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Basic Income Is Coming

Basic Income
Basic Income by Christopher Andrews (CC-BY-NC)

Basic income is an unconditional income given equally to all people of a country just for being alive. Lately it seems that the idea is being talked about more and more, and perhaps this is a sign that basic income is becoming mainstream and more widely recognized. The most recent big example was when Y Combinator created some buzz because they announced that they would sponsor a five-year study on basic income. This is quite unprecedented for a company that traditionally funds early-stage startups.

It is not only companies and bloggers that are showing interest for basic income. Some countries are warming up to the idea as well. In Finland, the majority of the public seem to support basic income and the current government has committed to investigating the feasibility of introducing it to the country. A few cities in The Netherlands will run a pilot program to test basic income. Switzerland is going as far as having a public vote on June 6 regarding whether to introduce basic income (press release in German) and the public opinion seems to also favor Basic Income here. 1

I cannot remember when I first heard about basic income, but I do remember that I was almost immediately convinced that it was a good idea. To me, basic income combines both traditional left- and rightwing ideals, for example having the personal freedom to not work and ensuring as a society that all people are equal in terms of the basic means to survive and avoid poverty. I do not want to get too much into the philosophical, political and economical arguments for and against basic income here though, and to be honest, one of the main reasons I support basic income is that it just feels right.

I truly hope that basic income is introduced universally in my lifetime. The big question is: Will it work in the long run? With increased automation and technological advances, I believe that it will. But there might also be unforeseen consequences of a basic income that will reduce the feasibility in the short term. No matter what, it will be exciting to follow the progress of the various ongoing projects and see what they lead to.


More information

Basic Income Earth Network aggregates news and articles about basic income and is a good starting point for further information about arguments for basic income and the feasibility thereof.

Footnotes

  1. The article is slightly biased but my German is rusty so I cannot fact check the original survey :-)

2 replies on “Basic Income Is Coming”

I like the concept because it’s a beautiful and simple idea. When I think about it for more than just a few minutes questions start to surface (based on Danish society):
Should the basic income be enough to live on? Also for all the various types of families?
Would a basic income make the social support system more simple or just add to the complexity?
I too am looking forward to see how it will work in some of the pilot projects.

I think those are very good and practical questions to ask when investigating the feasibility of basic income.

I don’t have the correct answers, but an ideal basic income to me would be one that allows you to live with the basic necessities for life (shelter, food, health). The income would be given out as an individual income, i.e. a family of three would receive three basic income grants (possibly just varying slightly between adults and children). Most (or even all) of existing social support systems would be removed completely and replaced with basic income, thereby making the system vastly more simple. When you the only requirements for basic income is basically to be alive, then silly bureaucracy is not needed either.

Thanks for commenting :-)

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