ONE OF THE BIG PICTURE
PROGRESSIVE IDEAS THAT HAS BEEN OFTEN THEORIZED AND DISCUSSED
BUT RARELY PUT INTO PRACTICE IS THE IDEA OF A BASIC INCOME, BUT
ANOTHER EXPERIMENT IN BASIC INCOME IS ABOUT TO BE STARTED
RIGHT NOW IN FINLAND WHERE THEY WILL BE TESTING IT OUT WITH
ABOUT 2000 OF THEIR CITIZENS. THE BASIC INCOME IDEA CAN COME
IN MANY DIFFERENT FORMS, BUT THE BASIC IDEA IS THAT PEOPLE WILL
RECEIVE GOVERNMENT MONEY, LIKE A FORM OF A WELFARE PAYMENT OR
SOMETHING LIKE THAT, REGARDLESS OF EMPLOYMENT STATUS, A SORT OF
MINIMUM INCOME THEY WILL RECEIVE. IN SOME EXPERIMENTS IT
IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY, IN THIS CASE IT WILL BE FOR PEOPLE WHO
ARE UNEMPLOYED, AND THERE ARE VARIOUS WAYS TO ORGANIZE IT. BUT
THE IDEA IS THAT YOU CAN TO SOME EXTENT MINIMIZE INCOME
INEQUALITY, STIMULATE THE ECONOMY, AND HELP PEOPLE OUT WHO
ARE HURTING THE MOST BY PROVIDING A MINIMUM INCOME BELOW
WHICH THEY WILL NOT FALL. AND TO SOME EXTENT WE DO THIS ALREADY,
YOU CAN RECEIVE HOUSING AND FOOD ASSISTANCE, ASSISTANCE ON YOUR
HEALTHCARE, WE SIMPLY MAKE IT TARGETED TO SPECIFIC THINGS IN
AMERICA AND MANY OTHER COUNTRIES RATHER THAN A BASIC INCOME THAT
IS REGARDLESS OF WHAT IT IS GOING TO BE SPENT ON. THAT IS
THE FORM THEY WILL BE TAKING — BY THE WAY IN THIS CASE THAT
INCLUDES UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS THAT THEY ARE RECEIVING. ONE OF
THE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE CREATION OF THIS — THE BASIC IDEA IS THAT RIGHT
NOW IF YOU ARE RECEIVING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AND YOU
SEE A JOB THAT IS SHORT-TERM OR DOESN’T PAY VERY WELL YOU MIGHT
NOT WANT TO TAKE THAT JOB BECAUSE YOU WILL LOSE OUT ON
THOSE BENEFITS AND MAYBE NOT BE ABLE TO GET THEM BACK WHEN THE
SHORT TERM OR LOW-PAYING JOB ENDS, WHEREAS IN THIS CASE IF
YOU ARE ALREADY RECEIVING THE MONEY YOU CAN TAKE THE JOB AND
YOU WILL BE OKAY. IT’S AN INTERESTING
EXPERIMENT, I’M CURIOUS TO SEE HOW IT GOES. AS YOU MENTIONED
EARLIER IT DOESN’T NECESSARILY WORK FOR ALL COUNTRIES, AND ONE
OF MY CONCERNS WAS THE ISSUE OF INFLATION. IF YOU HAND PEOPLE
MONEY AND THERE ARE MORE INDIVIDUALS SPENDING, WILL THAT
INCREASE INFLATION OR HAVE SOME NEGATIVE RAMIFICATIONS THAT MAYBE
PEOPLE WITH GOOD INTENTIONS DIDN’T THINK OF AHEAD OF TIME? I
DON’T KNOW, I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS WILL GO, I LIKE THE IDEA OF
POLITICIANS IN THE COUNTRY LOOKING OUT FOR THE PEOPLE AND
ENSURING THAT EVERYONE HAS A DECENT QUALITY OF LIFE, I KNOW
SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES HAVE A LOT OF PROGRESSIVE POLICIES THAT
MAKE RIGHT-WING HEADS EXPLODE HERE IN THE UNITED STATES, BUT
STUDY AFTER STUDY SHOWS THAT THEIR QUALITY OF LIFE IS MUCH
BETTER THAN OURS, THEIR OVERALL HAPPINESS IS BETTER THAN OURS. SO I LIKE THESE TYPES OF EXPERIMENTS, AND I’M CURIOUS TO
SEE HOW IT PLAYS OUT. THERE HAVE BEEN OTHERS
THROUGHOUT THE LAST FEW DECADES IN NAMIBIA AND BRAZIL, NORTH
CAROLINA EVEN, THE NETHERLANDS. IT IS NOT NECESSARILY THE SAME
THING, BUT ALASKA’S PERMANENT FUND, WHICH TAKES OIL REVENUE
AND GIVES IT OUT TO EVERY CITIZEN OF ALASKA, SOMETHING
LIKE $1000, IS SOMETHING LIKE THE BASIC INCOME. ONE CONCERN IS
THAT IT COULD LEAD TO PEOPLE WORKING FEWER HOURS, SOME
EXPERIMENTS HAVE SHOWN THAT IT DOES LEAD TO A REDUCTION IN
HOURS WORKED BY 5 TO 7%, I THINK IF IT MEANS LOWER INCOME
INEQUALITY AND PEOPLE AREN’T STARVING THAT IS NOT NECESSARILY
A TERRIBLE THING. WHAT WE NEED IS EXPERIMENTS, WE NEED TO RUN
IT AND SEE WHAT THE EFFECT IS, THAT’S WHY IT IS GOOD THAT
FINLAND IS DOING IT, BUT I DO THINK THAT IT IS REALLY WEIRD
HOW WE THINK VERY DIFFERENTLY ABOUT MONEY BEING GIVEN BY THE
GOVERNMENT TO A GROUP OF PEOPLE IF THEY ARE POOR PEOPLE OR IF
THEY ARE RICH PEOPLE. IF IT’S 500 EUROS BEING GIVEN TO SOMEONE
WHO IS DEAD BROKE, IT’S LIKE MAYBE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT EFFECT
IT WILL HAVE, MAYBE IT WILL MAKE THEM LAZY, BUT IF IT IS MASSIVE
TAX CUTS FOR THE RICHEST PEOPLE WHERE WE SHOWER THEM IN MILLIONS
OF DOLLARS, JUST DO IT, SEE WHAT HAPPENS, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? NO ONE IS CONCERNED THAT THE RICH MIGHT WORK FEWER HOURS IF WE
GIVE THEM A TON OF MONEY IN THE FORM OF TAX CUTS, WE ASSUME THAT
THEY WILL KEEP WORKING. BUT WHEN IT IS THE POOR, THESE LAZY
MOTHERFUCKERS, MAYBE THEY WILL WORK AN HOUR LESS A WEEK. THAT
IS A WEIRD STEREOTYPE THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE, EVEN PROGRESSIVES
LIKE ME, MIGHT HAVE IF YOU ARE NOT CONSCIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT IT.
AND ALSO ONE OF THE IDEAS WE MIGHT WANT TO HAVE IS A LOT
OF PEOPLE, EVEN IF THEY CAN FIND A JOB, ARE LOCKED INTO
UNSATISFYING WORK WHERE THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY PRODUCING TO
THEIR TRUE POTENTIAL. IF PEOPLE HAVE A MINIMUM INCOME THEY CAN
FALL BACK ON, WHICH BY THE WAY IS NOT GOING TO BE LUXURIOUS, IT
WILL BE A SHITTY WAY TO LIVE, MAYBE THEY CAN AFFORD TO HOLD
OUT FOR A WHILE TO GET AN EDUCATION OR DO SOMETHING
ARTISTIC OR START A BUSINESS RATHER THAN GRINDING IT OUT IN A
MINIMUM WAGE JOB SO THEY CAN HAVE FOOD. I THINK CULTURE HAS A LOT TO
DO WITH THAT, AND AMERICAN CULTURE, I DON’T KNOW IF IT IS
UNIQUE, BUT THERE IS A LOT OF EMPHASIS ON WORKING AND MAKING
MONEY REGARDLESS OF YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER
YOU FEEL FULFILLED. IT’S ALL ABOUT WORK, WORK, MAKE AS MUCH
MONEY AS POSSIBLE, IF YOU DON’T THEN YOU MUST BE LAZY, IF YOU
ARE UNHAPPY YOU ARE UNGRATEFUL, FIRST WORLD PROBLEM — BUT
OVERALL IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO CREATE A SYSTEM THAT NOT ONLY
LEADS TO A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE FOR EVERYONE, LEADS TO
PEOPLE PURSUING EDUCATION AND PURSUING BETTER OPPORTUNITIES
FOR THEMSELVES, BUT A TYPE OF CULTURE THAT ALLOWS YOU TO ENJOY
ELEMENTS OF LIFE THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH WORK. AND I
THINK WE’VE MOVED SO FAR AWAY FROM THAT THAT WE HAVE LOST
SIGHT OF WHAT LIVING IS REALLY ABOUT. IT’S NOT ABOUT WORKING
AND TORTURING YOURSELF JUST SO YOU CAN MAKE ENOUGH TO PUT FOOD
ON THE TABLE. AND I’M JUST GLAD TO SEE BIG
PROGRESSIVE IDEAS THAT MIGHT SUCCEED OR FAIL AT LEAST BEING
TRIED SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD. BEING A PROGRESSIVE IS NOT JUST
SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT PARTISAN BULLSHIT OR THE DAY-TO-DAY FIGHT
IN GOVERNMENT, WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE TRYING TO COME UP WITH
SOMETHING BIG THAT CAN CHANGE THE WAY WE LIVE AND IMPROVE,
TO PROGRESS, ACTUALLY. MAYBE IT HAS TO BE SCANDINAVIA
BUT I’M GLAD IT’S HAPPENING. I HOPE THAT AT SOME POINT
SOME COUNTRY SOMEWHERE TRIES SOMETHING LIKE UNIVERSAL
HEALTHCARE, SO WE CAN SEE WHETHER OR NOT IT WORKS, AND
THEN MAYBE WE CAN ADOPT IT HERE IN THE UNITED STATES. PIE IN THE SKY. GO GET THAT PIE. JUST TRY IT SOMEWHERE. IF IT HAPPENS, WE WILL REPORT
ON IT. SOUNDD CRAZY TO ME.