In case someone thought I was being too harsh on Helsingin Sanomat (HS) in my previous post – after all, we were facing a mere report based on the personal experiences of three individuals – here’s something for you. HS has granted the status of editorial policy to its docile attitude towards political power on the particular issue of the unconditional basic income. The newspaper’s editorial of January 22 (reproduced below) only criticizes the limited scope of the experiment. As to the rest, it repeats all the mantras put forth by government and Kela representatives (the latter is the Finnish Social Insurance Institution): people don’t work because they lack “incentives”, etc.
The editorial rightfully invokes the need of simplifying the social insurance system, though not because it’d be better for beneficiaries, but because “labour life moves towards temporary [that is, precarious] labour”. Really? And why is it so? Perhaps some godlike celestial force guides the labour market in that direction? There’s not a word about the costs of this policy and, after acknowledging some limitations of the experiment, HS praises the government’s initiative of seeking alternatives, wishing that future governments follow this path. Here’s a crazy idea for an alternative: what about promoting decent employment through the reduction of the workday duration to six hours, together with a plan of public investment funded by raising corporate and capital taxes and bringing the banking system and the main sectors of the economy to the public sphere? While we’re at it, why not combat precarious labour by eliminating aberrations such as zero-hour contracts and temporary work agencies?
Until then, attempting to fight poverty and unemployment through policies such as Sipilä’s basic income is more or less like this: