Reflect-ions | Can we trust each other enough to implement unconditional income?

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28 January 2022

Reflect-ions | Can we trust each other enough to implement unconditional income? 

Laura Brämswig, Founder of Expedition Grundeinkommen, spoke about Universal Basic Income at Reflect Festival 2021. 

We've been talking about universal basic income (UBI) literally for ages. The philosopher Sir Thomas More snuck the idea into his Utopia released in 1516) - and utopia is largely what UBI has been since then. 

While dozens of pilots have been conducted and some had encouraging results, the idea is still far from universally accepted. Will it encourage entrepreneurship and creativity and boost mental health? Will it help break poverty cycles? Or should we be worried about legions of people who won't work at all and unsustainable governmental finances? These questions keep fueling a heated debate. 

To unravel the dilemmas and possibilities, we invited Laura Brämswig to speak about her lessons learned at Reflect Festival. Laura's Expedition Basic Income is pushing for a state-funded experiment on unconditional basic income in Germany with up to 10,000 participants. The goal is to test different basic income policies against each other and shift the discourse around basic income from a moral to a practical policy-making level.

Trust instead of fear

At Reflect, Laura proposed a future where we operate based on trust, not fear, by providing everyone with a minimum income that doesn't require any obligations. By extension, we could eradicate poverty, which, in some countries, means distributing as little as 10 dollars monthly to each person. However, Laura says that even relatively rich countries are missing out if they don't implement universal basic income. 

As she pointed out, the world is not exactly equal, and opportunities come more often than not to those who grow up in privilege or have access to quality education. And then there are psychological consequences: simply worrying about money reduces your IQ levels and drains energy. "If you could put forward all this energy and create something good, we would all benefit from it," Laura says. 

Watch Laura's full speech to learn:

  • The results of experiments that have already taken place

  • How does UBI relate to mental health

  • That it's about time for a revolution in the way we work 

And hear her insightful answers to audience questions here.

Laura Brämswig is the founder of the NGO "Expedition Basic Income (Expedition Grundeinkommen)" and has a great passion for innovation, society, and systemic change.

She is a social, economic, and cultural psychologist and political scientist trained at the London School of Economics and Politics, Leuphana, and Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona.

Laura was previously a partner at Ashoka Germany, where she advised social entrepreneurs and worked on social innovation. Before that, she was a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, focusing on public institutions, social impact, and sustainability.

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