By Christoph Schlee
Since October 2008, residents of the village Quatinga Velho have relied on the payment of an unconditional basic income. There are 30 Reais a month (nearly 11 Euro) paid to all community members who want to receive it. This month (Dezember 2013) 93 people are going to receive a guaranteed basic income (BIG), without any discrimination or bureaucracy.
The pilot project is just conducted by an NGO, without any government money, excluding grants from companies – only financed by voluntary contributions from people who support the project - not only in Brazil but worldwide. These people trust in BIG, and make it possible today. And it is true, it works. All money donated goes straight into the hands of the people, because the operating costs of the NGO are paid by another source.
Without denying the responsibility of the state we don't want to wait for the government to realize the BIG. It is obvious that 93 people are – in comparison to 200 million Brazilians – only a little number. But it is a first real step. Our vision is to demonstrate in reality how BIG works, not only to discuss and to create papers in favor of unconditional basic income.
If you visit Quatinga Velho you can see very fast, that the BIG is an efficient support for the people, changing their real life: First you recognize the change of nutrition. Furthermore, people begin to start their own projects, without any prescriptions by the state: Planting manioc, having chickens, rebuilding their houses and even buying a personal computer. It is amazing for us to see, that within only two years the health situation of the children has completely changed.
Many people in Quatinga Velho are not able to receive the so called »Bolsa Familia« social income by the state. Bureaucracy and the conditions create a big obstacle for people, who even have problems with reading and writing. If they compare both »Bolsa Familia« and unconditional basic income, the people use just one sentence: »We prefer the Basic Income, because it is much easier to get.« An argument, that convinces more than many theoretical explanations.
That's what this little pioneer-experiment inexpensive and highly replicable has shown: It is not only money, but the respectful way of transfer, which makes the difference to the former strategies of social welfare. The access to material capital, human and social development is a human right, and the unconditional basic income is the instrument for its fulfillment.
In our experience, sustainable growth needs a step by step-strategy. The objectives and the means have to be developed especially by initiatives of the civil society, with its capacity for innovation, its knowledge for the basic needs and its possibility of multiplication. We know, that Basic Income has to be established by the state – but politicians have to take into account the experiences of practical projects, not only of theoretical studies.
Therefore, we begin to create a network of interconnected experimental nuclei, spread all over different places of the world, combining voluntary exchange, the source of funding and knowledge, with a simple purpose: to put BIG into practice. To have success, we take three aspects of social life into account: economy, politics and the cultural development. A strong cooperation between scientists, funders and social entrepreneurs is able to establish a new social contract.
Even it seems to be utopic, Quatinga Velho is a part of a new network of solidarity, based on unconditional basic income - in partnership with the Kölner Initiative Grundeinkommen e.V., Germany; GLS Bank, Germany; Basel Institute of Commons and Economics, Switzerland, and TV ONG. We are going to establish the idea within the civil society, to convince the governments to fulfill their purpose – not only with arguments, but with the examples of pilot projects and best practice. We are sure, that many members of BIEN will support us and join the new network.
Bruna A. Pereira and Marcus Vinicius Brancaglione, founding members of ReCivitas and coordinators of the pilot-project BIG Quatinga Velho are teachers at Instituto de Administracao para o Terceiro Setor Luiz Carlos Merege.
They wrote an e-book about the project, check their website …
You can reach them via E-Mail