In the beautiful countryside of Finland, a man gets about 560€ sent to his bank account, every month, for free! No strings attached! He uses this cash as and when he likes. Who is giving him all this free money? The Government of Finland. It’s called Universal Basic Income.
It is not just the story of one man, but the story of 2000 unemployed people in the country. The Helsinki Government exposed these 2000 unemployed citizens of the country to an experiment, which has probably led to a change in their lives. These 2000 people might have become guinea pigs in this experiment, but if this works out, it could revolutionize the western economic sphere.
It was around the Christmas of 2016 when the Finnish Government chose these lab rats for a trial of the Universal Basic Income experiment.
What is Universal Basic Income?
As the name suggests, Universal Basic Income is a very simple way to ensure that an economy is thriving. Through the concept, it is made sure that members of the society are taken care of and are provided with all the basic means to make sure that they can take care of themselves.
The model of Universal Basic Income does ensure the economy is working in a robust manner and that the people and society are going to progress. If someone gets laid off or has to quit their job owing to medical factors or other circumstances, people are going to be provided with a minimum stipend to meet their fundamental needs. This amount will be given to them regularly, no matter what the circumstances.
Universal Basic Income is like Oprah! Everybody gets something.
You get something, I get something, Bill Gates would get something, and so would Ryan Gosling. Sports personalities, actors and celebrities, the big sharks, drug addicts and dealers, convicts, and random people like you and I, everyone would get a share.
The system currently implemented in Finland is technically not universal. If by the end of 2018, the system turns out to be productive enough for the economy and their society, it is likely to be implemented on a global level.
Though we are clear on the concepts of Universal Basic Income, nobody still knows how it would work in actuality. Finland is the first European country to launch the model. This two-year experimentation pilot will come to a conclusion by the end of 2018. The results of the same will also be published then.
Until this experiment model ends, we will have to rely on the testimonies of the 2000 Finnish citizens.
How does Universal Basic Income Help these 2000 People?
If we are looking forward to making sure Universal Basic Income works all over the world, we need to look at how this little experiment is performing in Finland.
Let’s talk about the man we discussed at the beginning of this article, shall we?
The money has made a lot of difference to his life. The man, while running an artist workshop, also has a little room where he produces drums to sell. He does all this while he lets people stay over in an Airbnb service, along with bringing up his six children. The fact that he gets a few dollars in his account every month makes him work harder than ever before. This would not have been possible without him receiving this free amount from the government.
Another example? Here you go!
A university student who was working multiple shifts to ensure her rent and school fees were paid said, in the beginning, Universal Basic Income did not do much for her. However, over time, she was less and less worried, and more and more enthusiastic about school activities. She became more and more involved in her school community and started living her life in a holistic manner, rather than just being worried about her rent payments and other financial issues.
Thus, the concept works and depends completely on trust!
Establishing Trust Between the Government and its Citizens
Trust that develops between the citizens and the Government. Trust that tells people there are authorities looking after their well-being, and on the other end, trust that tells the Government that people are aware of what is right for them and what is wrong.
Universal Basic Income thus tries to bring back the welfare state system! The underlying idea behind this is to treat humans equally, all across the seven continents. This could reduce income inequality and gaps, it could reduce slavery, and it could help lessen the gap between basic living conditions.
It is not just a simple and transparent system but much more than that. It could supersede other state welfare programs and combine them together to form a single program which requires less bureaucracy and complicated paperwork. The implementation for the same would require fewer costs, and thus, turns out to be a viable program.
Can Universal Basic Income actually work?
Universal Basic Income appeals to everyone in three very significant ways:
- It cushions people on the floor of the economy equally.
- Universal Basic Income gives people a choice in making the decision to support themselves.
- It helps streamline the bureaucracy behind various social programs.
The concept of Universal Basic Income is capable of helping citizens who are looking to changing their job, retiring from their businesses or are looking forward to not depending on their employers for social insurances.
The Plus Point of all This?
Universal Basic Income has all the potential to lower the levels of poverty and even eradicate it completely. This will give people the freedom to live their lives in a holistic and a sustainable manner. The program allows people to choose how and when they want to spend their money and gives them a hold on their life.
Moreover, providing everyone with the same income levels is going to allow people to not feel stigmatized. Most people tend to not apply for social welfare programs because of the fear of being judged by others. They have a sense of stigma attached to the fact they are requiring help from their government. If everyone is going to get the same, there would nothing be left to be ashamed of, or feel stigmatized about.
If things go well in Finland, we could soon be looking forward to the concept being adopted worldwide. Tycoons like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg already seem to be supporting the idea. The picture will be much clearer by the end of this year. Until then, we can only hope that the father of six manages to take care of his family, and that girl graduates without having to worry about her finances!