Well, at least on this website, I will be the only one who will actually be allowed to vote on that issue. The votation will be on the fifth of June. And it is absolutely sure that it will fail: Switzerland is a very slow country. You don not change things so radically. And it is a very “liberal” country, but not in the American way of using the word, where it is opposed to conservative. Liberal ideals and parties as characterized in the European context mean something very different. The liberal party in Switzerland is considered rather right leaned- maybe centre-right, but certainly not on the left of the political sphere. However, this is an osgiliation.
But, and maybe several of you will have expected this, I will vote for this initiative. Recently, there has been a very good article about the philosophy behind this initiative. Unfortunately, it is in French, but I could still link to it, if you’d be interested.
The starting point for my motivation to accept this idea, are actually the Human Rights. Some formulations of the Human Rights are in fact the basic values of my life and they have become the scale of moral measurement for the atheist I am. The first and maybe most important stance of the Human Rights is for me that all persons are born equal and deserve a life in dignity. Now, we call dispute what is dignity, but with my Western European protestant background, dignity means to dispose of your life and future as you want it, in short to be the master of your fate. (This is very short, there is a lot more to it). An initiative like the Swiss vote on the RBI (revenu de base inconditionel) would, among other things, guarantee a life in dignity for everybody. Not in comfort (life is very expensive in Switzerland and with the amounts proposed you can live and eat, but you cannot really travel – for instance) The initiative does not fix an amount! Just to be clear.
Also, it would mean that salaries would all go down that same amount: instead of being paid 100.000 Swiss Francs (you can check out my salary, if you want. on the Website of the gouvernement of Geneva. Salaries of teachers are public) per year as I am now, I’d be paid 70.000 + 30.000 rbi. So, firms could pay more taxes as their charge in salaries would go down and those taxes could finance the rbi. Another part of the finances would come from the social programs which would not exist any more. So, in fact financing all this is not the biggest problem.
It does not completely eliminate poverty, I think, it puts it to a different level. If someone is a drug addict, he will spend his rbi in a few days on his drugs – and will still be poor after that. (Now, I would of course advocate too a complete legalisation of drugs, but this question has not been discussed so far). But then, this is also what happens with social aid programs.
I think the key difference is in the idea of deserving help from “society” or not: in one model, you have to deserve anything you get from “society”, and you are judged by your individual achievement within this society to determine what is your right to receive within it. It can even go as far as Mrs. Thatcher who pretended that society did not exist… only individuals. In the other optic, you deserve a life in dignity just because you were born a human being. And it is the aim of society to guarantee that life to each and every of its members – if society does not have this aim, we could be living alone in the jungle… (slightly exaggerated). My personal opinion is that society does exist and that it should indeed offer a life in dignity to all of its members, weather they deserve it (through work) or not. My opposition to the idea of having to deserve basic dignity comes of course from my German side. The Nazis decided that handicapped persons did not deserve to live as they were a burden to society. As soon as you decide that someone has to deserve his right for a life in dignity, you have to exclude some people – quite many people in fact. This is not compatible with my basic life value of the Human Rights. But that’s my view of the world.
There are many other things: I am not sure that:
I don't think you'd get anyone to disagree that they'd a want a world free of poverty and sickness and violence and war
Many people benefit from violence, war and sickness and do not care either for other persons or they do care for their ideas more than they do for persons. Or, they do not consider all persons equal in rights and advantage one group over another – which is a form of violence…
Then, I do think that we are in a process of historical transformation and that the Nation State, invention of the late 18th and 19th century is no longer apt to confront the conflicts of this 21st century world. It is a part of the problem rather than a part of the solutions, alongside, in my mind, with capitalism, which ends up destroying the planet we live on. But this does not mean that I hold keys to any alternative. I am not politician, after all.
For the questions of peace,my main guidance is Kant and his writing « On perpetual peace ». But, this is more than long enough, I am not willing to type down ideas which will not be read or debated – so I’ll wait. And I have to pick up Benjamin from kickboxing.
Yov: the amount which is often mentioned is adapted to Swiss living cost. Please take into consideration before calculation anything alike for the US.