Switzerland will vote on US$2800 per month basic income for all adults

Switzerland will hold a vote on whether to introduce a basic income for all adults.

A grassroots committee is calling for all adults in Switzerland to receive an unconditional income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,800) per month from the state, with the aim of providing a financial safety net for the population.

Organizers submitted more than the 100,000 signatures needed to call a referendum on Friday.

Signatures are also currently being collected in the EU for an EU citizens’ initiative (not comparable with popular initiatives in Switzerland). This is entitled: “Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) – Exploring a pathway towards emancipatory welfare conditions in the EU.

A married couple could earn $67,000 per year and not work.

The average U.S. worker earned $3,769 in pre-tax, monthly salary in 2011. Food service industry workers earned $1,785 in pre-tax income during the same period.

Switzerland has a per capita GDP of 63000 euros (US$85400).

The US$28000 would be taking all current Swiss taxes and redistributing it as basic income and having nothing left for other government services (such as healthcare, defence, roads, etc…)

Switzerland has a population of 8 million.

If the basic principle were ever to be enshrined in the federal constitution, its actual implementation would prove a Herculean task and indeed an almost impossible undertaking. This issue nevertheless has the potential to throw the traditional political fronts into confusion, and it is this that makes the debate on the UBI an exciting political project. Supporters can be found on the left, in the centre and on the right of the political spectrum. But the most vehement opponents also come from different camps. The dividing line does not simply run between political blocks but right through parties and factions. It is not a party or a lobby group that is behind the popular initiative but rather a loose confederation of like-minded people from different camps and with a diverse range of interests. The most high-profile advocate on the initiative committee is Oswald Sigg, a member of the Swiss Social Democratic Party (SP) and former Vice-Chancellor and Federal Council speaker. The list of proponents also includes one or two economists from the University of St. Gallen and the Federal Institute of Technology.

The former SP National Councillor and trade unionist André Daguet also warns against the UBI initiative. The conservative-dominated Parliament would attempt to achieve welfare cuts through the actual structuring of the basic income by introducing the lowest possible basic income and abolishing the remaining social insurance schemes. This would result in the weak in society “being definitively marginalised and the lowest wages being forced down”.

The business federation Economiesuisse has also analysed the initiative and published a comprehensive study of it in October 2012. Its verdict is damning: the UBI is an “expensive utopia that jeopardises prosperity” and which is “likely to have a major impact on Switzerland’s economic performance and competitiveness”. Economiesuisse also draws the conclusion that the savings in the welfare system, provided no benefit cuts are made, could be significantly less than one might expect at first glance. This is because numerous transfer payments far exceed the planned basic income.

There is a separate proposal to limit monthly executive pay to no more than what the company’s lowest-paid staff earn in a year, the so-called 1:12 initiative, faces a popular vote on November 24.

The initiative’s organizing committee said the basic income could partly be financed through money from social insurance systems in Switzerland.

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