Since the very beginning of 2017, around 2000 Finnish people were given around $700 per month tax-free as an experiment in universal basic income. All of the people involved – who were selected by the nation’s social security institution, “Kela” – were from 25-58 years old and weren’t expected to do anything at all to get the money.
When the experiment was first announced, it was praised internationally by the intelligentsia (journalists, politicians, academics, etc) for being modern and “cutting-edge.”
If you haven’t been following the news lately, a lot of people are discussing the potential of UBI implemented in society.
And it’s for a couple of different reasons, but mostly related to the fact that our civilization is becoming so sophisticated technologically, that most physically laborious jobs will be done by machines.
Tech is going to put a lot of people out of work. It’s the age-old question, the one where people always freak out when new technology is introduced.
There’s always a resistance to it. For example, back in the day, people were resistant to hydro poles being put up along the roads connecting towns and villages, despite the fact that these poles carry electricity to each home, basically them out of the darkness and into the light, literally, and figuratively speaking.
Either way, the UBI-program in Finland is currently in its second and final year, and according to Business Insider, the government is changing gears on the program by modifying it a little bit.
Researchers working for Kela, the social security branch of the Finnish government, are disappointed that they won’t be including workers, as well as non-workers, into the program.
Initially, the program was only for people without a job, completely. They’re disappointed because they wanted to see if the program would work as a means of ensuring a person’s income while they pursued another career by getting a better education.
The purpose of universal basic income is to give people the means to live while they’re updating their skill set so they can re-enter the workforce.
The truth is a lot of people are going to be out of work in the next twenty years, especially drivers who are soon going to be replaced by self-driving trucks. Driving is currently one of the biggest employers in the United States. I think it might even be the biggest, for men, especially.
Either way, we can’t jump to conclusions on the efficacy of such a program until next year when the conclusive results are published. Mainstream outlets like Fox News and the New York Times have been jumping all over this with ideologically motivated arguments like is suspected.
Fox News cried and implied it’s “evil socialism” and the New York Times are praising it like it’s the greatest thing ever. It’ll be interesting to see the results when they come out.