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Default An odd swiss initiative

October 3rd, 2013, 15:22
I don't understand german. So I can't say what's written here really:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initiative_Grundeinkommen

But according to local newspaper it's about a project to create a base monthly income for everyone, no matter if they work or not.

The article is huge so I can't go translating it, but basically it describes the effects of a base income on the society - you won't tolerate crazy boss just because you need to pay bills, on the other hand the best payed jobs won't be any more those jobs that include no work at all but just a skill to torture/bully/exploit others.

Even more odd is the source of the idea, it didn't come recently from someone in Switzerland but actually was suggested to USA president Nixon by economists Milton Friedman, James Tobin, Paul Samuelson and John Kenneth Galbraith in 1968.!

Any good soul with german knowledge who could give a bit more details on this?

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October 4th, 2013, 21:19
I've heard about the concept before, "Citizen Salary" is what it's usually called up here.

The concept is that every citizen gets a base amount of income from then government each month. Not very much but enough to cover basic necessities such as housing and food, things that are already guaranteed each citizen already just without all the bureaucracy. The thought is that the savings from that would go a long way to cover the extra costs. I've not seen any example of how it would work in reality, there would have to be a complete revamp of tax laws and such.

Lets compare two scenarios.
Scenario 1:
My current situation. I'm unemployed and on well-fare, I get enough to get by and that's about it. To get my money I have to be in contact with five different officials spread over two government agencies (the Employment Agency, Social Services and Social Services own Employment Office). I'm obliged (in theory) to apply for any free job that I'm qualified for in the entire country. This doesn't really increase my chances to get a job and it's a lot of paperwork and a real hassle. One downside is that for every job that's listed there are hundreds of applicants so a lot of companies simply don't list their jobs but rely on word-of-mouth or applications they already have.
Case in point. When I worked at Burger King when I was younger we listed an opening for a job. We got over 1000 applications by mail and email and we had to turn the phones of because no one had the time to answer it.
This isn't beneficial for either part.
My job searching activities have to be documented and verifiable and someone has to go through my application for well-fare each month. When all is said and done the process of getting me my well-fare has cost the tax-payers far more than the money that I actually receive.
Then there's the purely psychological effects of this process on the applicant. Having to always be able to prove that you're actually trying to get a job, that you're not just mooching. It's a lot of extra busywork for everyone involved and a lot of energy expended that could have been put to better use. In my case it caused a major depressive episode and I had to be put on "sick leave" (not quite the right phrase, I was exempt from all job searching requirements and only had to deal with one government agency) for a couple of months.
Add to that that any money I make is subtracted from my well-fare so that I have little incentive to just work a few odd jobs here and there to make a little extra cash to make my life a bit more comfortable.
Parts of this is endemic to our particular system but I'm guessing that there are similar hoops in all the well-fare states of Europe.

Scenario 2:
Under a Citizens Salary system. I'd get an amount of money similar to what I get now but I'd only really need to be in contact with the Employment Office. Due to not having to apply for every job out there I could focus on getting a job that is suitable for me or study to acquire skills that are useful for getting a job. The costs of the bureaucracy would be significantly reduced and there'd be little difference in the amount of money I receive.
Employers wouldn't be swamped with hundreds of applications per position.
I'd be a lot less stressed and my depressive episode this summer would probably have been a lot less severe and shorter (I'm bi-polar, odds are I would have had one anyway).

There you go. Some totally anecdotal "evidence", but I believe some of the points are valid. The part of the population that'd be most effected would get a much needed breather and most people wouldn't be effected much any way.

Now lets hear from someone who's a bit more knowledgeable on the subject. This is just my understanding of a quite limited part of the idea and it's admittedly pretty biased as well.

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October 4th, 2013, 22:30
You've described it good actually.
More I think of it, more I tend to believe it has more benefits than the current system.
But what happens if noone wants to work, noone at all?
Or beeter to say, is it possible noone would want to work?

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October 5th, 2013, 02:17
I'm guessing the point would be to get just enough to get by. But for everyone.
So not enough to buy your nice flat screen tv with HD cable and lightning speed internet with online subscription to netflix and lovefilm. And so on.

Basically, rent (which I'm guessing could easily be revised annually to the median rent of the province) and food (enough to feed yourself for the month without going to restaurants.
Maybe a tiny bit extra for clothes once a year or something.
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October 5th, 2013, 12:31
This isn't new; it's been in discussion for several years now; there are German movements who believe that this'd be a good idea as well.

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October 6th, 2013, 20:57
You'll never get everyone to agree on the appropriate amount of money and it would be impossible to match the money to the actual cost of living (assuming you could actually agree on a formula that would account for that constantly changing number, both within and among regions, which you'd somehow have to agree to divide up in some "fair" fashion) for any given area. The bureaucracy required to "make it fair" would be even larger than the current mammoth.

All assuming that everyone wouldn't get lazy, as you noted, which I'd consider a much larger risk than you seem to.

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October 6th, 2013, 22:30
Citizen wage is probably best described as a replacement for existing benefits (which could be streamlined).

dte:s arguments against it are valid, and offset the reduced red tape. Not to mention that there will be mission creep…

"Everyone" getting lazy stretches imagination a bit, but one can easily see what a living wage would do to the unskilled labour market.
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October 7th, 2013, 09:18
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
I don't understand german. So I can't say what's written here really:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initiative_Grundeinkommen

But according to local newspaper it's about a project to create a base monthly income for everyone, no matter if they work or not.

The article is huge so I can't go translating it, but basically it describes the effects of a base income on the society - you won't tolerate crazy boss just because you need to pay bills, on the other hand the best payed jobs won't be any more those jobs that include no work at all but just a skill to torture/bully/exploit others.

Even more odd is the source of the idea, it didn't come recently from someone in Switzerland but actually was suggested to USA president Nixon by economists Milton Friedman, James Tobin, Paul Samuelson and John Kenneth Galbraith in 1968.!

Any good soul with german knowledge who could give a bit more details on this?
In 1968 income ownership was more equally distributed (equality had actually improved for many years) so it was reasonable to have such ideas:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:20…percentUSA.png

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October 7th, 2013, 15:36
Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
"Everyone" getting lazy stretches imagination a bit…
A bit?!
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October 7th, 2013, 21:55
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
This isn't new; it's been in discussion for several years now; there are German movements who believe that this'd be a good idea as well.
Since I'm working in the social system I feel pretty confident to say that the majority of my colleagues would be in favour of such a system. Only details would have to be negotiated.

It's a huge problem that there are ca. 10 times as many unemployed people in the low end of the market than there are jobs. So chances to find a job are close to zero for an unlearned worker, but most of them still have to send out 2 applications per week (and provide proof!) or their money will be cut by 30%. The result are millions of garbage applications every week. The unemployed don't want to write them, the companies lose money through them and the social security office demands proof but doesn't have the man power to verify it.

Everybody who got in touch with this knows it is rubbish, including the people working at the social security office (and similar institutions).

Getting out of this rat race would be worth several billion Euros every year.

The obvious effects have been well explained by peko.
Other variables you could modify:
- Maybe only people who sign a contract to stay permanently away from the employment market should get citizen money ?!
- Maybe all income should be counted against the citizen money ?! At the moment a Hartz IV recipient can keep the first 100€ + 20% of everything above (until a certain limit).
- What if the citizen money is relatively low, but equal for the whole country? "I can't live for 800€ in Munich!" "Sure, but you can in Meck-Pomm!"
- How about combining it with a law forcing companies to publicly post all open jobs? More jobs, no forced applications.
- Less paper work means less public servants needed for this. Maybe resources could be used to actually help interested unemployed people find work ?!
Last edited by Gorath; October 7th, 2013 at 22:15.
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October 7th, 2013, 22:14
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
You'll never get everyone to agree on the appropriate amount of money and it would be impossible to match the money to the actual cost of living (assuming you could actually agree on a formula that would account for that constantly changing number, both within and among regions, which you'd somehow have to agree to divide up in some "fair" fashion) for any given area. The bureaucracy required to "make it fair" would be even larger than the current mammoth.

All assuming that everyone wouldn't get lazy, as you noted, which I'd consider a much larger risk than you seem to.
The whole thing a complex, multi-dimensional matter.

Just a few brief points:
a) Who says citizen money would have to be "balanced" or "fair"? Maybe you want them to leave to cheaper areas ?!
a2) A floor would be easy to determine: The minimum amount of money needed for survival is known for each region in every first world country. I would start discussion at this plus 20%.
b) In certain branches there are simply less jobs than unemployed. Just think about all the production helpers whose jobs have been moved to China.
c) At the moment the mantra is "Everybody has to work for his/her own living." But is this fair for people who can't realistically hope to find a job or who have a low wage job which has to be upgraded by wellfare to survive? (Remember that certain countries, like Germany for example, don't have a minimum wage.)
d) But which politician would stand in front of a camera and demand to change the mantra to "Live a humble life with citizen money or work for more." ?!
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October 7th, 2013, 23:11
c) At the moment the mantra is "Everybody has to work for his/her own living." But is this fair for people who can't realistically hope to find a job or who have a low wage job which has to be upgraded by wellfare to survive? (Remember that certain countries, like Germany for example, don't have a minimum wage.)
I'm sure it varies from country to country, but at least in the US, a lot of this concept of "I can't find a job" is self imposed. Its not "I can't find a job", its more "I can't find a job doing what I was doing before for what I was being paid before."

I spent a year unemployed myself and hence spent a lot of time with other unemployed people. I was amazed at that mindset. I saw it a lot in the software industry (this was when a lot of the offshoring to India began). Most of these people 1) weren't willing to work for significantly lower wages, even if they did find a job and 2) weren't willing to invest in themselves via education and training to apply their skills to somewhere else. You still heavily in union centric areas as well.

I spent my year of unemployment working on certifications that made me a better job candidate. Many of my colleagues bemoaning how unfair life was to them.

As to the original topic, not just no, but HELL NO. People should be rewarded for their efforts.

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October 7th, 2013, 23:59
blatant, rewarding efforts is not a question here, it still stays.
you work, you earn a lot.
you don't work because of any reason, you get some cash to be able to survive automatically without walking from doors to doors begging for mercy. but you don't get a pile of cash as those who do work.

why I got interested into this? you certainly don't get payed for flogging others to do their work. the job of torturing others and producing nothing but misery would cease to exist.

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October 8th, 2013, 01:12
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
blatant, rewarding efforts is not a question here, it still stays.
you work, you earn a lot.
you don't work because of any reason, you get some cash to be able to survive automatically without walking from doors to doors begging for mercy. but you don't get a pile of cash as those who do work.

why I got interested into this? you certainly don't get payed for flogging others to do their work. the job of torturing others and producing nothing but misery would cease to exist.
I'm not aware of too many people that get paid for 'producing nothing but misery'. When you use terms like that, its hard to have any type of discussion because to the rest of us, that doesn't mean anything.

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October 8th, 2013, 01:19
Patience, in time you'll be aware.
See… I'm one foot in the grave.

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October 8th, 2013, 01:19
I've been working for 25 years. If I'm not aware by now, it probably ain't happening.

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October 8th, 2013, 01:56
Lucky you.

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October 8th, 2013, 13:18
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
b) In certain branches there are simply less jobs than unemployed. Just think about all the production helpers whose jobs have been moved to China.
c) At the moment the mantra is "Everybody has to work for his/her own living." But is this fair for people who can't realistically hope to find a job or who have a low wage job which has to be upgraded by wellfare to survive? (Remember that certain countries, like Germany for example, don't have a minimum wage.)
I've been reading an article on Foxconn in Europe.

Yes, in Europe ! They use the same system as in China ! In Europe !

They "collect" unemployed workers who'd have no chance of finding work otherwise, cram them into "hotels" with several people per room ( ! ) - pay them the absolute minimum of money - so few that they can't even survive once they'd quit the job !

What Foxconn does is actually modern slavery. Payed slavery, in fact, with so few of money/wages that the workers are not able to survive outside of Foxconn.

It'd help their lives considerably if they were payed something like "Citizen money". Plus, if this system would spread, there wouldn't be children workers that much in the world, too. Remember, that often rare materials like Sulphur and materials needed for "our" iDevices are mined by poor workers and children in countries of Asia and Africa.

(The article on Foxconn appeared in the German magazine called " c't ", number 21/2013.)

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October 8th, 2013, 16:08
Yeah, but everyone has to have the enw iphone, but nobody wants to pay market rates for it.

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October 9th, 2013, 07:41
You make it sound like it is worse because it happens in Europe compared to China, but I suppose you are just surprised. Exploiting your workforce is not limited to countries that are far away. We have farmers in my countries that are found to be cramming eastern Europeans in a few trailers or a barn that have to pay a rent that is slightly below what they make for working 10-12 hours a day. They are fined for not paying taxes and if there are people who want to testify for other things as well.
When there is money to be made there are always those that will exploit others just to have a higher profit margin.

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