The idea of a guaranteed minimum income seems to be too good to be true, but it’s happening and it’s happening now: Finland is giving 2,000 citizens €560 ($587) a month as part of a very discussed experiment that can revolutionize the way we see the welfare state.
The current Finnish social safety net effectively discourages people to find another occupation: the unemployment benefits are so convenient that people refuse job offers in order to not loose them. The minimum income guaranteed would also reduce the amount of bureaucracy that the vast welfare state involve, and the costs of the program are said to be equal to the cost of the current system.
The idea is not new: the debate concerning this topic has been evolving, specially around the growing role of the technology that could reduce the human role in the production, also of services.
Switzerland was the first country to vote on such a universal basic income plan in may 2016, but the referendum was rejected by 77 percent of Swiss voters: the program would have provide a basic monthly income of 2500 Swiss francs (2660 $) to each adult citizen, and 625 to every minor.
In 2010 in India a basic income has been guaranteed in the state of Madhya Pradesh, and in a document of the 31st January of this year the government has mentioned this idea for the entire country.
The economic counselor of the government, Arvind Subramanian, has presented a concrete measure: 7620 rupee (106 euros) per year. It is a sum smaller than the minimum to survive, but it would reduce poverty from 22 % to 0,5 %. The necessary amount of money would come from the current existence state aid, that absorb almost the 5% of the national pil but it is not enough efficient to have a strong impact to the poor living condition. Subramanian stated that the guaranteed minimum income is a very powerful idea, maybe premature, but ready to be discussed seriously.
In a 2 years the results of the Finland’s experiment will be known: they could change the way we see the welfare state and our society.
Sources: - https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/17/business/economy/universal-basic-income-finland.html - Internazionale n1191: Troppi ostacoli in india per il reddito di base, The Economist - https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/06/world/europe/switzerland-swiss-vote-basic-income.html?_r=0