Universal Basic Income is the next big idea that Europe will probably adopt in the coming decade and will be dismissed here as a crazy socialist idea, you know, like universal healthcare, or tuition. We’re just nutty lefties who hate responsibility and drink lattes.
Last Christmas, Järvinen was selected by the state as one of 2,000 unemployed people for a trial of universal basic income. You may have heard of UBI, or the policy of literally giving people money for nothing. It’s an idea that lights up the brains of both radical leftists – John McDonnell and Bernie Sanders – and Silicon Valley plutocrats such as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. And in the long slump that has followed the banking crash, it is one of the few alternatives put forward that doesn’t taste like a reheat.
Yet hardly anyone knows what it might actually look like. For all the fuss, Finland is the first European country to launch a major dry run.
In this experiment the money is deposited in people’s bank accounts with no strings attached, and more importantly no shame – you don’t have to justify it to a bureaucrat or give up other potential income to get it. So in the example of the person in the article, he’s using the money to expand his modest business interests, almost like a state subsidy rather than “welfare.” And that difference in language and attitude makes all the difference.
Of course you won’t be able to explain that to many blockhead Americans like Donald Trump Jr. who asserted that taking half of his daughter’s Halloween candy would teach her about socialism.
Trump, typically, betrayed that he doesn’t understand socialism. Just about every time a Trump opens their mouth they betray deep ignorance or some failure in their education showing that they certainly didn’t get much out of their advantages in society and higher education. Trump Jr.’s “& give it to some kid who sat at home” is a smack specifically at the right wing stereotype of the welfare state and lazy people just getting a check for nothing. The reality is that there’s no job harder in our society than being poor, it’s a constant struggle to keep shit together – pay the rent, work a job, feed and clothe the kids, deal with healthcare, etc – as the Fin in the video says, “you have to be a magician to survive.” But you also have to spend time battling against bureaucratic rules put in place by the Trumps of the world in the misguided attempt to make people “work” for their dole. If your minimum wage job raises your salary, the government may lower your SNAP benefits (food stamps). The system is nuts.
The many clever Twitter responses to Fredo’s stupid didn’t note that attack, but there were some great ones.