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A Basic Income for All?

November 18, 2013
Plain English Version

Is this an idea whose time is coming? Swiss citizens will soon vote on whether or not to give each citizen a monthly income. No strings attached.

What would happen? An advocate of the idea said it would give dignity and happiness to the poor. It would also open up opportunities for creativity and entrepreneurship.

He said it is like the civil rights movement. It is like ending slavery. The German word “stimmig” is used. The word means harmony, order and beauty.

This is the basic income movement. It is a response to the chronic unemployment and low incomes of millions around the world and in  America.

Conservatives and liberals are looking at the idea. For conservatives,  it means doing away with the vast bureaucracies that run public assistance programs such as food stamps, housing subsidies, welfare and hundreds of others.

Liberals see the basic income movement as a way to end poverty. It is also a way to encourage people to improve their lives.

It has been tried in a small Canadian town. All the residents received a guaranteed minimum income. The result showed poverty ended. But there was more good news. High school graduations went up. Hospitalization rates went down.

Is the cost too high? Would it discourage work? The research findings were mixed. There were some negative outcomes. But not as many as some expected.

The amount of guaranteed income has to be enough to end poverty. But it should not be so much as to discourage trying to improve your life.

Some companies, such as McDonalds, are encouraging workers to apply for food stamps or make use of food banks.

If federal programs are part of a strategy to reduce poverty, why not change them so they help all of the people. It may well be the path of the future.

Source: The New York Times                                                                                           November 12, 2013

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