'Basic Income for All' Plan Goes Down in Flames

Swiss voters overwhelmingly reject proposal
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2016 2:40 PM CDT
A spectator wears glasses with Swiss flags at the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

(Newser) – A Swiss proposal to ensure that all adult citizens receive a basic income has been rejected, the BBC reports. Voters rejected it by nearly 77% to 23% in a Sunday referendum, apparently unswayed by arguments favoring a guaranteed monthly income of $2,555 for adults and $640 for children. "Theoretically, if Switzerland were an island, the answer is yes" to the proposal, says right-wing MP Luzi Stamm. "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." Not one Swiss parliamentary party supported the proposal.

But left-wing supporters said the monthly check would help workers replaced by automation and support those who already work for free. "In Switzerland over 50% of total work that is done is unpaid," says Che Wagner of the group Basic Income Switzerland. "It's care work, it's at home, it's in different communities, so that work would be more valued with a basic income." Proponents also said the checks would allow people to pursue more productive or creative goals, the AP reports. And they're not alone: Finland and four Dutch cities are mulling similar projects, the Atlantic reports. Perhaps ironically, Switzerland's economy isn't that bad, with a national unemployment rate of 3.5% and a poverty rate of 7.7%. (Read more Switzerland stories.)

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