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Free Money for Everyone?
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Every Swiss citizen received remuneration in the form of a single coin this past fall as a publicity stunt. According to The New York Times, the future may involve paying people for simply being alive. Eight million coins were dumped in the street outside the Parliament building in Bern and it may be more than just a generous stunt. The Swiss citizens signed 125,000 signatures to create a law that would bring monthly income to both the rich and poor with “no strings attached.” The income would go to both the old and young and would not even differentiate between the hard working and the lazy. That may seem unfair, but it just might actually happen, and not only in Switzerland. Obviously the goal of such a law would be to end poverty, but the monthly payment would be enough to live but not live well.

A German artist, Enno Schmidt, is responsible for the seemingly insane idea. He is a “leader in the basic-income movement” and commented, “I tell people not to think about it for others, but think about it for themselves.” Part of the appeal is that it would bring dignity to the poor and that it would be like “a civil rights movement.” The policy is known as “stimmig,” but there is no English equivalent to the German word. The closest way to interpret it is “harmonious” living. Basic income is not a new idea, but has lately been receiving a lot of attention. Conservatives believe it could reduce the size of the government by replacing welfare, food stamps and housing vouchers all in one shot. Such a social program would also change community values. However, it may cost more than the good it can accomplish. The basic-income movement may also soon arrive in The United States, but it’s highly likely that it will be a while in the making.


Image credit: The New York Times



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