This fall, a truck dumped eight million coins outside the Parliament building in Bern, one for every Swiss citizen. It was a publicity stunt for advocates of an audacious social policy that just might become reality in the tiny, rich country. Along with the coins, activists delivered 125,000 signatures — enough to trigger a Swiss public referendum, this time on providing a monthly income to every citizen, no strings attached. Every month, every Swiss person would receive a check from the government, no matter how rich or poor, how hardworking or lazy, how old or young.
And it’s not only in vogue in wealthy Switzerland. Beleaguered and debt-wracked Cyprus is weighing the implementation of basic incomes, too. They even are whispered about in the United States, where certain wonks on the libertarian right and liberal left have come to a strange convergence around the idea — some prefer an unconditional “basic” income that would go out to everyone, no strings attached; others a means-tested “minimum” income to supplement the earnings of the poor up to a given level.
And there is an European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to … (ECI being one of the major innovations of the Treaty of Lisbon, aimed at increasing direct democracy in the European Union. The initiative enables one million EU citizens, who are nationals of at least one quarter of the Member States, to call directly on the European Commission to propose a legal act in an area where the Member States have conferred powers onto the EU level. For more information, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/welcome ) that needs only 1.000.000 signatures to be taken in account by the European Commision.
See more : “Asking the Commission, to encourage cooperation between the Member States (according to Art 156 TFEU) aiming to explore the Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) as a tool to improve their respective social security systems.”
And no matter how strange it seams, this idea has some supporters even trough the libertarians … one of them being Charles Murray.
Charles Alan Murray (born 1943) is an American libertarian political scientist, author, columnist, and pundit currently working as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, DC. He is best known for his controversial book The Bell Curve, co-authored with Richard Herrnstein in 1994, which argues that intelligence plays a central role in American society.
He first became well known for his Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980 in 1984, which discussed the American welfare system. Murray has also written In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government (1988), What It Means to be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation (1996), Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 (2003), and In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State (2006). He published Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality in 2008. (sourse: wikipedia, Charles Murray )
“Give the money to the people,” Murray wrote in his book “In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State.” He suggested guaranteeing $10,000 a year to anyone meeting the following conditions: be American, be over 21, stay out of jail and — as he once quipped — “have a pulse.”
Charles Murray, by his own account, should not have written In Our Hands. He identifies a genuine problem; but he himself shows that his plan to solve it is either useless or inferior to a better plan.
Government programs spend billions of dollars to help the poor, but poverty continues. Given the inordinate waste of bureaucratic programs, why not abolish them altogether? Would we not do better instead to give the money that the transfer programs cost directly to the poor? “America’s population is wealthier than any in history. Every year, the American government
redistributes more than a trillion dollars of that wealth to provide for retirement, health care, and the alleviation of poverty. We still have millions of people without comfortable retirements, without adequate health care, and living in poverty. Only a government can spend so much money so ineffectually. The solution is to give the money to the people” (p. 1).
Does not a problem at once arise? In Murray’s proposal, the government uses taxes that would otherwise have gone to welfare programs to finance a grant of $10,000 per year to every American citizen 21 or older. But if the government is as inefficient as Murray thinks, why take money in taxes at all? Should people not be free to spend or save their own money as they please?
An obvious objection threatens this suggestion, but Murray provides the resources to answer it. What about the poor? It is all very well to talk about people keeping their own money, but what about those unable in the free market to cope for themselves? Are they to be left to starve or to do without needed medical care that they cannot afford? ( In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State,Charles Murray,1 2006,Volume 12, Number 1, A Man, A Plan, A Flop )
The case from the right is one of expediency and efficacy. Let’s say that Congress decided to provide a basic income through the tax code or by expanding the Social Security program. Such a system might work better and be fairer than the current patchwork of programs, including welfare, food stamps and housing vouchers. A single father with two jobs and two children would no longer have to worry about the hassle of visiting a bunch of offices to receive benefits. And giving him a single lump sum might help him use his federal dollars better. Housing vouchers have to be spent on housing, food stamps on food. Those dollars would be more valuable — both to the recipient and the economy at large — if they were fungible.
Even better, conservatives think, such a program could significantly reduce the size of our federal bureaucracy. It could take the place of welfare, food stamps, housing vouchers and hundreds of other programs, all at once. ( Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive ) .