If your government gave you enough money every month to cover your bills, would you stay home and watch Orange is the New Black all day, or go out into the world and do meaningful things? This is the question behind a new social experiment in The Netherlands. Utrecht authorities are teaming up with the University College Utrecht to give people living on welfare a basic income. For nothing. Free money, no questions asked. They will then track recipients to determine whether a welfare system with no rules results in a happier, more productive society.
“Basic income is a universal, unconditional form of payment to individuals, which covers their living costs,” the Independent reports. “The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study.”
In theory, if our living expenses are covered and we have no financial worries, we would be free to do the things we always dreamed of, such as save the bees, provide shelter for the homeless, or eliminate food waste. But would we in practice? Or would we take the free meal ticket with an undisturbed conscience and play games all day long?
Victor Everhardt, Alderman for Work and Income, told DeStad Utrecht, “One group will have compensation and consideration for an allowance, another group with a basic income without rules and of course a control group which adhere to the current rules.”
He adds that it is first necessary to determine whether providing basic income even works before entering into any kind of debate about whether or not that is the most principled approach. This is the purpose of this study. And if it does work, the city hopes other municipalities, such as Nijmegen, Wageningen, Tilburg and Groningen, will follow suit.
What would you do?
Via The Independent