Maybe you have already “met” Lucie, the French pharmacy student and winner of our first UBI4ALL, in our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram). We will accompany her during her one year with UBI and see how and if a guaranteed financial basis will influence her life, namely her career and personal situation. And we will keep you updated on her story.
One thing we already learned is, that getting a UBI does not only impact the winner itself, but also on the people around her. Take Lucie’s parents example: when they heard she had won the 800 euro UBI for one year, they were suspicious, they thought it was a hoax! They could not believe that there is an organisation that is giving away money for “nothing”. Only when her daughter showed them the live-recording of the event, in which Lucie spontaneously appeared after having been informed to be the winner, did they believe this could be true!
Another learning is, that people think thoroughly about how to spend the extra money. In one of our first interviews Lucie was wondering if she should start piano lessons. This would mean she could fulfil one of her childhood dreams, but now a few weeks later and in view of starting her career after successfully having achieved her university degree, her plans on using the money sound more pragmatic.
This is on one hand because Lucie, who grew up in Toulouse, is now living near Paris due to her university career where rents are incredibly high. When she started her studies, she was living in a 10 sqm souterrain appartement consisting of one room only, where she could just see the feet of the people walking by through her only window. For this “appartement” she had to pay nearly 600 Euros per month!
So here is the learning: a guaranteed income is not solely a possibility to fulfil dreams or personal whims. It’s usually first and foremost a safety net for our daily lives. Particularly in France, for Lucie, 800 Euros are not a ticket towards an idle life.
Would we talk to a winner in Romania, Latvia or Portugal, this aspect might be different. The realities in Europe are different, and hence our UBI of 800 Euros will also change lives differently according to the residency of those who receive it. But by now we are talking to Lucie in France. So let’s see how she is doing in her second month with UBI. What does this mean for her in various perspectives?
Lucie, how did you experience your first weeks with UBI?
Lucie: As I am currently working it did not really change my life for the moment. Of course it was very nice to see 800 Euros more on my account, but I am saving the 2-3 first months, because my working contract will be ending in September. At this moment then it will influence my life a little, because I will have a drop in income. This UBI is really welcome to help me taking the time to find a job I really like, because I expect this to take a few months. I am currently living in a very expensive area of France, so it will really help me to take out some pressure and focus more on finding a job I really like.
If you did not have the UBI, why would it be the case that you feel so much pressure and anxiety for finding a job?
Lucie: It is a very competitive market and also time. A lot of young people are coming into the job market and currently, because of the health crisis, there a not many jobs available, so the competition is really fierce among the young. As I am the only financial provider to my household (my partner is still studying) I would have been inclined to accept the first job that I would have got. But now that I feel the security of the UBI, I am more comfortable to find a job I really like.
How did you get to know UBI4ALL?
Lucie: I tried to research how I came across your project, checked my mails and messengers. I really could not find out exactly how I got to know UBI4ALL. I think it was because I participated in online petitions and the platform proposed me a list of other projects. Among those must have been the link to your project.
Roswitha: Have you signed the petition for ECI for UBI in Europe? Maybe that was the way to UBI4ALL.
Lucie: Yes, I did sign it. I think this was the case.
Catarina: That’s interesting and good to hear since UBI4ALL was created for people to know not only our project but learn to know the ECI and go and sign the European Citizens’ Initiative for unconditional basic income. It’s kind of interesting to see that the other way round is also happening. So people are engaging in the ECI and are thinking, “Let’s go and check out this other project!”. Cool!
Lucie: Yes, I saw UBI4ALL on the list of the proposals for further projects and of course got interested and signed up.
For UBI as a policy, were you always a supporter of UBI? Did you have doubts if it might work?
Lucie: I came across this idea a few years ago, I don’t remember exactly when. As one of the goals of UBI is to ensure that everyone has enough money for his living of course I am in favour of this program. Also because I think it could help people so much. For example it could give poor workers a supplement to their income. Also in case of part time jobs.
We don’t talk a lot about the students’ situation, but it really could help students, because they would not need to work besides their studies. Today working as a student is a factor of university failure. This could really help this group of people to finance their lives and to concentrate on their studies.
Another goal of the UBI is to replace other social programs that potentially require greater bureaucratic involvement. It would be a helpful replacement of all the different programs that already exist in some countries. Talking about France, we have a lot of small programs, but sometimes it is really difficult to get them because there can be a large delay in the procedure. The bureaucracy is really tedious. It is difficult to even know about all the programs you can apply to. UBI is just one thing so it could simplify the bureaucracy and the aid.
Yes, it will be expensive to implement, but I think it is possible. We could find the money. We could tax bigger corporations for example. In the news I heard talks about taxing more the GAFAs, like Google, Amazon, etc. Many people are afraid that it would be too expensive, but if we cut the other aid programs and just implement UBI it could be feasible.
Roswitha: But we cannot cut all of the social aids. Some need to stay in place, for example for people with special needs.
Lucie: Of course, for me being a French citizen, the health aids are something different. Maybe in other countries it is not so evident to distinguish between social and health insurance.
Catarina: Nevertheless, your point on more than simply saying we have a lot of programs, it is very bureaucratic, we should cut them and replace them. I think your point of saying: no, the problem is that we have a lot of programs, but people cannot get them easily or they don’t even know to which ones they can apply. Because the information is gigantic. I think that’s the next side of thinking about UBI as a simpler policy not because it is cheaper, it probably won’t be, because other programs still need to exist, as you were saying, but it will be simpler for people to really enjoy it. Especially for those who need it, poor people or working poor or in between jobs or with big families. I think that’s a great point, thank you for sharing these thoughts.
Lucie: UBI is not just giving away money by giving some to the people. They will make something with it, it will go back into the economy. At the end it will be a positive dynamic. The receivers will not hold all that money, stock it under their mattresses and do nothing with it. They will use it to maybe develop their own company, to buy things they need. Maybe an environment-friendly car, because when you don’t live in a big city you need to move, especially when there is not infrastructure. At the end it will be profitable for everyone.
Do you think that UBI will have an impact on women and gender equality?
Lucie: I know that women are more at risk to have low income jobs and part time jobs. It could really help them to struggle less. It could really help single moms - and dads - to take more time for the family instead of taking two jobs. I think it could help.
What would you say if someone would not agree with UBI?
Lucie: That’s funny, actually I had this conversation with a friend of mine, who is not in favour of UBI. She is afraid of the costs and she thinks it won’t motivate people to find a job. So I talked with her. Sure it would be expensive to put it in place. I am not an economist, but I think we can find ways to finance it by, as I already said, taxing the big corporations or the top 1% of rich or giving less tax money to the military, for example. For me its not really a problem, because it will keep the economy going and so refinance itself. I don’t think it will have the results on the population as she believes. She says, receivers won’t find a job, they will just stay at home and do nothing. I think that most of the people will do something with their lives. We do not want to do nothing all. We want to create stuff, we have projects. On the contrary, it will hep people to find projects and take more risks to create something. Maybe some go back to school to earn a degree, stuff like that. I understand her fears, but at least we could give it a try.
I asked my friend, “If you have 800 € more per month as me, what would you do? Would you quit your job and do nothing, playing video games all week?” She told me, no, she would continue to enjoy working and doing something with her life.
Catarina: That is a good point, ask people what they would do.
Lucie: Nobody is answering that they would do nothing. There is working and working, for example taking care for your family: every parent would say this is a lot of work, but it is unpaid. Maybe people would take more time to work for example in arts, but not on paid jobs.
Catarina: We lost faith in humanity. We are always talking about others: those who are drug addicts, in beneficial programs, poor or vulnerable people, ethnic minorities, mothers with many children; those won’t work. It’s very easy to talk in stereotypes and throw them into one basket, this is not empirically based. The empirical cases we all have, friends, family, neighbours, we trust in them to be honest and straight forward people and vouch for them that they would continue working. We really lost faith in others and we have to restore it. Maybe UBI can help.
Roswitha: It would be interesting to see if your friend has changed her mind on UBI after your year living with it.
Lucie: Yes, I will talk a lot about UBI with her. It is nice to have discussions with my friend, even though politically we are completely opposite. We can exchange arguments, which is always very interesting, because we are both open minded. We don’t just yell at each other. Maybe she will not change view, but she will hear me.
So, for Lucie the UBI has taken some burden off her shoulders. It helps her household, she can focus on starting her career and it raises interesting questions and discussions about society and co-existence.
Let’s see how things develop for her in the upcoming months. Keep tracked!
Have a good and inspiring time, Lucie! Thanks for the interview and see you soon!
Lucie was interviewed by Catarina Neves and Roswitha Minardi.
Save the date: on September 20th the 2nd UBI4ALL raffle will take place online. Join us and know immediately who will be the next lucky winner. Maybe it will be you?
PS: In case you are from the media and are interested in Lucies story, please contact us.