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Survey: 78% swiss voters reject basic income


06-06-2016 06:18 BJT

A poll by Swiss broadcaster SRF shows that 78 per cent of Swiss voters don't think citizens should be paid an unconditional basic income.  A national vote is underway to decide whether or not to introduce a base monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs per adult, whether they are employed or not. That's equivalent to almost two thousand six hundred US dollars. A monthly payment of 625 francs per month for the under eighteens has also been proposed. Opponents, including the government, said it would cost too much and weaken the economy.

Market day in Basle is an important time for these small business owners. But soon, each one could receive a wage regardless of whether they work or not. That is a concept currently being discussed in Switzerland. Basic Income Switzerland has campaigned the model for the last ten years, and led the country to a referendum on the subject.
The founder of the initiative believes it is just a matter of time before the idea is adopted.

"It’s about an unconditional income floor for everybody to strengthen civil society. And to make more opportunities for people to work in the way that they think would be the best," Enno Schmidt with Basic Income Switzerland said.

The monthly payment has yet to be decided but is slated to be around 3500 US dollars.

The basic wage model is not just being discussed here in Switzerland.

The concept is also gaining interest across Europe with both the Netherlands and Finland looking at pilot programs. But many here still have their doubts.   

My main fear is that is that for young people it could give them an incentive to not do anything. Not to profit from their education. To not go into the business world as fast as they would be otherwise.”  

But others believe that won’t be the case.

“I think it gives the people a little more freedom to decide to do what they want to do. I don’t think people are generally lazy people.”

“I don’t think people will give up their jobs. I think people, naturally normally want to work.”

Some also fear the pull factor – and whether the concept would attract economic migrants.

"If it is for everyone then it would be a magnet to everyone to come to Switzerland to live here. If you come from a country where the income is much lower than Switzerland then it might be a wonderful life for you.”

The campaign group admits the concept still needs to evolve. But perhaps in time, citizens here really will get money for nothing.

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