Is Finland Ditching Basic Income?

Nobody seems to know if Finland is planning to end its limited basic income experiment.

The experiment will continue through the full two-year test period that started in 2016 year, Britain’s Daily Mail reported. The program is supposed to stop at the end of 2018 as scheduled a spokesman for the Finnish government told The Mail.

That contradicts articles in USA Today and The New York Times that claimed the program was a failure and Finland was dumping basic income. During the test around 2,000 people are receiving €560 (£475 or $577.91) a month instead of standard unemployment insurance.

Finland has not scrapped Basic Income or adopted it

The Finnish Program was merely a test and, not universal basic income as USA Today falsely claimed. USA Today also reported a different amount it claimed the program was giving out $685 (€563.02) a month instead of $557.91 (€560). A universal basic income is paid to everybody – Finland’s program only paid money to the poor.

The Finnish government is planning to look into social credit; a uniform basket of social services as an alternative to basic income, The Daily Mail reported. Social credit requires more paperwork and government employees – so bureaucrats love it.

The basic income program may not be continued because the Finnish Parliament has passed a welfare reform law that requires the unemployed to look for work to get benefits. That would make basic income illegal in the country.

Nobody knows if the basic income program was a success because the data is not in. Although, USA Today claimed it had failed with no proof. Any data generated will be suspect because it sounds as if social-services bureaucrats; afraid for their jobs, rigged the program to fail.

The Digital Poorhouse is coming to Finland

Poverty might soon increase in Finland because its government is adopting a failed American “welfare reform,” means testing and requiring welfare recipients to claim to seek work. Such efforts rarely help the poor, but they create lots of jobs for bureaucrats who monitor the behavior of the poor.

One result of such programs is that the poor; unable to get government benefits, end up on the street or at the food bank because some bureaucrat says no. Another is an increase in disability claims as the poor try to seek ways to avoid bureaucratic babysitting.

Instead of encouraging work and self-advancement such systems often entrap people in what Virginia Eubanks calls “The Digital Poorhouse.”  The poor find themselves trapped in a Kafkaesque maze of bureaucracy and technology, and stuck in an endless struggle to keep increasingly shrinking benefits.[i]

How Work Requirements make Poverty Worse

Such efforts often hurt the economy and increase unemployment by taking money out of communities. Disturbingly, the effort to force the poor to work in Finland is being pushed by the same unholy alliance of social-services bureaucrats and “conservatives” that built America’s digital poorhouse.

A Basic Income would do more to alleviate unemployment because it would put more money into circulation in the greater economy. With a basic income in place, businesses might make more money and hire more employees. Reduced benefits will decrease spending, take money out of the economy, force businesses to cut operations, and limit employment.

Many of America’s poorest places like Beattyville, Kentucky, and Youngstown, Ohio, are in areas where the digital poorhouse is most pervasive. Emulating America’s failed social services paradigm is a bad idea for any country.

Real tests of basic income are needed, not media lies, and job-creation efforts for bureaucrats. One has to wonder why the American media; which love to ignore the problems of poverty and income inequality, is so hostile to the idea of basic income.

[i] https://www.amazon.com/Automating-Inequality-High-Tech-Profile-Police/dp/1250074312