The Sideshow

Switzerland to vote on $2,800 monthly ‘basic income’ for adults

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

View photo

.

Swiss "basic income" supporters drop coins outside the capital (Reuters)


More than 100,000 residents in Switzerland have signed a petition demanding that the government ensure a minimum monthly income of nearly $2,800 (2,500 Swiss francs) for all adults in the country.

The 120,000 signatures are enough to formally call a vote in the government over whether or not to approve the “CHF 2,500 monthly for everyone" (Grundeinkommen)” funding proposal.

For comparison, the average U.S. worker earned $3,769 in pre-tax, monthly salary in 2011. Food service industry workers earned $1,785 in pre-tax income during the same period.

MSN reports that in a public display of support, advocates tipped over a truck full of 8 million five-cent coins in front of the Swiss capital on Friday, one coin for each of the country’s citizens.

[More photos from the 8 million five-cent coin event]

A formal date has yet to be set for the vote but it could come as early as this year, pending guidance from Swiss government.

Funding for the proposed measure would come out of the Swiss social insurance system, which already guarantees universal health care coverage for its citizens, along with other benefits designed to uphold the country’s social safety net.

Because of the relatively low threshold for forcing votes on referendum driven issues, Switzerland typically votes on several public measures each year.

For example, on November 24th, the country will vote on a separate measure that would limit executive pay to the same amount paid to a company’s lowest paid staff member.

The so-called 1:12 initiative has received support from the Swiss government’s Social Democrat bloc.

At least one of Switzerland’s biggest CEO’s has said if the measure passes, he would consider moving his company out of the country .

“I can’t believe that Switzerland would cause such great harm to its economy,” Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg told the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. “And I say that not just as the head of a company, but as a Swiss citizen.”

Glencore said the measure could have a disastrous effect on other Swiss companies, including Nestlé, Novartis and Roche.

Of course, not all of the country’s referendums are meant to promote a socialist state. For example, a majority of Swiss voters have voiced support for a referendum that would maintain the country’s conscription policy , which requires all men in the country aged 18-34 to complete a period of public service.

View Comments (5788)