An unconditional base income

A citizens initiative has been launched in Switzerland with a view to providing everyone with an  “unconditional base income” of 2,500 francs ($2,729). It is reported that  supporters are currently trying to raise 100,000 signatures to trigger a referendum and that the idea is backed by artists, therapists, filmmakers and socialist politicians.

There are only four comments to the article and three of them are worthy of repetition:

“I believe that such a system would gradually reduce people’s motivation to work and would stimulate laziness instead of activity. In a way, people are “designed” to move in the direction of smallest effort and resistance.”

“It’s always politically enticing to promise voters a share of someone else’s income: When you promise to rob Peter in order to pay Paul, you will always get Paul’s vote. But what happens when Peter decides he’s had enough, and emigrates?”

“Those who have earned, have stolen nothing. Those who expect a guaranteed minimum income are those who will establish a new base line for poverty. As humans it behooves [sic] us to assist those in need but it is not incumbent upon us to promote dependence and sloth. Do you want a minimum income? Do minimum work. Want more? Work more. Intelligent investment creates jobs and generates wealth. I have worked every day since I was 9 and am now reaping the rewards. It has taken me 50 years but I am financially secure. Too many work for a year or so and give up because it is too hard. Life is hard! But, as Voltaire said…”Compared to what?”

It will be intriguing to see whether (a) the initiative gains sufficient signatures to warrant a referendum being held; and (b) what the outcome of that referendum might be.

It can only be hoped that the Swiss will gaze across the Channel, take a look at the mess in this country, one where dependency on the state is now ingrained in the psyche of sections of our society – and remember that anyone who can walk to the job centre can walk to work.

Because of the inherent ‘work ethic’ that the Swiss have, they will also, one hopes, recall the words of Thomas Sowell:

“Despite voluminous and often fervent literature on “income distribution”, the cold fact is that most income is not distributed: it is earned”


10 Responses

  1. john in cheshire says:

    effing socialists. They never give up, do they. The only way to stop this nonsense is to cull them from our countries. We and it seems just about all of Europe need a General Pinochet.

  2. david says:

    Socialists just had to be one section of society involved in this, didn’t they?

    The penny may drop one day……..

  3. DP111 says:

    The idea is backed by artists, therapists, filmmakers and socialist politicians

    Says it all.

    CHF2500 converts to around £1800. Not bad. Being a prophet and not much appreciated at home, a move to Switzerland could be a good idea.

    If this referendum is passed, I will go to Switzerland and open a fortune telling booth.

  4. david says:

    So you too spotted the obvious where the supporters are concerned?

  5. DP111 says:

    Direct Democracy requires not just an informed and active public, but one that has common sense aplenty.

    • david says:

      Which I believe the Swiss have aplenty – anyway we shall see if this initiative progresses……

  6. Armando Iannucci's barber says:

    I can see some sense in this idea, provided that is all anyone gets from the state. No dole, no pensions, no other welfare of any kind. Everyone gets a basic payment, and the rest is up to you. If you want to take a part time or temporary job, you can, no need to sign off and sign on again. It could streamline the welfare state if done properly, which, of course, is why it won’t be.

    • david says:

      And the difference in a base income and welfare is? The minute you grant a minimum income you remove any incentive for people to work as any base income would have to be set a level to allow one to live – ie pay rent, buy food etc.

      Back to the drawing board for you, methinks……?

      • Armando Iannucci's barber says:

        Not necessarily. The point is often made that people cannot take low paid work because it is not worth it as they will lose benefits. If there was just one benefit, and everyone got it, and you kept it no matter how much you made, that argument disappears. I’m not saying it’s a perfect argument, but the welfare state is killing us, and this would be one way to tame it, possibly.

  7. david says:

    So someone earning £12K per annum and another earning £40K per annum would get the same benefit and both be allowed to keep it? And the first person is going to accept that without argument? C’mon………

    The only way to solve the problem is to raise the level at which tax is paid to say £12K per annum, then those on unemployment benefit would have the incentive to work.

    That’s assuming of course that the education system is able to educate those to a standard where they are attractive to a potential employer – but that’s another story……

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