And the winner for best country in the world almost goes to… Switzerland.
With Donald Trump taking the republican nomination, myriad celebrity deaths and the renewal of at least seven shows featuring Kardashians, the world needed some good news. It almost happened yesterday in the form of a Swiss referendum that could’ve change the world as we know it; an unconditional basic income for all.
Yep, the Swiss headed to the polls over the weekend to vote on an annual wage of $42,000 (AUD) for absolutely every Swiss citizen working or retired, young (18 and up) and old, rich or poor, for the remainder of their lives. But, it was rejected yesterday, by a 77% majority.
Why did the Swiss end up heading to the polls?
Campaigners Basic Income Switzerland insist that a living wage is a basic human right. Hear, hear. “The unconditional basic income… is not based on a certain type of work but rather on the mere existence of the recipient,” the campaigners say.
“It remains with the person their whole life, in all situations, without alteration. It is an income that is paid directly to an individual; it cannot be payed to institutions such as marriage or to groups. It always remains individual. It is not affected by a specific location of residence. It is equal in all areas.”
While vocal contingents of the politically inept in the US and Australia are focused on more pressing issues, such as being able to expose themselves in public at all times, and vilifying the mother of a four-year-old boy who was rag-dolled by King Kong, the Swiss were in the voting booth deciding on whether existing comfortably is a societal right.
At the last survey before the poll, more than 40% of the Swiss population indicated they’d vote in favour. But the majority voted against the idea, 77% of voters rejecting, and 23% supporting it.
But how would that have even have been possible?
Apparently, political instability isn’t the answer.
“Despite being arguably the most conservative country in the world, many typical Swiss factors are building a solid ground for the introduction of a UBI – political stability, economic wealth and a strong liberal culture of self-determination,” the campaign’s website says.
Reminding us that basic human decorum, community awareness and censorship do have a place and one can maintain her liberalism at the same time.
It’s suggested that the government would save tens of millions without the need to facilitate complicated and expensive-to-run benefit programs. In their place? Monthly direct deposits.
What about those with jobs?
Switzerland has the highest cost of living in the first world. The average wage in Switzerland is a whopping $125,000 AUD. And the monthly UBI would be deducted from their salary. So there’s still plenty of incentive to work. Only now, the campaigners say, punters will be able to follow their passions rather than slog at a dead-end job to pay the bills.
“Wages in the private sector would be liberated from securing the livelihood of the employee. This new situation opens a space for (re)negotiation for both, employees and employers,” the campaigners say.
“A salary becomes a symbol of appreciation, a motivation. It remains performance-based and tied to the market. A salary can be very high or very low, but the actual livelihood of the individual is inviolable because each person receives the basic income as a social right.”
Switzerland is the first country in the world to go to the polls with this kind of proposal. Just when we thought the Swiss had given the world enough – watches, pocket knives and Lindt – they go and attempt to bring about the greatest social change in modern government. Watch this space…