Swiss Citizens Vote On $2,500 ‘Basic Income’ For All Citizens Plus $900 Per Child, No Work Required

Switzerland is considering offering $2,500 per month unconditional “basic income” for everyone in the country, even for those who do not have a job. In addition to the $2,500 income per adult, the referendum also includes a payment of $900 per month per child. Switzerland is the first country to allow a basic income referendum to go to voters.

The Daily Mail reports that Switzerland is the first nation to allow voters to decide whether to give a “basic income” to all citizens regardless of work status. The referendum would provide all adults in the country with $2,500 per month as income for doing nothing but being a citizen of Switzerland. The supporters of the referendum say it will promote “human dignity and public service.”

In addition to the $2,500 per adult, the referendum also includes a $900 per month payment for all children under the age of 18. Therefore, under the proposed “basic income” policy, a married couple with three children would receive $7,700 per month without ever having to work. However, not everyone is on board with the idea, as they say it is not financially feasible. Many opponents have said it would stifle the economy and it has received no support from any member of the parliament. According to the BBC, despite having very little support from members of the Swiss government, the proposal gathered over 100,000 signatures and it was included in Saturday’s vote.

“There was little support among Swiss politicians for the idea and not a single parliamentary party has come out in favor, but the proposal gathered more than 100,000 signatures and was therefore put to the vote under the Swiss popular initiative system.”

Those who supported the proposal said it was in response to the growing number of automated jobs in the country. The campaign organizer and leader, Che Wagner, noted that the Basic Income Switzerland policy was designed to overcome the lack of jobs due to automation, but also to subsidize those who do “unpaid” work.

“In Switzerland over 50% of total work that is done is unpaid. It’s care work, it’s at home, it’s in different communities, so that work would be more valued with a basic income.”

Though many say the idea of a basic income is nice, it has been noted as an economy stopper. Luzi Stamm, who’s a member of parliament for the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, notes that he may support the idea if Switzerland was an island with closed borders. However, he says that is not the case, and a basic income policy would hurt the economy. The nation would see an influx of people attempting to move into Switzerland to take advantage of the new policy.

“Theoretically, if Switzerland were an island, the answer is yes. But with open borders, it’s a total impossibility, especially for Switzerland, with a high living standard. If you would offer every individual a Swiss amount of money, you would have billions of people who would try to move into Switzerland.”

For those hoping for a basic income in the country, the referendum was rejected by voters with only 23 percent of voters in favor of the bill.

Though Switzerland is the first nation to have a proper vote on the idea of basic income, they are not the first to consider the unconditional income. Finland is trialing the idea by offering basic income to 8,000 low-income families. Similarly, the city of Utrechtin the Netherlands is piloting a basic income project that is slated to begin in 2017.

What do you think about the idea of basic income for all citizens despite work status? Would the proposal hurt the economy as some government officials claim, or could it improve economic outcomes as supporters say by increasing “unpaid” work and volunteering?

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