The city has paired up with the local university to establish whether the concept of ‘basic income’ can work in real life, and plans to begin the experiment at the end of the summer holidays.
Basic income is a universal, unconditional form of payment to individuals, which covers their living costs. The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study.
University College Utrecht has paired with the city to place people on welfare on a living income, to see if a system of welfare without requirements will be successful.
We don’t lack good ideas or practical solutions. Although we often lack the political willingness to implement it, or at least try it to see how it works and how to tweak it to work better.
So it’s good to see the idea of an universal basic income put into life. It will free up a lot of resources through reduced bureaucracy. It will reduce the survival fear among people and in the society. (Which I think is a major reason for a lot of the weirdness seen in, for instance, the US today. Survival fear in itself, along with the trauma it tends to produce, creates fear driven compulsive behavior, including addictions, workaholic behavior, and political and religious fundamentalism, and this fundamentalism even includes science denial.) It will free up people to experiment and be more creative in how they make a living, and in following their dreams and passions to a greater extent. All of this will benefit society as a whole, likely even financially.
Another idea I would like to see applied in more places is instant runoff voting. That’s a system which allows people to vote for the parties or candidates they actually prefer, without having to resort to “strategic voting” and voting for the least of several evils. (Of course, this is often not in the interest of the larger parties, which I suspect is why it hasn’t been implemented in more communities or countries.)
Why do we lack the political will to implement these ideas? There are many reasons: People don’t know about it. The media ignores it, or mention these solutions in passing, or present them as slightly utopian or harebrained unpractical ideas. The media often share the interests of large corporations, and these often see themselves as having different interests from the society as a whole (they may see some of these solutions as a potential threat to their autonomy and profits). The ones in power – corporations, politicians, and media – often fear and may actively resist any change that can upset or shift the power in society. (And they can and do influence public opinion, often in a direction that’s not in the interest of the majority of the population. We see this a lot in the US today, both among democratic and republican voters.) Also, there is lethargy and wishing to stay with what’s known and familiar unless there is a very strong, obvious, and immediate reason for change.