Wednesday, January 04, 2017

UBI: An idea whose time has come?

The Guardian reports that Finland has begun trialling a Universal basic Income scheme, with a test pool of 2000 unemployed Finns given a no-strings attached €560 a month to see what happens and how it affects employment incentives. But they're not the only ones. Further down, the article has a list of the UBI trials taking place this year:

Basic income experiments are also due to take place this year in several cities in the Netherlands, including Utrecht, Tilburg, Nijmegen, Wageningen and Groningen. In Utrecht’s version, called Know What Works, several test groups will get a basic monthly income of €970 under slightly different conditions.

One will get the sum as unemployment benefit, with an obligation to seek work – and sanctions – attached. Another will get it unconditionally, whether or not they seek work. A third will get an extra €125 providing they volunteer for community service. Another will get the extra €125 automatically, but must give it back if they do not volunteer.

The Italian city of Livorno began giving a guaranteed basic income of just over €500 a month to the city’s 100 poorest families last June, and expanded the scheme to take in a further 100 families on 1 January. Ragusa and Naples are considering similar trials.

In Canada, Ontario is set to launch a C$25m (£15m) basic income pilot project this spring. In Scotland, local councils in Fife and Glasgow are looking into trial schemes that could launch in 2017, which would make them the first parts of the UK to experiment with universal basic income.

All of which is a good step towards getting more empirical data. We'll never convince the right, of course - they're ideologically committed to widespread economic insecurity for the benefit of the few, a morally repugnant position. But if enough voters can see that it will make them better off and that the fearmongering is unjustified, then the politicians will follow, no matter what they believe.