A basic income is an income that is granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. It is a form of minimum income guarantee that differs from those that now exist in various European countries in three important ways:
• it is being paid to individuals rather than households;
• it is paid irrespective of any income from other sources;
• it is paid without requiring the performance of any work or the willingness to accept a job if offered
Liberty and equality, efficiency and community, common ownership of the Earth and equal sharing in the benefits of technical progress, the flexibility of the labour market and the dignity of the poor, the fight against inhumane working conditions, against the desertification of the countryside and against interregional inequalities, the viability of cooperatives and the promotion of adult education, autonomy from bosses, husbands and bureaucrats, have all been invoked in its favour.
Groups promoting a Guaranteed Basic Income includes various Green parties as well as independent groups like the Basic Income Earth Network. The idea of a guaranteed basic income has been criticised from both left and right. Some think it would encourage people to passivity and create a “hammock society” where people just lay around. Others fear the forms of guaranteed basic income proposed by liberals that would include privatization and liberalisation of healthcare and education as well as cuts in other forms of social security.
Forms of guaranteed basic income or similar projects have been adopted in as various places as Portugal, where everyone is entitled to a guaranteed minimum income, and Alaska, where all citizens receive a part of the oil income of the state.