On June 5, 2016, Switzerland will become the first country to hold a national referendum on the introduction of an Unconditional Basic Income. The proposal is essentially an income guarantee that would ensure everyone in the country is paid a minimum after-tax amount of 2,500 Swiss francs per month.
The idea is that this would replace various other social programs. But unlike traditional welfare, people would be allowed to work. If you happened to be making less than 2,500 Swiss francs per month, then you would simply get topped up to ensure you hit this minimum income level.
Supporters believe that a dramatic rethink of income redistribution is needed in our current information economy where income inequality is rising and productivity gains don’t seem to be getting applied evenly.
There is also an argument that a basic income guarantee could encourage more entrepreneurship. If we didn’t need to work, would more of us start a company and/or pursue our passions?
Personally, I’m not sure about an income guarantee. It’s difficult to predict the broader impacts. But it’s worth exploring and many people – are various ends of the political spectrum – are doing just that. (Additional reading material can be found here, here, and here.)
I haven’t made up my mind on this topic, so I would be curious to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Image: CNN Money