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The New York Times - Basic Income

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Log In. HELSINKI — Finland has become the first country in Europe to pay its unemployed citizens a basic monthly income, amounting to 560 euros ($587), in a unique social experiment which is hoped to cut government red tape, reduce poverty and boost employment.

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Olli Kangas from the Finnish government agency KELA, which is responsible for the country's social benefits, said Monday that the two-year trial with the 2,000 randomly picked citizens who receive unemployment benefits kicked off Jan. 1. Those chosen will receive 560 euros every month, with no reporting requirements on how they spend it. The amount will be deducted from any benefits they already receive.

The average private sector income in Finland is 3,500 euros per month, according to official data. A Plan in Case Robots Take the Jobs: Give Everyone a Paycheck. Their plan is known as “universal basic income,” or U.B.I., and it goes like this: As the jobs dry up because of the spread of artificial intelligence, why not just give everyone a paycheck?

A Plan in Case Robots Take the Jobs: Give Everyone a Paycheck

Imagine the government sending each adult about $1,000 a month, about enough to cover housing, food, health care and other basic needs for many Americans. U.B.I. would be aimed at easing the dislocation caused by technological progress, but it would also be bigger than that. While U.B.I. has been associated with left-leaning academics, feminists and other progressive activists, it has lately been adopted by a wider range of thinkers, including some libertarians and conservatives. Guaranteeing an Income for Everyone. To the Editor: Judith Shulevitz (“It’s Payback Time for Women,” Sunday Review, Jan. 10) provides a very interesting economic model for helping to reduce the gap between the haves and the have-nots — a universal basic income.

Guaranteeing an Income for Everyone

She estimates the price tag at “about $3 trillion, roughly 80 percent of the total federal budget.” How about “test marketing” her ideas in a couple of states? It’s Payback Time for Women. Photo A COUNTRY that gives every citizen enough cash to live on whether she needs it or not: It’s got to be either a fool’s paradise or a profligate Northern European nation.

It’s Payback Time for Women

Why Not Utopia? Photo.

Why Not Utopia?

After Jobs Dry Up, What Then? LONDON — In March 1968, spoke about a governing elite who had lost touch with ordinary people and judged the state of the nation by gross national product.

After Jobs Dry Up, What Then?

“Gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage,” he said. “It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.” “Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play,” he continued. “It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. Nearly half a century later, that disconnect is coming to a head.

Some speak of a third industrial revolution; others call it the second machine age. Dr. Let Them Eat Cash. Photo A CHINESE millionaire tried to give $300 (and lunch) to homeless men and women in New York last week.

Let Them Eat Cash

This didn’t sit well with the nonprofit New York City Rescue Mission. Rethinking the Idea of a Basic Income for All. Bruce Bartlett held senior policy roles in the Reagan and George H.W.

Rethinking the Idea of a Basic Income for All

Bush administrations and served on the staffs of Representatives Jack Kemp and Ron Paul. He is the author of “The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform — Why We Need It and What It Will Take.” In October, Swiss voters submitted sufficient signatures to put an initiative on the ballot that would pay every citizen of Switzerland $2,800 per month, no strings attached. Similar efforts are under way throughout Europe. Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive. This fall, a truck dumped eight million coins outside the Parliament building in Bern, one for every Swiss citizen.

Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive

It was a publicity stunt for advocates of an audacious social policy that just might become reality in the tiny, rich country. Along with the coins, activists delivered 125,000 signatures — enough to trigger a Swiss public referendum, this time on providing a monthly income to every citizen, no strings attached. Every month, every Swiss person would receive a check from the government, no matter how rich or poor, how hardworking or lazy, how old or young. Poverty would disappear. Economists, needless to say, are sharply divided on what would reappear in its place — and whether such a basic-income scheme might have some appeal for other, less socialist countries too. Sympathy for the Luddites. Those weren’t foolish questions.

Sympathy for the Luddites

Mechanization eventually — that is, after a couple of generations — led to a broad rise in British living standards. But it’s far from clear whether typical workers reaped any benefits during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution; many workers were clearly hurt. The Other Milton Friedman: A Conservative With a Social Welfare Program. The Benefits of Cash Without Conditions.