Many prominent people, including Elon Musk, have promoted the idea of universal basic income (UBI) – a guaranteed minimum payday, funded by taxpayers, earned simply by breathing. It should not come as a surprise that fiscal conservatives are anything but happy about it, but the proposal has been able to float around in cyberspace as a nice, unproven idea worth trying out – until now. Finland ran a test program with unemployed Finns from 2017 to 2018 to see if universal income could be a solution to the problems facing the welfare state, and the results are now in.
Yet another failed progressive idea.
It’s a Tie
The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health recently published a report summarizing their findings of their experiment. Their primary aim was to study the effects of UBI on employment and income, and they found no statistical difference between the treatment group and the control group.
As such, from a fiscal perspective, the experiment was a monumental failure. Under normal circumstances, that should be the end of it: Yet another failed progressive idea.
Not so fast. There was some good news, at least to those in favor of the idea. Although the participants didn’t work more or have more income, they did report having slightly greater trust in other people, the legal system, and especially politicians.
They also reported greater confidence in their futures, their own financial situations, and in their abilities to influence social matters. And perhaps most importantly: The participants reported they were healthier, happier, and could concentrate better. Finally, they also said that they grew less tired of activity they enjoyed from before.
In sum, if politicians give free money to people, the recipients will trust the them more and be happier, but they won’t work more. As expected, the left-wing media is reporting that basic universal income is a success.
It’s naïve to think that the financial failure of the program will lead progressives to reconsider the idea. Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried, and yet they keep implementing it. Don’t be surprised when American politicians push the idea and use the Finnish experiment as evidence of its success.
Fortunately, there is a way to counteract it, and that is to ensure that doing business is so easy, unregulated, and risk-free that there is an abundance of supply of jobs, but wages must not be undercut by illegal poor workers from third world countries.
That means that for now, President Donald Trump is taking the right actions to prevent socialist ideas from taking hold in America.
One sobering conclusion of the Finnish report gives hope of stemming the tide: “When the respondents are informed of the necessary changes to the income taxation in order to finance basic income, the level of support dwindles considerably.”
In other words, the best way to turn off people from progressive ideas is to show them the bill they must pay: People like free stuff when it’s free, but not when it isn’t.