Basic Income

In the FT, John Kay points out that basic income proposals have one major drawback: They are very—expensive.

Not everyone agrees. Switzerland will hold a national referendum on the introduction of an unconditional basic income on June 5th, 2016. The supporters of the proposal write:

A basic income already exists today. Everyone obtains one from somewhere; otherwise we would not be able to live. In our society today, no one can survive without an income. The level of a basic income is currently included in the existing incomes. The shift that is needed now is to make current incomes free of conditions up to the level of this basic economic security. In fact, the introduction of an unconditional basic income does not cost anything. To assure basic security by means of a social contract will bring about a new situation for income of all origins. It opens up the possibility for negotiations at all levels. Principally, the existing incomes could be decreased by the amount of the basic income.

Addendum: The Economist discusses the pros and cons of universal basic income proposals.