The Other I

June 22, 2017

Would you work if you didn’t have to?

Trump’s appeal to his core supporters is often based on his promise to bring jobs back to America from countries where workers are paid less.  But more and more jobs are becoming extinct as factories and even many aspects of the service industry are being taken over by robotic technology.  Those jobs aren’t coming back from China or Mexico or anyplace else.  They are disappearing.

In the list of these developments which are scheduled to increase perhaps exponentially, economists are wondering how people are going to earn a living if there aren’t enough jobs.  One fascinating idea is for the state to give every adult a basic unearned income which will not provide any luxuries, but will provide enough income to cover basic shelter and food.  The idea is highly controversial.

Image result for basic income finland 

Where, for instance, would the state get the income to pay these basic costs if nobody is working or paying income tax?

The proponents of the theory think that people will work even if they don’t have to:

      They will work because they want to do or to buy the things that money can buy.

      They will also work because many people find work intrinsically rewarding.  Yes, they would expect to be paid, but, this argument goes, many people don’t work just for the money.  Doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, builders, security workers and police, artists, musicians, researchers, cooks, caretakers, to name just a few, do work which they find rewarding in its own right.  They are happy to spend their lives getting up in the morning and spending their days working.   I certainly did.  I loved working.

     Others would use the basic income to support themselves while they start their own business, start-ups they may not have the confidence to try if they risk starving themselves and their family should the business fail.

The counter-argument questions if people really would go through the processes of education in order to engage in a lifetime of work for which they are paid, and which gives them many more opportunities like travel or the ability to buy things which are not strictly required for survival?  Because, in addition to having to learn their special skills, their earned incomes would be taxed, in part to support people who don’t want to work at all.

Now this theory is going to be tested in real life.

Finland is beginning a two-year trial among a randomly selected group of unemployed who, instead of receiving unemployment income, will get an unconditional monthly income.  They can also earn unlimited additional income without reducing the basic pay.

If you find this as fascinating as I do, there is a fuller description online.

They say international interest is intense.

Mine sure is.


  1. Interesting! Read the article too. Ur post helped in understanding the context better. Thanks.


    Comment by tskraghu — June 22, 2017 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

  2. Thank you, too, Raghu, for the feedback. As you no doubt know from your own blogging, it’s helpful to know how various posts one writes are understood by the reader.


    Comment by theotheri — June 23, 2017 @ 10:32 am | Reply

  3. Wow! This can be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Great. I’m also a specialist in this topic therefore I can understand your hard work.


    Comment by advanced zone recovery — July 18, 2017 @ 1:50 am | Reply

  4. Thank you so much for your feedback. I will be particularly interested in your thoughts on similar topics in the future. Thank you again.


    Comment by theotheri — July 19, 2017 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

  5. We have real life experience/observation: what do the millions who live on large welfare for 20-30 years do ? do they take up useful hobbies, do they occupy themselves with something productive ?


    Comment by req — August 9, 2017 @ 6:39 pm | Reply

    • That’s exactly the question I’m asking too! That’s what is going to be so fascinating about this experiment in Finland.


      Comment by theotheri — August 9, 2017 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

      • the real life observation is: they don’t take up useful hobbies, they don’t do anything productive; we are lucky if they are not drug-addicts, drunkards, petty criminals

        and what brain-dead individuals come up with the concept of rewarding parasitism with other people’s money ?


        Comment by 789 — August 10, 2017 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

        • I take your point. Except that it is not 100% accurate. I know people – including myself – who have not dealt with support in the way you describe. Be interested to know how you think you yourself would respond if you were forced to take unemployment support because you lost your job or became disabled and could not support yourself and/or your family.


          Comment by Terry Sissons — August 11, 2017 @ 4:09 pm

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