Swiss look to go all in on socialism, assure income to everyone even without working

posted at 9:31 am on October 6, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

If it happens, this story should certainly prove to be interesting and one to watch in both the short and long term future. The Swiss have a rather populist vision of government in place which will look oddly similar to California in at least one important way. The citizens are able to move pretty much any law they like forward in the process, even absent starting support of the legislative body, providing they gather enough support to put a referendum on the ballot and pass it. And since they clearly watch a lot of American television (okay… I’m just guessing about that part) they’ve come up with a doozy of an answer to the issue of “income inequality.”

A grassroots committee is calling for all adults in Switzerland to receive an unconditional income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,800) per month from the state, with the aim of providing a financial safety net for the population.

Organizers submitted more than the 100,000 signatures needed to call a referendum on Friday and tipped a truckload of 8 million five-rappen coins outside the parliament building in Berne, one for each person living in Switzerland.

Apparently this wasn’t the first “solution” to these pressing problems they’ve come up with either. A common response I see to worries about expanding social safety nets is the (correct) assertion that there will always be Alpha and Beta individuals in every society, and if others are lounging, there will always be some who charge hard to make big gains. Unless, of course, you pass measures to remove any incentive to succeed.

In March, Swiss voters backed some of the world’s strictest controls on executive pay, forcing public companies to give shareholders a binding vote on compensation.

A separate proposal to limit monthly executive pay to no more than what the company’s lowest-paid staff earn in a year, the so-called 1:12 initiative, faces a popular vote on November 24.

As I said at the top, this could be the ultimate Petri dish for some of the questions we’ve been wrestling with here at home. What happens if you just lay out the welcome mat and say that everyone, regardless of whether you are able bodied or disabled, has the choice of just staying home and making a survivable, though certainly not extravagant, income, absolutely guaranteed by the government, no questions asked. For the rest of your life. How many people would still work? How much would it cost those who were working to pay this income to the rest, and how long would they continue to pay it? On a related note, how would they control a potential flood of suddenly interested “immigrants” who show up a the door?

I realize that Switzerland has one of the most powerful economies in the world, with a per capita income and GDP that most countries would drool over, but it’s economy is still largely private in nature. They could take a pretty sizable hit and keep on going, but you can’t keep the cart moving forever if everyone gets in and nobody pushes. But maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe the vast majority would just keep working, defying all logic.

As crazy as this may sound to me, I wondered if there were any on the Left here in the United States who would be cheering them on. Sure enough, it didn’t take long to find somebody.

The idea of guaranteed income has been gaining popularity elsewhere in the world, as well. Jacob Hacker received a warm reception in the UK with his proposal for “predistribution”, and just last week the President of Cyprus announced a basic minimum income program also.

It’s on the far edge of public policy right now, but it won’t be for long. Globalization and mechanization of labor are creating a world for which the traditional answers of the last century or so on both the right and the left will be inadequate. In a world where just a few people can exponentially increase productivity, profits and personal wealth while firing workers and cutting wages, traditional Keynesian stimulus and taxation schemes are increasingly moot. Executive-to-worker pay ratios and minimum incomes will eventually be necessary.

If you go read the rest of that, the hilarious part of this logic is that they refer to countries who don’t go along with a guaranteed income scheme as “free rider” countries. Somebody is crazy here, and I just hope it’s not me who had some magic mushrooms slipped into their pizza.


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@ virgo

I’m sure there’s some procedural nuance here: not every referendum gets implemented.

Correct, it must be compatible with our constitution ot it gets rejected. Alas, this may be constitutional and we may have to vote on it. But be assured it will be rejected, by at least 90% of the voters.

the Swiss may give socialism a try

No way, Switzerland is firmly on the right, the largest party is the UDC/SVP (right of the Tea Party, if compared).

Unfortunately we also have leftists and “greens”, sure, but those are a shrinking minority !

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM

If you go read the rest of that, the hilarious part of this logic is that they refer to countries who don’t go along with a guaranteed income scheme as “free rider” countries.

As opposed to the “free loader” countries?…

Pest on October 6, 2013 at 12:26 PM

No way, Switzerland is firmly on the right, the largest party is the UDC/SVP (right of the Tea Party, if compared).

Unfortunately we also have leftists and “greens”, sure, but those are a shrinking minority !

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Sorry to sound cynical, and it sounds like you live there and I surely don’t, but with names associated with them such as “Swiss People’s Party” and “Democratic Union of the Center” doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence that they have the same values as our TEA Party.

Dr. ZhivBlago on October 6, 2013 at 12:31 PM

@ ZhivBlago

Yep, they are very much on the right. The UDC/SVP (same party, different language) is really right wing.

But I agree that the name can be confusing… I’m part of it, you can now feel reassured ;-)

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 12:38 PM

@ ZhivBlago

Yep, they are very much on the right. The UDC/SVP (same party, different language) is really right wing.

But I agree that the name can be confusing… I’m part of it, you can now feel reassured ;-)

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 12:38 PM

OK, thank you for the clarification.

Dr. ZhivBlago on October 6, 2013 at 12:42 PM

So you think Hayek and Milton Friedman were advocates for socialism? To quote The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Jazzman on October 6, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Not entirely. Appealing to Hayek in particular always makes me frown. He didn’t know what a conservative was but was certain he didn’t want to be one, for example. But –

I think that when people go looking for state solutions to social problems, they come back with socialist answers because those are the only answers the state can provide. I don’t think a person has to wake up in the morning as a socialist to accidentally do that — just waking up as a “big government Republican” would do it. Being a particularly secular atheist probably helps, or any habit of mind that only has one engine of solution for social problems — State.

The question is, “What do you do with that woman too poor to eat?” At this point, I hope I would start talking about the Church and general social ethics. If I were a renowned economist — a framer of governments and nations, those guys — I would probably be tempted to reach into my pocket for a State solution. If I didn’t, the person I’m speaking with, the one who put the question, is going to hit me with: “So, you let her starve?”

Some people don’t seem capable of understanding that it’s possible (and necessary, with an explicitly limited government) that the government be complete, perfect, doing everything it was built to do — and most of our human problems remain unattended to. Because attending to them is not the government’s job.

I don’t think Hayek or Friedman are socialists.

Axe on October 6, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Will they all get 0b00baphones?

Akzed on October 6, 2013 at 12:48 PM

How will people earn a living when, if things go as predicted, 47% of jobs are done by robots?

It’s an interesting question.

lorien1973 on October 6, 2013 at 12:50 PM

JEEZX, I HOPE THEY ARE STILL KEEP MAKING THOSE MINI-MARSHMALLOWS THAT GO IN A CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE..

ARIZONAVETERAN on October 6, 2013 at 12:57 PM

How will people earn a living when, if things go as predicted, 47% of jobs are done by robots? It’s an interesting question. lorien1973 on October 6, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Akzed on October 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

How will people earn a living when, if things go as predicted, 47% of jobs are done by robots?

It’s an interesting question.

lorien1973 on October 6, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Someone has to build the robots, at least until the bots start replicating themselves and the first Terminators appear to take care of the excess human population.

Bishop on October 6, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Isn’t Japan planning something along the same lines? It sounds like people have found “For Us, the Living” by Heinlein and are taking it seriously.

Dr. Frank Enstine on October 6, 2013 at 1:24 PM

No way, Switzerland is firmly on the right, the largest party is the UDC/SVP (right of the Tea Party, if compared).

Unfortunately we also have leftists and “greens”, sure, but those are a shrinking minority !

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM

I hope you’re right. I used to live next door in Baden-Wurtemburg and thought Germany was headed in a more conservative direction back in the late 60s. The Socialists, however, rose and have since taken over several states to the detriment of those states. I sure hope you’re right about Schweiz.

Quartermaster on October 6, 2013 at 2:00 PM

HM – wonder how homogenous the Swiss society is? They are used to working and working hard. If that shifts with the younger generation, while it will take time, there will be no one to work – result, chaos and anarchy and back to feudal societies. Very sad.

How in the world did the west become so guilt-ridden for success? They worked for it. Hmmm

MN J on October 6, 2013 at 2:15 PM

Those are some mighty big bongs in the pic. They were probably just stoned when they passed this measure and will re-think things tomorrow.

WhatSlushfund on October 6, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Oh, by the way, I AM SWISS, I live, vote and have political activities there (in the right wing UDC party) ;-)

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 9:58 AM

…thanks!…appreciate it!
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@ 2,800 francs a month, if they don’t, they soon will.

socalcon on October 6, 2013 at 11:56 AM

…that’s the truth!

KOOLAID2 on October 6, 2013 at 2:39 PM

In the unlikely event that this should pass, the next giant sucking sound you would hear would be everybody pulling their money out of their Swiss bank accounts.

Uniblogger on October 6, 2013 at 3:00 PM

What could go wrong? Within weeks of this being implemented the country becomes overrun with middle easterners and north Africans with little education and less desire to work for a living, the producer class gets out as quick as possible and the government and banks turn all those foreign deposits into one big Ponzi scheme that eventually cause a global economic collapse.

Implement it next week and next year the second dark age starts.

peacenprosperity on October 6, 2013 at 3:15 PM

The question is, “What do you do with that woman too poor to eat?”

Axe on October 6, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Society is our attempt to free ourselves from the laws of nature, or the jungle to put it more bluntly, and Western civilization has been a great success in that area. However, if their socialist reach exceeds their free market capital generating engine, then the law of the jungle will be back, with a vengeance. Think for a moment what would happen in the U.S. if we simply disrupted the medical distribution system for a few days. There are many people on life sustaining medications. Welcome to the jungle.

DFCtomm on October 6, 2013 at 3:55 PM

They might as well post a sign on the border: WILL YODEL FOR FOOD!

Tantor on October 6, 2013 at 4:21 PM

What happens to a society when the money finally runs out and nobody remembers how to make a living?

RebeccaH on October 6, 2013 at 4:37 PM

The good point is that this popular referendum powers also gave us the possibility to definitively ban the construction on minarets (late 2009 vote) and two weeks ago, one canton – Tessin – (canton = “state”) just banned the burka in all public places :-)

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_news/Burka_ban_approved_in_Italian-speaking_Switzerland.html?cid=36951992

I’ll just add that this latest success on banning burkas will now go national as a country wide vote on that subject will take place, probably late next year !

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Yeah, because it’s wonderful to tell people what to wear and what style of building they can build. I think you’ve just illustrated for us why our founding fathers thought so little of direct democracy.

DFCtomm on October 6, 2013 at 4:58 PM

Why do I envision this foolishness resulting in poor starving Swiss invading Italy raiding across the border. Kind of like what kicked off the Roman empire over 2000 years ago.

Stephen L. Hall on October 6, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Mass exodus of gold, silver and anything of value as those with wealth flee the mobs.

Stephen L. Hall on October 6, 2013 at 5:12 PM

@ DFCtomm

Yeah, you’re probably a member of CAIR, a fan of Hussein Babama and you’ve already signed up for Husseinobamacare while high on weed…

And if you’re such a fan of minarets and burkas you could consider moving to the middle-east or to any other muslim country. Also make sure you avoid Switzerland for any trip, its people may not be very friendly to you ;-)

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 5:19 PM

@ DFCtomm

Yeah, you’re probably a member of CAIR, a fan of Hussein Babama and you’ve already signed up for Husseinobamacare while high on weed…

And if you’re such a fan of minarets and burkas you could consider moving to the middle-east or to any other muslim country. Also make sure you avoid Switzerland for any trip, its people may not be very friendly to you ;-)

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 5:19 PM

LOL. I’ve been here a while and my position on Islam is no secret. Google is your friend. However thanks for the funny, and also illustrating that Europeans just don’t get the whole freedom thing.

DFCtomm on October 6, 2013 at 5:30 PM

LOL. I’ve been here a while and my position on Islam is no secret. Google is your friend. However thanks for the funny, and also illustrating that Europeans just don’t get the whole freedom thing.

@ DFCtomm

We like freedom as much as anybody else, except when it infringes on our own freedom, as islam does. Muslims can go to hell with their minarets, burkas etc. I happen to live next to the fwench border and know what it looks like when islam almost takes over.

Oh, you probably know that Switzerland is not part of the EU… That’s why we are still free here !
So free and democratic (thanks to the popular referendums) that we have guns and can decide by ourselves what law and taxes will be applied to us, by our government ;-)

Yep, I’ve alo been around since a while, my hard drives still store much of the videos with the boss emeritus and Robert Spencer ;-)

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Oh, you probably know that Switzerland is not part of the EU… That’s why we are still free here !
So free and democratic (thanks to the popular referendums) that we have guns and can decide by ourselves what law and taxes will be applied to us, by our government ;-)

Yep, I’ve alo been around since a while, my hard drives still store much of the videos with the boss emeritus and Robert Spencer ;-)

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 6:13 PM

I’ll reply, but then I have to leave for the evening. Muslims have more kids than the Swiss, so what will you do when they reach 51% of the population and start to use your referendum system against you? A democracy is nothing more than a lamb and two sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Sorry, I don’t know who said that.

DFCtomm on October 6, 2013 at 6:26 PM

A democracy is nothing more than a lamb and two sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Sorry, I don’t know who said that.

DFCtomm on October 6, 2013 at 6:26 PM

I can’t believe I botched that. A democracy is nothing more than a lamb, and two wolves voting on what’s for dinner.

DFCtomm on October 6, 2013 at 6:27 PM

No way they will ever reach that level.

We are not yet close to the level of muslims that are in fwance (etc) and Swiss people are already mad at them, we could vote to close our borders, and if needed to kick’m out, so hard that they will over the mountains and land directly in the mediterranean sea ;-)

I’m much more worried about the muslims in the USA than here…

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Correction : so hard that they will fly over the mountains and land directly in the mediterranean sea ;-)

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 6:37 PM

So they’re going to put to a popular vote to force all the businesses in one of the most financially successful countries in the world down Ben and Jerry’s failed corporate model of limiting maximum compensation in relation to the lowest paid employee.

What could go wrong?

talkingpoints on October 6, 2013 at 7:11 PM

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on October 6, 2013 at 7:28 PM

No way they will ever reach that level.

We are not yet close to the level of muslims that are in fwance (etc) and Swiss people are already mad at them, we could vote to close our borders, and if needed to kick’m out, so hard that they will over the mountains and land directly in the mediterranean sea ;-)

I’m much more worried about the muslims in the USA than here…

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 6:33 PM

As western civ’s population implodes, the mohammedian immigrants will multiply with huge birth rates. That is a big problem for democracies. Fortunately, mohammedians have a millennium of inbreeding, wherein a multitude of recessive diseases kill many of the babies at or near birth.

Murphy9 on October 6, 2013 at 8:32 PM

Why would anyone bother working if the gov’t doles out money to everyone?

lonestar1 on October 6, 2013 at 8:42 PM

However, if their socialist reach exceeds their free market capital generating engine, then the law of the jungle will be back, with a vengeance.

DFCtomm on October 6, 2013 at 3:55 PM

I try to make that, rather obvious, truism with every lefty dope I encounter.

No joy. They can’t get it.

98ZJUSMC on October 6, 2013 at 9:36 PM

We may “have” to vote on this socialist crap but it will NEVER be accepted by the Swiss people, I predict 90% will refuse this stupid thing. Swiss people aren’t that crazy ;-)

coolapic on October 6, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Some leftist douche trolled this on another board and that was my first thought. They were acting like it was a done deal. Nope. Gotta vote and I don’t think it’ll fly at all.

98ZJUSMC on October 6, 2013 at 9:42 PM

A grassroots committee is calling for all adults in Switzerland to receive an unconditional income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,800) per month from the state, with the aim of providing a financial safety net for the population

If they give all Swiss this money, including the rich, then it’s actually a better system than US welfare state.

I’ve said half-seriously before that if you give a million dollars to every adult in the US, you’d kill liberalism for 200 years. Everyone would vote to keep their money valuable. Granted, you’d create a society where we would be importing poverty laborers to do all the work and it would look a lot like a slave nation. Without whips, for awhile.

Buddahpundit on October 6, 2013 at 9:58 PM

That reminds me so much of those T-Shirts which are cropping up now that say “Atlas Shrugged: Now Non-Fiction”. I want one for Christmas. :)

Theophile on October 7, 2013 at 1:39 AM

When I was working there 20 years ago, and commuting across the border every day, the Swiss enforced their immigration (and customs) laws very strictly. Like they enforced all their laws very strictly. In Geneva, there was a law specifying what color and size your trash bags had to be. And it was enforced.

In short, I don’t think you can compare Switzerland to the US in this instance, because the Swiss would never allow the large scale illegal (or even legal) immigration we have here in the US. Moreover, I suspect there is near-universal support in Switzerland for strict enforcement of immigration laws (again, unlike the US).

As such, I think it is understood that this proposal is intended for Swiss nationals, not as an invitation for the rest of the world to come and start collecting welfare checks.

LagunaDave on October 7, 2013 at 2:27 AM

@ 98ZJUSMC

Some leftist douche trolled this on another board and that was my first thought. They were acting like it was a done deal. Nope. Gotta vote and I don’t think it’ll fly at all.

98ZJUSMC on October 6, 2013 at 9:42 PM

Yep, that’s exactly what I feared when I saw this article on HotAir… The law is in deed dead on arrival and publishing it here, on HotAir, only helps crazy leftist SOBs’ propaganda…

coolapic on October 7, 2013 at 9:01 AM

The Swiss are too practical to pass this. They recently voted to deny creating more national holidays with paid time off. They have work ethic.

For a referendum to actually become law, it has to go though some tough rounds of voting. Don’t see this happening.

LetsBfrank on October 7, 2013 at 9:09 AM

I’ve said half-seriously before that if you give a million dollars to every adult in the US, you’d kill liberalism for 200 years. Everyone would vote to keep their money valuable.

I’m afraid it would do no such thing. It would simply result in hyperinflation, as prices for goods and services would skyrocket in direct response to the sudden stress of huge demand increases without a corresponding increase in supply.

rvastar on October 7, 2013 at 12:50 PM

So that’s really what, 15 francs/hr at 160 hours a month? Think of it as the liberal dream of “livable” minimum wage, just minus the annoying work part. Aka Phase III.

JeremiahJohnson on October 7, 2013 at 6:05 PM

I feel sorry for the Swiss — afflicted by the same liberality with which California is afflicted.

unclesmrgol on October 8, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Swiss look to go all in on socialism, assure income to everyone even without working

Maybe there is a lot more Nazi stolen, and halocaust era Jewish gold in those vaults than anyone can imagine…with gold prices way up in recent years this idea may be do-able ! ;)

BigSven on October 8, 2013 at 8:11 AM

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