Money For Nothing Trial Scrapped For Jobless

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Written By Saeed Maleki

A social experiment that saw the jobless paid money for doing nothing has been shelved.

The government in Finland has paid 2,000 people a tax-free $684 a month.

The only rules were they had to be without work when the payment started and aged between 25 and 58 years old.

If the payees found work, they still pocketed the full payment.

The Finnish Social Insurance Institute – Kela for short – launched the universal basic income trial two years ago.

Tax-free financial safety net

Kela wanted to extend the trial and went back to the government this year for more free money to give away, but ministers said no and that other schemes would have funding in a broader program to reform the country’s social security system.

The idea of the social experiment was to see if a financial safety net would work for everyone.

Researchers also believed taking away the stress of claiming social security would free time for people to find work.

Another issue was to look how changing work habits impacted the population – like a move to the part-time gig economy rather than full-time work.

“The international attention that the basic income experiment has attracted has had a very positive effect on Finland’s image. The research team believes that this momentum towards building a country brand should be maintained,” said Olli Kangas, one of the lead researchers.

Social experiment

“There has been enormous international interest in the experiment. Members of the research team have given hundreds of interviews to international media and made numerous presentations on research forums, political arenas and embassies from Sweden to Mexico.

“The reports have extolled Finland as an innovative country that does not hesitate to try out new and original policies.”

Supporters of the scheme allege the government has backed out because a general election is on the horizon and explaining why some people were paid for doing nothing had become a political hot potato.

Similar schemes have been backed by Nobel Prize winning economist Angus Deaton and SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Finland has a higher unemployment rate than other Scandinavian countries – standing at 9.2%, which prompted the government to look at alternative social security options to give incentives to work.