AT Kearney: “Best Things in Life Are Free?”

AT Kearney: “Best Things in Life Are Free?”

Credit to: AT Kearney.


Courtney McCaffrey and others from AT Kearney published an article on the debate around Universal Basic Income (UBI) in markets throughout the world. Politicians, in both Europe and North America, are winning on campaign trails with talk about returning control to the common people from the economic system in the globe.

But one of the big worker displacers is automation and new technologies. Oxford University reported 47% of US jobs will be taken over by automation in the next two decades. A UBI is being offered as an economic buffer for such workplace and technology transitions.

Such a UBI would be universal and unconditional in the application. Past UBI experiments such as Mincome in Canada, projects in Seattle and Denver (USA), and Namibia produced real, positive results empowering those politicians. McCaffrey and her collegues also mention recent major endorsements for UBI, for instance from such luminaries as Elon Musk, Tim O’Reilly, and Marc Andreessen.

Two books are recommended: 1) Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman, and 2) Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy by Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght. Other notable cases reported on were Finland, India, and Ontario.

The article discusses pros and cons of UBI, in a general sense. It was noted that citizens with a UBI will spend more time on family and school. The sources of funding for the UBI could be revenues from natural resources and/or more taxes. Some views of critics are following their own political lines, but the major concern revolves around people’s availability to work when they get a UBI covering their basic needs.

Finally, the article summarizes views agains UBI on the political Right and Left. On the Right, the main argument is cost. On the political Left, detractors view UBI as “regressive” because it could dismantle current welfare systems, and that it may not capture different living costs in different areas.


More information at:

McCaffrey, C.R., Toland, T. & Peterson, E.R., “The Best Things in Life Are Free?“, AT Kearney, March 2017

ONTARIO, CANADA: Campaign Research opinion survey on pilot project

ONTARIO, CANADA: Campaign Research opinion survey on pilot project

Hamilton, Canada. Credit to: CBC.

As reported before, the majority of the Ontario’s citizens support a basic income, but they want a pilot project. However, most think $17,000 (CAD) is insufficient to meet the basic needs of most citizens.

There was a poll by Campaign Research done on 1,969 people with 53% of people supporting the plan for a basic income. Young people, aged 18 to 24, were the most supportive age group at 59%.

Lars Osberg, professor of economics at Dalhousie University, said the poll was possibly inaccurate with, for example, the Atlantic Canada (63% support for the plan) sample at only 198 people. Liberals (62%) and NDP (63%) were the most supportive.

The pilot project has 4,000 people from three areas: Hamilton, Lindsay, and Thunder Bay. It emphasizes citizens with low incomes. Couples will get $24,027; singles will receive $16,989.

The first experiment will run one year without conditions. The reason for the experiment is to see if the basic income provisions will improve life quality and job prospects.

Osberg noted that the youth are the unemployed or the underemployed, generally, and that the basic income does not disincentivize work. Osberg thinks the basic income would not disincentive work, as some fear.

More information at:

Jack Hauen, “Majority support Ontario’s basic income plan, but many find $17,000 not enough: poll”, Financial Times, May 17th 2017

Eli Yufest, “Majority approves of Ontario’s basic income plan, many find $17,000 per year too little an amount“, Campaign Research, May 16th 2017

ITALY: “Automation, future of work, and guaranteed income” event (March 4 – May 7)

ITALY: “Automation, future of work, and guaranteed income” event (March 4 – May 7)

From March 4 to May 7, 2017, a novel program will begin under the auspices of ‘Beyond Growth’ (“Oltre La Crescita”), which is a school of training open to all circa 2011, entitled ‘Need to work or work without? Automation, future of work, the basic income.’ Beyond Growth is an event intended to be a debate and a reflection.

There will be examination of a variety of issues, including the “relationship between automation and work, the effects of neoliberal policies and wage labor, and rethinking the current paradigm,” among other topics. Program here.

These topics will be debated and reflected upon in their cultural, economic, ethical, social, and technological dimensions. The ‘Beyond Growth’ conference will include four events for broad-based debate, followed by a concluding  event  offering results and a final discussion.

Further details can be found here and here (in Italian).

Image credit to Basic Income Network Italia

Sarah Gardner on Robots, Finland, Canada, and Basic Income (Three Articles)

Sarah Gardner on Robots, Finland, Canada, and Basic Income (Three Articles)

Sarah Gardner, a reporter for Marketplace, published three articles in December 2016 on the topic of universal basic income (UBI): How to support yourself after the robot revolution, Finland to test a basic income for the unemployed, and On the Canadian prairie, a basic income experiment.

In How to support yourself after the robot revolution, Gardner describes the prediction of Lawrence Summers, Former Undersecretary of International Affairs, that by the middle of the 21st century, one third of men between the ages of 25 and 54 will be out of work. The reason is automation.

Sam Altman, Gardner says, also sees automation, including software automation, as a factor for future unemployment. Altman and others are raising millions of dollars for a basic income experiment in Oakland, California.

In Finland to test a basic income for the unemployed, Gardner talks about the “buzz” around UBI in Silicon Valley, the Netherlands, and Finland. Finland, specifically, is facing a hard time with high youth unemployment. — general unemployment is at 8%, while young adults have a 20% unemployment rate. Olli Kangas, the director of government and community relations for KELA (the government agency  responsible for public benefits), said, “In the present system they are a little bit afraid of accepting job offers, say, for two months or three months, because they think that, okay, how much would I benefit, in terms of money?”

In On the Canadian prairie, a basic income experiment, Gardner notes, as in the other articles, that automation and temp work are modern issues. Previously, however, there were the Mincome experiments in Manitoba, which trialled a payment similar to UBI.

While these trials were conducted in several parts of Manitoba, “the most interesting pilot was in Dauphin, a small farming town more than three hours northwest of Winnipeg,” Gardner says. Dauphin was a tight-knit Ukrainian community, and the Canadian government gave money, through the program, to ensure families “would never fall below a basic amount.”

Read the full articles here:

Sarah Gardner, “How to support yourself after the robot revolution“, Marketplace, December 7, 2016.

Sarah Gardner, “Finland to test a basic income for the unemployed“, Marketplace, December 13, 2016.  

Sarah Gardner, “On the Canadian prairie, a basic income experiment“, Marketplace, December 20, 2016.

Basic Income on French 24 TV

Basic Income on French 24 TV

Credit to France24

France24 hosted a 45-minute debate, moderated by François Picard, on the topic of automation and the labour market. In the context of the Brexit vote and the Donald Trump election, the programme claims, some have “blamed immigrants [for] stealing jobs and undercutting wages.” An alternative explanation is that automation is the major factor, and whether or not automation will “destroy the labour market” was the main subject of the debate.

The discussion covered the Universal Basic Income (UBI) experiment in Finland, and some debaters saw the merits of a UBI. When asked by the moderator why this idea of a UBI is “taking off”, some saw the idea as liberal and good, but requiring proper implementation to be successful.

The debate is available in two parts, the first here and the second, with a focus on UBI from 7:22, here.

Read more here:

François Picard et al., “Rage against the machines: Is automation destroying the labour market? (part 2)“, France24, December 27th, 2016.