Another conversation was with a waitress, 34 years old, who lives with her 11-year-old son in a small 42 sqm flat.
When she first heard about basic income, specifically unconditional basic income, she was immediately enthusiastic about it without thinking about it for long.
Now the following question arises for me:
“Could this initial enthusiasm be due to the fact that she herself has only a very small salary, or are there other reasons for this?”
During the conversation I learned that it had taken her a long time to get away from her boyfriend and the father of her son, as her financial dependence on the child’s father was very high.
I also learned that she had heard about basic income several times and that she quickly realised that everyone would then be financially independent, which would be very desirable based on her own experience.
In this context, I think that for many people who find themselves in a similar situation, an unconditional basic income would be enormously important here. They would be able to make the right decisions at the right time and would therefore not get into certain situations at all if a basic income had already been available.
I also learned how difficult it is for the single waitress to meet her fixed costs and to have enough time for her son. In order to cover her living costs, she also cleans the houses of two elderly people and runs small errands for them in order to make ends meet.
This state of affairs is also due to the fact that the father of the child has not paid any alimony since the separation and thus the existential pressure on the waitress has increased enormously.
People who are exposed to constant existential anxiety hardly find time for themselves and are therefore exposed to a variety of health risks, both psychological and physical.
She regrets very much that every little thing, such as new clothes for her son, pocket money, excursions from school and her own wishes are often no longer financially feasible. So she laments that her only hobby, painting, is no longer possible because she has neither the necessary peace and time nor the financial means to do so.
Despite all the adversities, she is still a fun-loving person and tries to make the best of her life. She sees her son as an important task in life, so that he does not go astray, and devotes all her scarce free time to him.
I was touched by this story and was glad to come across such an interesting person- who, despite his situation, opened up so much and gave me an insight into his current life.
I say thank you for that. But then I wanted to know from her what her life would be like if she received an unconditional basic income according to the international model UBI+.
Her first reaction was a small visible smile and a lot of joy spread across her face. She took a deep breath and started just talking as if she had already thought about it.
She would like to have a slightly larger flat where her son would have his own room. She would still work as a waitress, albeit fewer hours, so that she would still have time for herself.
And yes, she would immediately start painting again with the freedom she had gained, and she would also want to continue her education, since she had dropped out of her architecture studies at the time because of the birth of her son.
Here again we see very well from this statement how much people lack a basic income to actually be able to develop freely.
At this point I am thinking about how many people have had to abandon their studies or other training simply because they were directly or indirectly forced to pursue gainful employment (paid work) because – for whatever reason – this became necessary.
Hardly anyone can imagine how much suffering and unnecessary stress is caused by this who has not gone through the same or similar.
written by Alexander Zirkelbach