Dear Finland, Re: guaranteed income experiment
Regarding your experiment in guaranteed income;
While I find myself slightly dismayed at the small scope of your experiment, I am thrilled and excited to see you implementing this type of policy. Canada had a city sized experiment you might refer to in the 1970s that was a resounding success, ideology being the policy killer there not sound decision-making as is too often the case here. Please consider that scale can be a factor in success or failure as much as the core idea itself.
Currently we have begun discussions within our progressive and centrist national political parties exploring the potential of a guaranteed minimum income or basic income, an idea which at its core should find broad cross-spectrum support from right to left for different reasons.
While I am never short on examples of how the Scandinavians & northern Europeans lead the way in smart social policy, this really is a potential golden bullet in my collection of social/fiscal success stories to use in driving our own policy out of the industrial revolution dark ages and into the light of modern society. Finland, Sweden, Holland, Norway, Switzerland & several other states there form a very positive bloc for us in terms of policy ideas.
Please consider expanding the program to a representative sized pilot and make all results internationally public for study by economists & policy researchers. I want to encourage you and share whatever positive support I can for these efforts, which should in future lend themselves to justifying similar measures here.
The world is facing a serious shift, as it tends to every generation or so… in the nature of our work in North America. Our behaviour is at times shameful, the way we treat the workers in our lowest class positions and raise costs on our shrinking middle class while struggling to provide opportunities for the immigrants who flood here to fill undesirable positions is abysmal. With automation and rudimentary artificial intelligence coming together in a world of interconnected things, as humans we have the opportunity to focus resources of development of ourselves and the value humans can provide to the world. This cannot happen while our population struggles in low wage servitude with credit slavery.
Basic/Minimum incomes allow us to bridge this gap of technology and human involvement, bring dignity into people’s lives, raise families, pursue additional education or skills training without risking starvation or a loss of homes, and feel like we have a serious personal stake in our nation as Ayyan Hirsi Ali outlined in her experience as a refugee with similar entitlements in her journey. The enlarged positive economic impact of our more developed citizens’ contributions will and should far outpace any increased costs on the lower end of our productivity, with combined savings on health, policing, poverty reduction, psychological health, and moral governance. The tiny percentage of “system abusers” will always exist. I feel minimum income is a more effective way of minimizing their impact than the current punishment/appeal/application standard used here which forces people into poverty then holds them there.
Saving billions of dollars (here) in bureaucratic red tape & overlapping government programs, avoiding payout claw-backs, and simplifying an entire system of entitlements into one single opportunity has its appeal as well even to the right wing of the political spectrum where fiscal responsibility and small government tend to trump morality & caring as underlying principles..
Whether moral, cynical, idealistic or fiscal… what you’re doing makes reasonable sense and should succeed dramatically if implemented in an honest fashion.
Keep up the good work and don’t make our mistakes… avoid self-sabotaging yourselves for political gain short term. As always, we look to you for long term solutions and policy ideas.
Polite regards and maple wishes,
Your hopeful cousins across the frozen pond…
P.S. We’re a little scared of you every year but you’re still not beating us at world cup hockey. Good luck this year eh? Remember as the famous Canadian philosopher Red Green says… “Keep your stick on the ice, we’re all in this together.” As long as one of us beats the USA everything’s cool. Cheers!
[Image Credit: Jonathan/Flickr]