A Bold Experiment is "Finnished"

Half of all jobs created in Europe between 2010 and 2016 came from temporary work contracts. If the so-called gig economy is here to stay, citizens will need a new kind of social safety net.


Problem: Some without jobs won’t accept part-time work because they must surrender state benefits to accept small salaries without pensions or health insurance. Instead, they have a clear incentive to remain unemployed.

A Solution?: What if the state provided this person with a small guaranteed income, a check that keeps coming even if he/she takes a job? This person can then afford to take part-time work, contribute to society, generate growth, pay taxes, and provide more for themselves and their families. In theory, government spending is offset by cuts to staff who are no longer needed to track benefits eligibility under the more complicated current welfare system.

The bad news: In January 2017, Finland launched a two-year experiment that sends monthly tax-free payments of €560 (about $685) to 2,000 unemployed citizens chosen at random. Full results won’t be announced until late next year, but the Finnish government has already decided not to extend the program beyond 2018. A study published earlier this year by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that Finland would have to raise income taxes by 30 percent to fund this program permanently and that the plan would increase wealth inequality.

The bottom line: That’s bad news for this project, but the gig economy-social safety net problem remains, and other governments can learn from this failure to develop better ideas.

In 2012, the United States created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect these young people from being deported. Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known. More than five dozen of these DACA recipients at risk are Microsoft employees. These young people contribute to the company and serve its customers. They help create products, secure services, and manage finances. And like so many young people across our nation, they dream of making an honest living and a real difference in the communities in which they reside. Yet they now live in uncertainty.

Microsoft has told its Dreamers that it will stand up for them along with all the nation's DACA recipients. It will represent them in court and litigate on their behalf. That's why Microsoft joined Princeton University and Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez to file one of the three cases challenging the DACA rescission that was heard on Nov. 12 by the United States Supreme Court.

Read more on Microsoft On The Issues.

What do people think is driving the stock market's recent record high gains?


Well, there's really no precise answer, but analysts point to several factors. So, number one is strong third quarter earnings. Companies have reported stronger than expected results so far this season. The second is the jobs market. You saw the October jobs numbers exceed economists' expectations. And the third is the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates three times this year. That lowers borrowing costs for consumers and businesses and encourages them to spend more.

More Show less

In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, Israel launched a precision attack in the Gaza Strip, targeting and killing a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander. In response, the terror group fired more than 220 rockets at southern Israel. Exchanges of fire have brought cities on both sides of the Gaza border to a standstill and at least 19 Palestinians are dead and dozens of Israelis wounded. With this latest escalation, Israel now faces national security crises on multiple fronts. Here's what's going on:

More Show less