What is your net-worth? Most Americans answer with a number representing the stuff they have accumulated. I disagree. My net-worth is that I inform people of my political opinions, with the facts that support them, and I give my time to help prisoners learn to become pro-social citizens and succeed in their communities when released. Vulture Capitalism values only those things that generate profit and/or accumulate wealth. A group in Switzerland is taking a completely contrary approach. It’s what I would call a REAL living wage, because it’s a wage just for living.
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. Poverty would disappear. Economists, needless to say, are sharply divided on what would reappear in its place — and whether such a basic-income scheme might have some appeal for other, less socialist countries too.
The proposal is, in part, the brainchild of a German-born artist named Enno Schmidt, a leader in the basic-income movement. He knows it sounds a bit crazy. He thought the same when someone first described the policy to him, too. “I tell people not to think about it for others, but think about it for themselves,” Schmidt told me. “What would you do if you had that income? What if you were taking care of a child or an elderly person?” Schmidt said that the basic income would provide some dignity and security to the poor, especially Europe’s underemployed and unemployed. It would also, he said, help unleash creativity and entrepreneurialism: Switzerland’s workers would feel empowered to work the way they wanted to, rather than the way they had to just to get by. He even went so far as to compare it to a civil rights movement, like women’s suffrage or ending slavery… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <NY Times>
Structural unemployment in the US is growing, and because of increased automation and the lower cost of importing some goods from offshore, we will have more people that need jobs than jobs for them to fill. Something needs to be done to support our citizens that business leaves behind.
While I do have some socialist leanings, I also believe that there must be incentives to produce many goods and services. However, I would support a guaranteed living wage for all people, whether or not they are capable of working. Those capable of working must either have private sector job, or be given a public sector job, providing for the common good. Caring for a sick family member might be an example. We could do this if we redirected welfare for the 0.1% and corporate criminals to providing for all the American people.