Summary : “Even in Finland, universal basic income is too good to be true”

The article “Even in Finland, universal basic income is too good to be true” written by Declan Gaffney was published on The Guardian, the 10th December 2015.

The article suggests Finland’s government is planning to experiment the UBI (Universal Basic Income) with a portion of the population. The UBI will be granted without prerequisites to children and adults in order to give them revenue for living. This represents an advantage to unemployed people and for those who are been out of the work market and can’t have access to credits or other benefits. The author develops the idea that the actual welfare system is not good enough to end inequality and poverty. The welfare put the beneficiaries under the pressure of taking the first job they find. Once they get the job, they lose the benefits and start paying taxes, making more attractive to remain unemployed. In contrast, the UBI will be an exit for families “stuck in poverty”, it will end the bureaucracy of the welfare system, and will give the freedom to unemployed people of choosing when and where to work.

The author supports the settings of the experiment, which consists on handing the participants around 800 euros with “no conditionality, no means-testing and equal payments to all”. However, he claims that it won’t be easy to setup the UBI under real world conditions. The real markets have risks and the economical actors don’t behave always in a rational way. Also, people having a property will have a surplus compared to those who pay rent, and as different regions have different housing costs, it creates inequalities among people living in different areas. Likewise, with UBI, disabled or long-term sick people won’t receive a preferential income, losing their benefits when compared to welfare subsidies.  Still, the author finds the UBI interesting as a “thought experiment”, which could help to overtake the difficulties of the current welfare system.

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