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Living on basic-income for 2 years made me 'feel free' says a journalist who took part in one of the world's largest trials

Published by Business Insider on Sat, 01 May 2021


<p><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/608c223534af8d001859a2d1-1417/finland universal basic income.jpg" border="0" alt="finland universal basic income" data-mce-source="Getty"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>When Tuomas Muraja was selected for Finland's basic income trial in 2018, he says he felt like he was "winning the lottery."</p><p>The freelance journalist and writer was selected for the trial,&nbsp;which gave 2,000 unemployed people $600 each month for two years, because he sometimes seeks unemployment benefits when he is living between grants and other income sources.</p><p>The idea of a basic incomean unconditional, regular cash payment to adult citizens<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-basic-income-2016-8">has become an increasingly popular policy proposal in recent years</a>, and Finland's government-backed trial was one of the world's largest to date.</p><p>However, when the results of Finland's trial were published last year, some commentators said the test was a failure for basic income because it did not significantly increase their chances of being in work.</p><p>However, what some of this commentary missed is that recipients did, however, report significantly greater life satisfaction, and less mental strain than those outside the trial.</p><p>For Muraja, the basic income experiment was transformative, and he is now a vocal proponent of the concept.</p><p>"Basic income would liberate creativity, increase equality, and provide more free time for all," he said.</p><p>He was able to put the basic income payment&nbsp;towards his 2000 ($2400) monthly rent, and it replaced&nbsp;a complicated old system of filling out multiple forms and attending courses to claim benefit payments every month.</p><h2>'When you feel free, you feel more secure.'</h2><p><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/608c272e34af8d001859a338-2400/finland ubi.jpg" border="0" alt="finland ubi" data-mce-source="Getty"></p><p>Mujara says that while the experiment did not make a huge financial difference to his life, living as he did in a country that already had a generous welfare system, it did have a significant impact on his wellbeing.</p><p>"The psychological effects were positive," he told Insider.</p><p>"I much prefer receiving basic income rather than dealing with the old system and filling in its complicated forms or participating in mandatory courses."</p><p>He said the universality also had a de-stigmatizing effect.</p><p>"If we had a basic income, it would put an end to the humiliation of the poor," he said.</p><p>Under Finland's welfare system, which is generous by international standards, claimants can earn up to 300 ($360) a month before they have to start paying back 50% of their earnings above that amount.</p><p>Now, Mujara was free to accept smaller jobs without fear of losing access to those benefits, and he also had more time to pursue creative projects.</p><p>"I could accept the small jobs and I didn't have the fear of losing my benefits," he said.</p><p>"It makes you feel free," Mujara says of his experience on basic-income.</p><p>"You don't have to work, for instance, every day. You could work only for four days a week, and the fifth you do whatever you wantso it makes you creative.</p><p>"And when you are creative and motivated, that makes you productive, even if you don't calculate productivity always by money.</p><p>"When you feel free, you feel more secure. And then you create something. People in supermarkets, people cleaningit helps them as well."</p><h2>'Why can't poor people be satisfied''</h2><p><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/608c297034af8d001859a365-2400/Tuomas Muraja.jpg" border="0" alt="Tuomas Muraja" style="color: #000000;" data-mce-source="Laura Oja">Much of the criticism towards Finland's experiment <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/finland-basic-income-experiment-reasons-for-failure-2019-12">focused on the fact</a> that it did not increase employment levels among those trialed. The BBC's report <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-47169549">said it left people</a> "happier but jobless."</p><p>But Mujara says the results of the trial should be seen differently.&nbsp;"All those who received the basic income felt more satisfied. My question is: Why can't poor people or unemployed people be satisfied'"</p><p>"It didn't decrease [employment levels]. So it's better than the normal system. Because we felt better."</p><p>"You have to calculate it in a different way."</p><p>The other frequent criticism of a basic income model is how expensive it would be to roll out to all adults. But Mujara believes its introduction is a question of political consensus, rather than affordability.</p><p>"Of course it will cost a lot," he said. "But free education costs a lot and we've managed to deal with that. We have free highways in Finland, and we manage that. The thing is: Are we willing'"</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/basic-income-ubi-trial-life-made-feel-free-says-journalist-2021-4#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/scorpion-venom-most-expensive-liquid-in-the-world-2018-8">Why scorpion venom is the most expensive liquid in the world</a></p>
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