, UK
Dr Uma Rani, Switzerland
Michelle MacDonagh, London, UK
Brenda Lee Quiles Alvarado, Puerto Rico
Sarah Bracking, King’s College London, UK
Evamaria Langer-Dombrady founder and secretary of The First Hungarian
Unconditional Basic Income Association
Ursula Pfleger vice-chairman of The First Hungarian Unconditional Basic Income Association
Györgyi Szentpeteri chairman of The First Hungarian Unconditional Basic Income Association
Zita Stockwell-Szabadka vice-chairman of The First Hungarian Unconditional Basic Income Association
Jorge Pinto, Centre for Ethics, Politics and Society, University of Minho, Portugal
Lesley Jansen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
John Harriss, professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
James Mulvale, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
Dr Samuel Arnold, Texas Christian University, USA
Sheila Regehr, chairperson, Basic Income Canada Network
Johannes Mehrer, Cambridge University, UK
Dr Ali Mutlu Köylüoğlu, Citizen’s Basic Income Research Development Culture and Dissemination Society, Istanbul, Turkey
Ashwin Subramanian, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Goettingen, Germany
Nikola Boskovski, MD, Miami, Florida, United States
Dr Jenna van Draanen, University of British Columbia, Canada
Michael Anthony Lewis, professor at Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, USA
Alia Amirali, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Louise Stinchcombe, teacher, Exeter, UK
Ashutosh Pandey, student at Jindal School of Governance and Public Policy, India
Peter Brake, accountant, New Zealand
Julio Linares, Social Outreach Basic Income Earth Network, Guatemala
Dr Elise Klein (OAM), Australian National University
Halvor Haugan, Frontline AIDS, United Kingdom
Giulia Gaia,TA, Trinity Primary Academy, United Kingdom
Gabriela Cabaña, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Dr Leah Hamilton, Appalachian State University, NC, USA
Loriana Luccioni, PhD student, The University of Queensland, Australia
Talon J Powers, JD, San Diego, CA, USA
Fabio Waltenberg, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil
Brett D Buckner, Minnesota, USA
Professor Frances Stewart, professor Emeritus, University of Oxford, UK
Jeremy Schwartz, associate professor of Economics, Loyola University Maryland, USA
Dr Kathryn J Perkins, California State University, Long Beach, USA
Fernando Freitas, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil
Dr Rodney Dobell (PhD, MIT) Emeritus professor of Public Policy, University of Victoria, Canada
Sid Frankel, PhD, University of Manitoba, Canada
Gert Van Hecken, PhD, Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp, Belgium
Cameron Thibos PhD, openDemocracy, USA
Geoff Taylor, St Clare’s, University of Oxford, UK
Dr Peter T Knight, Instituto Fernand Braudel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Leandro Ferreira, chair of the Brazilian Basic Income Network
Dr Katharina Lenner, University of Bath, UK
Sam Gregory, chair of UBI Lab Sheffield, UK
Sadia Tasleem, lecturer, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, QAU, Islamabad, Pakistan
Professor Greg Marston, Basic Income Guarantee Australia, Australia
Robin Ketelaars, UBIE, Basic Income Avocat, The Netherlands
Brazilian Basic Income Network Executive Committee
Professor Philippe Van Parijs, UC Louvain, Belgium
Professor, Joshua Ruiz, Puerto Rico
John Baker, Emeritus professor, University College Dublin
Dr Kerrie Thornhill, Résolu Ltd
Michele Gianella, UBIE Italy
Dr Anjali Dutt, University of Cincinnati, USA

Dr Dario Azzellini, Cornell University, USA/Berlin, Germany
Christoph Meier, Farmer, Dominican Republic
Chris LaPlante, Blacksburg, VA, USA
Assistant professor Tony Hughes, University of Melbourne, Australia
Dr Simon Parker, University of York, UK
Dr Tracy Smith-Carrier, King’s at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Jeff Tangel, adjunct professor of Philosophy, Saint Xavier University Chicago
Hazel Gray, senior lecturer, University of Edinburgh
Paul Stoneman, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Will Stronge, director of Autonomy
Dave Fary, carpenter, Silver spring, MD, USA
Dr Andrew Watt, University of Melbourne, Australia
Dr Michael Lew, University of Melbourne, Australia
Professor Ofer Sharone, University of Massachusetts, USA
Dr Thibault Laurentjoye, EHESS, Paris, France
Dr Miguel Loureiro, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Gunmin Yi, Institute for Political & Economic Alternatives, South Korea
Professor Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy, São Paulo city councilman, former senator, EAESP/FGV-SP, Brazil
Nam Hoon Kang, professor, Hanshin University, Osan, Korea
The Honourable Kim Pate, CM, senator, Senate of Canada
Tyler Prochazka, chairman, UBI Taiwan
Anja Askeland, chair BIEN Norway
James Davis, MPP candidate Harvard Kennedy School
John LaRocco, Singapore
Dr James Morrissey
Josh McGee, Basic Income Australia, Melbourne, Australia
Jim Bryan, professor of Economics, Manhattanville College, USA
Tim Hollo, The Green Institute, Canberra, Australia, visiting fellow at RegNet, Australian National University
Mario Yaco, Peacetrust philosopher, Washington State, USA
Sjur Cappelen Papazian, Board member BIEN Norway
Tadashi Okanouchi, professor, HOSEI University, Tokyo, Japan
David Knezevic, MSW, RSW, Basic Income London, Woodstock, ON, Canada
Dr Liane Gale, BIGMN,  Basic Income Guarantee Minnesota, BIWAG, Basic Income Women Action Group, Minnesota, USA
Professor Wayne Simpson, Department of Economics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
Susan Abells, Victoria, BC, Canada
Professor Emeritus William H Cooper, Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Professor Seungho Baek, the Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, South Korea

For the full list of signatories, click here

A good outcome?

When initially I learned that the chief scientific adviser stated that 20,000 dead would be considered a good outcome, I thought the article was satire. As was indicated, 8,000 per year die from the seasonal flu for a point of comparison.

Let us briefly consider the case of China. Despite no prior warning and an extremely high population density China has, at the time of writing, limited deaths to 3,237. The number of new cases in China is now almost negligible. While fatalities might still increase within China, it is reasonably safe to say that they will almost certainly keep total deaths within their borders to under 20,000.

Why then, if a country with 20 times the population of the UK can keep deaths to below this number, would we consider this a goalpost? It is the responsibility of the state to do all it can to protect its most vulnerable citizens. The government should set itself loftier ambitions than allowing 20,000 of its citizens to die.

Alexis Gkantiragas
London NW5

The NHS can’t cope with this

The government’s announcements on the latest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases feels meaningless to me given the crazy limitations imposed on who is able to have the test.

When will Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak admit that the NHS probably does not have the capacity to enable them to follow WHO advice: test, test, test?

I don’t suppose it has anything to do with the NHS being on induced life-support itself since 2010?

Eddie Dougall
Bury St Edmunds

Delay Brexit

I could not agree more with your editorial (Boris Johnson has another no-cost option to soften the blow of coronavirus – delaying Brexit, 18 March) and this is surely the only legitimate and sensible way ahead.

The talks have been postponed and this country and the EU have a lot more on their hands than the matter of negotiating a trade deal.

As you rightly state, it would be unforgivable to approach Brexit as business as usual and it is time the prime minister and the leading gung-ho exponents realised this.

Lives are at stake now, not trade deals. Let’s get the necessary perspective on this, and fast. We have been led by the nose by ultra-Brexiteers for long enough, time for them to wake up and appreciate that this is a worldwide Titanic iceberg and not a small inconvenience.

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