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[dupe] Free Money Didn’t Help People Find Jobs, Finland Says (bloomberg.com)
35 points by moopling 38 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 80 comments

I find this title a good example of framing. From the article:

"On the basis of an analysis of register data on an annual level, we can say that during the first year of the experiment the recipients of a basic income were no better or worse than the control group at finding employment in the open labor market"

So you can say "free money didn't help people find jobs", or you could say "free money didn't discourage people to seek jobs". The connotation is a bit different.

It's even better than that! The title the authors of the study put on their press release is: "Preliminary results of the basic income experiment: self-perceived wellbeing improved, during the first year no effects on employment"[0]

So not only does Bloomberg frame it like the doomsday prediction that everyone would turn into idlers never happened, the significant increase in mental health is just quietly sidestepped.

[0]: https://www.kela.fi/web/en/news-archive/-/asset_publisher/lN...

As an extension, I'd like to know whether the performance of the people that were employed (or became employed) during that experiment has improved to a measurable degree due to their increased happiness; I'm aware it can be very difficult to measure an will require long term study, but that would be a factor that would make both governments and businesses happy with providing a basic income.

You're right, that headline is awfully cynical! Who ever said that giving out free money helps people get a job? I think its proponents have a more utopian view and see it as a way to compensate for future trends in automation which could make many jobs obsolete.

VvR-Ox 38 days ago [flagged]

THAT is exactly the problem:

OUR SYSTEM doesn't care how happy you are, as long as you're productive enough for some people to get rich.

No one cares if you have a job, if you are homeless or have to suffer poverty.

OUR SOCIETY values power and wealth (at least here in the west, I heard about other countries who don't do this so dedicated). If you're poor, sick or have no job than there is even people who'd argue for mercy killing you as not being strong enough for our good society.

I think the report about this experiment shows how far away we moved from humanity.

“No one cares if you have a job, if you are homeless or have to suffer poverty.”

What on earth is this comment. Where do you live in “the west”? Western societies are structured around redistribution which ensures that most people are looked after (nothing is perfect). Your rhetoric is baffling.

I live in Europe and see how things go down the sewer here. Why can't you?

As a child people had enough money for a good end of life and now they crawl around and collect food and other stuff from waste containers.

Also statistics clearly shows this development. Look at stuff like this (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/21/world-26-ri...) and tell me what you think about that please.

What's baffling about that, can you further explain it to me?

> Western societies are structured around redistribution which ensures that most people are looked after

Do you live in Disneyland?

Maybe you should get out of your ivory castle, look around and show some empathy for your fellow human beings. There's people living on highway on-ramp embankments and Skid Row in LA almost doubled within the past decade. You don't seem to see that there's a lot of people hurting because they're broke from automation and productivity gains, like the rest of the neoliberal inequality denialists.

> If you're poor, sick or have no job than there is even people who'd argue for mercy killing you as not being strong enough for our good society.

Where do you meet people who argue for that? I Have never heard that outside of (very) dystopian novels.

Homeless people and people living on social wellfare are seen as a pest pretty much everywhere in western societies.


That's a top city in one of the most powerful / rich country in the world, you don't have to look very far to find other examples.

As someone from a small European country with huge social safety nets, this is quite insane to read.

But still, are people talking about mercy killing all of them? I might have to reclassify the meaning of dystopian, the books I read are only half as messed up as this..

Thank you for this article. People should open their eyes and at least read stuff like this to check with their self constructed reality.

Seems some of them live in a dome where you can't see all of this development. Nice for them - I could cry sometimes because it's so unfair.

Come to the SF Bay Area and drive around the highways or take a long-distance railway ride: there are hundreds to thousands of people living rough. It's like a diffuse favela, and most people don't care and a number of people actively hate people, and express violence, for them being poor. This is the result of Nixon and Reagan defunding JFK's community-based mental healthcare centers because they couldn't, or didn't want to, relate to people in different circumstances.

Ironically it was Nixon who came within days of a speech announcing UBI. He saw adequate welfare as a thoroughly Republican thing to provide. Only after he was lobbied with evidence based upon lies did he relent.

First link search turned up: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/richard-nixon-ubi-basic-i...


I think you just try to disqualify my valid arguments because you don't want to see what is happening around here.

Well, it has to be a doomsday prediction, the elite has a very strong interest in keeping the common folks at work. A receding economy is bad, for the people in charge, and the only way to keep it from receding is to increasingly consume, which means increasingly produce.

Companies care about your (mental) health when it's in their direct interest (by paying for mindfulness seminars, ping pong tables, free snacks and other bs), but that's just a way to keep people in check.

You don't have to have a PhD in socio-economics to know that working less directly translates to improved well-being, but well-being isn't going to buy the new porsche and prove the other participants of the global rat race that you're definitely better than them.

"Whereas during the primitive stage of capitalist accumulation “political economy considers the proletarian only as a worker,” who only needs to be allotted the indispensable minimum for maintaining his labor power, and never considers him “in his leisure and humanity,” this ruling- class perspective is revised as soon as commodity abundance reaches a level that requires an additional collaboration from him. Once his workday is over, the worker is suddenly redeemed from the total contempt toward him that is so clearly implied by every aspect of the organization and surveillance of production, and finds himself seemingly treated like a grownup, with a great show of politeness, in his new role as a consumer. At this point the humanism of the commodity takes charge of the worker’s “leisure and humanity” simply because political economy now can and must dominate those spheres as political economy. The “perfected denial of man” has thus taken charge of all human existence." - The society of spectacle

It's Bloomberg's libertarianism/anarcho-capitalism agenda pushing.

And the report I heard said they were happier and had better mental health, which has got to be worth something on its own.

Also, only giving basic income to unemployed people doesn't give good data on what a society-wide basic income would do.

My reading of the study is "bureaucratic and narrowly defined job search advice and systems depress people but have no positive impact in them getting a job" - as you say, the connotation is quite different!

Dunno the society but I would drop jobs to program videogames. Don't think it would be a net benefit for the world but would increase my well being for sure.

One question remains tho. If I were to benefit economically from the art production that basic income would enable me to do, would it be ethical to keep that income?

> And the report I heard said they were happier and had better mental health, which has got to be worth something on its own.

Even economically, since mental health issues can be very costly

Besides the entire idea behind UBI is that it is needed because automation has taken / will take most of the jobs. So the headline confirms the need.

The wider reporting of this as "Basic Income didn't work" is worrying too.

All we can say is it didn't appear to affect the number of people that found employment, and that the supposed effect of letting people seek work without worrying that they might lose their benefits, didn't happen here.

It says nothing about the wider implications of BI in a society where there may be limited work in future.

> So you can say "free money didn't help people find jobs", or you could say "free money didn't discourage people to seek jobs". The connotation is a bit different.

Right. Most perceptibly, you could even frame it as "Disincentive effects from unemployment benefits may be lower than previously feared; switching to free money didn't make people seek more work."

Shouldn't that be (s/more/less/)?

No, the point is that it doesn't matter if you "pay people not to work" via unemployment benefits that are stopped when they start working again, or just give them a baseline subsidy no matter what - either way, they'll have the same amount of success seeking work. So yes, it's a bit of a failure for basic income, but a win for unemployment benefits.

Valid point, but I believe people will be less inclined to support this if basic income basically means "we can give all this money for free to people and they will do about the same as people we don't give money to". It's hard to justify it.

In the article they mention, that people from experimental group (w money) are feeling better from health perspective than people from control group (w/o money). I believe that's a strong point to justify the expenses.

Uh, the very first sentence states that people feel better on UBI, for no loss of employment rate. So basically all the mental suffering associated with unemployment is pointless suffering.

I'm not sure you can deduce that it's pointless. It's not like UBI doesn't have any other consequences (such as the feelings of the people who don't like UBI).

Note that I think UBI is a great idea.

We're already giving free money to people, but at the moment we're giving money to people specifically for not working and for subjecting themselves to humiliating bureaucratic processes. So people get simultaneously rewarded and punished for not working.

Instead, let's just give them the money and give them some freedom.

Yep. It reads like one of those nutrition "studies" that conclude with "none of the participants in the Brocoloy juice diet group developed any signs of cancer".

Well that's missing the point.

Basic income is not supposed to help them find jobs that can sustain them so they no longer need it, but make it optional. Stop make it mandatory to have a well paying job to be able to afford rent and food. Which, by the way, only applies to middle and lower classes anyway because people from higher classes can live off their investments and don't have to work.


And it did help improve well-being! I'd say it's a success

You don't need a well paying job to afford rent and food - just don't live in ridiculously expensive areas. USA has a plenty of very cheap places to live. As the rest of the world, with maybe a few exceptions of very expensive micronations.

Indeed this Bloomberg reporter entirely misses the point! The point of UBI is to free people from BS Jobs and instead help people find meaning in life beyond their "unemployment". It should encourage creative risk-taking with a guaranteed safety-net income. If people are cash-poor they cannot think beyond the stress of paying bills and are forced to take a "wage-slave" JOB (Just Over Broke).

In the vast majority of capitalist societies, you don’t need a “well paying job” to eat. There are all manners of safety nets. Even in the USA no-one has starved to death in modern times.

"The Nordic social welfare champion spent the last two years handing out 560 euros ($635) per month to a randomly selected group of 2,000 jobless people aged between 25 and 58."

They were selected from a group of people who received a form of unemployment benefit called "työmarkkinatuki". Without going into too much details, it meant that almost all of them had been unemployed for at least two years. And that means that huge chunk of them (I would guess that overwhelming majority) are basically unemployable because they have some limitations (physical of mental) or they do not have any education.

This whole study is a tragedy.

They made a study on a basic income, it cost huge amounts of money, and it was build to fail by declaring a stupid goal.

The other results look quite promising, but I tried looking into the data and unfortunately it's very weak. They made only questionaires and the return rates were very low, so it doesn't say much. They had really stupid mistakes in the report (confusing p-values and chi^2 values, wrong additions), all seems really sloppy.

In sum they made a study on a stupid goal, and the real results are not very meaningful due to poor methodological quality of the stury.

why do you think it failed? IMO - it succeeded. In face of skeptics who told that people won't do anything, people on UBI still found jobs as often as those who didn't have it.

The recipients did however report “less stress symptoms as well as less difficulties to concentrate and less health problems than the control group,” said Minna Ylikanno, lead researcher at Kela. “They were also more confident in their future and in their ability to influence societal issues.”

It did help people be healthier and happier though, but the headline only points out that they're still unemployed. We must be doing something really wrong as a society when we treat jobs as an end, rather than a means.

My understanding was that as automation eats jobs people will need money to live whilst they pursue self-actualisation, creative living and community-based work/contributions (in place of "finding a job"). If the reporting is correct in that the aim was to see how people would respond given the current state of affairs - get a haircut, get a job - then maybe the aim was misguided? Better mental-health, for example, and contributions to common/public good (freed from the scourge of having a job and job-seeking obligations) might be what matter most as the jobs people tend to do are replaced with jobs that they can't yet do. During that transition period of creative destruction what you really don't want is civil unrest (or opioid abuse), right? Perhaps this should have formed a greater part the metric. Of course, how you go about raising taxes in this new world might prove an even more thorny question which relegates the former to "continuing research".

Try it in developing countries. You can see vastly different outcomes, and generally the quality of life will increase in these places. It's an irony that the countries that need this the most don't have the funding, and the countries that do have the funding, report it isn't working.

It would be more interesting to find what they did with their time before and after. And also the impact of UBI to the already employed. How their vocational prospects have changed.

Money given to the unemployed is not UBI, it's the dole.

But are there jobs available in Finland? 560 euros is not much in Finland; I don't expect people to willingly stay home and live off this amount.

Perhaps the participants in the study were carefully selected to get the desired outcome.

I can't imaging that this is true in the general case.

Another commenter pointed it out; these were people that already were unemployed for two years. Which can mean a number of things, but for one, having a gap of two years in your CV will make potential employers raise an eyebrow.

Can anyone explain to me, with basic income, why wouldn't I want to sit at home all day and play videogames?

Why would someone who inherits money not sit home all day and play videogames? Why would someone with sizable investments not sit home and play videogames?

There are already people who receive free money, and nobody seems to worry about what they do with their time. In general, most people seem to think more money is better for them, so they work to increase the amount of money they get. One of the ideas behind basic income is that by removing obstacles and disincentives to work, maybe people will feel more free to look for a good job.

With an additional dose of "so what if they do"? If a few want to sit at home on some low amount of weekly money playing games, so what. Most people will want more out of life and in the bank.

It will lead to far fewer falling out of the system entirely thanks to the expense of forms, proof and means testing for benefits (this is well shown), but will also eliminate fractional claiming rates. Means testing and claiming has been shown time and again to put some off claiming at all, perhaps through pride or the current intentional systematised stigma of benefits, even sheer exhaustion from 2 years of seeking work in late 50s to 2,000x rejections.

So we end up with a two tier unemployment system: those in receipt of unemployment, and those who've fallen out of the system entirely or were never in it. I'd rather help those with long term issues as well and have no one fall through the gaps to food bank or suicide.

> Why would someone who inherits money not sit home all day and play videogames?

Because it is better to go to the beach during the day and the parties at night!

A more respectable position is to become the president of your family foundation and go to charity dinners and pretend you care for something.

There are plenty of case where someone create a big business, and when he/she dies the children or grandchildren just spend all the money and the business colapses due to stupidity or laziness (or it is sold).

There is no reason. Most people would end up doing exactly that. I find myself somewhat in that position. I work remotely as Software Developer / Analyst 1 day a week earning a living wage and spend rest of my time reading :) . Interestingly, taxes in Belgium are so progressive that working 1/5 pays quite much more than 1/5 of full salary.

BTW - You must know the Polish phrase from communist times: "Czy się stoi, czy się leży, dwa tysiące się należy.". For English speakers: "Down you lie or up you stand, either way you'll earn a grand". Here is how it looked like: https://d-pt.ppstatic.pl/kadry/k/r/1/01/3b/58f074a3247ac_o,s...

You could. It is a very low amout of money though, so I'm not sure you'll be able to afford nice computers and recent videogames.

And if you wanted more money, why wouldn't you work part time, to have a more confortable life ?

Can someone explain to me, with varying job wages, why I wouldn't just take a low effort shelf stacking or cleaning job?

Is it obvious yet?

Because those jobs are boring and require a lot of physical effort.

Sitting at home playing games all day, or being unemployed are boring. Same for many different jobs that people do.

The physical effort is trivial, I shelf stacked for a year as a teen Saturday job. Not intellectually fulfilling perhaps, but a pretty sociable job. Helping a relative out on his fruit and plant growing smallholding was far more energetic.

Speak for yourself; I worked at a DIY store for a while doing basically that. My mum's career is cleaning at a doctor's office. They may be repetitive, but that does NOT mean they are not fulfilling.

Most people would prefer welfare than a job like that, even if the job meant more money.

Maybe unpopular jobs need to be improved, rather than have unwilling people forced into them.

How would you improve a job like shelf stacking? Or cleaning streets? Or digging ditches? What improvements do you have in mind?

If nobody wants to do them, better pay. Also maybe more time for breaks, better support, etc. It depends on what the problems with the job are. If nobody wants to do a certain job that we need, figure out why and fix the problem. If it's a job we don't need, eliminate it.

Its jobs we need done but that are also borderline demeaning. Something machines should do. Some people still want to do them, but I would not, no matter the break time. Paying more would be good, but there is a limit to that.

It could be as simple as permitting such "demeaning" roles outside of zero hours contracts, with more flexibility for the employee to work around childcare. Right now all the flexibility is for the benefit of the employer.

When the kids were young, SO looked to find something, almost anything part time, so long as it fit around the needs of the children and schools. We were both surprised at how limited those choices were and how often they required some hours commitment that guaranteed they could not coexist with raising young children.

I tend to be very free-market about this. If nobody wants to do them, we shouldn't be forcing people to, we should make them more attractive. If they're borderline demeaning, make them less demeaning. If that's not possible and machines can do it, let machines do it. Otherwise increase pay. At some point either someone will do it, we'll find a better way, or we'll conclude it's not that necessary after all.

If people are willing to do these jobs, then there's no problem.

Well, if you do that, you might as well become a streamer and find employment that way. Or maybe write about it and become a reviewer.

Basically, most people want to do something meaningful with their time so they'll work with something they like. Most millionaires still work for example, even though they have means enough to stop at any time.

In your current life, do you only work the bare minimum required to support a life of sitting at home and playing video games in your free time?

I think the main reasons most people would still work are:

- To give purpose to their lives and occupy their minds/bodies

- In order to afford a better lifestyle than they could on only UBI (nice house, holidays, going out etc)

yeah, why not? If that makes you happy, with UBI, you can withdraw from society.

But I bet that after a while, also videogames will get boring. You will feel the need to do something outside. Be it some volunteering, just to meet people, or a job you love. Without the need to be profitable, the tyranny of profit.

It wouldn't be that bad, right?

Surely you can't see withdrawing from society as a good thing. I mean seriously, why would society support that ?

Also: I've seen people do this at university. I seem to recall that people who truly withdrew didn't do well at all, with some exceptions. People who withdrew into the theory, or into student life, at the expense of other things did much better.

> Surely you can't see withdrawing from society as a good thing. I mean seriously, why would society support that ?

Why not ? I would retreat in the middle of the forest with minimal technology if I could afford it (yes this life style cost money nowadays). People are the one who get you in trouble in the first place and avoiding having too much people in your life reduce the troubles and can give you peace.

>why wouldn't I want to sit at home all day and play videogames?

Because having something you can live for is a basic psychologic need that everyone has. Aswell as social acknowledgement

A person would take a job for the same reason that people take higher paid jobs with more responsibilities over lower paid jobs with fewer responsibilities: more money.

Would you, actually? Did you ever try it? How long did you last?

I wouldn't do that for 560 euros. Would you?

Basic Income is a completed unworkable pipedream, a revival of the “utopianism” of 100 years ago, when society thought that everything could be fixed if we just introduce “x solution”. But we live in complex changing times, so they need for “simple” solutions will always be appealing. For examples, see the current political situation in the USA and Europe.

no, but it makes people happy.

Now, obviously that's a bit against the capitalist grain and all that, but think of it this way:

the Luddite rebellion, and mass unrest happened in the UK because people's livelihoods were taken away. Either through automation, or enclosure.

This left thousands upon thousands of people with little left to lose forced to crime in order to eat.

This is expensive for wider society, you need to spend money of security, courts, jail, insurance public damages.

Paying money to make them happy, so that they don't _have_ to turn to crime, or a radical dictator candidate is a price worth paying.

But as someone else has to pay for their free money, the perceived happiness needs to be quantified.

Look, I am very lucky to earn enough money to pay a boat load of tax.

I would gladly pay _more_ if it meant the following:

1) there are no riots

2) There are no slums

3) There are good provision for health and social care

4) there is low crime.

5) decent education

none of these wishes are altruistic. why? because all of these thing directly impact _my_ live and _my_ family

slums mean crime hotspots, means no go areas, means muggings. this translates to higher policing, courts and prison costs. it means higher insurance premiums, longer commutes. It pushes up house prices because certian areas are not worth living in. high rentals for everyone.

bad health and social care means less productive workforce, which means less taxes being paid, which means worse public services. (and more tax _i_ have to pay, or fork out for private services)

the choice is this:

cast the longterm unemployed out into the street and suffer the rise in crime, anger and dissent, or pay them a stipend to be happy, content and most of all _cheap_

That's one thing that keeps getting omitted in these things. I don't believe that current unemployment benefits are just as expensive as "just" giving everyone the same amount of money.

Plus if it has to be a minimal living income - like minimum wage once was supposed to be - it would have to be higher to cover rent, food, and other mandatory expenses in most places. Or is the idea to adjust it according to where people live? That will just open it up to a lot of fraud attempts.

Current unemployment benefits have significant administrative overhead such as eligibility testing, forms to send and receive, staff who meet with the individuals each week to ensure that they are achieving their required job application targets, additional staff to handle appeals, paper by the ream, printer toner, heating & office space... and only then can the money be disbursed.

UBI in contrast just moves money to bank accounts.

Commenta saying “it wasn’t real basic income” remind me people who say “it wasn’t real communism” whenever their utopia fails in mass starvation and murdet.

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