Money for Nothing: The Finland Experiment


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Money for Nothing: The Finland Experiment

In January 2017 Finland began a bold social experiment: the government started paying 2,000 unemployed Finns basic income.


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completely encircled the town.

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Now on BBC News - in January 2017

Finland began a bold

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social experiment: the government

started paying 2,000 unemployed

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Finns a basic income.

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It's free money - it comes

with no strings attached.

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In this special programme,

we follow the stories of four Finns

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to see if the scheme has helped them

get back into work.

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In January 2017, Finland began a

bold social experiments. The

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government started paying 2000

unemployed Finns Basic income. They

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each get a guaranteed 560 euros a

month for two years. It is free

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money. It comes with no strings

attached.

You could say that basing

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income is money for free, because

you don't have to feel any

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conditions to get it. -- fulfil any

conditions.

Basic income is an idea

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that has gained some high profile

champions, from market Burke to Elon

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musk to Bernie Sanders. This

experiment is being closely followed

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I policymakers around the world. We

have been following for Mac people

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who have been chosen to receive

basic income.

It was like winning a

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lottery.

I think I am much more

inspired to get a job.

Has it

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changed their lives? Could change

society?

I am feeling more and more

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free and independent.

I felt more

comfortable to maybe open up my

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business again.

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My name is Tanya. I am 30 years old,

I live in Oulu in the north of

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Finland, and I only worked for four

or five months in a factory. I know

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that Oulu has some problems with

unemployment, but I know there is

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also job is here.

Tanya has been in

full-time education for most of her

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life, and has never had a long-term

job. That is not unusual for people

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in Oulu, a town 100 miles south of

the Arctic Circle where she has

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spent all of her life. The

unemployment rate here is 15%, twice

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the national average.

I went to Oulu

University, applied sciences. It is

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always so hard to get the first real

job. You have great papers, but then

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they look, you have no experience.

Now that I graduated from the

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business School, they are offering

me jobs like... Cafeteria worker? I

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am a bit worried that I can't any

more pay my bills, I don't remember

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the last time that I went to the

store and bought food. I get food

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from my mum, so embarrassing. I want

to work, and I want to go to the

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store. And by my own food, and by

whatever I want, I want that cheese,

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and I want to be able to buy the

good cheese, you know?

Even if Tanya

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gets a job, she will still get the

full basic income every month. But

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she is not convinced the experiment

will make any difference to her.

I

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opened the letter and said" you are

selected to get the basic income." I

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was like yeah, yeah! Then I

realised, I read the paper down, and

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they said that if you are not

working, your benefits will be the

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same. I was like, oh. The benefit

from the basic income comes only

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when you get a job. You get the job,

like, 1500 euros, and on top of that

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you get the basic income.

But the

government wants to see whether the

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way people receive the money will

change their behaviour.

There is no

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means testing, no requirements to

apply for jobs. So the government

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would like to find out what is the

effect of basic income on the

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employment rate of this particular

group.

Tanya is not convinced it

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will help her find a job, and she

thinks it is unrealistic that the

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government could roll out the scheme

nationally.

It's just not possible

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to give everyone in Finland, 5

million people, 560 euros a month. I

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don't see it happening.

The Finnish

government isn't going to assess the

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pilot until the two year experiment

is finished. So far it is quietly

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optimistic about how the pilot is

going, but there are concerns about

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the cost.

I think we have some data

to prove that this is if not a

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glorious success story, it has very

positive aspects. Now we are making

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this experiment, it is very

generous, and it would be too

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expensive to afford it for all

citizens, but I am happy that we

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have taken the first step.

Five

hours south from Oulu is Juha, who

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is hoping the basic income will help

him rediscover his entrepreneurial

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spirit.

My name is Juha, I am 39

years old, Father of six kids. I was

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living with no -- making window

frames, that was my business to

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seven years. All of this five, six

years, I have been unemployed, I

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have been trying to start a new

company, new business. I tried to

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start to shoot and edit commercial

vehicle -- commercial videos for

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small companies for YouTube. Also I

want to do artwork at creative work.

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Juha is optimistic about the way

basic income works will make it

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easier to him to get back into

employment.

With the basic income,

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the biggest change is the

bureaucracy. Like before, I needed

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to fill out different kind of forms,

I need to meet employment office

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people, I was spending quite a lot

of my time on stuff that has no

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meaning. With basic income, I can

focus on the more important things.

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I don't need to spend my time on

something that has no meaning. And I

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really believe also that this would

be super good for all of the people.

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So I got my humanity back. I can

start to do things what I can do,

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and what I want to do. And I can use

my skills.

Five months after the

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start of the experiment, Juha is

still unemployed. But he is full of

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enthusiasm. He is about to start his

new business.

We don't know yet

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whether there are many persons who

have started their own companies,

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but I have heard from newspapers

that there are some, and they have

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been very positive about this, this

possibility, they have two years to

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say, peaceful time, to start their

own companies.

The unions in Finland

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think basic income will have the

opposite effect.

Basic income would

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be a retirement scheme that you can

take up whenever you want. You can

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simply choose to stop working and

live off your savings and basic

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income, and that means lower level

of employment and less taxes. So

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even less money to fund the social

benefits and services that we want.

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Some of the people on the basic

income trial were established in

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professional career so many years

before losing their jobs.

My name is

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Thomas, I am a freelance journalist

and author. I have been without work

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since 2013. I was a foreign news

editor, to the daily newspaper in

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Finland. But then they decided to

put down all the section of the

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foreign affairs, so basically I lost

my job. It is not easy to find a job

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as a journalist in the capital of

Finland.

Sofa Thomas, being chosen

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for a basic income pilot was a dream

come true.

It helps me as a

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freelancer, and it is social

security in a way. Without the

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Sigma. -- stigma. To me it is not

embarrassing any more to get

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benefits. Work has changed and

social politics has to follow that

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trend now. I think that this basic

income will encourage people to get

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back to the society and not be at

home.

And he thinks Finland can

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afford a system like this one.

The

northern countries are more prepared

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for this kind of basic income

system, because the same money is

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there already. We pay taxes. Now we

spend it in a smart way.

The budget

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for the basic income experiment is

20 million euros. This is an

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experiment model.

The problem is

that it will be paid by the tax

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money of hard-working people, and is

hard to justify it to employees,

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that you have two they are higher

level of tax to provide benefits for

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those who simply choose not to work.

It may be expensive, but the truth

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is, the policymakers have to start

thinking radically about new ways to

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make the labour market worked in the

future. Studies indicate that in the

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next 20 years, between 30 and 47% of

jobs in developed economies could be

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at risk of automation. That means

robots doing jobs that humans

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currently do. All this is preying on

the mind of our fourth basic income

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recipients.

I am 35 years old, I

live in Helsinki, the capital of

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Finland. I work for a Danish

company, and through the company I

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worked all around the world, and

after about six years of travelling

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around I moved back to Finland, and

the employer told me that I had to

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move again. Which I didn't want to

do, and I had to give up the job, so

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I became unemployed.

Sini now works

for herself and very flexibly.

So

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now I am still working, I have one

customer, I am working for a

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foundation. When we come at work

days, three days, so it is a bit

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insecure. So I have worked, but my

income level changes all the time.

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Sini is convinced that more and more

people like her will be pursuing

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flexible careers like this in the

future.

Very common comment that I

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get from people, you are educated,

open to do different kind of work,

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how can you be unemployed? And I

think, is not discussed openly, but

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it is a situation for educated

people, you are unemployed

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sometimes. And if the scenario of

robotics and all these other kind of

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work concept changed, more and more

educated and skilled people will be

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unemployed.

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It's now ten months into the pilot,

and things have changed radically to

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Tanya. When we first met her, she

thought ASIC income would make no

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difference to her prospects of

finding a job.

I took this job

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offer, it is telemarketing. I

actually enjoy my job a lot. I love

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my co-workers, I love the office, I

love the hours. And I just love to

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be being independent, owning my own

money. And standing on my own two

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feet. Now I actually can go to the

store and buy food and not be so

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worried when I am going to eat the

next day. Basic income has changed

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my life. Without it, I couldn't have

taken a job with a little lower

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salary. I really have dreamed a long

time to work in an advertising

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agency, and there was something with

marketing. I am going to learn to be

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the best telemarketer person in

Finland, and find an advertising

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agency that would give me a job, my

dream job.

So has she changed her

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mind about the basic income

experiment?

At first I was quite

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sceptical about basic income. It is

obvious that we can't afford to pay

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it to every citizen. But then I

realised, it is actually a genius

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idea. If you just pay it for those

people who have been at home for so

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long, and been unemployed for so

long, that is a huge drive for them,

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to get a job. We are human beings,

we need human contact, we need to be

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proud of something, and that's a

huge problem when you are

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unemployed. I think I have turned my

life around.

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When we met him five months ago, he

was hoping he would be able to start

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a small business after going

bankrupt.

Ten months after starting

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in the experiment, I still feel

super happy and free and

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independent.

He has set up one

business already, but he wants to

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expand.

I got my own business, and

have been running that for the last

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few months. The easiest money is

making those drums and selling. It

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is hand craft, it is not super good

for business, it takes time to make,

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and I love it.

Good to see you.

Them

one thing I am planning with a

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couple of my friends, to start like

a B&B.

We are going to be calling

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people that know how to draw and

paint, and doing something in

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painting, and putting it here so

that next week you can start

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filming.

We have some studios, so

people would stay here and spend

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here one week, tee weeks, or a year.

Do you want me to help you with the

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drums?

And Juha and his friend have

other plans as well. Today, they

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have come to meet the mayor, to talk

about transforming an old art school

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and turning it into workshops for

artists. Juha is optimistic that he

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will still be on a firm financial

footing after the Basic income

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experiment ends.

I think for me it

is enough. I believe that after one

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year my business is running, and I

don't need other help. I very much

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believe that basic income would be

super good for finances and the

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economy of the government. I feel

that it should be good for others,

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also.

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When we first met unemployed

journalist Tuomas, he was optimistic

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that the basic income trial would

help them find a new job. He is now

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married to a former MP and Green

party activist. What else is new?

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What has changed in my life since

June? I got married, but

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financially, not so much. I am still

without a job. I can say that the

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basic income has changed a lot in my

life. OK, psychologically, yes, but

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financially not so much.

Tuomas was

craving the structure that the job

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would ring.

I would be happy if I

had a job, even a part-time job, for

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the routines. In that sense, you can

call me lazy, because I need a

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producer, I need somebody to tell me

what to do, and I enjoy doing that.

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Now, after five years... Almost five

years as a freelancer, maybe I am

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not the right person to be like

that. My wife can do that. She has

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always done that. Not for me, it is

more secure if you have a job.

As

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Tuomas attends a political event

with his new wife, how does he feel

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now about job prospects?

I have

still over one year to go, so

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anything can happen. So I am quite

optimistic. I am not worried when

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this pilot is ending, because then I

have got back to the old system, and

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get those benefits and other way.

Let's see, during summertime next

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year, I will have a job.

And what

about Sini? She wanted a career

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structure that will allow her to

work for multiple employers and

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still find time for herself and her

family.

The insecurity of not having

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a permanent job, and actually

working as self-employed, allows

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also to have more freedom on the way

you spend your time. My dad has

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old-timers, and me and my sister,

who lives also in Finland, we try to

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help them out a lot.

Sini has found

that basic income gives her more

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time with family, and also to pursue

charity work.

With basic income, it

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is kind of easy maybe to get this

work-life balance. So basic income

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helps me to make myself available,

to help my parents, or do volunteer

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work. Of course I understand not

everybody is motivated to do those

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things, but I am the type of person

that I want to do something that

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makes me happy, and I would want

more people to have the courage to

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say, OK, maybe money is not

everything. What would you like to

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study?

Language.

I think basic

income as an idea, for everyone to

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receive it, is a very nice idea. On

an individual level it has been

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very, very life changing for me. So

I would see a package more or less

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in a way that if your income drops

to a certain level, then you become

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part of kind of the basic income or

the benefit system.

Four people,

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four very different experiences of

basic income. Tanya has -- Tanja has

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found a job she would never have

considered before, Juha has

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rediscovered his entrepreneurial

spirit, Tuomas were still

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unemployed, and Sini has found a way

to pursue a portfolio career, see

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her family, and do charity work.

There is a year to go before the

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trial ends. Is there a chance the

government will extend the scheme to

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all of them than's unemployed?

Finland is quite moderate in this

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way, we have a culture of

experimentation, and where we want

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to see this kind of social

innovations in practice. So whether

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this basic income is the solution to

poverty or Labour market goblins,

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can still be proud that Finland has

taken this sort of bold way of

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testing, and hopefully our

experience can benefit other

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nations.

We will have to wait and

see if Finland's experiment becomes

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a model for the future.

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