Pack a heavy coat, folks, we’re going to Finland. The Finnish Social Insurance Institution, also known as Kela, has begun work on a proposal that would guarantee a basic income to every citizen of the small Nordic nation. This system of a universal state-facilitated payment delivered to every Finnish person would transform the state’s welfare system and potentially provide a blueprint for other countries looking to build a different kind of economy.
When fully implemented, the universal basic income would provide every Finnish citizen with a monthly taxfree payment of 800 euros, equivalent to about USD 881. This would replace currently existing social benefits received through the Finnish welfare system. Any income earned beyond the basic income will be taxable. Kela’s basic income proposal includes a trial period in which the payment delivered to citizens is only 550 euros, while existing benefits such as housing and income support would not be affected.
Unemployment has steadily increased in Finland over the past decade and citizens are eager for innovative solutions. In April 2015, the pro-basic income Centre Party won the most seats in the Finnish parliament elections with 21 percent of the vote. Two other pro-basic income parties, the Green League and the Left Alliance, respectively won 8 percent and 7 percent of the vote. Even the voters for the nationalist True Finns party, which won 17.6 percent of the vote, support basic income, with 57 percent approval.
Related: Dutch city to hand out free basic income in new social experiment
Kela aims to submit its basic income proposal to the Finnish government by November 2016. The government then intends to begin the trial on a national level. The city of Utrecht in the nearby Netherlands has already begunits basic income experiment.
Basic income promises to free workers from the need to earn a living by any means necessary. With stability in one’s life, the individual is then free to pursue creative, entrepreneurial, or humanitarian causes. They are better able to maintain family and community. Thanks to progressive policymakers in Finland, the whole world will soon learn whether this promise is true.
Images via KFP/Wikimedia and Petritrap/Wikimedia
Governments the world over are soon going to have no choice but to institute Guaranteed Annual Income programmes like this, as automation and roboticization of many workplaces are expected to wipe out millions of jobs over the coming decade - jobs which will never be replaced. Companies like McDonald's are already experimenting with self-serve kiosks and robotic food-handling and delivery systems in an effort to drastically slash, if not eliminate their wage bill. This alone is expected to wipe out 791,000 jobs in the fast food sector in the United States alone. A GAI would be a much better alternative to mass civil unrest and chaos caused by massive unemployment, for everyone concerned.
There has to be something beyond Capitalism...which seems to pervert everything it touches. Definitely worth a try as a Social Democratic experiment if nothing else!
It's about time a forward thinking nation led the way in transforming social evolution, am pretty sure this will turn out to be a very positive move in the right direction, for our expanding global awareness
Basic income is an essential part of the new society, however this should be a part of auch larger reform of the whole taxation system, based on replacing all existing taxes with a tax on all Natural Resources, assesed on the actual and potential damage their use causes the environment and ecosystems.