Around the world, there is a lot of buzz around the idea of universal basic income (also known as “unconditional basic income” or UBI). It can take different forms or vary in the details, but in essence: UBI is the idea a government would pay all citizens, employed or not, a flat monthly sum to cover basic needs. This funding would come with no strings attached or special conditions, which would remove any potential stigma associated with receiving it. In short: it would be free money.
There’s been a lot of recent excitement around the idea, especially after an experiment launched by the Finnish government started in early 2017. It has the public and the media wondering: how will recipients react to getting this unconditional source of income.
The Finnish Experiment
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars.
People all over the world are flirting with an idea called basic income, basically
basic income. Bathing income for all the idea behind the basic income is that each citizen receive
a payment every month as a right without conditions and paid individually basic income
also known as universal basic income or unconditional basic income.
You'll, be I that's producer, Avery Troublemaker
very, very roughly defined universal basic income. Is this idea that a government would pay all their citizens and everyone would get a flat sum of money every month to cover their basic
its whether or not they have a job, and this money would be no strings attached with no conditions,
And this will hopefully remove any stigma from receiving it. It's free money. Basically, it's free money, the logic behind it is this
jobs, don't pay enough money for people to even make rant, or by groceries you can work,
full time and still be below the poverty line
it's easy to understand why people on the left would advocate for a guaranteed income, but also
A version of this concept is popular in libertarian circles. They see
basic income as a way to shrink the welfare state. For example, you could take away foods,
I'm snedecker in housing subsidies and replace
with one flat, some people
like are also interested in the concept of basic income, and they feel a certain urgency about it. Robots are
I mean for our jobs, they say and
again. Com is the best way for humans to maintain a decent lifestyle when our labour is increasingly obsolete. Our generous
It is going to have to deal with tens of millions of jobs replaced by automation like self driving cars and trucks, but we have the potential to do so much more than that. That's max
covered, giving a commencement speech at Harvard and when he's getting at is in a world where jobs are scarce
everyone, will need a financial cushion and
and by his logic. If people don't have to worry about food and shelter, maybe they feel
here to innovate. Maybe they start a new company or go back to school. We should explore ideas like universal basic income.
To make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas,
listen to that hovered crab that is eaten it up. Elon musk has also advocated
for you be in the startup up incubator. Why commentator will soon begin its own pilot experiment right here in Oakland, to study what happens when they give a group of people a basic income, its act,
an idea- that's been around for a long time and there are many different variations on it, but recently
there have been a number of experiments with forms of basic income happening around the world. A non profit is running an experiment.
You be I in Kenya and on Terrio Canada just launched a test in three different cities, but this recent excitement about basic income. Experimentation is largely focused on Finland will be the first country in the world's upon it. A basic
in consequence experiment with universal basic income. A great idea wasn't just finish financial volume. They begin
of twenty seventeen. The finnish government began an experiment with a basic income and this new
it is about the Finland experiment was really exciting,
Maybe we will learn what people will do if they can make money without work? Will they?
hang out at home. Will society grind to a halt,
how are people find meaning in their lives and how
evaluate success and that, of course, the big question. It's the kind of the acid test of basic income, the wheel, receiving basic income, make people more or less active, whatever the active,
these, whether it's just walking around or whether its taking care of your neighborhood, kids or applying for work? This is rapid, mocha, founder of demos, Helsinki, where basting
and here's what I learned talking the rope and
Other people in Finland about this experiment with basic income to talk about basic income in Freeman, started before
The understanding of what the outcomes of automation would be for the employment market, the Finland experiment is not about robots and it's not deceive me,
I will stop working when they get free money. The experiment is to find out if giving people basic income will actually help them start
working in this whole experiment is especially interesting to us here and not an ip not just for what Finland is testing, but how they are testing it.
Finland is trying out a unique design, oriented way of thinking about government. Rather,
rolling out laws on a massive scale. They are trying to craft legit,
nation, in stages with user feedback like a piece of design because
Every good design is made to fill a need or solve a problem, and this is the problem I hate it.
To be an unemployed renown. Twenty seventeen-
The unemployment rate in Finland is at eight point, eight percent and that's about double the: U S, unemployment rate and that
it is worse in smaller finnish cities like urine Sue, you I say is in Eastern Finland is a field that is always being poorest parts of the
treating this sun. Unless Ganem resident of urine,
which is about an hour's drive away from the russian border. She's. Thirty, nine
and she's been unemployed for a little over two years. Unemployment has been here bigger than
in the southern or western Finland because we are far from a bigger cities.
I'm more much much much more job opportunities
China has a masters in history and she worked as a researcher until her project ran out of funding and all over women there's been a massive decline in manufacturing represents. Nokia was crushed by
apple and end with phones, Nokias vote.
Parts use to be made by contractors and companies all around the country. My mom
actually worked in that factory that can went down when Nokia sided go down. So I kind of know body a part of that story pretty well in the: U S, depending on the state you can,
generally collect unemployment for about half a year after losing a job in Finland, you can collect unemployment
for about two years and then
are different kinds of social assistance is an allowance as he can apply for if you still don't have a job, but here's the catch.
Collecting unemployment assistance in Finland. You generally cannot earn additional income
or you risk losing those benefits and then you'd have to reapply.
Which is a massive drag. You cannot take alike on part time, chop, bigger,
Then you are gaining money, even though very very little, then is counted against you
so you lose that little bit of support, many who were already gaining so unemployed. Finns dont want to risk that loss. They don't want to pick up temporary gig work or part time jobs or
freelance work, so it's really really difficult situation. This actually happened with
person. We hired to record Sana, we asked what is.
Rate was, and he said he couldn't charges, because he is
so an employed and would lose part of his allowance. If you took on money from freelance work, so he did it for free thanks Yonah
Basically, the government of Finland realise that something had to be done about this system that they were accident?
late disincentives and citizens from getting small jobs or maybe
in starting businesses of their own, and these are citizens who want to work like Santa.
we feel anyway, side of at a no unimportant
I mean doing a job but make you feel like you're doing something. First, you know a purpose in something bad being unemployed purchased
hanging around anxious, not being very important to anything anybody, so
this welfare system clearly needs to be changed, and this can be done
You different ways like with an earned income tax credit, but firstly wanted to try
at something simpler and go from there
And this is where we get to design they want?
to design and test policy in a process very similar to the way designers come up with new products. You would
I'm policies that you'd think about policies, ask kind of design objects or designed services, and that means that
do I duration and tests. That's rob him again, founder of the think. Tank demos, Helsinki and the Prime Minister's office turned to them, so the Prime Minister's office,
approached ask and ask that how can we employ design thinking on a national level?
How can we do like governmental level, design, thinking, design thinking? It goes like this
First, there is a challenge or problem that must be solved. Then designers express test and cycle,
press that means designers come up with a few ideas in prototypes test.
Try those ideas out. May
with a model or a sample, get feedback and understand what actually happens. What are the outcomes and cycle incorporate that feedback to make changes and revise the design? Then the process,
again and again
and again, indifferent iterations couple years ago. This is how
finnish Prime minister decided. He wanted to design legislation.
Sir, I mean he's not radical, necessarily centres
yeah. I think this is the most interesting part started. There was true frustration among policymakers that they don't know what a part
a law or tax would cause, we re actually would work so demos help
established and experimentation unit, which is an actual office of
the finnish Prime minister, the Prime Minister's office, you, Sir experimentation unity. The first unit that last like designs policy using the kind of design thinking meaning of the word. There are other governments that are interested in experimentation, but here's what makes Finland different there.
We want to create prototypes of laws and then change and scale and update them dynamically, as a result of their experiment
show what's effective and what not
and in order to run these experiments, Finland Constitution,
the pass a law to ensure that they were not in violation of their constitution, because all the constitutions of democratic
raising the world. They say that you have to treat people equally and by definition, if you're running experiments, you're not treating people equally, because today the people who are part of the experiments are not being treated,
so they needed to be a special law that outlined
I think how do the experiments fit in the constitution that says that people need to be treated equally,
one of the first experiments. The finnish government decided to do was with basic income, because the welfare office is extended.
And complicated, and rather than reducing,
one part of it and changing a bunch of stuff around and reworking their normal operations. The basic income experiment just kind
chugs along its own. We have open
indeed and partly automated our processes. So everything is run by computers, the money, the basin
income just gets deposited in participants. Bank accounts every month automatically the programmes
currently overseen by Mario got, who works for a
Institution called Keller.
Alas, so will social insurance institution hearing Finland. So
in charge of implementing this. Sir basic income experiment or head of it predict leader,
not a lot of stigma about welfare in Finland. Everyone goes this office every now and then in life, because there are forty different kinds of benefits that things can receive, including students, support
paternal care, maternal care, pension subsidies and, of course, unemployment.
So in January of twenty. Seventeen Keller pick two thousand unemployed Finns at random from all over the country into
very mental? We have those thousand people who are getting this basic income, five hundred and sixty euros per month, and so they have to be between twenty five to fifty eight. So they are not. Students or young people
and they are not those kind of people who will fill out their pension age during this experiment. So this is kind of like the profile of these people. Participants.
Didn't volunteer for the experiment. Keller just told
but they would now be receiving five hundred sixty euros a month,
the news came in a letter. I got in fat, fat, mail and ass.
Said that, ok, yeah, yeah yeah be chosen to be one in this basic income: experiment,
and those like out was that Sana the anew.
Lloyd researcher and your hands hadn't really thought about
basic income. Until she read that big fat packet that came in the mail which outlined the experiment for her, and I was going to have a certain amount of money to my bank account every month. It's not big, but is stable. Money
five hundred six years a month would be a little less than Santa would get on unemployment, but should also be
able to work and not worry about losing it. So I was happy about it because two years that experiments lass
I gonna be Thou money every month, and I don't have to stress that much because
I am a big stress, a person. I stress a lot and finding a job is very important to me. So now I'm a ball. If I find a job in a part time, jobs
I could take it and not lose their support money. That usually would, if I was in part of this basic income experiment. So
of the participants have been talking about their basic income with the press, but sauna has kept it a secret. I feel embarrassed bad. It make us feel like. I have. This
advantaged. So I haven't been very excited about spreading that
information and now I say, participating this Europe put gifts is like ok
that very many people in Finland are properly hearing capacity, so I'd be open about it. I'm sorry,
put it this way. I'll have you know we are huge in Finland, sauna
sauna doesn't know anyone else involved in the study and most people in Finland. Don't her friends get car starstruck when she tells them her secret? I get people I know I know of guard with actual. Oh, your cache of tat. Your first one, I've ever met, sounds like his
a funny really when you collect unemployment environment, you have to go to these job training means and chickens every couple of months, but these two thousand
participants scattered around the country. Don't have to do anything at all to get this far
hundred and sixty euros every month, even though their part,
this experiment, they also dont, have to report how they spent it and at the end of the experiment, Keller
will look and see if this group of unemployed people who got basic income took on work and compare it with their control group, which is the rest of the unemployed people of Finland. One hundred that
five thousand people who are in the same profile than these two thousand people are, but they are not getting these basic incomes.
We are comparing these two groups of people in these two years period and see what is happening to these. How are these people behaving when they get this basic income? And how are these people behaving not getting
The basic income and then when they compare the results based
Income might just might get one step closer,
to becoming a reality. While I feel play with the idea that this basic income would actually come a universal basic income here in Finland,
which is kind of like the idea that I dont actually believe that he's gonna happen, or I think that there are a lot of people who are not thinking. This is a good idea. Yes, the purse
currently overseeing the experiment for basic income, believes it won't work. I think that it would be to dramatic, so we would wipe out the whole of this social security system that we have been building up for decades and then
just to replace it with one benefits turn in imagines that not everyone would prefer a flat income rate, something
we do need more than one based some like what, if you have children or parents with special needs, you have to take care of all day. In that case, you don't have the capacity to start
picking up gig work, the basic income wouldn't be enough for you and, of course, who would pay for it. So who would finance
it's really hard to say how much basic income would actually cost the average taxpayer? Were it to be instituted, and we don't
Y know how it would affect the economy or inflation rates. It's all.
Pendant on a number of factors and theirs
exact math on this, so truly claims that they know how much more expensive basic income would be. I think they're lying it's such a systemic shift, that we decide
to start being everyone. A lump sum of money will change their economy in such a way that the whole system changes its. I once again something after experiment Rob S as it gets
basic income would save money by cutting back on bureaucracy, but
probably still be expensive to fund, but that's almost technical
if you know, if you need money, raised money, it's takes like what politicians do they changed the way budgets are arranged if
basic income make citizens become more active in engaged. Europa has faith that governments will find a way to pay for
because an excited and activated population is generally good for the economy. He says
That's why they have to test before anything else. If basic income would really increase productivity and improve general well being at this point there testing to see if it be worth more investigation, I really
really really hope that this will continue edges spread out that more people are involved. This experiment has
invigorated sauna, even though she
slightly less money than she would on unemployment she's
you do whatever she wants. I am trying to find a job,
ascending the plot applications and take possibly apartheid job. She feels like she said
to start a new chapter and she's ready for what's next a chocolate
eighty of mind. It brought that to me and if it sounds funny, because the amount of money not that big but the Gue people hope-
people a chance to take a moment away from their stress that panic of do we survive
it's really important, to keep in mind that son as just one participant in a very small study, and basically
may I helped her search for part time work, but when I spoke with her, she
yet to actually find employment and also
probably noted that this form of basic income is not universal basic income. If it were universal, it would be money
for every citizen employed or not in this particular experiment,
The basic income is only for unemployed people. He, I think, what
We experimented now would be called partial basic income. It's a visa. They limit their experiment. I dunno how relevant it is because a lot of groups are missing,
We want to see what people do when they don't have to work any more robust, says
should next see what happens if basic income is given to people who are already employed to see
If they then quit their jobs,
critics of the experiment also argue that two thousand people is too small a sample size to finish. Economists published- and
add in the New York Times, called why Finland's Bay
income experiment isn't working and said it have the potential to incentivize people to accept low pain and low productivity jobs. It's an experiment, that's far from perfect, but it's not
supposed to be a bee all end all. Ideally it's a first draft. We cannot just consider that you know, let's give
this amounts to some thousands of people and then we'll know for sure, there's gonna be
all other experiments before we can find out how to
how the renewed social security there
only if this experiment is at all successful or even if it's not, it should
lead to another experiment and then another and then another in.
Just as on experiments with basic income. There will be
experiments for what languages to teach in schools, how to change childcare. Everything
according to their website.
Discrimination. Office is working on twenty six key projects nationally and slowly hopefully,
Finland will use the design process to figure out if it's possible or worthwhile to try.
A radically new ideas express test and cycle.
Will we ever get a basic income experiment right here in the? U S, it turns
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So there people here in United States or talking about universal basic
in arguing about why its good and whites back
But to me it seems like it
is not on the table at all. I just feel like there's something about the: U S that makes it so
It would never happen here that basic income is basically something that could only be
stood in nordic Welfare states, it's as if the
everything about basic income. Is it's actually this very american idea, and it was first proposed- or at least kind of first mentioned
by American Founding Father Thomas pain. Its leg ass,
can an apple pie and in terms of basic income, experiments
we have actually been down this road before as a nation. Here in the United States, we did some studies with basic income back in the sun.
I shall ask the change the framework of government itself so weakened
again: boy responsive to the needs and the wishes of the american people, that's region.
Did your Nixon wanted to see if he could guarantee a family of four one thousand
six hundred dollars a year, which is equivalent to like ten thousand dollars today, any
inside it in this state of the union address. Let us
the floor under the income of every family, with children in a man, let us
provide the means by which more can help themselves
so yeah, and then he decided to really try and do it. Tens of millions of dollars were budgeted so that more than eight
I was in five hundred Americans could be involved in extent,
men's all around the country and there
under different ones, and there are different people running them and they tested like different variations of basic income in different ideas around it. And there is one in Seattle and one in Denver.
And when in Gary Indiana and one in North Carolina just like all kinds of places all over the country, and so why haven't? I heard of these
I have no I've no note of this and when they find out where
the results, were kindest screwy because they wasn't like in a perfect scientific
Above all, there are all these variations happening all at the same time, and some of them were leg differ.
And I'm marginal tax rates in like different benefit levels and all the different kinds of stuff which makes it really difficult to just identify the effects, because you are testing so many different versions of it and then actually, the really big
the pitfall like they did find some stuff, but the reason that it has been pretty much too
got into the sands of time, was because people,
in analysing the results before all the data was in, and so there are like these rumours swirling around that people were dropping out of the way.
Force unjust leg, enjoying this basic income and it wasn't actually a statistically significant trend. It was just kind of a rumour rules which can sometimes be more power,
when a fact- and there are also all these reports- of increased cooperation and divorce rates, and that was considered really
scandalous and set off a lot of opposition, but then, when the data was actually analyzed, it wasn't as large as it seems, a rent that many more divorces there were a few
But this was a necessarily a bad thing told we
to stop the economic slavery, women and examined age, exactly it's not so bad that the american public didn't have the patience for new ants and there are like this will be the end of the family unit. So we can talk.
And it's all just because leg. They started chatting
but before they had were the rightful results you have before they had the numbers
can disregarded before we really had a chance to fully analyze the data, I think that's certainly.
Challenge that we are keeping in mind this
Elizabeth Reds, and she is the research director of a basic income study that is happening at. Why combination research, which is a nonprofit research lab created by a startup accelerator, called. Why combination and you are like right on the street new room.
From our office and she is helping to launch a basic income experiment nearby here in Oakland.
We are in the process of bird doing it, but what sort of pre pilot a small group to sort of test some of the logistics and work through some
questions around that and preparing for.
Larger randomize control trial that we hope to launch next year after that local test, they want a really expand. It were actually looking to do to: U S, states and in broader regions within
two states. They have definitely learn from these early experiments to start small expand
slowly and to not promise too much
because you know they want to wait for this experiment to fully play out. Unlike Finland, there definitely doing this because of the robots and because their base here in the Bay area, which is like home of the gig economy than just want to see. If this will make people happy,
in an era where robots take over all of our jobs or jobs, are not like to have them.
Today we are at your gig jobs and therefore have been a bit
come on to ameliorate the kind of a car
Me that a lot of the Silicon Valley is helping to create
exactly on the other side of it like there is there. I start up accelerator like they help businesses grow, and I like this is what it takes it. If they need
basic income in order to innovate capital. I like, let's, let's see if it works,
yeah and they just want to make sure that they don't set expectations to hide. The studies can run for several years, and so I don't expect to see you know changes overnight anyway,
I think we really need to give it time. So in doing this, research
basic income, I've come across a thousand polarizing think pieces that are either like
you be eyes a great idea, and we should do this right now or like this is a terrible idea and we need to stop it. But realistically it's going to be years before we know what we can learn from this privatized, american experiment or from the finnish
spare me for that matter, because most of the arguments for having about basic income at this point in time in all of basic incomes
many different definitions and variations. It's all based and speculation. We're here
having a debate without data and
one has solid answers yet about what basic income would mean for the National Tax code or inflation or unemployment rates or the economy or the robots are happiness and well being and
right now. All we know is that different experimenters all around the world are trying to figure out some answers. We just another, yet sober
and like all radio stories and which is
I will tell you only time will tell for now. Time will tell us thinks, thanks to an
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.