Monday, December 07, 2015

Towards a UBI in Finland

Finland is planning to introduce a Universal basic Income:

The Finnish government is currently drawing up plans to introduce a national basic income. A final proposal won’t be presented until November 2016, but if all goes to schedule, Finland will scrap all existing benefits and instead hand out €800 ($870) per month—to everyone.

It sounds far-fetched, but it’s looking likely that Finland will carry through with the idea. Whereas several Dutch cities will introduce basic income next year and Switzerland is holding a referendum on the subject, there is strongest political and public support for the idea in Finland.

A poll commissioned by the government agency planning the proposal, the Finnish Social Insurance Institution or KELA, showed that 69% support (link in Finnish) a basic income plan. Prime minister Juha Sipilä is in favor of the idea and he’s backed by most of the major political parties. “For me, a basic income means simplifying the social security system,” he says.

Its a good idea. The evidence we have so far suggests that a UBI means a healthier, more educated and more economically productive community, simply because people can afford to take time off to invest in education or childcare, or when they get sick. And from a left point of view, removing the employers' boot from our neck results in better workplaces and a massive boost in practical human freedom. There are implementation questions, of course - the big one being high-needs beneficiaries who would be made worse off by a change - but Finland moving to such a system will help us work out what the good answers are.