Universal Basic Income is a concept where everyone receives a check from their government every month to pay for any necessities one may need. Although the thought of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a radical move for any country, it can be a way to alleviate poverty. Instead of Food Stamp and Welfare programs, citizens would receive one lump sum check regardless of status. According to the Huffington Post “it could eliminate poverty to a great extent, and set the stage for a healthier and more productive society.”

Switzerland citizens have been fighting for this movement and have sparked a public referendum to push the movement forward. The country has seen the possible benefits of what a UBI can accomplish. Families can have food security, income inequality would decrease, and if countries adopt the idea with success may influence other countries to do the same. In the 1970’s Canada experimented with the implementation of a UBI, and according to the New York Times “poverty disappeared…High-school completion rates went up; hospitalization rates went down.”

Another reason this topic is so vital in today’s world is the advancement of technology. The Guardian has found “Oxford academics Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne have predicted computerisation could make nearly half of jobs redundant within 10 to 20 years.” Thus, the more technology grows, the less jobs will be available to the public.

However, the chance of having a UBI gives citizens a way to achieve their professional dreams. Instead of people working a job they need to survive, with a monthly check from the government they can focus on what they really want to do. The economist has studied “Philippe Van Parijs, a Belgian philosopher, who believes a UBI provides ‘the real freedom to pursue the realization of one’s conception of the good life’” Therefore, a family living in poverty will lose the stress of worrying about their next meal and children can focus on education.

If this concept seems so beneficial why hasn’t it been done? One of the main concerns of creating a UBI is the downfall in work ethic; there is a possibility of laziness if people receive checks for simply being alive. Another drawback is the raise in taxes, BBC has stated “income tax would not necessarily rise, but value added tax – on what people buy rather than what they earn – could rise to 20% or even 30%.”

Despite some negativities in a UBI, it is an idea that may soon be adopted by a majority of the world. With its recent conversation in many governments there seems to be a positive outlook on this concept. A universal income may sound outlandish but so does ending world poverty; yet, both are achievable in the near future.

Sources: BBCThe Guardian, The Huffington PostThe New York Times
Photo: PBS

Coca-Cola has continued to be a responsible citizen in the global community through empowering women around the world along with aspiring to conserve the world’s natural resources. Coca-Cola has pushed for better agriculture over the past few years along with providing better agricultural principles and clean water for Africa.

Coca-Cola believes that women are the key to economic growth and reducing global poverty. In fact, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that if women and girls have just as much access as men and boys do to agricultural resources like farming this could increase production by 20 to 30 percent. This could tremendously aid in farm production in developing countries.

In addition, Coca-Cola South Africa has teamed up with UN women to ensure growth in women entrepreneurship. Women in South Africa are receive training in areas of business and marketing to help prepare them for the current job market. In turn, many of these women will be opening small retail stores selling Coca-Cola products and with the help of Hand in Hand, the partner in the program, estimates predict to have over 25,000 South Africa women running their own businesses by 2015. This is not only expanding Coca-Cola, but the overall business in South Africa.

All the same, Coca-Cola is making use of new technology for their products and services to invest in these developing countries’ futures by creating new business models which can improve the lives of millions and reduce global poverty. Nevertheless, Coca-Cola strives to improve the quality of life for low-income families by providing opportunities which were among the least in these areas, while conserving the environment.

Coca-Cola demonstrates the qualities of a caring citizen for the world with the development of Ekocenters, which provide basic human needs such as clean water, vaccines, food and electricity in developing countries. The developing nation’s biggest issue is the need for basic human necessities in order to continue to develop and reduce global poverty. Therefore, these technological advancements can aid as well, by providing the necessary tools to move beyond poverty.

Coca-Cola is aiming to give back by creating a goal for the year 2020 to improve the company’s water-use efficiency. Also, Coca-Cola has created programs to help get water back to the communities through watershed efforts like the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative and helping to bring safer water to communities around the globe. Accordingly, the Replenish Africa Initiative works by improving access to water and sanitation. This then promotes better hygiene and the reduction of illness and disease. In turn, this helps the community at large by improving health, the environment and helping to promote sustainable water for the environment.

Coca-Cola is transforming communities by empowering women and investing in the future of these small businesses. This will in turn bring more opportunities to the development of the community, along with improving the environment by conserving natural resources that are valuable to all countries, and bringing basic human needs to these areas’ doorsteps.

– Rachel Cannon 

Sources: Coca Cola, Harvard Kennedy School
Photo: Flickr

Equatorial Guinea
Being one of the last remaining colonies of the once expansive Spanish Empire, Equatorial Guinea became independent in 1968 during the rule of Spanish General Francisco Franco. This West African nation is very interesting in many aspects. Its capital is located on an island faraway from the mainland, it is the only Hispanophone country in West Africa—barring the territory of West Sahara—and it also has the highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa.

However, in this relatively prosperous country, approximately two-thirds of the population lives in extreme poverty.

Despite the discovery of oil and other natural resources that the countries of West Africa have been bequeathed with by their geographical locations and an extremely small population of less than a million people, it is rather paradoxical that the richest country in Sub-Saharan Africa and the region’s third-largest oil producer whose size is roughly the same as Massachusetts allows more than half of its people to fall into abject poverty.

In neighboring Cameroon, where the GDP per capital is only a tenth of that of Equatorial Guinea, for example, much less than two-thirds of the entire population lives in extreme poverty. To put it in comparison, Equatorial Guinea’s GDP per capita is greater than those of Italy, South Korea or Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, other statistics regarding the country’s standard of living are also equally — if not more — frustrating. Only about half of the country’s population has access to clean drinking water, overcrowded living condition is—surprisingly given the country’s low population density—rampant and very few children enjoy the advantages of urban life such as education, medical services and recreational facilities.

Despite the grinding poverty suffered by hundreds of thousands, Equatorial Guinea seems to often escape the radar of global attention due to the highly distorted numerical means, which shows the country in good standing in terms of GDP per capita. However, in reality, there is a flagrant discrepancy that is indicative of a rather stark disparity between the have and the have-not.

To make this inequity even more unsettlingly palpable and conspicuous, the country is also building a brand new and expensive capital city on the mainland, hundreds of miles away from where the majority of the already sparsely populated country lives. Currently, Malabo, situated on an island to the far northern reaches of the country, is the capital, while Bata, an Atlantic seaport, serves as the country’s largest city.

However, Oyala—under construction—will serve as Equatorial Guinea’s President (and Africa’s longest-ruling dictator) Teodoro Obiang’s new capital. What is his supporting rationale? His government’s and his own safety and security. This project is expected to cost billions of dollars before it finishes in a country where over 60 percent of the population is struggling to live on less than $1 per day.

It is clear where at least some of the immense amount of wealth of this nation goes. In 2012, the French police sent out an arrest warrant of Teodorín Obiang, the son of the Equatoguinean president who had to escape Paris back to his own country. Upon investigation, they found evidence of an obscene accumulation of wealth. Teodoro Obiang—his father and the country’s leader—is also leading an extremely corrupt government. A criminal investigation launched in Spain revealed that there are 11 families with close ties to the Obiang family who are amassing most of the country’s wealth.

Equatorial Guinea is a tragic archetype of a country that could have been highly developed and whose citizens could have enjoyed a very high standard of living. However, the lack of democracy has allowed only a handful of individuals to accumulate most of the country’s vast wealth.

– Peewara Sapsuwan

Sources: Europa Press, International Business Times, IEACH, Open Society Foundations
Photo: World Rainforest Movement