Finland’s new ‘Fincome’ income

Wonderful news. Finland is to very seriously test a mass universal basic income in the wild…

“This year, the Finnish government hopes to begin granting every adult citizen a monthly allowance of €800 (roughly $900 [£623, about twice what someone on the UK dole would get]). Whether rich or poor, each citizen will be free to use the money as he or she sees fit.”

En masse, it seems. No pussyfooting around. In return, all the income-based welfare benefits will be stopped, and with it a giant and soul-grinding welfare bureaucracy…

“There will no longer be any need to ask for government help, nor to fill out forms or wait for authorities to examine each dossier to determine eligibility.”

High-earning people will have to declare their €800 for tax, and will thus presumably see a lot of of it clawed back at the end of each year. Low-earning people will still be under the tax threshold, and so will keep their €800. It appears to be excellent for artists and creatives, and I’d expect a resultant cultural as well as an economic flowering.

“Remarkably, every major Finnish political party has signed on. The Left is cheered by the socialistic idea of government-assistance-for-all. The Right looks forward to the unprecedented drop in bureaucratic control over citizens, an unheard-of extension of freedom of choice, and an unconditional restitution of part of citizens’ taxes.”

I really hope this this apparently simple solution works well, that any problems get ironed out quickly, and it becomes an exportable model. As far as I know Finland is outside Europe’s free-movement zone, and the scheme is limited to bona fide citizens, so presumably it won’t suck in a whole lot of freeloaders from elsewhere who just want to laze around and live on the payments. If it were to be implemented elsewhere, then it might have to have some criteria set — to prevent it from sucking in every addict in Europe.

Once established, the scheme might also extend a gratis June-July-Aug €800 p.m. payment to first-class recent graduates from across Europe — who want to do a time-limited innovative scientific or cultural project work in Finland, of a sort which would not otherwise get done. So the scheme could potentially become a selective high-value talent-recruiting tool.

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