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Government The Almighty Buck News Politics

Finland Begins To Shape Basic Income Proposal (yle.fi) 674

jones_supa writes: The Finnish social insurance institution is to begin drawing up plans for a citizens' basic income model. If eventually deployed after an experimental phase, the model could revolutionize the Finnish social welfare system. Under basic income all citizens would be paid a taxless benefit sum free of charge by the government. The proposal's director Olli Kangas says that the model would see Finns being paid some 800 euros a month in its full form, 550 euros monthly in the model's pilot phase. The full-fledged form of the model would make some earnings-based benefits obsolete, but in the partial pilot format benefits would not be affected, and housing and income support would remain as separate packages. We first mentioned this plan a few months ago, and at the start of the year touched on a program that tied a basic income program with the Fimkrypto cryptocurrency.
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Finland Begins To Shape Basic Income Proposal

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  • Excellent. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 31, 2015 @05:38PM (#50839097)

    This is really the difference between capitalism as a means to exploit the weak, and capitalism as a means to voluntarily exchange for mutual benefit.

    Most people want to work - I have enough money to never need to work another day in my life, yet I still enjoy being productive. Those who say they don't, and that they only work because they have to - those who project their negative image of themselves on the whole of humanity - those who, surprisingly enough, nevertheless seem keen with the idea of earning more than the minimum - are welcome to retire. And to see how it goes for them. Technology doesn't require everyone to be employed 40+ hours/week to keep everyone fed, clothed and housed.

    • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Real Dr John ( 716876 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @05:42PM (#50839121) Homepage

      Agreed. The money will quickly flow back through the system anyway, and will end up as a profit for some company somewhere. People don't just sit on their meager cash.

      If everyone in the world got a survivable benefit package for their region, we would be in a lot better shape than we are with the current crony capitalism system.

      • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @05:49PM (#50839171)
        So you're suggesting that when we all do better, we all do better? That's preposterous! Why do you hate America?
      • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
        A lot of minimum wage job, that nobody want to do, wouldn't be filled anymore as well. Let's face it, who wants to pick up the trash ?
        • I'd do it, even if I was getting 800 euro a month. Unless I could get a better job.
          • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

            The trick is to let you collect the stipend and make money at a job as well. Up to a certain level anyway.

        • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @06:13PM (#50839309) Journal

          Who picks up the trash for minimum wage? Most places around here get $15 an hour starting wage, more if your driving and more if you been at it for a while. The minimum wage is $8 something an hour. And this is in the mid west to central US.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'm OP, and I'm one of those people who picks up trash in the street when I walk past it, and tries to keep my street (to the extent all my neighbours approve) tidy. I'd be happy to spend a few hours a week doing this in a more organised manner to benefit the community - perhaps as part of a team of volunteers and people doing community service enforced by the courts for non-violent crime.

          As to picking up the trash as a full-time job, this is fairly well paid here - a lot more than 800 euro/month! And while

        • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Informative)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@worl d 3 . net> on Saturday October 31, 2015 @06:25PM (#50839381) Homepage

          It's actually the other way around. People won't do minimum wage jobs because they don't pay enough to live on, and if they have a job their benefits end. In some countries benefits continue for minimum wage workers (corporate welfare, where they government props up non-viable businesses that can't or won't pay enough for their staff to remain alive and healthy).

          That's what will happen here - people will be able to take low paid, part time jobs to supplement their income because the basic income will mean they have enough to live.

          • I would have to agree that it is the ultimate in stupidity that government benefits would ever be higher than holding SOME kind of job, even if it was a minimum wage job. Otherwise, why would anyone ever get a job?
            • Re:Excellent. (Score:5, Informative)

              by Gavagai80 ( 1275204 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @10:38PM (#50840357) Homepage

              In the case of benefits, people are in fact disincentivized from working because their welfare checks are reduced by the amount they work -- it's like having to work for free. Basic income fixes this problem because it's not an income-based benefit, a poor person can get a minimum wage job and not lose anything.

        • by willworkforbeer ( 924558 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @07:10PM (#50839599)

          Let's face it, who wants to pick up the trash ?

          Ooooh, I think I know this one: Uber drivers working the Jersey shore?

        • A lot of minimum wage job, that nobody want to do, wouldn't be filled anymore as well. Let's face it, who wants to pick up the trash ?

          Just a guess, but people would pick up the trash who want to have more than a basic sustenance, and aren't qualified to do anything else.

          There's a tiny percentage of the population who might end up just living on their dole, but I'd rather see them have shelter and food than have them begging in the street.

          I really don't want to be a rich man in a poor country. I've been to

    • Most people want to work

      You must know different people than I do. Most people I know would MUCH rather not work even if it is good for them. I've had a number employees of mine fraudulently claim disability. There isn't a single person on my staff at work that I believe would continue to work for a paycheck if they didn't have to.

      I have enough money to never need to work another day in my life, yet I still enjoy being productive.

      Even if that is true, it is not representative of a large portion of the population. I like the way Wanda Sykes put it in her stand up act. "If I won the lottery I'd walk off the stage in the middle

      • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday October 31, 2015 @07:12PM (#50839609)

        There is a huge difference between "winning the lottery" and "basic income".

        Some people would be happy to sit at home and do nothing except watch TV all day. So?

        Other people would keep working in order to afford more options.
        Some would keep working because they enjoy the job they do.
        Some would keep working because they were not happy sitting at home watching TV all day.

        The question is, is the group of people who are happy-not-working large enough to bankrupt the group of people who would keep working?

      • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @08:04PM (#50839835) Homepage

        Most people I know would MUCH rather not work even if it is good for them.

        I think it would be more accurate to say that most people would much rather not work at shitty, tedious, mind-numbing, soul-destroying, low-paying jobs that they hate.

        I suspect that most people would happily work at a job that fit their interests, and that they found psychologically rewarding; the problem, of course, is that most jobs (and especially the kinds of jobs that are available to untrained/uneducated people) are of the tedious and mind-numbing variety.

        On the optimistic side, computers and automation provide us with the opportunity to let machines to the tedious necessary work, freeing up people to find jobs that are more compatible with their own tastes. Of course, it's likely that many of the jobs that people would choose for themselves would not be particularly economically productive -- in a previous era, they would be referred to as "hobbies" -- but that is not a problem in a society where machines provide a surplus of wealth so that humans no longer need to be dragooned into service on threat of starvation.

        If nothing else, being able to quit a job you hate without fear of starvation and/or homelessness frees people up to look for a different kind of employment that they would like better, and it frees people to get the education necessary to do that job competently. The endgame is a society with more people doing jobs they want to do rather than jobs that they are forced to do, and therefore a society where more people are enthusiastic and therefore good at their jobs.

  • Summary = entire article?

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @05:45PM (#50839143)

    I'm curious how inflation will not eat up most/all of this. I'm also curious how many people will simply decide to do nothing and live on the dole.

    I think the intentions are good but I'm pretty dubious this will actually work and be net beneficial to society. Hope I'm wrong but doubt I am...

    • Re:Inflation? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @05:56PM (#50839213) Homepage Journal

      Well, it's not 800 Euros a month hot off the printing press; it's 800 Euros that were taxed out of the economy then put back into the economy in a different place. It'll surely effect the prices of many things, but net there's no more total money in the economy.

      I suspect the thinking is that many of the things that people on the lower income end of the spectrum have relatively inelastic demand: housing and foodstuffs. Things that are discretionary purchases for those people are bound to become more expensive.

    • Re:Inflation? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @07:37PM (#50839727) Journal

      I'm curious how inflation will not eat up most/all of this.

      If the $27 trillion that the banks have gotten for free since 2008 hasn't caused inflation, why would $7 trillion, going to actual human beings?

  • by rasmusbr ( 2186518 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @05:48PM (#50839159)

    The problem with all these basic income schemes is that they will cause (or speed up) a gradual, but eventually overwhelming, shift in power from regular people to the super rich.

    If you draw a simple diagram of how money must flow in the economy you will see that the only long-term sustainable way to fund a basic income scheme without creating massive inflation is by taxing the rich and/or the corporations that they own. This sounds great, until you realize that once the rich pay all the taxes and the rest of us pay virtually no taxes, the rich will effectively own the government. It will no longer seem corrupt when the government does their bidding. Kids will learn in school that the big corporation and their glorious and intelligent owners own the government fair and square and are the source of all of our wealth.

    And of course, once the rich literally own the government the rest of us will pretty much have to settle for whatever they care to give us.

    The current system is far from perfect, but it is a system where the government gets its money from the hands of regular people and therefore has to at the very least make believe that it is serving regular people.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khasim ( 1285 )

      Aren't we already at that point? Even without a basic income?

      If you have enough money, you can "buy" politicians to support any cause you want. Even restructuring the tax laws in your favour.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I think that the problem with your theory is that the government doesn't really care where its money comes from, as it is not an entity. Instead, politicians care where their income money from, and that's mostly from the lobbyists. I've never heard of a normal person hiring a lobbyist, so we're basically already in your situation where the government is only incentivized to take care of the rich/corporations... and it shows.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      This will make no difference to the tax take. People without jobs pay no income tax now. People who do work pay income tax, and will continue to at the same rate.

      In any case, paying tax doesn't mean that the government works for you. At least not in a democracy.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @06:36PM (#50839423)

      Sorry, but that shift has happened a long time ago. The thing a basic income would ensure is that people are not powerless _and_ poor.

    • by LordZardoz ( 155141 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @07:54PM (#50839793)

      I tend to think of it a bit differently.

      In my view of things, in any democratic society governed by the rule of law, people can only become as wealthy as the masses are willing to tolerate.

      Maybe some of those who are rich managed to get there by hard work and talent, or maybe they were born into it. Either way, the only reason that the rich are able to stay rich, at a fundamental level, is that every other person in that society is willing to tolerate it. If the poor become angry enough, they will basically either steal all the shit that the rich person has by force, or just outright murder the fucker by forming an angry mob and going after them.

      The basic income scheme can be viewed as the rich and powerful having enough foresight to see this possibility and trying to placate the mob sharing the wealth.

      Besides, it also helps to keep in mind that those who are truly wealthy are in a position that which country they chose to live in is a near trivial matter of choice. If you have a billion dollars in the bank, and do not like the taxes in one place, you can afford to move to another place with a more hospitable tax regime.

      END COMMUNICATION

    • by Tom ( 822 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @03:14AM (#50841093) Homepage Journal

      I call bullshit on this.

      All of your assumptions are unproven and I dare say wrong. Why would this only be sustainable by taxing the rich? The money needed for the basic income already exists. This is not so much free money, as a different way of assigning it. We already have welfare systems, but we spend a huge amount of effort and money into the whole management of it in an attempt to make it "fair".

      Your assumption that normal tax income cannot finance a basic income scheme needs proof, and you've not provided any.

  • A good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tempestdata ( 457317 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @05:48PM (#50839161)

    I totally support something like this, and believe in the future, a basic income system will be inevitable in most modern societies. The current welfare systems are too complex, shaped by special interests, people exploiting loopholes, or gaming the system for benefit. There is too much abuse, wastage and a large chunk of the population feels a sense of resentment.

    Shift to a basic income for all, and you now have a level playing field. It is more efficient, it is harder (or impossible?) to abuse, and no one can argue that laziness or poor health decisions or poor financial decisions are being rewarded. All, from CEOs to Rockstars to unemployed alcoholics are being given a basic income.

    The two downsides to something like this :

    1) It will be much harder to find individuals willing to do certain categories of high risk or menial labor. You would end up having to pay a LOT more.
    2) Inflation for certain goods and services could eat away any gains that a system like this could bring. It is similar to how lowering interest rates does not increase house affordability or put more people in homes, instead it just causes house prices to go up and affordability to remain the same.

    • Yeah, long-term this is gonna be required. As automation takes over more and more jobs eventually it'll be nearly impossible to keep employment up.
  • I think a basic income is a good idea because it would allow us to get rid of other government programs and cut down on the bureaucracy in managing the various welfare, medicare, student loan, food stamp, etc. programs. Simply give everyone a fixed monthly amount and they can locally best determine what their own needs are or how it should be allocated. It's really just a market-based approach to the concept of a welfare-state.

    I'm guessing that with a small fixed income it would also help cut down on a l
    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      The usual object to this idea is that no one will want to work, but I would imagine that a stipulation that you're required to do so many hours of community service every week if not working would probably help balance things out a little bit.

      'Work or starve'?

      Why should I have to work to get my 'basic income'? I have rights!

      (And you have just reinvented the huge government bureaucracy you just said you were getting rid of)

    • the only problem is that even if they instituted it, the government has never seen a program it wanted to kill off. They will not cut out those other programs, they might say they will before it passes and after explain how its too hard to do.
  • by fche ( 36607 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @05:54PM (#50839203)

    "all citizens would be paid a taxless benefit sum free of charge by the government"

    But gee, where does the government get that money from? Of course, the citizens would pay, on average, multiple times that "benefit sum" to the government.

    • by jopsen ( 885607 )

      "all citizens would be paid a taxless benefit sum free of charge by the government"

      But gee, where does the government get that money from? Of course, the citizens would pay, on average, multiple times that "benefit sum" to the government.

      So what... there is many countries that have talked about this... The main arguments here hear for this is about ensuring everybody has some level of income.
      To ensure that unemployment doesn't destroy you and that there is less stigma to the issue. It's also about removing bureaucracy and providing people with freedom to try crazy things weather that means spending time doing art work, watching TV, studying, doing a super risky startup (without a VC).

      As always there are pros/cons, if can get to society w

  • by seoras ( 147590 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @06:05PM (#50839271)

    The 20 century model of paper work and bureaucracy to get welfare is inhumane, degrading and a waste of money.

    If you remove the burden of the worry of income from people you open them up to turning their attention to working on things that they are interested in doing.
    This is, in the long term, is a better economic model as it encourages growth in areas untouched or ignored due to fear of failure and hardship.
    The capitalistic model is to ask for funding from investors to try something new and innovative.
    The problem there is that you need to convince them they can get a return on their money.

    Not all good ideas and great work should necessarily be locked down by investors or the need for monetary return/gain.
    Where would we be without the free, and open source, software movements?
    How much more productive, creative and efficient would our technology be if more of it was written for free?

  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @06:39PM (#50839439) Homepage

    >> would be paid a taxless benefit sum free of charge by the government

    By the _government_? Really? Or by Finnish taxpayers?

  • Smart move. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Saturday October 31, 2015 @07:15PM (#50839627)

    This is the next step for a modern post-scarcity economy and society - the ultimate consolidation of wealth transfer into one basic package. I wish Germany would be this close to conditionless basic income.

    But with Pegida, the ongoing Greece bailouts and the conservative right crawling out of their holes and popularising conspiracy theory bullshit and fascism once again, I'm afraid Germany is moving away from this sort of thing again.

    It's a shame actually.

  • Berlin Wall Take 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by inhuman_4 ( 1294516 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @08:00PM (#50839821)
    Haven't we already played this game?

    After WWII the West and the Soviets split Germany. East Germany has socialism, where everyone's needs were provided for. West Germany had a capitalist system, where people got what they worked for. Well it didn't take long for people working in the East to figure out that they could do much better in the West, so they left. Yes, some of it was politics, yes some of it was about freedom. But the Berlin Wall wasn't built to stop political activists, pensioners, university students, or those in need of longterm care from fleeing. It was to stop professionals: engineers, technicians, physicians, teachers, lawyers and skilled workers. The drain of those with the largest net contribution to society was crippling the East German economy. So they built a wall to stop them. It's not an accident that most socialist countries enforce(d) exit visas.

    Here in Canada we already enjoy a brain drain of our medical professionals. Why stay in Canada with lower incomes and higher taxes, when you can jump across the boarder and make out so much better. And I predict that Finland will see the same thing. Many Fins already speak Swedish and English so the barrier to exit is low. If you are a high paid professional why lose a huge chunk of your income to those who don't work when you can leave via the Schengen agreement.

    Now might say that it won't cost extra because we will cut funding in other programs. Well that's bullshit. But don't take my word for it, or the media's word for it, sit down and do the math yourself. Basic income that provides any meaningful level of income is crazy expensive, well beyond what a few cuts here and there is going to cover.

    You might say that only a few people care enough about higher taxes to leave. And you would be right. The problem is that it is the people who pay the most taxes who are going to leave. And when they leave the tax burden on those who stay goes up. Which creates more incentive for people to leave. It's a vicious cycle where the highest taxed leave and the next highest tax bare the burden.

    I'll leave you with a thought experiment. Let say a nice liberal state like Vermont decided it's going to implement basic income, but no other state in the union follows suite. What do you think would happen?
    • by seoras ( 147590 )

      No we haven't.

      Communism has become the "cold fusion" of political ideals.
      It's a dirty word used to black list any alternative, "left wing" political movements that (appear to) oppose capitalism.

      Finland isn't talking about setting up a Satsi, encouraging family members to spy on each each other, covertly installing listening devices in their homes and putting up travel restrictions (although according to Snowden your "free west" is doing exactly that right now).

      Nor has anyone, yet, imposed economic sanctions

  • by slew ( 2918 ) on Sunday November 01, 2015 @02:55AM (#50841045)

    Given $x, large number (fortunately, not a majority, but a disappointingly large number) of people seem to be unable to budget for a place to live or food to eat. They will spend their money on things like gambling, booze, drugs, get-rich-quick schemes, fortune tellers, and other scam artists (or perhaps shady financial advisers), and we will still have to bail them out.

    The real question is it better to give people raw money (e.g. basic income) or vouchers that they can only spend a certain way (e.g., the current bureaucratic welfare system). The answer will depend on where you are in the political spectrum. If you want to bail these people out anyhow after they fritted away the basic income money, you are a liberal, if you resent that basic income was wasted and want to control what they spend you are a conservative, if you don't think the government should be in that business in the first place, you are a libertarian.

    FWIW, in my opinion, I think the real problem is giving people "basic-income" money w/o teaching them about money. You can see this problem in 5-year olds, and 21-year olds and sadly 50-year olds. Giving out basic income w/o teaching people about money would be like giving your 15-yo the keys to a car w/o driving lessons. Sure, some of them might know enough to drive already (and have been driving since they were 12), but odds are, most still would need practice as they still make mistakes and then there's always the question of what do you do with the small percentage of them should never be behind a wheel?

    IMHO, there should be a benefits licence for basic-income. If you can't pass the test, you get state-welfare instead. Also, like a driver's licence, there should be a learners-permit time where someone has to "drive" with you before you are allowed to go on your own. In addition, even when you are on your own, if you "crash" too many times (e.g., need supplemental welfare because of poor budgeting), your licence for basic income should be revocable. It should be a "privilege" to get basic income, not a right. The right is to simply survive.

    However, I'm sure that's not how this is going to work anywhere. It will simply be organized as a "block-grant" welfare program because the liberal politics behind it.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary saftey deserve neither liberty not saftey." -- Benjamin Franklin, 1759

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