Universal Basic Income: Why Finland Is Giving Out Free Cash
By Althea Estrella, Vanguard Daily
Saturday, Dec 24, 2016
|In an experiment aimed at establishing whether or not a universal basic income scheme would reap more benefits than disadvantages, Finland will be giving out free cash to a number of its citizens.
While the country has a relatively high unemployment rate due to the number of jobs lost as a consequence of Nokia’s discontinuance of its mobile phone production — only a few of Finland’s unemployed are in a rush to score new jobs.
The bizarre trend in the country is due to an unemployment benefits system that effectively discourages citizens from seeking income-generating work for fear of losing the benefits altogether— without actually finding a stable source of income to replace it.
The strict rules that govern the country’s benefits system hinders citizens from trying out potentially unstable income-generating work because having a source of income — no matter how little or unstable — effectively voids their claims to benefits.
In hopes of eventually eliminating the quandary associated with receiving unemployment benefits and finding a good source of income at the same time, Finland’s government hopes to try and see whether having a universal basic income will actually deliver the lasting benefits that it promises it would.
All around the globe, the idea of a country having a universal basic income for its citizens has been gradually gaining recognition, thanks to the rising popularity of populism that threatens the very pockets of capitalism.
With a universal basic income in place, companies would no longer have to worry about the direct effects of firing an employee to an entire household.
Hiring employees, on the other hand, will be easier for the companies knowing that even if they needed to cut workers lose, everyone would still be okay.
“It does make it easier to have labor flexibility,” Georgetown University Qatar philosopher and basic income advocate Karl Widerquist, told the New York Times in an interview.
“I know that if I have to close down this operation, everyone is going to be O.K.”
In a universal basic income scheme, everyone will receive the same amount of benefits intended to provide for their basic needs — whether or not they belong to the the lower, the middle, or even the higher class of society.
According to its proponents, with a universal basic income in place, there are far more chances for citizens to strive for — and actually achieve — better economic status.
“Basic income is kind of a symbol that we believe in your capacity and we think that you are actually able to do things which are beneficial to you, and also for your community,” Helsinki University Professor of Social Policy Heikki Hiilamo told the New York Times.
“It’s built on a kind of a positive view of human beings. People want to be autonomous. They want to improve their well-being.”
Meanwhile, Finland hopes to try out its experiment on 2,000 of its randomly picked citizens, and see whether or not having a universal basic income would indeed lead them to seek betterment, or if it would cause them to slack, as some have long fear it would.
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