Author: Anne van Dalen
Anne van Dalen was the first woman in the Netherlands to receive a basic income, (Universal Basic Income or UBI) as part of ground-breaking crowdfunded social experiment. Here she describes how it works and the impact it had on her life.
It all started in 2014 after donating €5 to a crowdfunding initiative called OnsBasisinkomen.nl (transl. our basic income) which aims to raise funds to provide someone a basic income in order to gain insight in what it means to actually live on UBI. It turned out to be feasable and the first ever experimental guinea pig, Frans Kerver, kicked it off in July 2015. The moment the call for a second UBI sounded I again donated €5 and in addition I put my name down as a possible recipient not thinking I’d ever be so lucky.
I was all but surviving in a dried-up relationship in a menial part-time job in a rented flat in a social housing estate plagued by noisy anti-social neighbours. Life at 53 was stiflingly average, depressingly boring and at the same time indisputably stressful. When on Monday the 25th of April 2016 I opened a message in my mailbox reading “Hello Anne, you are the lucky recipient of the 2nd UBI. Should you choose to accept you shall receive an unconditional €1000 a month for 12 months".
I jumped at the chance! I immediately ditched the part-time job, the partner and the flat. I am now working as an autonomous artist, occupying a classroom in a former primary school (EDM) which serves both as my art studio and living quarters. I couldn’t be happier.
Having basic needs taken care of makes all the difference in the world. Living on €1,000 a month covers the rent, fixed costs, food, art supplies and not much else. It suits me just fine. As for my work as an artist, UBI allows me to focus on the actual producing of art. Not having to consider saleability, not having to waste creative energy has freed me up no end. UBI allows me to create without limitations. Not having to occupy myself with money-matters is a huge relief. Having (enough) money does not by itself create happiness but the opposite, not having enough money, does result in anxiety and feelings of depression. I have now regained a great deal of independence. It’s huge!
The majority of response has been positive. On discussing UBI’s merit or detriment some people focus on economic issues like government expenditure, taxation, costs vs profit. Others ask themselves who’s going to want to do the dirty jobs, won’t the world grind to a halt? Some resort to personal attacks telling me “You’re nothing but a scrounger. I’m not paying taxes for you to sit on your arse all day. Get a fucking job”. Such comments signal fear of change and lack of factual information. Misgivings prevent people from considering the idea of UBI let alone embracing it. Whenever I am given the chance to sit people down, talk to them face to face and explain UBI’s tenets these objections tend to vanish.
Basic income confronts us with the ridiculousness of the current system of job-slavery, any system that ties existence and self-worth to having a job is nothing but silly. Everybody knows it, but admitting it equals calling yourself an idiot. This is one of many reasons why this UBI experiment by OnsBasisinkomen.nl is valuable. It needs real people to experience day-to-day living on a basic income to grasp the extent in which the current system has taken hold. To those who have convinced themselves being a wage slave is the only way of life, I say: you’ve no idea. Honestly, you’ve no idea. In experiencing the difference lies the change. That is why I would like every single person on the planet to be given the opportunity to live it. To coin a shitty phrase: “because we’re worth it”.
Basic income has greatly improved my life. It empowers me as a woman, as an artist and as a human being.
Therefore I say: “Go for it!”
This article was first published on Citizen's Basic Income Network Scotland's website.
The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform,
Basic Income Changed My Life © Anne van Dalen 2017.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.