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Annie Lowrey, “Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive”

"Take one income, please." -Illustration by Kelsey Dake, the New York Times

"Take one income, please." -Illustration by Kelsey Dake, the New York Times

[Ian Orton]

News of the forthcoming Swiss referendum on the Basic Income proposal continues to make inroads in the popular press; this time across the Atlantic where The New York Times features this important political moment in a positive light. The article runs through the manifold arguments in favour of the idea, elaborates on the different types of proposal that could come into being (i.e. unconditional/means tested), how it appeals both to left and right persuasions, and charts its historical roots both in North America and elsewhere. Significantly, the author recognises its potential and how it could make sense in the United States too (i.e. helping to address its current social ills such as stagnant wages, high and stubborn long term employment): ‘If our economy is no longer able to improve the lives of the working poor and low-income families, why not tweak our policies to do what we’re already doing, but better — more harmoniously? It’s hardly uplifting news, but minimum incomes just might be stimmig [‘coherent, harmonious and beautiful’] for the United States too’. More importantly still, the author senses the idea may just sneak into the Swiss system. Such a hunch reflects a discernable quickening and intensification of the momentum gathering behind the Basic Income proposal.

Annie Lowrey. Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive,” The New York Times, November 12, 2013.

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