In June, we were telling you about the Dutch city of Utrecht, which will start a new social and economic experiment: basic income, a new concept that could revolutionize society as we know it. Basic income is a type of social security in which all residents receive an unconditional sum of money, regardless of whether or not they have another source of income. Now, more Dutch cities announced their interest in participating in the initial trials.
The philosophy behind basic income may seem ludicrous at first – why would you just give people money? But as you look into it more and more, it starts to make more and more sense. The idea is to offer people a modest yet dignified existence no matter what they do. Also, it would encourage people to focus on working jobs they actually want to work on and where they can make the most contributions to society – not just focusing on making a living. Some people argue that it would create a disincentive to work, but so far, experiments have shown that only some people work less, and only by 5% on average.
Utrecht officials were convinced by the arguments – in collaboration with the University of Utrecht, they announced plans to launch trials of the new system after the summer holidays. The initiative has sparked interest in other Dutch communities. Tilburg has similar plans and aims to run a four-year trial, and the cities of Groningen, Maastricht, Gouda, Enschede, Nijmegen and Wageningen are also looking at the concept. The experiment will go as follows: one group will continue under the present system of welfare plus supplementary benefits for housing and health insurance. A second group will get benefits based on a system of incentives and rewards and a third group will have a basic income with no extras.
The idea seems to be catching wings, so what do you think about it?