Basic income is a concept that is being tried in Finland and now in Canada. The idea is to give people just enough money to live off of regardless of their situation. People can live a barebones life using basic income, but in order to afford things like travel or fancy objects a job will still be necessary. In previous tests in the 70s people with a basic income were able to improve their health and their overall quality of life all while decreasing costs on social services (like hospital visits and police calls).
Proponents on both the political left and right are embracing a minimum or basic income as a way to reduce poverty, support workers faced by the challenges of automation and precarious employment and reform excessively punitive and bureaucratic welfare programs. Some say unconditional cash transfers to individuals could even help staunch the rise of alt-right populism blamed for last year’s Brexit vote in the U.K. and Donald Trump’s election as president in the U.S.
Opponents worry it will be used to dismantle the social safety net, subsidize bad employers and take the pressure off government to develop effective labour strategies. But that hasn’t stopped global interest.
Finland launched a two-year pilot project in January and more than half a dozen other communities around the world are actively pursuing experiments of their own.