Facebook Is Not Your Friend

15 | 2018 was a banner year for data breaches and 2019 is already off to a great start. At the center of privacy scandals last year, was Facebook. It seemed like every other week there was a hacking issue or ethical misconduct around their user data. So, does this mean that Facebook usage is on the decline? In a word, no. Despite all the data drama, Facebook is doing all right. So, what does it all mean for user privacy on Facebook and other tech companies with millions of users? I discuss that and something far more concerning than hackers stealing your data, predictive analytics. Tune in to find out what I mean. | 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.


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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.

Well, we are in the 2nd month of 2019 and already there have been a number of data breeches. Among them, a security flaw in the online video game – Fortnite, made its 200 million users worldwide vulnerable to such hacks as taking over a gamer’s account, purchasing game currency in the user’s name and eavesdropping on game chatter. If you do an online search for “data breaches in 2018,” no doubt you would discover a seemingly endless list of search results where users’ privacy and data had been hacked or exploited in some way. So, what does that mean for the bottom line of tech companies, especially those with millions and millions and millions of active users – like Facebook? Surprisingly, nothing much. I’ll explain 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.

In 2018, Facebook was the poster child for data breeches. It seemed like there was a data breech or privacy related scandal every week. Here are just a few of them, in no particular order.

  • Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, brought to light that Facebook advertising was used in Russian schemes; albeit to minimal effect on the election, some would say. Said Facebook ads violated the prohibition on foreign spending, as well as requirements mandating the disclosure of campaign spending. End result, 13 Russian indictments. Scandalous!
  • Facebook partnered with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung and gave them access to the friend’s of Facebook users without their explicit consent; even after Facebook had promised to stop. Scandalous!
  • A serious security flaw gave hackers access to 50 million Facebook accounts, allowing them to control those accounts. Uh oh! Here’s another whoops…
  • It was reported that third party developers were able to see the photos of 6.8 million Facebook users; even if those photos were marked private and not intended for public view. Yikes! And finally…
  • Internal documents, discovered by the NY Times, revealed that Facebook gave Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify and others far greater access to people’s data than it had publicly disclosed; effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules.

So, with all of that drama, and even more drama I did not mention (for the sake of time), you would think that Facebook was on the decline. But, not so. Facebook is doing alright. Here’s a quote from a recent CNBC article.

This week, Facebook pleased investors by reporting a strong quarter of earnings led by impressive statistics on user activity for the fourth quarter of 2018.

In light of the social network’s recent controversies, there were a few surprises in the figures: The number of monthly Facebook users was steady in the U.S., with spikes in the Asia-Pacific region. Perhaps most surprisingly, they also rose in the European Union — where the company has endured the brunt of criticism over privacy related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and uncertainty over General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.

Facebook’s success in courting users so quickly could have far-reaching impact, as other tech companies seek to understand the true consumer appetite for personal privacy.

I have to admit. I was surprised and concerned. I know people like free. I can hear them say, “Free, free, free, is good to me.” Even if it means that there is a chance, a very good chance, that your information will be hacked, already has been hacked and/or will be used to some nefarious end. So, what’s the solution? Delete Facebook? Delete Instagram? Stop using WhatsApp? Hah! No, you’re not going to do that. You might consider using false personal information on social media. I mean, what will happen to you if you if you shave 5 years off your birthdate or mention that you live in a different zip code of your city? Probably nothing, but the reality of it all is, 15 minutes from now it won’t matter. Why? Two words. Predictive analytics. I’ll explain.

NBC News shed light on something recently that I think is a thousand times more alarming than a hacker stealing your data. As of now, Facebook doesn’t need your personal information to determine exactly who you are or what you’ll do next. Every time you watch a video, like something, leave a comment, interact with a webpage that has a Facebook like button or, engage with an app that is in partnership with Facebook, Facebook is building a profile of you; but it doesn’t stop there. Facebook looks at the behavior of other users who are similar to you in terms of online behavior, demographics and merges your data with the collected data of others who act like you online. With that information they build a virtual version of you, then test that virtual version of you in a number of ways. How would this virtual version of you react to this video, react to this article, react to this photograph or, react to this political message?

Now, wrap your mind around this. Facebook’s mastery of data enables it to produce results much more powerful than traditional advertising. Here’ a quote from NBC NEWS…

… Facebook offers the chance to pay not just for a certain audience size, but an actual business outcome, like a sale, an app download, or a newsletter subscription. Once upon a time advertisers paid a “CPM” — cost per thousand views — for a marketing campaign. That was just the chance to get in front of people. Now Facebook offers a rate based on “CPA,” or “cost per action,” a once-unimaginable metric offered because the company is so confident in its understanding of people and their preferences that Facebook can essentially guarantee a certain number of people will do certain things.

Remember when I told you how Facebook takes your data, combines it with other people’s data in order to build a virtual version of you? Well, Aza Raskin, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology was interviewed in that same NBC News article I quoted earlier and in regard to the virtual version of you I was describing, he said this…

With 2.3 billion users, “Facebook has one of these models for one out of every four humans on earth. Every country, culture, behavior type, socio-economic background,” said Raskin. With those models, and endless simulations, the company can predict your interests and intentions before you even know them.

So, its that creepy? Does it feel weird to know that Facebook can reliably predict your reaction to an advertisement based on your past online actions and the collected data of users like you? Is this enough to make you want to get off Facebook? For some of you, yes. But for the majority, no. And that makes me very afraid for the future.

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…

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Discussing Trump in the Workplace

#13 | What happens when politics is discussed in the workplace? A recent survey says that American workers are stressed out by any and all chatter about Donald Trump and politics in general. Despite that fact, with another presidential election on the horizon, there is no sign of that trend changing. So, what are you as a worker to do? Moreover, what can managers do (if anything) to curtail political discussions that can divide an office, much like the USA is these days? Tune in to hear my thoughts and strategies for how workers and managers can navigate these interesting times today and in the future.  | 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

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 2017 Recruiter Nation Report produced by Jobvite, a recruiting software company, breaks down recruiters’ attitudes, behaviors, fears, strategies, and predictions for how to build the best companies possible — good people, good practices, and good culture. Among the survey findings was something I found a bit… startling. When recruiters are researching candidates for opportunities, 51% of the 831 US recruiters surveyed, saw political rants on a candidate’s social media as a red flag.

Should someone’s political affiliation be a matter of concern when recruiting talent? Apparently, many US recruiters think so today and with another presidential election on the horizon, I see it as a future issue as well. What happens when Trump is discussed in your office? I’ll be talking about that after this special message.

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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.

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I was so surprised to discover that so many recruiters red flag candidates based on their political views that I did my own, very unscientific poll on Twitter. The question was this, “RECRUITERS, have you ever turned down a candidate based on political beliefs you found on social media?” 21 Recruiters responded and 29% of them said yes which I thought was pretty high for such a low number of respondents. I also solicited comments from my network of recruiters and many responded openly, others privately, and this is what some of them had to say.

• One person said, “I interpret political interests much differently than political rants. I think often times people who cross boundaries of what is considered “socially acceptable” social media behavior can be viewed as a liability to corporations. Rants are usually emotionally triggered too”

• Someone else said, “This is a great illustration of why “cultural fit” should never be in a job description or ad. With all this trying to be politically correct, all the time, otherwise great candidates go unhired. On the other end of that spectrum, the calls for NOT being politically correct yields the same results. What ever happened to just focusing on human decency and skills? Social media has messed up the hiring process. It’s being abused by everyone. I believe everyone has a right to their own opinions. As long as a person isn’t putting someone else in jeopardy or harms way, let them have their views. As long as the work can get done in a manner of excellence, I don’t care what their views are. Work is for work anyway, not a place to argue politics, religion, etc.”

• And another opinion, “I guess the question Jim Stroud is would you hire someone you knew was a white supremacist [but] otherwise well qualified? I’m struggling with recruiters who regularly post something homophobic or anti Muslim. Would I hire them? Probably not”

Another reason why all this talk of politics in the workplace is of interest to me is because of the small talk I make with the business executives I meet at meeting and conferences; once they realize I can keep a secret. In one such instance, I am sitting with someone in a cafe and breaking away from business chatter to regard breaking news. On a television, a reporter is detailing news of a political protest on a college campus that has turned violent. We could not hear the reporter but, the headline on the screen told us enough for my client to comment. For whatever reason, one student attacked another for wearing a Make America Great Again hat.

“What happens if I hire one of those students?” the client asked me. “And what if one of my customers is a Trump supporter who likes to wear a MAGA hat or button? Do I have to worry about someone suing my business because one of my workers cannot control themselves? What if they are not violent but, decide to engage in political debate and offend my customer, as a result, I lose business and now I have to lay people off?”

Although I did my best to comfort him and dissuade his fears, I had to admit that his concerns were totally valid. In October of last year, Bloomberg reported a significant drop in restaurant receipts, the most since 2016. Some analysts put the blame on hurricanes that happened near that time whereas others pointed the finger at politics. If you do a search on “refused service due to maga hat,” you will find a LOT (and I do mean a lot) of search results. Here are just a few…

Three Black GOP Interns: Uber Denied Us a Ride Because of Our Trump Support
Watch: Unhinged Leftist Has Mental Breakdown, Refuses Service To Trump Supporter in Vape Shop
Woman Says Restaurant Threw Her Out Over Trump Hat
A Canadian Restaurant Refused to Serve a Man Wearing a MAGA Hat and Now Its Yelp Score is Ruined
Restaurant manager fired for refusing service to man in MAGA hat
Man Sues Bar for Refusing Service Over Trump Hat
‘Latina For Trump’ Kicked Out of Arizona Bar For Wearing Red “MAGA” Hat (VIDEO)

So, what do you do if you are a manager dealing with political discussions in your office? What do you do if you are a worker and maybe, just maybe, you came to work – to work and not deal with political discussions. Well, either way, I have a few suggestions.

Okay, managers, as much as you may want to ban all political discussion in the workplace, you cannot. My understanding is employees have the right to engage in political discussions because the National Labor Relations Board classifies such discussion as a “protected concerted activity.” However, you can intervene when discussions become disrespectful or distracting because such could be construed as a hostile work environment. And nobody wants that. Managers can also step in if those political discussions are impeding productivity; so, there’s that. Discussing politics during lunch breaks, sorry managers, your hands are tied; grin and bear it. All that being said, I am not an expert on employment law in your state (or any other state for that matter). So, my suggestions should not be regarded as legal advice. Just sayin’…

And for the workers, 3 things to think about.

Point #1: Don’t discuss politics in the office. Why? Think of your political views the same way you regard your sex life— its a personal matter, not a professional one. In a perfect world, your co-workers may know that you vote but they don’t know how you vote.
Point #2: Don’t discuss politics in the office. Why? It creates bias. You might start to make assumptions and harbor resentment towards your co-workers once you learn their political leanings, and this could lead to a less-than-harmonious working relationship that stifles productivity because you don’t want to be around them anymore. .
Point #3: Don’t discuss politics in the office. Why? It makes workers feel isolated or it could make them feel bullied. Being the only Republican, being the only Democrats, being the only Libertarian or Green Party supporter need not be awkward; just so long as you veer away from political discussions. In some cases, political discussions intersect with social issues and as such, voicing a strong opinion on such things as same-sex marriage which could lead to some employees feeling discriminated against. Make sense?

And one final word to all the Republicans, Democrats, Democratic Socialists, Libertarians, Green Party Supporters, Liberals, Conservatives, far left radicals, far right radicals and anyone else I may have missed who are working in your office and mine, buckle up, the 2020 Presidential election is coming soon. God help us all.

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…

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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…

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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.


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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.

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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…

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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.