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Free Lunch Society is a documentary about basic income and explores background information about this idea, searching for explanations, possibilities and experiences regarding its implementation.

If you want to give the idea of a universal basic income the serious, grounded treatment it deserves, bookending a documentary about it with Star Trek clips probably isn't the way to go. Sure, Captain Picard thinks giving everyone money without having to work for it is a good idea, but should we?

Austrian director Christian Tod, an economist as well as a filmmaker, is clearly in favour of the idea and weights his documentary appropriately. He shrugs off the objection that no one would work and never explains where the money to pay everyone would come from exactly. Interviews with economists, sociologists and political scientists provide a Coles Notes overview of the issue – the middle class is shrinking, robots are taking all the jobs anyway, people will finally be free to pursue their interests – in an often scattershot way.

But Tod does look at some interesting previous experiments with providing everyone an income free from their labour, including one in Manitoba. A universal basic income may not be science fiction, but this movie will still leave you very skeptical.

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Free Lunch Society opens Jan. 26 in Toronto

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