Economics

Money “for nothing” — utopia or reality

 

The threat of technological unemployment becomes more real day by day. It is impossible to stop technological progress, it remains only to adapt to it. The foremost minds of mankind are looking for solutions, some of them suggest retraining, some specifically invent new professions, and some advocate the introduction of a basic income. In this article, we will consider the concept of the basic income and try to answer the question whether it will help solve all the problems of the new economic reality.

What is the basic income?

This is a periodic cash payment, provided to all citizens without testing or work requirements. In fact, it’s a fee “for nothing.” First, this concept is designed to overcome the massive poverty that will definitely come in the era of technological unemployment. Secondly, this program has bright economic advantages. Scientists have calculated that a decrease in working hours leads to an increase in labor productivity. The remaining time people usually spend on education and on the family, they consume more goods and services and, thus, increase macroeconomic indicators.

But this is not the only goal of the program. It also has a powerful socio-psychological background, based on the self-realization of a person in society. This program asks “what would a person want to do if he did not have to earn a living bread.” In a robotic world, there will no longer be such an expression as “someone, in fact, needs to do this work.” No one needs! There are robots for this! There will come an era of realization of each person in the sphere that he likes, even if it does not bring money!

Sounds like a fairy tale, is not it? However, such initiatives already exist.

Who came up with this idea?

Let’s be honest, the idea is not new. In the UAE, every citizen receives payments from the state, although they do not name it the basic income, they call it the income from the oil sales.

A concept called the basic income was introduced into the European community by Daniel Häni. On his initiative, in the summer of 2016, a referendum was held on the implementation of this campaign in Switzerland. According to his legislative initiative, every Swiss citizen could receive 2500 francs a month from the state treasury. Oddly enough, the vote failed and became the most devastating in the history of the holding of referendums in Switzerland. The initiative received only 23.1% of positive votes, while almost 77% of voters who took part in that historical referendum voted against it.

But Daniel Häni anyway was satisfied with the result of the referendum. According to him, this initiative finds followers around the world and very soon a transition to a new economic structure is possible not only in Switzerland but all over the globe.

Indeed, other countries have picked up the idea of Daniel and are doing experiments these days. Since early 2017, a pilot two-year project has been implemented in Finland, in which 2,000 people selected by lot are receiving 560 euros a month. In Germany, there is another experiment — every month among residents will be eligible to receive an unconditional basic income of 1000 euros, financed by crowdfunding. In Canada, residents of Ontario province will also receive monthly financial payments. This is a pilot program, which can be extended to the entire country.

Thus, the concept of basic income is gaining popularity. The large-scale motivating actions are held all over the world to explain the essence of the concept and show its advantages. But, despite the utopian nature, many people are standing against such a course of events. They are convinced that mass degradation will occur instead of mass self-realization. A person by nature is lazy, and only a very strong need makes him work. Time will tell whose point of view is correct. We can say only one thing — the technological unemployment problem should be solved. And, if a concert of basic income can do this… Well, it’s worth a try!