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”