Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Government The Almighty Buck

Finland Is Killing Its Basic Income Experiment (businessinsider.com) 592

tomhath shares a report: Since the beginning of last year, 2000 Finns are getting money from the government each month -- and they are not expected to do anything in return. The participants, aged 25-58, are all unemployed, and were selected at random by Kela, Finland's social-security institution. Instead of unemployment benefits, the participants now receive $690 per month, tax free. Should they find a job during the two-year trial, they still get to keep the money. While the project is praised internationally for being at the cutting edge of social welfare, back in Finland, decision makers are quietly pulling the brakes, making a U-turn that is taking the project in a whole new direction. "Right now, the government is making changes that are taking the system further away from a basic income," Kela researcher Miska Simanainen told the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Finland Is Killing Its Basic Income Experiment

Comments Filter:
  • Duh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @10:42AM (#56464077) Journal

    You didn't need Ms. Cleo to see this coming.

    • Re:Duh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Thursday April 19, 2018 @10:53AM (#56464159) Homepage Journal

      TFA is misleading.

      It was never a universal basic income, because it was never universal. Only unemployed people got it.

      And it was less generous than the previous unemployment benefits, the idea being to "encourage" people into work.

      • Re:Duh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GoTeam ( 5042081 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:14AM (#56464345)
        To be fair, saying "Only unemployed people got it" isn't 100% correct. If those unemployed people got a job, they kept getting the $690 each month. But your point about it not being a true UBI is well taken.
      • Re:Duh? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:40AM (#56464579)

        Agreed. My submission had "basic income" in quotes to recognized that, but those quotes were removed by msmash.

        However, I do note that when the program was started, many proponents celebrated it as an experiment in UBI even as critics pointed out that it wasn't really. It is but it isn't; but wait, now it isn't but it is. Whatever.

      • Re:Duh? (Score:4, Informative)

        by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @12:15PM (#56464909) Homepage Journal

        It was never a universal basic income, because it was never universal. Only unemployed people got it.

        Just did a search on this page for the word "universal" - your comment is the first place it shows up. In TFA they clearly denote the difference:

        Contrary to universal basic income, however, which advocates say should apply to all citizens regardless of background, Finland's trial is only targeting people in long-term unemployment.

        And it was less generous than the previous unemployment benefits, the idea being to "encourage" people into work

        nothing in TFA indicates what you claim.

        So.. why did you make this post? Knee-jerk reaction to a headline? I am genuinely curious.

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

        by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Thursday April 19, 2018 @01:01PM (#56465391) Homepage

        Well, but it's at least a trial and a data point. If you're starting a research study for a new wonder drug, we don't dose the entire population and see if it works, why would economic policy be any different.

        If it doesn't work on a small set with controlled parameters, how would it work on a larger scale without said parameters.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 )
      Newsflash: Just giving money away to people for nothing in return, doesn't work, money not growing on trees to fund project as had been previously projected.

      Film at 11.

      • by sinij ( 911942 )
        Obviously, money doesn't grow on trees. It is printed by central banks.
        • by houghi ( 78078 )

          I mine mine in my mine (aka as moms basement).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The real problem is that some people get way too much money for the same amount of work as most people. I'm not advocating the same hourly rate for everyone, but clearly some kinds of limits would be beneficial for society as a whole. If the basic hourly rate is $10 per hour, maybe we should have a ceiling of $100 per hour for top jobs.

        • I think that peopleâ(TM)s impact on productivity varies a lot more than 10x.

          Once I come is determined by something others than the free market you get all the standard command economy problems with who decides what people are paid.

      • What's your alternative proposal? Forcing people to work in jobs they hate so they can somehow live another day?

        What does that accomplish in a world where those jobs are on the way out due to automation and robots taking them over? We do already not have enough jobs for the people looking for one. What exactly should we do?

        • We do already not have enough jobs for the people looking for one. What exactly should we do?

          We do? Somebody should inform the Bureau of Labor Statistics because they seem to think that only 4.1% of people who want to work aren't. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2... [bls.gov]

          Most economists agree that anything under 5% is considered full employment. Of those that are currently unemployed most are simply in the process of changing jobs or something like that. Of coarse this only represents the U.S. but the U.S. is also one of the biggest users of automation. https://www.themanufacturer.co... [themanufacturer.com]

          Therefore, while wha

        • What's your alternative proposal? Forcing people to work in jobs they hate so they can somehow live another day?

          Err, yes.

          That's what I do...that's what the majority of people since the dawn of time have done.

          It is quite rare for someone to make a good living doing exactly what they would like to be doing anyway.

          That's why it is called work.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Handing out free money to the unemployed. Doesn't meet the definition of 'universal'. But then I don't think the people running this experiment ever expected it to represent the whole of Finnish society. The worst that could have happened is that this group of theoretically job seeking unemployed would say "Oh boy! Free money!" And stop looking for work. The experiment would have run it's term, a report would have been written and people might have said, "Bad idea. Lets not do that anymore."

      But something h

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @10:46AM (#56464103) Homepage Journal

    It has to be universal and permanent to really reflect the outcome expected.

    I support a Universal Dividend, anyway, which is self-funding and doesn't have concerning fiscal issues presented by UBIs. The whole UBI thing is a clunky proto-ideal that I regard as old technology.

    • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @10:51AM (#56464139) Homepage

      So, we can't try it out to see if it works, we have to implement it on a massive scale and only then can we know? Yeah, we're not going to experiment with all of society like that. Those kind of social experiments have a bad history of negative outcomes, something that educated people know.

      Plus you pull out something completely new, that is also untested and unknown? Huh?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wycliffe ( 116160 )

        So, we can't try it out to see if it works, we have to implement it on a massive scale and only then can we know? Yeah, we're not going to experiment with all of society like that. Those kind of social experiments have a bad history of negative outcomes, something that educated people know.

        Plus you pull out something completely new, that is also untested and unknown? Huh?

        We already have a ton of test cases. Just look at lottery winners. If you want even better data, create some more specific lotteries. Sell lottery tickets that give the winner 20k for life (or whatever amount you decide you want to test). It's not completely random because it has a slight selection bias of those people that buy lottery tickets but it's a big enough pool that it's close enough and it requires no tax money to do it.

        • by tomhath ( 637240 )

          That's still not a good test unless you also give all of the winner's descendants the same allowance (adjusted for inflation of course).

          Anecdotally, someone who lives a couple of miles from me actually did hit a million dollar lottery. He took the $50K for twenty years, moved his girlfriend into his house along with his wife and lived like his version of a king for twenty years.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We have tried that.

        We have tried it several times over and it lead to about 100 million dead by starvation and secret police.

        People are not working for free to sustain people that don't. Ownership of one's labor, ownership of anything that one worked for is a deeply moral concept and it is impossible to take that away without removing the core concept of morality and with it removing the basis of a peaceful society.

        That is why socialist countries routinely murdered insane numbers of people, because they too

        • by ( 4475953 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @12:04PM (#56464795)

          What are you talking about? There was not a single socialist or communist country with UBI ever.

          In socialism and communism people were forced into labour, unemployment figures were neglectable and everybody was "dragged along" at the work place, whether they were drunk and incapable or not. It was the worst case scenario for the productivity and for those who weren't willing or capable of doing the work they had chosen or were chosen for. The people who didn't meet expectations were constantly cautioned and 'educated', and it was hard and took serious efforts to change workplace, especially if you weren't in line with the party.

          UBI is the opposite of that concept. The only similarity is that less people had to live on the street and people were less afraid of their future, after that the similarities end. UBI has never tried in any country so far.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          People are not working for free to sustain people that don't.

          I think that depends on why they're not working and what they're asking for. If we are talking rice and blankets so they don't literally starve or freeze to death then I'd go pretty far. I also have a lot of compassion for the mentally and physically handicapped who are unable to work. But healthy people who just want to be a beach bum or WoW addict yeah not much sympathy there. Or when you're past the level of real need and just want nicer things. You want more fancy clothes? More cafe and restaurant visit

      • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:26AM (#56464431) Homepage Journal

        Those kind of social experiments have a bad history of negative outcomes, something that educated people know.

        You mean like popular sovereignty?

        What about unemployment insurance? Old-age pensions? National medical care?

        How about minimum standards for treatment of prisoners?

        There's a distinct history of phenomenally-positive outcomes that educated people seem to know about.

        Plus you pull out something completely new, that is also untested and unknown? Huh?

        Kind of. It's engineering.

        The Universal Dividend is mainly the result of an interesting financial exercise, so the fiscal impact is well-understood in the same way that the fiscal impact of buying or leasing a car is well-understood (you look at the numbers and do the math).

        The Dividend behaves as a tax cut (by being a rolling tax refund) and a Keynesian economic stimulus, both of which are well-understood. A Keynesian stimulus generally involves deficit spending to create consumer spending so as to kickstart a downed economy (e.g. 2008 Great Recession, halted by a stimulus refund and a bunch of infrastructure spending); the Dividend doesn't create deficit compared to 2016 (the new 2017 tax law is broken), so essentially has the upside without the downside.

        The rough fiscal model ends up cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 33.5%, and the top tax rate from 39.6% to 36.2%. That's adjustable, but actually adjusting it requires fiscal data most people shouldn't have: the CBO has to get involved.

        Because the Dividend makes people less-poor--especially the poorest--it eases the pressure on the welfare system. This in turn allows welfare to reach farther and keep everyone stable: no homeless, no food insecure. The greatest proportional impact is in the poorest households, and thusly in the poorest local economies, and so consumer spending increases and corresponding employment opportunities appear most-significantly in these areas, creating jobs where there is most likely higher unemployment.

        That sort of creates a runaway effect: people start moving up out of poverty and, thus, off welfare, lowering the cost of welfare. Because there's less welfare coming to any given household and the Dividend cannot be revoked, getting a job is less-risky and has lower direct cost, so this effect is stronger. We can improve welfare, lower deficit, or do other things.

        The increase in employment and work translates to higher GDP-per-capita and GNI-per-capita, causing the Dividend to increase, creating a feedback loop. That causes a temporary runaway effect of economic growth as well. Without sufficient labor force, this growth creates an employment shortage, wage pressure, and inflation.

        To control this runaway economic growth, we must shorten working hours, thus reducing the amount of productivity (per-capita, not per-hour) and spendable income, thus labor demand. People will have to work fewer hours and take home only a moderate amount of additional wealth instead of an enormous and unmanageable amount.

        After that tuning, economic stability sets in: the Dividend is a permanent stimulus and thus rebuffs economic damage, so is constantly and continuously reversing transitional unemployment and any recessions which begin to form. This results in a permanent high rate of productivity growth.

        All basic, known economic devices, just plugged together in strange ways (i.e. engineering). We know what an engine does, we know what gears do, we know what wheels do; let's build a go-kart.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GregMmm ( 5115215 )

          You've made some major "assumptions" and declared a number of economic issues as well known. If being poor was only economical, then all of what you said would work. Unfortunately, this is looking at the problem in a vacuum. If simply giving everyone money would bring people up economically, we would have already succeeded by now.

          For example, there are a lot of people who don't have a huge drive to better themselves. They just want to live how they are. Nothing wrong with it, just as you find you're mo

    • I'm not sure what a Universal Dividend is, but Alaska has what is called a "Citizens Dividend" based on the value of the natural resources contained with the State.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Either you run out of other peoples money to spend or you run out of businesses willing to participate in a country where the money they make doesnt primarily go to them. Then you have all of the corrupt policy makers that will somehow want a cut of some kind so they get favorable kickbacks in the form of fund raising.

      Jesus kind of summed it up:
      You will always have the poor...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why would you say it is "self funding"? It only appears that way. I can assure you, that eventually you'll run out of other people's money.

      Socialism has failure built in. There is NO possible way for it to work, given human nature. The assumptions of socialism are flawed. Universal Income is just as flawed as all other attempts at socialism.

      Here is how it will fail.

      Universal Income is implemented.
      Everything looks good initially (success!!!)
      Slowly over time, universal Income is increased (doesn't cover "bas

      • by skam240 ( 789197 )

        "Socialism has failure built in. There is NO possible way for it to work, given human nature. The assumptions of socialism are flawed. Universal Income is just as flawed as all other attempts at socialism."

        Should we just take your word for it in spite of the fact that every successful economy in the world has socialist institutions?

        UBI isn't communism. Poor people who dont want to work will still be poor.

  • Misleading headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by RichDiesal ( 655968 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @10:54AM (#56464171)
    This is /., so no one RTFA, but itâ(TM)s the Finnish parliament that stopped it for political reasons in December, only one year into the two year experiment, not because it failed. We wonâ(TM)t know what happened in the study until 2019.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      the Finnish parliament that stopped it for political reasons in December, only one year into the two year experiment, not because it failed.

      It would probably take a couple of decades to be a decent experiment. How people react in 2 years may differ from how they act over 10. Even if more time makes no significant difference, at least that fact would be confirmed empirically.

  • I mean that is why it is called an experiment. You see if it works or not and not just talk about it. This is the scientific way to do things.

    You have a theory and then you test that theory. If it proves that the theory works: good. If you prove that the theory does not work: also good.

    So it is good that they tried it and respect the outcome of the experiment. Much better than those where e.g. Mary-Jane is proven to not be dangerous and still politics do not change according to the scientific proof.

    What the

    • So it is good that they tried it and respect the outcome of the experiment.

      There's precisely no evidence that this is what happened. (Evidence, it's one of those science things.) In fact, the results won't even be published until next year. (Publishing results, another one of those science things.)

      What they did is the way it is supposed to work. Or in words of a more famous person than me : Science, bitch!

      You're an ignorant cargo cultist who can type the words - but has no idea what they actually

    • by Xolotl ( 675282 )
      But the Parliament stopped the experiment half-way through without respecting the outcome ....
    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:31AM (#56464471) Homepage

      It's also worth noting that it isn't generally isn't the nature of experiments to try one experiment to test an idea one time, and then abandon it. If an idea has any merit, you might try a few different methods and repeat the experiment a few times, see the results, and use information gathered from those results to perform a new experiment.

      I say this because I'm sure a lot of people will say, "See? Universal Basic Income failed. People should just give up on the idea." The first design of an airplane didn't fly, but that doesn't necessarily mean airplanes can't work. The first iteration of a social program might be a disaster, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's time to give up.

      In any case, we're getting ahead of ourselves because the study hasn't published the results. We don't know yet how successful the experiment was.

      And I say all of this as someone who has a lot of doubts about the idea of Universal Basic Income. But I've been wrong before, and no doubt I'll be proven wrong again, about something or other (though maybe not this).

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:00AM (#56464211)
    The issue still remains - what to do with too many people going after too few jobs. Currently, our society structured on 65% population working, the rest are young, sick, and old. Of that working population, we tolerate no more than 10% unemployment before social unrest occurs.

    Well, what going to happen when half of working population is automated or no longer relevant to get a jobs? For example, when self-driving becomes a reality, what is going to happen to all people that drive for living? Poverty and massive social unrest, that what happens. Autocrats and strongman with "Bring back jerbs" and "Kick out jerb-stealing other people" get elected.

    Yes, basic income is really expensive. It will also reduce productivity. However devolution of Western Liberal societies to totalitarianism will be even more expensive. Even nukes might start flying.
    • What type of magical "automation" is coming that is going to massively replace jobs? People keep talking about "automation", but is there some magic technology coming that is going to automate out waiters and lawyers and doctors and trash collectors?
      • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

        What type of magical "automation" is coming that is going to massively replace jobs? People keep talking about "automation", but is there some magic technology coming that is going to automate out waiters and lawyers and doctors and trash collectors?

        We're already close with current technology. As technology improves your examples become even easier to accomplish.

        Waiters-could really already be done to a limited extent. A lot of causal chain restaurants have gone to those little tabletop kiosks that let you pay and order food/drinks. All you need is a delivery mechanism for the food.

        Lawyers-plenty of firms are looking into "AI"-lite programs that can quickly search through case law, do research, etc. And don't forget that chatbot that helps people

      • by Xolotl ( 675282 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:34AM (#56464519) Journal

        How many % of the population are actually waiters and lawyers and doctors and trash collectors?

        Sales cashiers are being automated away through self-checkout. McDonalds staff are being automated away through ordering booths and robotic burger flippers. Drivers are forseeably going to be automated away through self-drvinf vehicles. Call centers have voice-recognition AI, web pages have customer query chat bots, trash collection can be easily roboticised once self driving vehicles happen. Factories are already automated. The numbers of available jobs in industries which require either manual labor or scriptable interations is falling and will continue to do so.

      • by The Rizz ( 1319 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:43AM (#56464599)

        What type of magical "automation" is coming that is going to massively replace jobs? People keep talking about "automation", but is there some magic technology coming that is going to automate out waiters and lawyers and doctors and trash collectors?

        Not paying attention, are you? Waiters and trash collectors are already losing jobs to automation. It's not a 100% replacement, but automation is cutting the numbers of workers in those (and many other) industries down.

        Just look at checkout lines at stores - most of the ones around here have less manned lanes open because they're pushing the "self checkout" lanes - which are automated with video and weight sensors - which let a single employee run 4-12 "lanes" at a time. Even your examples of waiters and trash collectors suffer from this: Several national restaurant chains are moving to have a tablet-like device on the tables from which you can place orders and pay your bill. Doing this reduces the time waiters need to spend at your table, and results in more tables served with less employees. In the last 20 years, most garbage trucks have moved to a system where a driver uses a robotic arm to pick up and dump trash cans. Compare this to how it used to be, with 3-4 workers riding the truck with the driver to do the job that one robot arm does now.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @11:01AM (#56464219)

    Basic Income seems like an interesting experiment. Which comes down to the a root issue.
    Do people live to work, or work to live.
    This article was kinda wimpy about giving us its findings. Just supporters crying that it didn't have enough time.
    However things I would like to see.
    For these people on Basic Income, what did they do in their lives? Even if they didn't get jobs, what did they do with their lives? Did they just sit at home watching TV and playing X-Box? Or where they out being active in the community. Volunteering their time and talents to help make things better?

    If people live to work. Even if they are not able or unwilling to get traditional jobs, their instincts will still have them being productive member of society, just in ways that Supply and Demand doesn't give a lot of money too.

    If people work to live. Then basic income will be negative effect, as having enough to survive is means they are not motivated to do anything else, other then their own benefit.

    I expect there is a mixture of these people, but having this targeted at only the unemployed may have found a concentration of the work to live folks vs. people who are on short term job loss, or who are under paid.
     

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger

Working...