Free Lunch Society

Free Lunch Society

Christian Tod  | 
Austria / Germany |
 2017 | 
96 minutes

THIS SCREENING IS PART OF THE JUSTICE FORUM SERIES AND WILL INCLUDE A POST-FILM DISCUSSION.

Imagine receiving a cheque every month that would cover your essential needs. How would you spend your time? What would you do with the extra cash? Unconditional basic income, guaranteed annual income, and negative income tax are just a few of the names for the social security program that has been gaining momentum around the world.

Organized by thematic chapters, Christian Tod’s expansive film is intercut with fascinating interviews, archival footage, and lively pop culture references. Tod travels the globe to talk to social scientists, economists, and even one eccentric billionaire, all of whom are quick to point out the revolutionary potential in separating work from income. The idea of providing people with a guaranteed wage first gained popularity in the 1970s. From Germany to Alaska to Namibia to Canada’s very own Mincome experiment in Dauphin, Manitoba, we meet ordinary people who participated in basic income programs. Their experience and insight is deeply compelling. Touted as a being the only sensible solution to redistributing exceedingly disproportionate and concentrated wealth, basic income has a multitude of additional benefits including addressing increased mechanization, and job loss. People across the political spectrum — from socialists to libertarians, and even free market conservatives — have embraced the idea. But not everyone is a superfan.

While many on the left think it’s a great way to address growing inequality, some labour unions vehemently oppose the idea. Free market economists such as Milton Friedman have endorsed the idea as a means of dismantling the welfare state, even as right-wing factions declare that it would make people lazy. Perhaps it’s this splintering of ideologies that makes the idea of a post-work society so compelling and terrifying. -SC

Justice Forum Panelist

Jessica Barrett

Jessica Barrett is Senior Editor at Vancouver Magazine, where she oversees coverage of city politics, issues, people, and culture. Her work has also appeared across the country in publications such as The National Post, The Vancouver Sun, The Ottawa Citizen, and The Calgary Herald. In 2016 Jessica was awarded the Jack Webster Foundation’s City Mike award for her opinion columns focusing on affordability issues, work, development and generational discord in Vancouver. In 2013-2014 she spent a year researching the way our working world has changed as the Michelle Lang Fellow with Postmedia News, her resulting project, Work in Progress, was a finalist for a National Newspaper Award. Jessica is currently working on a book with economist Jonathan Kassian about our shifting economy. She is continually curious about what makes cities and societies tick and how people interact within them.

Justice Forum Panelist

Seth Klein

Seth is the BC Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a public policy research institute committed to social, economic and environmental justice. He has been a social activist for over 30 years. Under his direction, CCPA-BC has grown to 14 employees, and publishes regular research reports on topics such as poverty and inequality, taxes, climate justice, and health care. Seth served for eight years as co-chair of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, and is on the Advisory Committee of the Metro Vancouver Living Wage for Families campaign. He is a co-founder of Next Up (a leadership training program for young people committed to social and environmental justice).