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Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe


Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe

Daniel Raventós, Julie Wark


In the last few months basic income—an unconditional cash payment to every member of the population—has been getting more and more attention in the media and social networks. Three items are especially interesting.


The first step in crafting guaranteed income in the US would be to get all private money out of politics and increasing tax rates on all income over $200,000, thereby diverting enough money to pay for guaranteed income.

In the US the US Government would also need to dictate where guaranteed income recipients reside since apartment and home rental costs vary by a factor of 10 or more depending on location.


first a huge education campaign in the U.S. showing people that helping your neighbor actually creates a better, safer, smarter healthier more enjoyable society then let them vote. And then when it passes, the rulers can change it or nullify it so it has no effect.


I have a hard time reading postings such as this, because my current lunch read is Yanis Varoufakis' book. Brilliant. He is a GIANT among us.


My Dad told me about his idea of how to solve our economic problems a long time ago, about giving everyone a basic income (I'm not sure but I think he might have thought this idea up on his own). I am amazed at how I am hearing more and more that others also agree with this idea. Here is a link I found a few years ago:



“The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” IX Amendment, U. S. Constitution.

Guaranteed income, guaranteed health care, I would argue, are among those other rights retained by the people.


All current economic systems are based on the assumption of scarcity -- that there's not enough to go around -- implying that a system that grows the economy is best, even if it results in inequality.

Today it's clear that, in many countries at least, there's enough to go around. This should imply a totally different economic and social system, one that prizes life, health and democracy above growth, accumulation of wealth and plutocracy.

In the US in particular, it's just obscene that for decades we've had enough societal wealth to eliminate poverty. Indeed, if the increase in real income since 1980 had been divided equally, poverty would have been eliminated many years ago.

Instead, the lion's share of the increase has gone to the wealthiest 1% of the population. Meanwhile, many of the rest of us are working harder and more productively than our parents, yet earning no more in real terms and, at the bottom, are an ever-increasing number of poor people.

The situation in the US is nothing short of revolting. It's time for a revolution, folks!


They tried something similar -- negative income tax -- in Manitoba and it worked. One unexpected benefit was that people could afford to set up small businesses and be covered during the initial start-up period. Another was that people were able to purchase working vehicles which made them better able to find work
Of course, it would require other supports such as guaranteed health care to be truly successful.


Unreel, a guaranteed income certainly can not cover everyone's wants, but it could increase individual freedom in marvelous ways. Of course it is likely difficult to give everyone quite enough to gain a great deal of freedom, but it could open up possibilities for people. I hope Switzerland will give us a nice test case.


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The only ones that can actually afford it are probably the Swiss and Germany. The Swiss are gonna vote against it just as they voted against "single payer" healthcare or tax increases for "the rich".

Personally i would support a basic income. My hope is it will keep whiners out of the work force, thus letting people who actually love their work be productive and not have to listen to constant whining and complaining while trying to enjoy their workday.


You don't have to move to Europe. Just move to Massachusetts. A study was done that if you're taking all the state has to offer you will have an income of $52,000 a year. YES, you read that right. And what do these bums do??? They sit in their front yards of apartments that are paid for by the state and drink beer out of paper bags and smoke. In between this lively activity they roam the roads in cars nicer than many working folks drive...usually selling drugs, driving drunk or breaking & entering.


Firstly, there are very few people who have MOST of their income taxed away. Generally people who have high enough income to pay the higher end rates in a graduated system also have the income to pay professionals to reduce their taxes to the smallest possible amount. Secondly, it's not "given to others" -- only a fraction goes in direct payments to individuals. A lot of tax income goes to items such as roads, sewage treatment plants and national parks that are used by people in common. Even military spending could be thought of as a "common good" though it is arguable whether it is necessary or whether the money is spent efficiently. Taxation is based on income, not the toughness of the profession or the hardness of the work, so I don't see how that bears on the issue.


A global basic income could be provided with the interest on sovereign debt, if sovereign debt is required to be backed with Commons shares, and each adult human may claim a share, to be deposited in trust at their bank.

Such a system could be manifest without any change to taxation, as the interest is currently being paid, and would simply require the reinvestment of currently held sovereign debt, which would stimulate the world economy.

While the current level of sovereign debt would only pay about ten USD per month to each adult human on the planet, twenty if secured corporate debt is included, the structure would exist, and could be easily expanded.


The oligarchy might let us have a guaranteed income when they feel their self-preservation depends on it. Their decision will come through the politicians on their payroll. The public has little or nothing to say about it.

We need voter initiatives and binding referendums.


We need voter initiatives and binding referendums

That's right, and if the Swiss can do it, we in the US should be able to do it too. Of course, it may take some agitating, perhaps even the creating of a new third party around that issue, but it should be doable, I'd say within a 10-year horizon.


Great Idea! I could use some more beer money-BURP!!!


Hi Ray, your post reveals a very basic misunderstanding of the nature of money, which is that it is a conserved quantity (like energy in physics) that cannot be created or destroyed. The rules most of us have to play be are designed to make us think that way, but banks create money when they make loans (no they do not lend out depositors' money; they need that merely for liquidity) and it is destroyed again when the loans are paid off. This enables the people who own the banks to effectively tax our money supply, by charging interest on the loans. Supposedly we the people gave them that power so that they would allocate new money wisely, but 2008 showed what a scam that always was. Money could be created instead by the Federal Reserve just giving it to the Treasury (or even being made part of the Treasury), and spent into existence by the government, for example by giving everyone a basic income. That's a much better investment than subprime loans, I'm sure we all agree!


Pressure from banks, politicians and bosses against basic income is considerable.

The ruling class will fervently fight Basic Income to the end as it will have a significant affect on their "reserve army" of unemployed workers who are on stand-by (as planned under capitalism) as replacement workers for dissident employees who start demanding higher wages, better benefits and better working conditions. With Basic Income, the pool of unemployed can be (and will be) more judicious on any job they accept. The unemployed worker won't have to chose between taking an overly exploitative job and ... starvation.

Basic Income will bring some equilibrium to the employer/employee (master/wage slave) relationship ... at least for a while.

Basic Income will dramatically lessen the stronghold the (capitalist) ruling class has over the working class. The ruling class have always maintained a planned "reserve army" of potential workers as a way to control their current workforce and to maintain low wages. Employees who are afraid of losing their jobs are far less likely to start making demands for higher wages, better benefits, and improved working conditions.

It quickly becomes apparent that "full employment" is not, never has been, or ever will be considered under capitalism as the reserve pool of unemployed potential workers has always been used by the (capitalist) ruling class to control current workers (wage slaves) and to maintain profits.

Would Laissez-Faire Capitalism Reduce Unemployment?


I recently found an interesting method of funding the basic income in a book: "With Liberty and Dividends for All" by Peter Barnes, 2014. He makes the argument for a re-alignment of the current economic systems by providing for charges (fees) on the externalities that we all now take for granted, such as air, water and topsoil. The idea is similar to the "Carbon Fee and Dividend" which is promoted by Citizens Climate Lobby, but covers a broader base of items subject to a fee and aims higher in terms of the dividend. I recommend it to anyone seriously interested in pursuing this topic.