The idea of a "Universal Basic Income," or as the Yang Gang called it, a "Freedom Dividend," is a pretty nifty idea. Everybody would have some basic income floor to pay for basic necessities, and then people are free to work as they're able to up on top of that. Sound like something people might be clamoring for right about now? We've got a country that's demanding to go back to work but can't, and everybody's still got bills to pay regardless of their ability to work.
The problem is that it's not super easy to test that kind of immense social experiment out, and getting reliable data with a large enough sample size would require more funding than you can shake a Harvard endowment at. Enter Finland. Back in 2017 and 2018, they buckled down and actually ran the broadest universal basic income experiment to date. The preliminary results were generally panned because a lot of people felt the experiment's parameters and conditions were flawed from the get-go. As a result, there were ways to look at the study and make cases both for and against a UBI.
Now, the study has published its conclusions, appearing to be in favor of a UBI. People who received a UBI were slightly more employed than the control group, and they reported overall better self-perceived mental health. Minna Ylikanno of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, when asked about a UBI in the context of COVID-19, claimed that a UBI could, quote, "bring people security in very insecure situations when they don't know whether they're going to have an income."
Scotland is looking deeply at trying to implement UBI, while Spain is already ahead of the curve. If a UBI could help with all this *gestures at the news* then now's as good a time as any to take a crack at it.
That argument that people would just not work if they had UBI is one of the biggest hurdles against the concept, even conceptually. Ylikanno says that their two-year study, warts and all, can't support it. The Finnish experimental UBI, true to the form of Andrew Yang's "Freedom Dividend" idea, replaced other forms of welfare, which doesn't look like it'd be a winning combo in the United States. But we're seeing a country full of people itching to get back to doing something, and it's hard to imagine that even with a UBI, we'd just continue to sit at home and do nothing.
Top Image: Geralt/Pixabay