• Humanistic Economic Solution

    The Republicans have caused the sequester, the partial government shutdown, and the threat governmental default; this has not only cut funding to many government programs, but has also left our already struggling economy in near ruins. The Swiss have an interesting economic solution which is worth discussing.

    Forget about Medicare For All, there is a movement is Switzerland to give income for all. That is to say that every person in Switzerland could possibly receive $2800 a month, no strings attached. This would be a base salary with no work required. Plus they have free medical.

    How likely is Switzerland to adopt this program? Who knows, but I think it is a pretty great idea and here’s why. It would be a huge economic stimulus. $2800 a month is pretty much enough to cover a lower-middle class lifestyle so any income people generate on their own would be able to go to luxury items. The lower-middle class would be able to buy more and that would fuel the economy much more than rich people hording money in off-shore accounts.

    The criticism here is that people would be lazy and quit their jobs. They would just take the $2800/month and sit on their asses. This might happen, however I think people will always have the incentive to want more stuff. No matter how much money one has, there is always something one wishes to save for. Bill Gates no doubt wishes he had enough money to buy competing companies and most other people just want the next big thing. So I think this alone will motivate people to work.

    The other point that I want to make here is that we should really think about why work is important in the first place. Do we really just want people to work for the sake of working? Or do we want people to work because working makes their lives and the lives of others better in some way? There are shit jobs out there that people do, but truth be told, we can come up with ways to do many of those jobs through automation. If people had economic freedom, they could follow their passions and have the time to really develop innovative thinking.

    People in America are lazy because we work too hard. That might seem like a contradiction, but it isn’t. We work so much and then we get home and have to deal with the stress of trying to pay for bills and be there for our families that when we get free time, we just want to veg out in front of mindless television and relax. But without financial stress, we wouldn’t have as much of a need for mindless relaxation and we would focus more on productive activities that would benefit society.

    Stanislas Jourdan, who is fighting for this economic proposal put it this way:

    “Everyone wants to do something with his life. The question is whether we trust people to do that or we think we have to force people to take a job.”

    I look at this as another step closer to Star Trek. The Federation doesn’t use money. People work because they enjoy what they do. Sure they could sit around and do nothing, but that would be pretty boring and if that is really what they want to do with their lives, then so be it. There will always be people who want to do more. There will always be people who are excited about life. Those people who want to be lazy can do nothing but spend and that will still grow the economy. But for those who want more out of life, this economic freedom could foster time and capital for real innovation in industry, science, and culture.

    If people only cared about money, we wouldn’t have teachers, scientists, police officers, or firefighters; we would just have a bunch of lawyers, lobbyists, politicians, business executives, and bankers. Jobs shouldn’t be just about the money and as a point of fact they aren’t always just about the money. So let’s take away the need for money and give people the economic freedom and time to live their lives and do what they enjoy doing.

    If nothing else, this could be an interesting economic experiment. I hope this happens is Switzerland so that we can watch and see whether it works or not. What are your thoughts on this economic plan? Be constructive and let’s try to figure out the best economic plan for the world together. Post your comments below.

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    Category: Social JusticeThe Future


    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

    One comment

    1. On the face of it, I like the idea. My wife would be free to pursue her art without the problems associated with being unemployed. I enjoy my work and could continue it or switch to writing (read: playing games and refreshing facebook).

      The question is, where does this money come from? Or maybe not, a quick calculation shows that it would take 750 billion dollars a month to do this. If we set an age limit as 18, then it would be (presently) about 630 billion a month. What about seniors on Social Security? Do they get the income? The SS trust contains about 2.7 trillion, which would cover the $2800 for about 4 months. Do we stop SS and just give the same money to everyone over 18?

      According to this (http://ycharts.com/indicators/us_total_business_sales) the total US sales per month is over a trillion dollars. A 50% tax rate on those sales (and I’m not sure if that is net or gross) would not cover the expense.

      I’m not sure $2800 is doable. The national poverty line is about $1,000 a month. At $2,000 a month (over 18 only) we get $450 billion a month. The SS trust could pay this for about 5 months and a 50% tax on all sales would cover it as well.

      I don’t know if that helps because the prices of everything would increase by more than 50% to cover those taxes. Everyone should still be above poverty level (barely), but they would still have to work for anything more than ramen and mac and cheese.

      The next question I have is, if we were to do this (and I’m not against it), I’m not sure that we have the culture for working without massive recompense. After hurricane Rita (and to a lesser extent Ike), every store in the city I lived in was hiring people. They still couldn’t get anyone to come in to work. And this was in a town with one of the top three unemployment rates in Texas.

      I would remain working because I enjoy my job. I think kids between 16-18 would work to get some income. But the adults who work at fast food places (and don’t own it) would they work? Maybe, there would be a surge in small business (except with a 50% tax rate???) and people would open and run burger joints because they want to rather than because they have to work. But running a small business is generally much more work than working for someone else.

      People would want to buy things, but who’s going to sell it to them or manufacture it for them? I’m talking about things that are generally hard to do with robotics… of course, the guy who invents a robotic burger cook will make millions…

      Just random thoughts about this… thanks!

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