I saw an interesting article on Business Insider today about a proposal that is being considered in Switzerland to implement an unconditional basic income for everyone living there:
Recently, there has been a spate of popular initiatives designed to curb inequality in the country. Earlier this year Swiss voters agreed to an idea proposed by entrepreneur Thomas Minder that limited executive (in his words, “fat cat”) salaries of companies listed on the Swiss stock market. Next month voters will decide on the 1:12 Initiative, which aims to limit the salaries of CEOs to 12 times the salary of their company’s lowest paid employee.
There’s a crazier proposal than this, however. Earlier this month an initiative aimed at giving every Swiss adult a “basic income” that would “ensure a dignified existence and participation in the public life of the whole population” gained enough support to qualify for a referendum. The amount suggested is 2,500 francs ($2,800) a month.
While most observers think that the vote is a longshot, it has certainly sparked debate — and not just in Switzerland. Writing for USA Today, Duncan Black said that a “minimum income” should be considered for the U.S.
“It’s pretty clear that the most efficient way to improve the lives of people is to guarantee a minimum income,” Black concludes.
I often wonder why it is that after all these years, we haven’t managed to figure out how to structure our societies in such a way where every human being on this planet could at the very least have access to the basic human needs for his entire life. Just recently I blogged about why the poor get poorer and the rich continue to get richer, and it’s very clear that this is because of the way the economic system is set up so that a constantly smaller elite benefits from what is essentially the enslavement of the rest of the population. We’ve reached a point now where this abhorrent situation of inequality is not going to be tolerated much longer, and the kinds of developments discussed in the above mentioned article clearly show this.
I also found the following information from the included interview with Daniel Straub very interesting:
BI: Why choose a minimum income rather than, say, a higher minimum wage?
DS: We are not proposing a minimum income — we are proposing an unconditional income. A minimum wage reduces freedom — because it is an additional rule. It tries to fix a system that has been outdated for a while. It is time to partly disconnect human labor and income. We are living in a time where machines do a lot of the manual labor — that is great — we should be celebrating. (*)
BI: How was the figure of 2,500 Swiss francs settled on? What standard of living does this buy in Switzerland?
DS: That depends where in Switzerland you live. On average it is enough for a modest lifestyle.
BI: What effect would you expect the minimum income to have on Swiss government expenditure?
DS: The unconditional income in Switzerland means that a third of the GDP would be distributed unconditionally. But I don’t count that as government expenditure because it is immediately distributed to the people who live in this society. It means less government power because each individual can decide how to spend the money.
BI: I’ve seen people compare it to Milton Friedman’s negative income tax, do you think that comparison works?
DS: We go a step further than Friedman with the unconditionality. This would lead to a paradigm change. Not the needy get an income from the community but everybody.
BI: There have been a variety of initiatives recently that appear to be aimed at limiting inequality in Switzerland, from the 1:12 initiative to Thomas Minder’s “against rip-off salaries” referendum. Why do you think this is happening?
DS: People seem to be unhappy with the rising inequality. The other initiatives try to put a band-aid on an outdated system. We are proposing a new system.
BI: On the surface of it, Switzerland is a good place to live, with a high quality of life, relatively high salaries, and good public services. Why do you need to take these big steps to rearrange society?
DS: Switzerland has incredible material resources. But we are not using them in a smart way. A lot of people are stressed and there is a lot of fear. Our resources don’t lead to the freedom they could. And I am not saying that this freedom is easy — but it could lead to more meaningful lives. If more people start to ask what they really want to do with their lives, Switzerland will become an even more beautiful place to live.
In a recent article on our basic needs as human beings, I discussed how unconditionally taking care of the basic needs of every single individual could lead to vastly more improved lives for everyone. This is something that futurist and social engineer Jacque Fresco often mentions. And in the age of abundance that we’re now heading into, as discussed by author Peter Diamandis in his book “Abundance” — where machines are going to be taking over a lot of the tedious work that’s now being done by humans, and where we’ll reach a level of production where it no longer makes sense to continue to maintain this current scarcity-based economic system we’re living in 1 — unconditionally taking care of everyone’s basic needs will certainly become a reality.
And like Straub mentions this will allow for people to be freer, not only from their governments, but from everyone in general. When people are unconditionally guaranteed of being able to take care of their basic needs, then not only will they be free to pursue the things they truly and honestly love doing, but they will also feel free and be unafraid to express their true thoughts, feelings and desires. And as I mentioned in my article on being politically incorrect, this will lead to drastic changes and improvements in the world. In the situation we have right now, people mostly live in fear of what they have to lose, become hypocrites and remain politically correct as much as possible, which holds back important progress for humankind.
But ultimately, an unconditional income, as proposed in Switzerland, will just be another temporary transitional step towards a fully resource based economy as described by Jacque Fresco in The Venus Project.
Update December 2nd, 2016
Every time I read articles on basic income the writers fail to address one of the biggest threats to every individual that exists today worldwide, namely governments and the anti-social system that they’re a part of, better known as “Statism.” Once you truly understand this system, you’ll realize that no amount of free money will be able to sustainably improve life for individuals in society. Any additional freedom that’s gained will be for the short-term because of the way this anti-social system works.
I explain why and discuss the details in my post “Governments and Basic Income: Why they don’t go together.”