The idea of giving poor people cash with no strings attached in lieu of government welfare payments has been floating around the leftist fever swamps since the 1960s. It’s called universal basic income and Chicago will apparently develop a pilot program to test it.
Some Chicago families could start collecting a $1,000 check every month with no strings attached. That’s the new proposal from a task force created by Mayor Emanuel.
The idea is to break the cycle of poverty. The pilot program would give 1,000 struggling Chicagoans $1,000 a month.
Supporters say people could use the extra cash to cover unexpected emergencies, increase their savings and improve their health.
The money would come from a mix of city funds and charity.
It’s a seductive idea. Even some libertarians like Charles Murray think it’s worth a shot. With one dollar out of every three spent by the government on social welfare programs going to feed the bureaucracy, the idea of giving the poor direct cash payments seems an attractive way to save taxpayer money.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.
Finland ended a similar experiment in April and the results have just been released.
Distributing free money to the unemployed improves their well-being, but doesn’t appear to have any significant impact on their job prospects.
That’s according to the preliminary results of a landmark experiment in Finland, the first country in the world to trial a basic income at a national level.
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. The basic aim was to explore new ways of distributing social security in a world where more workers are threatened by automation and fewer are likely to take on traditional nine-to-five jobs. The current system is seen as too bureaucratic and often dissuades people from taking on temporary or part-time work.
According to a preliminary assessment published on Friday by the social services agency Kela, the recipients of the monthly stipend spent on average about half a day more in employment per year than the control group.
“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,” said Ohto Kanninen, Research Coordinator at the Labour Institute for Economic Research.
This is an idea thought up by people who have no clue about human psychology. You give people money and don’t ask anything of them for it and, guess what? You get nothing in return.
“There is a problem with young people lacking secondary education, and reports of those guys not seeking work,” said Heikki Hiilamo, a University of Helskinki professor of social policy. “There is a fear that with basic income they would just stay home and play computer games.”
Sounds about right. But, then again, the unemployed people getting free money are happier.
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.”
At least they were happy playing their computer games.
Giving people something for nothing and not expecting anything in return gives you… nothing in return. But it sure makes lefties feel good to be giving out other people’s money for such a good cause.