Talk for Article "Finland, where your welfare is unconditional"

Talk about this Article

  1. Hi Lydia,
    first of all congrats on the article and the comprehensive report on what’s going on in Finland at the moment concerning their UBI experiment.
    I’m from Germany and the concept of UBI has been around here for quite some time now. There is even a crowdfunding project called ‘Mein Grundeinkommen’ – my basic income. They give away a lottery-based UBI once a month to promote the idea and find out more about what the recipients actually do with it. Needless to say the founders of that platform are in favor of the general idea and don’t want to wait for a state-run trial like that in Finland.
    Now, there are a couple of points I would like to add to the discussion.
    As a part-time freelance artist I have been both on the receiving end of benefit payments, depending on them in order to survive with my family, as well as worked as a motivation coach with people who were long-term unemployed with little chance of getting back into the workforce. I have a well-founded and deep distrust in any statistics concerning unemployment in general, as these numbers are regularly being manipulated for various purposes, e.g. budgetary concerns, avoiding civil unrest, justifying sometimes necessary and sometimes overly-harsh restructuring measures in the welfare sector, or, simply, giving the people who are running the show a chance to shine a favorable light on their past policies.
    In Germany, almost anyone who is a long-term unemployed and hardly stands a chance to get back on their own feet will at some point be forced to commit to one of the many programs developed for further education and training. Once you’re in one of these programs you’re not officially unemployed anymore even though you’re fully dependent on government payouts and have virtually zero chances to get a job afterwards in the free market. Some will get into state-promoted or heavily subsidized work sectors, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing in itself but doesn’t represent the actual workforce situation in Germany. This will obviously get the numbers down rapidly but it won’t change the fundamental structural changes of the work market. You quoted Germany’s unemployment rate at an all-time low of 3.8 percent. I don’t mean to contend about the very positive general economic situation in Germany but would very much like to get a realistic perspective on those percentages in your article, and some mention of what these numbers actually mean or represent should find its way into your research. Comparing these numbers might create a distorted picture of the individual countries without further insight.
    Another point you haven’t really delved into is the underlying financial complexity of UBI in a larger economy, such as France, Germany and the UK. To my knowledge there is, as of today, no budgetary master plan yet for any of these large economy in terms of resetting the entire welfare system and phasing out all administration organizing payments, programs, etc. connected with (un-) employment. This would also lead to a considerably amount of citizens working in various government institutions losing their job – my estimate would be 10-20 percent of the entire workforce -, along with a complex restructuring of taxation, and various other changes down the line. I would be interested to hear from expert economists how this chain of events could be managed on a grand scale, what socio-economic impact it would have on the respective nations, and what a timeframe we’d be looking at if UBI was to be fully implemented.
    Last of all, there is growing concern among some people involved with aspects of international finance and economy that UBI might well be an appropriate tool to distribute wealth and prosperity more equally in single nation states while actually increasing inequality between nations, as the wealth that is spread in countries that can afford to do so would mostly still be based on exploiting resources and workforces in other countries.
    I hope that these additional aspects above are constructive to your work on UBI. I’m new here at wikitribune and don’t want to rewrite or add these thoughts directly, as that would feel like an infringement on your work. Thanks again for the article.

    1. Hey Axel. Good to hear from you. Thanks so much for the feedback and though-out points. As for Germany’s UBI project, that’s very interesting. Would you like to potentially collaborate on a story about it? I’d be keen to run a similar story on that project, looking at the points you raised of how the unemployment numbers relate to each other, as well as looking at how UBI could be sustainable in a larger economy. Let me know what you think. And feel free to directly edit – our work is here to be edited.

      1. Hi Lydia, thanks for your offer to collaborate. I don’t know if I’ll find the time to do some in-depth research, though. I just felt there were points to elaborate on. And I’m artist so anything I write is more of an opinion piece than serious journalese , anyway 😉 However, if something comes my way I’ll gladly contribute my ideas. I’m curious as to how wikitribune will develop & find the idea intriguing. Give me some time to overcome my inhibitions when it comes to meddling with someone else’s work.

  2. Charles Murray is a racist who misrepresents research I suggest you read the book “The Bell Curve Wars” citing him as a scholar hurts the article from an academic stand point. Citing him also hurts the article ethically.

    1. Not only biased, obviously did not read “The Bell Curve”.

      1. Hi both.Thanks for your comment and I was expecting a reaction to the mention of Murray. I have read bits of The Bell Curve and am aware of his dubious views, and personally I object to most of what he says and represents. However, as part of making this article neutral and broad, and to show that people of all kinds support UBI, I have shown the huge range of backers of UBI, whether they are themselves honourable or not.

        1. Bits of The Bell Curve do not give any evidence of “honourable or not”. It is not about racism, it is about the effects of the natural distribution of “intelligence”. The data were collected by US government researchers in a very long-term study which followed subjects to adulthood and assessed the consequences of their natural difference.
          Lydia, while I enjoy your writing, I question your own bias.

          1. Hi Larry. Charles Murray was mentioned in the article to show that UBI is backed by all types of people across the ideological spectrum. The mention of his name in this article (as with the mention of Elon Musk/Bernie Sanders/Sylvia Federici etc) is based on his alliance to basic income. He wrote a book on it – Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State.

            It is WikiTribune’s aim to present ideas and news stories as impartially as possible. I think omitting Charles Murray from the story based on the contents of The Bell Curve, which has nothing to do with UBI, would show more bias than neutrality.

          2. Larry the interpretation of data can be free of logic.

  3. Congratulations Lydia on an excellent story, well researched, crisp interviews, good background on social reality in Finland, interesting comparisons with neighbouring countries! I’ll immediately send the link to friends in Finland (of course this will not be news to them, but even they will appreciate your report) and other places. Thank you for a good read!

    1. Hi Jean-Jacques. It’s lovely to read such positive feedback! Thank you for sharing.

  4. There was no reference in the article to UBI being a tool to combat increasing automation.

    1. Hi Matt, automation is mentioned in paragraph five, which also outlines the history and recent appeal of UBI.

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