The Swiss believe that an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) scheme is the answer to automation. 72% believe that many traditional types of work will become redundant and that basic income is needed to attain new lifestyle models.
The Swiss believe the strongest argument for basic income is the changing nature of work due to advancing technologies and that new lifestyle models are consequently needed
In Singapore's case, not only are jobs being replaced by automation at a faster pace than Switzerland, jobs for Singaporeans are also being replaced by imported foreign workers and executives since day one.
UBI is largely seen as a way to finally recognize all the unpaid and unrecognized work that is going on outside of employment. 49% of Swiss see a UBI as valuing and encouraging unpaid household and volunteer work.
Innovative Switzerland wants to be a country that leads the way on basic income. It does not want to wait for anyone else to first show the way. But for Singaporeans, this is the only way for them to survive in the next 50 years, or they will go extinct leaving behind a few PAP dinosaurs, in a country run by robots and foreign contract workers.
Singapore is already embarking on driverless taxi, way before any other countries in the world. This is going to end the jobs of some 40,000 cab drivers over the next 50 years, and hit the livelihood of 100,000 of their family members.
Advanced robots and drones are also being build to replace thousands of jobs in factories and offices.
Online shopping is also going to cut the jobs in the retail and food industry. Menial jobs will be the domain of foreign labours, and office jobs will be taken care of by the more qualified imported talents.
That will leave most Singaporeans with nothing else to do, other than tendering to their homes. And these tasks should have a value attached to it.
The basic income should be considered as one of the basic human rights. The Right to Life itself. The unconditional basic income is not tied to any circumstance or work done or compensation.
It is the amount that everyone, in any case and without exception needs in order to live. It is an amount that does not depend upon whether or not someone has a job.
The basic income relates solely to the individual and not to her function or situation. It is an income that arises from a general fundamental democratic right, the Right to Life.
How is This Possible?
We can differentiate between reimbursement for work in the private sector and public incomes such as social insurances as two fundamentally different incomes. Setting an unconditional base amount would have different effects on these different income areas.
A) 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. 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.
An entrepreneur can now be sure that people will come to her because they actually want to work with her.
Motivation will become a prerequisite for a job application. Even the employee is now more free in his position of negotiation. He can say yes to work that interests him and in which he can be of optimal use. Personal development through our work, having success and taking responsibility will become key attributes of a job search.
The applicant can also say no to unappealing job offers more easily. The threat of taking away a person's livelihood can no longer be used as a means to force employees to work under bad conditions.
The transfer of an unconditional basic income reduces the cost of labor. It acts as a subsidy to the existing wages. Being secured up to the level of the unconditional basic income, each person can now do her work without hesitation. Taxes can be restructured such that labor is no longer taxed (neither on the employer nor the employee side). Instead, a tax on goods (value-added tax) is increased and in part redistributed as an unconditional basic income.
B) Any social funds, extra payments, stipends, pensions and such subsidies can be replaced by the basic income as long as they do not exceed it. In the United States, there are 150 different programs of social balance that could be vastly relieved by the distribution of an unconditional basic income. This unconditional transaction could replace the “social welfare state“ and could mean significant reductions of expenses for the authorities. Currently, all social transfers are tied to concrete conditions that have to be proven and investigated bureaucratically at very high cost.
Unconditionally securing a livelihood for everyone would replace the existing incomes from the bottom up, in the public as well as the private sector. This basic amount is already transferred today. What remains are the conditions placed upon it, and thus seems to present a challenge for some:
Who would still want to go to work, if the securing of a livelihood does not motivate us to work anymore? And more importantly: Who would do the „dirty work“?
3. Good Job or Bad Job?
Because the basic income is paid to everyone, it should be an issue for everyone. The millionaire that lives off the interest of their wealth as well as the dishwasher that lives from paycheck to paycheck.
In the world of work we can distinguish between extrinsically and intrinsically motivated employees. Some employees work primarily for their income. Their motivation is based on the extrinsic necessity to have an income, on self-preservation and personal as well as familial survival. We call their work a „bad job“. On the other hand, everyone knows examples of intrinsically motivated work. The motivation, process and product of this work are closely related. We call this a „good job“. Amongst the extrinsically motivated „bad jobs“ as well as the intrinsically motivated „good jobs“ we can find both very well paid jobs and also very low paying jobs. What is the effect of an unconditional basic income on those four job categories?
The category of well-paid good jobs is not going to change very much with the introduction of a basic income, except the salary is going to decrease by the amount of the basic income.
Well-paid bad jobs will always be done. The motivation of making a lot of money will stay the same. But including the basic income in the transaction will challenge the paradigm of „only focussing on oneself“.
Low paying good jobs, such as care-work, volunteering, working from one's own vision (every entrepreneur recognizes this type of work from starting their own business) are going to be freer through the basic income, easier to imagine and more realistic.
Amongst the low paying bad jobs the distribution of an unconditional basic income will bring about the biggest change.
In the last category we find the so-called „dirty work“. The unconditional basic income will not prohibit these jobs, nor does it claim higher payment for such work (like a minimum wage would). It does, however, put the employee in a new position from which to negotiate, as their existential dependence on a job has been removed.
The basic income makes it possible to say NO.
It is possible that having a person do the cleaning will become more expensive because with a basic income in their pocket, fewer people would be willing to spend time working for a low income. When prices for certain services rise it becomes attractive to invest in technological solutions - solutions that are currently kept waiting because of the availability of cheap labor. The basic income strengthens the trend to automate such tasks. It creates the possibility for innovation.
Good jobs that are badly paid are supported by the basic income, in many cases they only become possible when such an income exists. Services and products that are created in intrinsically motivated work will become more affordable. A real market comes into play, one without opportunities of blackmailing the workforce.
On average, prices will roughly remain on the same level across all the sectors; what will be new is that prices will also reflect popular areas of work.
4. A Fundamental Democratic Right
The introduction of an unconditional basic income brings about a democratization of democracy. It gives time for reflection. It creates possibilities for experiences we cannot pay for.
A democracy gives every adult the right to judge what is best for the whole community based on their own life experience and ability. It gives each individual the responsibility to decide in the interest of others. The individual interest of each person becomes a building block for the greater whole.
The basic income trusts each person to know how to decide what their path is and how they want to make a difference for others. This is no less than the pursuit of happiness. It is an evolution of democracy itself.
Those who want to hold a monopoly on power can-not see anything sensible in the introduction of an unconditional basic income.
No king would introduce a basic income. But the democratic way is the royal road: only through the mutual encouragement of the people can a basic income come into existence.
The first prototype referendum for the unconditional basic income is taking place in Switzerland in June 2016. And who knows what can grow from such an experience?