June 06, 2016

A Universal Basic Income, a Societal Dividend, needs always to be slightly small, so as never risk being too large.

Sir Ralph Atkins and Gemma Tetlow report that “Swiss vote against basic income provision” “Welfare systems” June 6.

I support Universal Basic Income, for me it is a Societal Dividend, but I would have voted NO in the referendum. 2.500 Swiss Francs, about US$3.500 monthly, about 50 percent of the Swiss GDP per capita is way too large for a “Basic”. In Switzerland, something like $1.000, perhaps expressed as a percentage of GDP or of average or median salaries, would be a much more reasonable level at which to start this social experiment.

And of course the idea of those working not getting the UBI plays directly into the hands of those arguing that UBI could cause people to work less.

So what is a Societal Dividend or a Citizen's Dividend of that kind proposed by Thomas Paine? Here is my personal take on it.

It is a basic amount transferred to anyone independent of having been able to capitalize on society’s strengths and accumulated assets, like having been able to get a good job.

It could be seen as an effort to grease the real economy by combating the natural concentrations of wealth.

It could be seen as a substitute for many those redistribution efforts that because of their complexity, is bound to attract the profiteers.

It is a well-funded transfer, no funny money, from citizens to citizens, or from natural resources inherited by an Act of God, but not depending on government favors. It could therefore be seen as an effort by citizens to become more independent of that populism and demagoguery that often lies behind all societal redistribution.

Also the way it is funded, can help to align the incentives for other societal causes, for instance if with carbon taxes, with the efforts for a better environment.

But a Societal Dividend should never ever be so large so as to risk de-capitalizing the Society or induce generalized lazyness.

@PerKurowski ©

PS. In other words the Swiss UBI referendum was set up to fail... probably by some anxious redistribution profiteers L