All Finnish citizens, rich or poor, could soon see their incomes increase by $870 a month, should the Finnish government carry out its plans to implement the basic income measure by 2017.
Basic income, an idea that would have many in the U.S. raging in apoplexy at the very principle of it, has mainly existed as a theoretical alternative to welfare in western countries. The idea of a basic income system is that it would be coupled by a reduction in welfare state administration, which would rid people of the need to fill out lengthy forms that are required to receive government assistance. Basic income inverts that idea, and just hands every citizen the money directly.
“For me, a basic income means simplifying the social security system,” said Finland Prime Minister Juha Sipila, who supports the idea of basic income.
Some people are opposed to what they see as a system that will encourage people not to work, while others oppose the idea that wealthy citizens will receive $870 a month for free, given that their money will go further and likely accumulate faster than those making less.
Canada had a basic income system in place in the 1970s, while the Netherlands has launched a similar program in the city of Utrecht. As policymakers look for alternatives to the 20th-century welfare state while still trying to provide their citizens with a social safety net, basic income is one experiment to pay extremely close attention to.