Around the globe, experiments are conducted with alternatives for the existing social security system that has become stuck. People no longer believe in centrally organised long-term planning: change can only be brought about by bottom-up small-scale social experiments. Advocates of redistributing our prosperity and disconnecting work and income are fighting for this. In many places and using many different methods they are experimenting with handing out free money.
Michael Bohmeyer, a young German, has started a crowdfunding campaign for an unconditional basic income. With every 12,000 euros raised, one person gets an income of 1000 euros per month for a year. So far, eight people have been receiving this basic income. There are no obligations other than to submit themselves to research into how this effects their lives. In New York, Michael meets venture investor Albert Wenger who has been thinking about basic income for years. With his company he invested in many internet companies and with these investments he has helped young internet geniuses get well-paid jobs. But Wenger also sees that digitalisation has caused many people to their jobs. Embracing the development toward a basic income, he argues a new perspective on work.
British economist Guy Standing may be one of the greatest advocates of a thorough renewal of the social system. He has conducted basic income experiments in India and Namibia. He sees a growing economic class of flex workers and independent contractors with so little perspective that something needs to be done in order to prevent extensive social unrest. Earlier this year, Guy Standing was in Groningen on invitation by people from MIES (Association for Innovation of Economy and Society). Here, he had a conversation with Matthias Gijsbertsen, the alderman of Social Affairs of the city of Groningen. The alderman was inspired by the idea of a basic income and suggested to offer citizens of Groningen who are on social security the opportunity to earn extra money without lowering social security payments.
Since 1982, all inhabitants of Alaska have received yearly dividends from the revenues of the oil and gas industry without any obligation whatsoever.
VPRO Backlight talks about the need for social security experiments to give people the opportunity to make the most of their own talents and qualities.
Featuring: Guy Standing (economist, UK), Matthias Gijsbertsen (alderman for Social Affairs, Groningen), Albert Wenger (venture investor, New York) and Michael Bohmeyer (IT entrepreneur, Germany).
This English version of the episode can only be watched outside The Netherlands due to regulations from the Dutch Public Broadcasting Organization. The Dutch version can be watched here.