Interview with Dr. Valerija Korošec, sociologist, researcher and UBI-activist
Slovenia was the first country to arrive at the calculated numbers needed for their part in the European Citizen Initiative for Basic Income in Europe (ECI). This initiative will collect 1 million signatures until September 25th, 2021 to get the European Parliament to discuss the idea of UBI throughout the EU. Within only two months the activists in fb group Universal basic income UBI (Univerzalni temeljni dohodek UTD) managed to get 5.648 (0,3% of the Slovenian population) people to sign for a European UBI. The following country in the ranking is Germany with 32% of the threshold (0,03%).
Just tell a story!
We wanted to know how Valerija and her could reach their goal so quickly. She told us that all activists sent out personal mails or messages to friends, business partners and people they thought might be a potential supporter of the UBI. They talked about the initiative at every possible moment, e.g. with family members and on various occasions.
To her it is crucial that in talks and mails there is a story behind. “Why is UBI important for us?” Her recipe of success is to be clear and simple: “Sign the initiative because we all will benefit from a society with UBI.” Holding in-depth presentations in her opinion is not the key. It only provokes discussions but will not bring people to act.
Another strategy was to address influencers and ideologically similar parties and organisations, as e.g. climate change activists or socially engaged groups. “. Everyone involved was motivated and eager to push the subject. “Our whole team did a fantastic job and so we could multiply our forces and efforts.” The team-spirit and the passion was “infectious” in the most positive way and made others do the same in their networks.
“Just on my personal profile I had 1000 new requests for friendship on facebook in this period”, she Valerija says, “This was a good indicator for the success of our activities.” So being active on social media in the right way also thrives the project. “And I have sent each new friend a link to sign for UBI Another activist wished their friends for the birthday: I wish you UBI and you could sign here…. People were really creative.”
Make a working system better
Slovenia is a country with a functioning social security system, which is similar to other European states like Austria, Germany or Belgium. Valerija’s idea of implementing the UBI is to improve the existing system. “Why should we reinvent everything? Let’s make the existing system more transparent, easier in administration, cheaper in spendings, more reliable and robust!”
She made a research in 2010 which included simulations and feasibility studies and she just recently suggested a group of scientists,50% 50% , to the Slovenian government as an independent expert-group for the implementation of the UBI in Slovenia.
“My strongest personal motivation to fight for UBI is professional freedom. I see myself as a scientist. If I am not allowed to say what the facts are because someone would not like the results my existence might be on stake. And my second strongest motivation is my children. I do not want them to be scared all their life.” Fighting existential fears is one of the most compelling effects of UBI.
Bring Women to fight for UBI!
Valerija wants to stress out the importance of UBI for women even beyond the clear vision that UBI will change their lives significantly. One of the most important extensions of UBI is changing the perception of what is valuable work and what kind of work should be paid. “Women are the most important part of the success of men, but afterwards they are often left out. We get promises with regard to our requests from politicians, but no deliveries. So women must start to fight for themselves. UBI is one way to gender equality.”
Thank you, Valerija, for this valuable insight in your work and your road to success!
So Slovenia was the first country to fulfil the target of signatures needed for the ECI. Which country will be next? If you want yours to be in second place just go ahead and tell the world about ECI and, of course, the raffle!
2020 has been a very busy year for UBI advocates. The topic of the year – Covid19 – fuelled the discussions about UBI. People learned that their self-made prosperity can quickly get under pressure when the environment is changing. Especially in the first half of 2020 many petitions for UBI came up and the press was full of articles, more pro than con. In this period of changes people begin to think of alternatives to our existing system and about the positive effects of UBI. Many activities, projects and discussions were started.