BBC News Title: Why does Finland Want to Pay a Minimum Wage Salary for All.

from book: What we learned from the practice of Basic Income — A compendium of Writings and Data (Translation by Monica Puntel, Leonardo Puntel, Carolina Fisher and Revison by Tracy Halls. Art by Júlia Cristofi.)

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And if I insist in something that looks so trivial it’s because the misinformation regarding Basic Income isn’t relevant. Like I said, we didn’t only have the first law on Citizenship Basic Income (2004), but the first citizens in the world to receive Independent Basic Income from any governmental, entrepreneurial, academic or union financial aid in the world (2008–2014). From citizen to citizen through its own organized civil society. And this wasn’t the first in the world because the pioneer project has to be remembered: it was the village Otjviero-Omitara in Namibia, Africa (2008–2010)

Yes, I don’t miss the opportunity of mentioning my project, because if I were to wait for any recognition, our story would have been simply ignored or eliminated, it would have never made it into the public eye. If I hadn’t left the country to tell of what we were doing, our destiny would’ve been the same as that of the poorest people who disappear firstly from official studies to soon after disappear from the actual world itself.

Brazil is a stacked deck of marked cards, if you are not well born and lay an egg, well you have to deal with its quacking because who lays eggs and doesn’t quack is a duck. And we lay our tiny little egg but gosh, it was standing up.

If you found intelligent life on Mars or in Brazil you would say oh, but there’s only one, one will be forgotten? Oh, it’s just a hundred people, are they insignificant? Yeah, that’s how government and private logic works, everything is accounted. There aren’t people; there are human resources quantities, votes, consumers and employees. That’s why setting foot on the road and showing the world what we are doing for people and not bureaucrats and technocrats was after income payment the most important thing we did for the project and ourselves.

In a place called Quatinga Velho, a small village in Mogi das Cruzes in the state of São Paulo, in October 2008 we instituted the unconditional Basic Income experience in Brazil. And with no more than thirty reais for each person, yes a measly thirty reais, this was when thirty reais was little money and not nearly what it is today (4). In six years there were a total of approximately a hundred and sixty thousand reais for approximately a hundred people. This was money that we didn’t have and came about from donations from all around the world obviously (the majority from outside of Brazil), but do the maths, it was next to nothing per day for each person. Nothing, and yet it made such an extraordinary impact.

And if you need the word of a gringo doctor then I will give the voice to one who deserves respect not only for being a gringo doctor, but because it is pure kinship.

“The project is rather small, but it shows enormous potential and possibilities for social and economic development for the local community. I dare say that the project marks a turning point in the worldwide history of misery and hunger. Because at the project location, we were finally able to find empirical evidence of the effectiveness of a new and simple way to eradicate poverty in the world”

Prof. Tadashi Okanouchi, Hosei University in Tokyo, 2011.

Already four years have passed. And this wasn’t the only one. And if I’m showing it to you right now it isn’t to show how our project is good, volunteering, donate (5), participate, because the project is finished, died. It’s gone. I’m telling you this for you to know that we have everything that there is in Africa, Japan or even Iceland right here in order to make Basic Income work for people like us. Because of this I don’t regret anything, there’s nothing better than investing in human beings. And if I never step again in Quatinga Velho again it’s because I’m not a politician and I am embarrassed, ashamed to show my face. The project is over. And even though we always knew that the project could end we were aware that we couldn’t stop because what we were taking wasn’t the money, but the chance of perspective in life, and not any, but a specific one, theirs.

We were never naive, of course, we knew that if a politician showed up or a newspaper would want to buy our story and with the fact that most of them were honest people and youngsters, it pains me to know that the money would not even pay for breadcrumbs, but sometimes, it was the vital difference between having medicine or not. Not that we gave up, but I’m not a seller of illusions, I don’t have the courage to go back unless I have the resources to pay an income that we can minimally call basic and definitely guaranteed.

No. I’m not ashamed to admit that even without breaking my word; having stopped the project was one of the greatest sadness I have felt and the biggest failure of my life. In the same way that it brought me one of my biggest happiness in life and my greatest achievement was when WE made the first unconditional Basic Income payment.

I know that people don’t give a damn for this tacky story, the majority is dreaming about stuff far more important like the sovereignty of their own life and their self-determination rights, why would they be worried with other people’s lives and liberty? This is why you didn’t understand why I wanted to declare that I am happy today for the road Finland is taking, like on the 25th of October when I finished the first payment at the last house in Quatinga Velho. From Finland comes a lesson to the world: the sun will never cease to rise for everybody.

In case this has attracted your curiosity to this theme, not just Prof. Okanuchi who visited, but many people, journalists, teachers and students, and friends of Brazil who published articles and even books. Yes, there is literature regarding our independent Brazilian Basic Income experience; a lot of things in Portuguese, other stuff just in German or English. For whoever is interested at the end of the text there is a link to all texts.

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