If you won a minimum wage for doing nothing, would you be at home watching television or still going to wake up early to go to work? Finland is willing to test the answer of its citizens. This year, the country should make the experience of the universal minimum income to the entire population, regardless of people’s social status or age.
The idea is to replace all the social financial aids given by the government for only one, which will be equal for all. The main objective is fighting poverty – in some regions, unemployment reaches 20% of the active population.
Second, the goal is, curiously, reduce the outlays on the social programs. Unifying the benefits, Finland hopes to improve the service and reduce the number of staff dedicated to this sector of public administration.
The economist Marc de Basquiat, author of a thesis on the subject in France, warns that the project of providing just a financial assistance for citizens is an illusion – at least in European countries where the social issues is a concern.
“You can not think that, by adopting a basic income, all other social benefits will cease. Is not true. The additional money for housing, for example, would continue. Similarly, those who have contributed a lifetime to retirement will be entitled to more income in their old age, “he says. “In other words, the aids will continue existing in a more separated way.”
Definition of what would be the appropriate value is essential.
The expert points out that, to succeed, the experience should adopt a value not very high, avoiding the risk of discouraging people to work, but not too low, as it would be inefficient to take the poorest out of poverty. For Basquiat, the premise that the number of vagrants would explode is just a cliche.
“There have always been and there will always be people who choose to live a frugal way, with very little money, and they are so happy. There are many scientific studies about how many people living this way” he indicates. “But the research already done in France, in the United States or Canada have shown that the number of people who would completely stop working is very marginal. We must end the fantasy around this issue: As a rule, people want to integrate into society and, therefore, they want to exert an activity “
According to experts, the ideal minimum income in a country like France would be around € 460. The government of Finland evaluates to adopt a value between € 400 and € 700. The measure has broad support of the population: the latest research, 80% of Finns are in favor of the initiative.
Movement in Europe
Across Europe, politicians, intellectuals and associations militate for a universal minimum income, arguing that it would free the workers to do what they really like. Behind economic and social reasons, is also a change of conception of how the work worth after all, considering the models currently known.
“The goal is to give people choices on how they will work. Whether they want to work on a full-time or part-time job, or change to another job that make sense to them” explains Nicole Teke, the international coordinator of the French Movement for a Basic Income. “The hardest thing is to change the mindset of people about this issue, make them realize that the work may have another value. It is more a matter of mindset than economy.”
Fabio Evangelista is a Brazilian writer.
Crossed Paths is the first book of the Myra-Hati trilogy, an epic adventure in a post-apocalyptic world, for the lovers of sci-fi / fantasy genre. This is the author’s first work published in America.