Would you ride in a car without a driver?

#12 | Would you ride in a self-driving car? Yeah, neither would I.  As far as the public at large is concerned, they wouldn’t either. One 2018 survey cited only 21 percent of the public was willing to even try riding in an autonomous vehicle.  I think that’s a BIG problem for a lot of startups and major companies who have already invested a lot of money into the technology.  So, what can they do to convince the public to ride in them? Well, I have a few ideas. Tune in to hear them.


Click here to listen to this episode on Anchor.fm.

Subscribe to this podcast via your favorite podcast platform!

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

The path to progress is not always easy. Recently, I read a report from the DailyMail which sounded like a harbinger of things to come. Here’s a quote…

“Police in Arizona have recorded 21 incidents in the past two years concerning vigilante citizens who have hurled rocks, pointed guns at and slashed the tires of Waymo’s autonomous vans. In other cases, people stood in front of the vehicles to prevent them from driving, yelled at them, chased them or forced them off of the road…”

This type of reaction to technology is nothing new. In fact, its been going on for a lot longer than you might think. I’ll explain after this message.

{sponsor message}

To fully understand the privacy of Facebook and how it’s likely to evolve, you need to understand one thing…Facebook executives want everyone to be public. As the service evolves, executives tend to favor our open access to information, meaning information you think is private will slowly become public, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be private if you want to. Facebook gives its users the option to lock things down, but users need to be aware of their controls, how to use them and how to prepare for future Facebook privacy changes. Facebook has not and will not make information obvious, and that’s where my special offer comes in. Go to JimStroud.com/free and download “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” That’s JimStroud.com/free to download your free copy of “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” One last time, download it now at JimStroud.com/free Operators are standing by.

{End Sponsor Message}

Imagine you are an Entrepreneur and you produced clothing for various customers around the world. One day, a machine was invented that did the work you performed, and it did it faster and more efficiently than you ever could. And to make matters even more interesting, the cost of using machines was cheaper than the cost of employing highly skilled laborers. Sound familiar? If it does, you might be a student of history because that very thing happened in the 19th century and it sparked a movement – the luddite movement.

The Luddites were 19th-century English textile who protested against newly developed labor-economizing technologies, primarily between the years 1811 and 1816. Inventions like the stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the highly skilled luddites with less-skilled, low-wage laborers who could run those machines and thus, leave them without work. The Luddite movement culminated in a region-wide rebellion in Northwestern England that required a massive deployment of military force to suppress.

Fast forward to the year 2015 and taxi drivers all over the world are protesting how Uber and its technology has disrupted their way of life. The backlash of the protesting taxi drivers included fires, arrests and unprecedented civil unrest. If you want to know the details, Google the term “uber riots” and be amazed by how far the disdain for Uber goes in certain countries.

Now fast forward to 2018 when people are attacking Waymo’s autonomous vans. When I read the article, my reflex was to dismiss the concern as neo-luddites fighting the inevitable future. However, as I read more about why the people were attacking the autonomous vehicles, I had to admit to sharing some of their concerns. Here are a few quotes from an article posted by The Next Web.

“One Arizonan, from the city of Chandler, became so fed up with the sight of Waymo‘s vans in his neighborhood that he stood on his lawn pointing a pistol at the human safety driver inside of one as it passed his home. He told police he wanted the person in the car to be afraid, presumably to send the message that self-driving cars aren’t welcome. He’s one of dozens of citizens (on record) who’ve engaged in wildly dangerous acts provoked by, apparently, nothing more than the idea of a car driving itself.”

Here’s another one…

“People have thrown rocks at Waymos. The tire on one was slashed while it was stopped in traffic. The vehicles have been yelled at, chased and one Jeep was responsible for forcing the vans off roads six times.”

And one more…

“Why are people so angry at self-driving cars? After all, none of the reported incidents we’ve seen indicate the people attacking machines and harassing their human safety drivers are experiencing road rage. It doesn’t appear as though anyone got cut off by a robot, or got tailgated, or had one sitting at a green light in front of them. It seems the existential threat that driverless cars represent is the sole catalyst for these outbursts.”

As I read deeper into the article and others like it, the resentment was not that the autonomous vehicles were taking people’s jobs away. It was primarily a safety concern. In March 2018, Elaine Herzberg was killed by a self-driving Uber vehicle and no one wants to see that history repeat itself. I get it. It is a very real concern. So, what can be done about it? What can car companies do to make the general public feel better about autonomous vehicles? Well, I have a few ideas…

“The Society of Risk Analysis” published a report in the Risk Analysis journal which sought to determine how safe is safe enough for self-driving vehicles to be accepted by the general public. According to their research, the answer is approximately four to five times as safe as human-driven vehicles. So, how do you do that?

Let’s say that all autonomous vehicles must be linked to a big brain in the sky that records every accident and every fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle. Once that incident is recorded, everybody sees what happened and every variable that contributed to the accident (weather conditions, human beings not paying attention, whatever). As soon as new data hits the system, a community of scientists works on a solution and programs that solution into all autonomous vehicles so the same accident, under the same conditions will not happen again. Furthermore, inside the autonomous vehicle is data detailing how many days since a fatality was caused by an autonomous vehicles. That data would be or should be, accessible to people before and after they ride in an autonomous vehicle; all so that they can feel empowered to make a decision that’s best for them. Make sense? Maybe not. I’m curious. How would you make autonomous vehicles safer?

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

Links related to this episode:

Music in this podcast

How To Stop Tech Addiction

#11 | I read the other day that chronic social media use is as bad as drug addiction and I remember thinking, “Is that true?” Well, I did a little bit of research and the answer is yes, a very disturbing yes. I discuss how bad the tech addiction epidemic is and share an unlikely method for stopping tech addiction in our time.  The source of the improbable cure? Cocaine. Tune in for more details. This will be controversial, to say the least.  | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


Click here to listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm

Links related to this podcast:

Music

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

I stumbled across a very interesting article from the Miami Herald the other day and it got me thinking. Well, let me share a quote from the article, before I start…

We like to say we’re addicted to our phones or an app or some new show on a streaming video service. But for some people, tech gets in the way of daily functioning and self-care. We’re talking flunk-your-classes, can’t-find-a-job, live-in-a-dark-hole kinds of problems, with depression, anxiety and sometimes suicidal thoughts part of the mix.

Suburban Seattle, a major tech center, has become a hub for help for so-called “tech addicts,” with residential rehab, psychologists who specialize in such treatment and 12-step meetings.

“The drugs of old are now repackaged. We have a new foe,” Cosette Rae says of the barrage of tech. A former developer in the tech world, she heads a Seattle area rehab center called reSTART Life, one of the few residential programs in the nation specializing in tech addiction.

Tech addiction is real! I’m going to talk about that and an unlikely solution found from an experiment with cocaine. Stay tuned!

Tech addiction is real, very real and I am concerned that it will get worse; especially when I consider the research. Let me share with you a few random stats related to technology addiction.

Research from a site called “The Daily Infographic” says:

    • The average person checks their cellphone 110 times a day. (Hah! You checked it just then, didn’t you?)
    • 75% of drivers have admitted to texting, at least once, while driving.
    • 61% sleep with their cellphone under the pillow, turned on or, next to their bed.
    • 50% of people feel uneasy if they leave their cellphone at home
    • 44% check job related email when on vacation.
    • 26% of all car accidents are caused by phone usage
    • 20% of people between 18-34 have used smartphones during sex
    • 12% of adults use their phones in the shower

But all of that is cellphone related. What about video games?

A study appearing in the medical journal Pediatrics, conducted by research scientist Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., examined video game usage rates of 3,034 children and teenagers. Video game addiction statistics from this study revealed the following:

  • The average length of time spent playing video games was 20 hours per week
  • An estimated 72 percent of American households play video games
  • An estimated nine percent of the 3,034 participants in the study showed signs of video game addiction
  • Four percent of study participants were categorized as extreme users who played video games 50 hours per week on average

And here are a few more observations on video game addiction that I found from various sources online.

  • The same regions of the brain that are activated when craving occurs in alcohol and drug addicts are also activated in video game addicts when they see images of computer games.
  • People who have higher levels of trait anxiety, aggressive behavior, and neuroticism are at a higher risk for video game addiction.
  • Students addicted to video games have lower academic grades than their non-addicted peers.
  • Forty-one percent of people who play online video games admitted that they played computer games as an escape from the real world.

As alarming as these stats and insights are, I am simultaneously encouraged and discouraged when I learned of a possible cure for addictions in general and possibly, tech addictions, specifically. The source of the research is Cocaine.org.

Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada wanted to test the impact of environmental factors associated with addiction. So, they built an elaborate rat cage. Inside this rat cage, rats were given the ability to socialize with other male and female rats, toys to keep the rats amused, rat condominiums that featured multiple levels for sleeping, and tunnels so the rats had somewhere to play and hide. They also made cocaine available to them via a lever that they could easily access when desired. Bruce Alexander and his colleagues nicknamed it “Rat Park.” Alexander and company then compared the behavior of the Rat Park Rats with rats who were given the same access to cocaine but without all the luxuries that Rat Park had.

The end result? The Rat Park Rats rarely pursued the cocaine; even after they were exposed to it. Conversely, the rats who were kept isolated in cages that did not contain amusements nor other rats to fellowship with, were much more likely to become addicted to the drugs offered.

These experiments continued with scientists using different variations of rugs, different types of rats, and different environments. The conclusion was the same. When the fundamental needs of a rat were met, addiction to drugs was unlikely. The scientific community was highly skeptical of these results initially but, eventually accepted them when other studies produced similar results. And just in case you’re curious as to when this all happened, the Rat Park experiments were conducted in the late 1970’s and published between 1978 and 1981.

I am encouraged by this research because if meeting the fundamental needs of a rat can lessen the chance of their drug addiction, maybe the same can be said for humans. And if so, what are the fundamental needs of humans? And if they are met, would they cancel out all addictions? I’m not an expert on psychology so, I don’t know for sure. But I can guess that at least one fundamental need that all humans have is the need to feel connected with other people; in other words, friendship. And that’s when I get… discouraged.

I get discouraged because loneliness is an epidemic. Search DuckDuckGo, Bing or Google for the phrase “loneliness epidemic” and you will find out that loneliness is widespread; especially among Americans where some researchers say 3 out of every 4 are affected. And therein is the paradox of tech addiction. Developing real-life friendships and a sense of belonging, will make people less susceptible to tech addiction. However, for tech addicts to receive that help, they would have to move away from technology. Sigh… It is a conundrum. How do we stop tech addiction or at least, stem the tide?

    • Maybe the solution is more tech addict rehab programs like restart Life.
    • Maybe it’s making digital detox retreats mainstream. Have you heard of those? As I understand it, you spend time in nature without your cellphone but, there’s more to it than that. As an example, check out digitaldetox.org.
    • Maybe we can start removing free wifi in restaurants and bars and airports and other public places and encourage people to talk to the person next to them. It could be a big marketing campaign, “Put down the phone, pick up a friend. Be a better human.”
    • Maybe Hollywood and pop stars could make it uncool and/or rude to keep your face buried in a smartphone by removing the act from movies and TV shows and music videos. It’s not unheard of. People used to smoke on TV and movies all the time but now, it never happens. I’m sure that affected the sales of cigarettes as it surely changed the culture of society. I bet it could reduce tech addiction as well.
    • But I’m rambling. If you have any ideas for reducing tech addiction, I’d love to hear it and share it with my audience. So, share your thoughts?

Privacy is dead and dying more each day…

#10 | Amazon reported that 100 million Alexa devices have been sold as of this writing. That’s great for Amazon but for you, maybe not so much. If you are concerned about your privacy then, its not good for you to have Alexa (and devices like it) in your home because it is almost always listening and recording everything going on. Doubt me? Tune in to this episode to learn why you should be concerned about Alexa and even more concerned about what Google has planned for your home. Its scary.   | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


Click here to listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm

Links related to this podcast:

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

 PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Happy New Year! I hope 2019 brings you every positive thing you hope for and more. I also hope it brings you more privacy. A recent report from Reuters cites how a user of Amazon’s Alexa got access to a thousand recordings from another user because of a [quote] “human error” by the company. [end quote] Among the recordings, a man and a female companion could be… overheard and due to the data that was accidentally released, the man and woman on the recordings were able to be identified and contacted.

When I read that story, my immediate reaction was why where there so many recordings available to be found in the first place? And if they were revealed by human error, how many more recordings are out there and for what purpose are they being saved? I’ll give you the answer and give you something more to worry about, after this message.

To fully understand the privacy of Facebook and how it’s likely to evolve, you need to understand one thing…Facebook executives want everyone to be public. As the service evolves, executives tend to favor our open access to information, meaning information you think is private will slowly become public, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be private if you want to. Facebook gives its users the option to lock things down, but users need to be aware of their controls, how to use them and how to prepare for future Facebook privacy changes. Facebook has not and will not make information obvious, and that’s where my special offer comes in. Go to JimStroud.com/free and download “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” That’s JimStroud.com/free to download your free copy of “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” One last time, download it now at JimStroud.com/free Operators are standing by.

For Alexa and Google Home to work, they have to listen out for specific “wake words.” In the case of Google Home, its “OK Google” and for Alexa, its “Alexa.” So, of course, they have to listen constantly in order to be of service. As far as all those recorded messages that Alexa tracks, Amazon uses it to educate its artificial intelligence systems so that they will better understand us humans when we make our requests. Google does the same thing with Google Home. If you are uncomfortable with listening devices perpetually recording your daily life, you will be very disturbed by what I am about to share with you now.

Google has recently filed two patents that will make it extremely easy for them to eavesdrop on your home activity, surveil your way of life and generate a TON of money by selling that data to third-parties. How? Well, let’s explore the possibilities with patent #1 entitled – “Privacy-aware personalized content for the smart home”

Imagine this, a Google device scans and analyzes the objects in your home and then offers you content based on what it finds. For example, a smart camera could recognize Will Smith’s face on a T-shirt on the floor of your closet. It then looks at your browser history and detects that you follow Will Smith’s YouTube channel and watched some of his videos recently. After analyzing all that, the system would say to you, “Hey, you seem to life Will Smith. His new movie is playing in a theater near you. Would you like the show times?”

Now, let’s look even deeper into this patent. Using object recognition, Google could calculate your “fashion taste” by scanning your clothing, and even estimate your income based on any “expensive mechanical and/or electronic devices” it detects. Once it gets used to voices typically in your home, it could determine the genders and age of the people who live with you. From all that data, the Google device could recommend what to watch on TV, what movies to see and where to shop, not only for you but for every person who lives in your house. Wow. How about that?

Let’s switch gears a bit and look now at patent #2, which has a long, but ominous title to it, “Smart Home Automation System that suggests or automatically implements selected household policies based on sensed observations.”

The second patent proposes a smart-home system that will help raise your kids for you (and I’m only slightly exaggerating). Parents could program a device to note if it overhears “foul language” from children, scan internet usage for mature or objectionable content, or use “occupancy sensors” to determine if certain areas of the house are accessed while they’re gone— for example, the liquor cabinet. The system could be set to “change a smart lighting system color to red and flash the lights” as a warning to children or even power off lights and devices if the children are grounded.

Language from both patents reveals just how intuitive these smart devices are, as they listen to the noises you make as you move around your house. For example, Google’s smart-home system can figure out “if a household member is working” from the sound of a keyboard clicking, a desk chair moving, and papers shuffling in the room. Google can also figure out the mood you’re in based on the sound of your voice. It can tell when you’re in the kitchen based on the sound of the refrigerator door opening. It can even estimate your dental hygiene based on “the sounds and/or images of teeth brushing.” Wow. Again, I say, wow.

Alexa, Google Home and Facebook’s new “Portal” device (which is a video phone that follows you around the room) all those things are great and a convenience for what they do; but, is the convenience of these devices worth what we are losing in terms of privacy? It seems like every other day I hear how hackers have stolen data from millions of users. It makes me wonder how much, if at all, I can trust big tech companies to keep my information private. If my web data is not secure, why would I want to make even more intimate data accessible via smart devices like Alexa or these new patented inventions that Google just filed? And, I know I’m not the only one to feel this way which is why, I’m going to make a prediction. In 2019, people will begin choosing privacy over convenience by choosing to buy gadgets that do not connect to the internet; which is not much of a prediction because its already happening in the mobile phone market.

In August 2018, it was reported by Daily Mail that while global sales of smartphones increased by just 2 percent however, sales of ‘dumb phones’ rose by 5 percent. Dumb phones are just what you expect them to be, devices that can only send and receive phonecalls (and in some cases, send and receive text messages). You can buy one for $20, which is what the Alcatel 10.66G retails for or you can go high-end and spend $400 for a Light Phone 2.

In the age of big tech, privacy is dead. I think we forget that because we are so addicted to technology. I think I’m going to remind us every now and then with special podcast episodes like this one. Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

Santa Claus & The Free Gift of Universal Basic Income

#9 | The Christmas season is upon us which means, among other things, Santa Claus will be delivering toys and gifts to all the good little boys and girls around the world. Free gifts are one of the reasons why Christmas is so deeply appreciated by the masses. Can you imagine if Christmas was more than once a year? What if it once a month and all year round people were receiving free gifts in the mail; specifically, a check for $500. Sound nice? Well, its about to happen in Stockton, CA. The free gift is called “Universal Basic Income” and I think it’s a bad idea. Tune into my podcast to find out why.  Please support my Starbucks habit (and support this podcast) by dropping a tip in my virtual jar. Thank you in advance.


Click here to listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm

Links related to this podcast:

Special thanks to our sponsor:

About the podcast:

The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

The Christmas season is upon us which means, among other things, Santa Claus will be delivering toys and gifts to all the good little boys and girls around the world. Free gifts are one of the reasons why Christmas is so deeply appreciated by the masses. Can you imagine if Christmas was more than once a year? What if it once a month and all year round people were receiving free gifts in the mail; specifically, a check for $500. Sound nice? Well, its about to happen in Stockton, CA. The free gift is called “Universal Basic Income” and I think it’s a bad idea. I’ll tell you why after this…

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a prime time for cybercrime. While you chase the best deals, hackers and criminals chase you with phishing campaigns, malware attacks, scammy banners, or fake e-commerce sites. Cybersecurity may seem very complex, but NordVPN makes it as easy as it gets. NordVPN’s cutting-edge technologies shield your Internet activity from hackers and malware, protect you on public Wi-Fi networks, and even block annoying ads. Go to JimStroud.com/secure to get NordVPN at 75% off. This is a limited time offer for listeners of The Jim Stroud podcast so, act NOW! Again, go to JimStroud.com/secure to get NordVPN and secure your online shopping and internet browsing today.

Universal Basic Income is loosely defined as free money from the government without having to meet any requirements. The intent of Universal Basic Income is to help people on the verge of poverty or, to help people who are already in poverty, to get by. Its not a new idea. The concept was first explored in the 15th century by the author Thomas Moore, who after witnessing how capital punishment failed to keep people from stealing, said in his book – Utopia, the following…

“…Instead of inflicting these horrible punishments, it would be far more to the point to provide everyone with some means of livelihood, so that nobody’s under the frightful necessity of becoming, first a thief, and then a corpse.”

Universal Basic Income has been in and out of vogue ever since. In fact, in 1969, President Nixon lobbied for a type of Universal Basic Income when he pushed the “Family Assistance Plan” which eventually died in the Senate. Now, I’m not sure, but I think President Nixon’s inspiration came from another public figure – the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have the utmost respect for the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and have a deep appreciation for his life’s work. However, on this issue, I must disagree with him. Universal Basic Income has actually been tried in Finland and it failed. Let me share with you some quotes from the Business Insider article – “Finland is killing its world-famous basic income experiment.”

Since the beginning of last year, 2000 Finns are getting money from the government each month – and they are not expected to do anything in return. The participants, aged 25–58, are all unemployed, and were selected at random by Kela, Finland’s social-security institution. Instead of unemployment benefits, the participants now receive €560, or $690, per month, tax free. Should they find a job during the two-year trial, they still get to keep the money. While the project is praised internationally for being at the cutting edge of social welfare, back in Finland, decision makers are quietly pulling the brakes, making a U-turn that is taking the project in a whole new direction.

The Universal Basic Income experiment in Finland began in 2017, ended in 2018 with results to be published in 2019. So, what spurred on this experiment in the first place? Here’s another quote from the same Business Insider article.

“The existing unemployment benefits were so high, the Finnish government argued, and the system so rigid, an unemployed person might choose not to take a job as they would risk losing money by doing so – the higher your earnings, the lower your social benefits. The basic income was meant as an incentive for people to start working.

But in December last year, the Finnish parliament passed a bill that is taking the country’s welfare system in quite the opposite direction. The new ’activation model’ law requires jobseekers to work a minimum of 18 hours for three months – if you don’t manage to find such a job, you lose some of your benefits.

The reason for the turnaround in Finland is simple, the working population of Finland did not like the idea of giving away tax money to people capable of working, without requiring people to earn it. The news of the failed experiment did not reach Stockton, CA obviously. Nor was it brought to the attention of US Senator Kamala Harris or US Senator Cory Booker, who are now considering programs along the lines of universal basic income. That being said, and just to be fair, allow me to share with you some arguments people have made over the years for, and against, universal basic income. First, some of the pros…

• Universal Basic Income would be a security net for the millions of people who will be left jobless by the tech revolution. Research shows that the longer you are unemployed, the longer it takes to find employment. If the jobless had a small source of income to help them back on their feet, they could find new jobs and start contributing to the economy sooner.

• There are lots and lots and lots of government organisations responsible for helping those in poverty, handing out unemployment benefits, food stamps, subsidised housing, etc. Universal Basic Income would replace all of those programs and thus, significantly cut a country’s spending.

• Universal Basic Income would discourage low wages by giving employees bargaining power. After all, why work for $7.25 an hour when you have a guaranteed monthly income paying so much more?”

• Universal Basic Income would end extreme financial poverty and enable people to stay in school longer and participate in training to improve skills or learn a trade.

Considering those reasons, it would seem that universal basic income is the way to go. If you think that, take a moment to ponder the arguments against. Here are just a few…

• A universal basic income program would likely come from programs that already fight poverty like food stamps and child assistance programs. So, in effect, UBI would be taking money from the poorest people and spreading it to all citizens (even those who don’t need it). Wouldn’t that increase poverty and inequality rather than reduce them?”

• Giving people a guarantee of money, each month will not incentivize them to work or necessarily improve their lives for the long-term. President Barack Obama addressed this issue in a 2011 Townhall address. He said,   “I think we should acknowledge that some welfare programs in the past were not well designed and in some cases did encourage dependency.… As somebody who worked in low-income neighborhoods, I’ve seen it where people weren’t encouraged to work, weren’t encouraged to upgrade their skills, were just getting a check, and over time their motivation started to diminish. And I think even if you’re progressive you’ve got to acknowledge that some of these things have not been well designed.”  

• In 2016, Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to introduce a guaranteed basic income for all. The reasons why they rejected it? Well, according to BBC News – “Critics of the measure said that disconnecting the link between work done and money earned would have been bad for society.” (For the record, I agree with that.) They also said, if you give away free Swiss money to everybody, you would have billions of people trying to move into Switzerland.” The general thought they had was, free money would make people lazy, devalue work and (most importantly) where would all this free money come from? Eventually, it would run out and people would no doubt rebel. That is, unless, Santa Claus is real. And if Santa Claus is indeed real, then, universal basic income is a great idea.

Of course, this is just one man’s opinion. I want to hear yours. Feel free to email me, my email address is… {protected]. I will read your comments over the holidays and get back to you with my response on January 6, 2019 when I return with a new podcast episode. Be sure to subscribe to my blog – JimStroud.com and do that now, so you don’t miss out on all the cool stuff being planned for 2019. Cool? Cool. So, okay, until next time, Merry Christmas! And a Happy New year.