Following the examples of Canada, Finland, New Zealand and the Netherlands, Japan is considering giving free money in the form of ‘vouchers’ to poor young people.
Surveys showed that under-34s in Japan have cut their spending and the government could stimulate economic activity by injecting free money into the system which will pay for itself in time by expanding the economy while maintaining social cohesion among the classes.
Proponents of basic income say that not only does it reduce financial poverty but it has a number of other benefits, such as rewarding unpaid activities not recognized as economic contributions (parenting, for instance).
Basic Income: What the Proponents Say
Basic Income will help us rethink how & why we work A basic income can help you do other work and reconsider old choices: It will enable you to retrain, safe in the knowledge that you’ll have enough money to maintain a decent standard of living while you do.
Basic Income will contribute to better working conditions With the insurance of having unconditional basic income as a safety net, workers can challenge their employers if they find their conditions of work unfair or degrading.
Basic Income will downsize bureaucracy Because a basic income scheme is one of the most simple tax / benefits models, it will reduce all the bureaucracy surrounding the welfare state thus making it less complex and costly, while being fairer and more emancipatory.
Basic income will make benefit fraud obsolete As an extension of (3), benefit fraud will vanish as a possibility because no one needs to commit fraud to get a basic income: it is granted automatically.
Basic income will help reducing inequalities A basic income is also a means for sharing out the wealth produced by a society to all people thereby reducing the growing inequalities across the world.
It will provide a more secure and substantial safety net for all people Most existing means-tested anti-poverty schemes exclude people because of their complexity, or because people don’t even know how to apply or whether they qualify. With a basic income, people currently excluded from benefit allowances will automatically have their rights guaranteed.
Basic Income will contribute to less working hours and better distribution of jobs With a basic income, people will have the option to reduce their working hours without sacrificing their income. They will therefore be able to spend more time doing other things they find meaningful. At the macroeconomic level, this will induce a better distribution of jobs because people reducing their hours will increase the jobs opportunities for those currently excluded from the labor market.
Basic Income will reward unpaid contributions A huge number of unpaid activities are currently not recognized as economic contributions. Yet, our economy increasingly relies on these free contributions (think about wikipedia as well as the work parents do). A Basic Income would recognise and reward theses activities.
Basic Income will strengthen our Democracy With a minimum level of security guaranteed to all citizens and less time in work or worrying about work, innovation in political, social, economic and technological terms would be a made more lively part of everyday life and its concerns.
Basic Income is a fair redistribution of technological advancement Thanks to massive advancements in our technological and productive capacities the world of work is changing. Yet most of our wealth and technology is as a consequence of our ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’: We are wealthier not as a result of our own efforts and merits but those of our ancestors. Basic income is a way to civilize and redistribute the advantages of that on-going advancement.
Basic Income will end extreme financial poverty Because we live in a world where we have the means (and one hopes, the will) to end the kinds of suffering we see as a supposedly constant feature of our surroundings. Basic income is a way to join together the means and the will.
Last November, Finland proposed a tax-free income of €800 (£632) per month.
In parts of the Netherlands, people receive an extra €1,100 (£869).
Ontario Province, Canada, has said they plan to launch a basic income programme later this year. Switzerland is to hold a referendum on the issue.