When a Citizens’ Dividend Sets Off Citizenship Disputes

complained here before
about the ways the argument over a
universal basic income often ignores basic-income-style policies
that actually exist in the world. The
last time
I said this, I was pointing to the dividend checks
that the state of Alaska distributes to its citizens. Here’s
another example: Of the nearly 240 tribes that run gambling
operations, the AP reports
that “half distribute a regular per-capita payout to their

Supporters of basic income grants will be happy to hear that
such payouts have
been a real help
for low-income Indians. They might be a bit
shaken by another apparent effect of the policy. From that AP

Not seeking members.Mia
Prickett’s ancestor was a leader of the Cascade Indians along the
Columbia River and was one of the chiefs who signed an 1855 treaty
that helped establish the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde in

But the Grand Ronde now wants to disenroll Prickett and 79
relatives, and possibly hundreds of other tribal members, because
they no longer satisfy new enrollment requirements.

Prickett’s family is fighting the effort, part of what some experts
have dubbed the “disenrollment epidemic” — a rising number of
dramatic clashes over tribal belonging that are sweeping through
more than a dozen states, from California to Michigan….

[I]n Michigan, where Saginaw Chippewa membership grew once the
tribe started giving out yearly per-capita casino payments that
peaked at $100,000, a recent decline in gambling profits led to
disenrollment battles targeting hundreds.

The Grand Ronde, which runs Oregon’s most profitable Indian
gambling operation, also saw a membership boost after the casino
was built in 1995, from about 3,400 members to more than 5,000
today. The tribe has since tightened membership requirements twice,
and annual per-capita payments decreased from about $5,000 to just
over $3,000.

The article notes that the “tribes deny money is a factor in
disenrollment and say they’re simply trying to strengthen the
integrity of their membership.” And there’s certainly some
truth to that: Not all of these battles have taken place within
tribes that issue payouts to their members. But it’s easy to see
that reducing a tribe’s membership rolls means more money for the
people left over, and it’s hard not to notice that this wave of
battles began just as casino wealth started taking off in the

The fact that a citizens’
can encourage conflicts over citizenship seems
significant. So is the question of why such disputes would emerge
in some places but not in others. And moving past that one
issue, I’m sure the casino profit-sharing experience is full of
relevant lessons that hardly anyone’s aware of because hardly
anyone’s bothered to look at it with this topic in mind. People
need to stop thinking of the basic income as just a what-if
exercise or a policy debate from the past. It’s a living experiment
producing data as we speak.

from Hit & Run http://ift.tt/1j7whAD

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