Parecon Finlandin Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen ja Antti Jauhiainen espanjalaisen El Confidencial -taloussivuston haastattelussa

Espanjalainen El Confidencial -talouslehti haastatteli Parecon Finlandin Antti Jauhiaista ja Joona-Hermanni Mäkistä liittyen uutisiin siitä, ettei perustulokokeilua jatketa sen ensimmäisen vaiheen jälkeen. Toimittajan kysymykset ja Jauhiaisen ja Mäkisen kokonaiset vastaukset voi lukea alta.

1. What do you think about the decision of stopping the program?

Although it has garnered lots of attention and praise, the Finnish experiment has been an example of how not to conduct a universal basic income trial. Universal basic income can only succeed if the research effort is sustained and widespread. The experiment should have followed the original plans designed by Kela researchers, who called for the expansion of the program, which the government decided not to do.

That the government was not fully behind this experiment from the start should have been apparent to many, because the government was simultaneously pushing for cutting the existing benefits and adding surveillance and control of the unemployed.

2. Some criticize that the trial was too small and only included unemployed people. Which is your opinion?

This trial was supposed to be just a beginning, a first phase, in a much larger series of studies on universal basic income. The original idea was to expand the experiment to a wider focus group – not just the unemployed.

As it stands, this study is very limited by itself. If the goal is to get robust data about universal basic income in general, and not just some miniscule aspect of it, we need to include participants from all kinds of groups. We should also be trying out different benefit levels. Finland has a history of rigid, long-term population studies, nearly hundred years of very forward looking social policy research and practice and small population. Our country would be ideal place for various different random sample studies about the effects of ambitious welfare programs. It is a shame that the current trial is falling flat - as we’ve long predicted.

3. In your opinion, is a basic income a good solution, why and how should it be implemented?

The basic problem that universal basic income is trying to solve is that market economies cannot lift people out of poverty that are unable to get a job. This includes many groups, such as the elderly, the disabled, children, stay at home dads and moms and students and the unemployed. They need some sort of support (income transfers) to fully participate in the society. Otherwise there is a great probability that they fall into poverty.

The strength of universal basic income is that it can reduce bureaucracy and the control of the unemployed. The unemployed could get support without having to go through a humiliating process with state authorities to get their benefits.

But at the same time, for some people the human contact at social services can be very important in preventing social exclusion and alienation. People that are experiencing hardship need human interaction and community as well. But having money (receiving a basic income or some other form of unconditional benefit) to participate normally in the society is a good start.

And coupled with changes in taxation (to increase the taxes of the rich progressively), it can also be justified as being socially just.