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That's why the residents of Switzerland, a country in the heart of Europe which has opted out of the European Union and chosen to continue issuing its own currency, have signed sufficient petitions to put the proposal for a guaranteed stipend for each adult to a referendum.

Media reports refer to a minimum monthly wage equivalent to $2800, but, since no work will be required, it's not a wage, but a distribution of currency directly from the Swiss Treasury.

I suppose the question still to be answered is whether the system of taxation will be adequate to keep the franc flowing back to the Treasury (as revenue) at a sufficient rate. What will prevent hoarders from siphoning off the francs and sequestering them in vaults or hiding them in overseas banks?

That the U.S. still serves as an inspiration overseas perhaps comes as a surprise. But, one of the proponents of the initiative, credits us honestly.

“It could be one of the landmark historical moments, like the abolition of slavery, or the civil rights movement – of course, those who don’t want it will find excuses, but those who do want it will find solutions,” Enno Schmidt, founder of the Basic Income Initiative, told RT.
It could be that the European Union's move to a common currency has inadvertently revealed the disability under which the several United States have been suffering since the end of the Civil War and the adoption of a common U.S. currency, whose availability is "managed" by Congress.

Richard Cook opines on his blog:

The grinches also claim that nations are too broke for such largess, ignoring the fact that they are broke because they have mortgaged their budgets through borrowing from the private banking system instead of exercising their own sovereign power of money-creation.
While that critique may apply to the euro zone to the extent that the European Central Bank is a private entity, the problem in the U.S. is slightly different and, I would argue, one of convolution. That is, although the Treasury issues our sovereign currency, the Congress, in setting up the Federal Reserve Bank, a public/private partnership, has effectively diverted the distribution of our currency through the banks, into Wall Street and thence back to the Treasury to provide a "cut" in the form of dividends and interest (unearned income) to the banksters. And this unearned income on which, by the way, the money bags pay no taxes, then constitutes our national debt and serves as an excuse for Congress not providing for the general welfare as they should.

This diversion of dollars through the Wall Street banks, a sort of money laundering operation, is in contrast in the U.S. to the direct distribution of pensions and supplements from the Social Security Trust Fund, as well as the Unemployment or Worker's Compensation Fund, over which Congress has minimal control. Which is exactly what motivates the constant refrain that the system is at risk of being deep-sixed, if we don't keep our "protectors" in place. That's how a goodly number of members of Congress extort electoral support, by threatening to withhold currency from one population or another. Moreover, both the sequester and the recent shut-down were designed to make believers out of an electorate that might have doubted it could be accomplished.

Of course, one reason Congress has to resort to such drastic measures is that decades of putting on the squeeze have already slowed the flow of our currency from a trickle to a drop. So, a full shut off was needed to make the point.

If Republicans were sincere about having a smaller federal government, they'd support a guaranteed income, as Richard Nixon proposed, and eliminate all the busibodies and middlemen who now vett the citizens and determine whether they are deserving not just of lunch, but of breakfast, dinner and medical care. Not to mention all the eleemosynary institutions dedicated to leper-licking and delivering paliative measures to burnish their own egos.
What will happen to charities, if all adults get access to their currency by right?

Originally posted to hannah on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 06:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pushing back at the Grand Bargain and Money and Public Purpose.

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Comment Preferences

  •  God forbid people should get to eat without (45+ / 0-)

    first having to genuflect!

    The truth, of course, is that the Cons, then and now, are made desperate by the thought that, left to their own devices, workers will refuse to produce enough to sustain the impractical ciphers who have set themselves up as their rulers. That's why a system of legal thievery has to be maintained to guarantee that Wall Street gets its cut.

    The thievery, by the way, does not occur in taxation or revenue end of the stream, but in the distribution to the banksters and grantsters and other assorted middlemen.

  •  Guaranteed National Income (11+ / 0-)

    A concept I first read being advanced by an early 70's yacht builder. Go figure.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 06:09:21 AM PDT

  •  You do know that that's something like 85% (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, Portia Elm, Neuroptimalian

    of the total economic activity / GDP of the country?

    So, unless there's something like an 85% tax rate on the money dispersed (which almost defeats the purpose IMHO), the whole enchilada is doomed to failure.

    Pretty much from the get-go. . .

    •  Much depends on how quickly a dollar circulates (9+ / 0-)

      and how many hands it passes through on its way to registering as a dollar of GDP. When dollars are sucked up by Wall Street and merely pass back and forth between speculators, they don't impact the GDP at all.

      •  Sure, getting dollars to circulate quickly (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, Portia Elm, Neuroptimalian

        is seemingly beneficial; but I still have no idea on how to get from here to there.

        For example, I believe that the federal tax rate in Switzerland is something like 22% (which they use for other things) so they'd have to add 85% on top of that for the current scheme.

        So assuming that the numbers could be finagled to not go over 100%, just where does this 100% come from?  Every time you buy a bottle of wine, you pay an equivalent amount to the current price and taxes to support this new scheme?  Thereby instantly doubling the price of everything?  I don't see that as being a really good thing . . ..

        I guess somebody just needs to walk me through the logistics in an excruciatingly painful manner to help me understand how it could possibly work.

        •  Try to think of dollars and francs and euros (7+ / 0-)

          are symbols, comparable to the various scripts we employ to render spoken words and other sounds into visual and tangible form. Various forms of currency do the same thing for the obligations we have (what we get and give). Or compare currency to the marital certificates which provide recognition and a guarantee to supportive relationships that already exist. No matter how many or few people engage in marital relationships, the certificates need never run out. However, as we have recently been made aware of, the distribution of the certificates can be and are irrationally, but legally, restricted. Ditto for our currency. Dollars are nothing but certified IOUs. When California not long ago ran out of federally issued IOUs, the state issued its own and redeemed them later as promised. What counts is that obligations be honored. Having them officially recorded makes that more certain. Having the Congress threaten to dishonor obligations undermines the whole nation and really can't be countenanced.

          •  That's my problem, I can't think in symbols (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, Portia Elm, Neuroptimalian

            I need to know how this is going to work in the "real world"

            As near as I can tell, * everything * is going to have to be taxed at about 100% to support this scheme.

            So, I go to pay my mortgage, it's going to be $3,600 instead of $1,800.  I buy coffee at 7-11, it's going to be $3.70 instead of $1.85.  And so on.  But maybe I don't mind because I have an extra $2,800 per month that maybe just maybe will cover the extra costs and I'll break  even.

            I can see how somebody with somewhat lower living expenses would definitely benefit, for sure.   But for somebody with higher expenses, they would NOT break even and would be running farther and farther behind each and every month.

            In Switzerland, I suspect that they (i.e., all the evil 1%er's and way more, maybe the top 30%ers or so) would be heavily incentivized to leave and could fairly easily pick up and go to a different country.  That would deprive the government of considerable amounts of the tax revenue needed to fund the generous handouts, causing tax rates to go even higher.  It just seems to me like this has NOT been thought through AT ALL.  

            •  This entire diary is nonsense (4+ / 0-)

              For the reasons you suggest. Pie in the sky currency manipulation nuts always argue that you can make something from nothing if you only print enough money (or tax enough, etc).

              Progressive policy is all well and good, as long as you have some basic understanding of economics while you do it.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 07:41:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Currency is a figment of the imagination. (6+ / 0-)

                Human brains invented it some five thousand years ago. That it has survived this long in various forms suggests that, albeit imaginary, it is useful. It is even thought that currency was invented before the writing of the spoken word. In both cases, something immaterial (value, sound) is rendered visible and tangible in material form. The rendering does not change the idea. It merely makes it easier to communicate and share and pass around.
                Money makes it possible to overcome the limitations of time and space. However, money is not a prerequisite for trade and exchange to take place. Nor is money a necessary prerequisite to productive enterprise.
                Whether the use of money gets tracked by officers of the community is another matter still. At present, it is estimated that in the U.S. over $2 trillion changes hands without being tracked by the federal Treasury. That's what is known as the shadow or underground or un-official economy.

                What economists track is not all there is.

                •  All of this us great and all (0+ / 0-)

                  How does it translate into the real world where we have to allocate scarce physical resources (manpower, metal, concrete, food, etc)?

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 08:25:00 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "resources" by definition are things we (6+ / 0-)

                    can use over and over again by recycling them or growing more food out of the detritus of the old.
                    Scarcity is largely an artifice of man. It gives some people an excuse for not sharing.
                    It is a matter of fact that, at present, the globe is producing sufficient food to provide a nutritious diet for 9 billion people. Since we only have 6 billion + and many of those are starving, it seems obvious that a lot of food is going to waste, and not just the stuff we send to the dump because we don't like the taste. Never mind the number of pets that are being fed nutritious meals.
                    We would have sufficient fresh water, if it weren't being wasted.
                    Some proponents of putting a price on everything argue that having to pay will keep people from wasting. There's no evidence to prove that. A similar argument was also made about ownership of real property -- that people would take better care of what they own. That, too, has proved false. We can see our crumbling urban centers for evidence.

                    What I think we need to do is stop making decisions on the basis of cost and exercise some moral/socially aware judgement.

              •  I see these diaries pop up here almost on a (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                daily basis (as an aside, that's why it's Daily Kos I suppose . . . ) and keep hoping that somebody will be able to sit me down and walk me through it, and tell me how it actually will work.

                I'm beginning to believe that will never happen.

                In a best case scenario, all that this will do is double the price of everything, but people will have twice as much money, so it'll be a wash.

                But like they say, economics is the dismal science (or something like that), so what's the chance of getting the best case scenario?  I suspect that instead there'd be a realistic case scenario outcome (aka total clusterfuck).

            •  The quantity doesn't matter. (7+ / 0-)

              What you read and write here is a compendium of symbols. How many symbols you use does not affect the quality of the message. Nor, for that matter, does it affect anyone else's use. Now that our writing is done electronically, the quantity of letters available is no longer significant. But, it was when printers had a to use letters from their letter box and set up each page by hand. There was a practical limit to how many words they could construct and print at one time and the size of the issue was constrained by the amount of paper they had on hand. That's no longer the case. People who used to buy ink by the barrell are probably upset that they no longer have a monpoly on the issues of the day. C'est la vie.

            •  Clearly it hasn't been thought through ... (0+ / 0-)

              as there hasn't been one word said about certain impact of the millions of immigrants (both currently employed elsewhere and those who are unemployed).

              "If you build it they will come" ... and if they can't take it away from you, they won't lose a minute's sleep over having bankrupted it before they move on.

              "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

              by Neuroptimalian on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 01:52:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Believe it would replace other forms of support (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DrCoyle65, hannah, psyched

          ...with a single method of income subsidy.  So, it wouldn't all be new money, nor would it be simply giving 2500 Swiss Francs a month to everybody.

          I'm skeptical myself, but there is a serious issue with the collapse of demand for common labor in rich countries. It's looking like fewer than half of 18-65s having jobs will become a permanent thing. I understand it's already the case in Britain.  

          At some point, you either have to support people or pay the Chinese to build tens of millions of pre-loaded, single-shot .45 pistols.

    •  The flow of our currency isn't exactly like a (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Portia Elm, Chi, annan, psyched

      stream; more like the whole water cycle in which the oceans evaporate to produce rain and replenish the headwaters of the stream.
      Taxes are merely a mechanism for returning the currency to its source.
      Deploying taxes to punish and reward is abuse.

    •  If they've got a sales tax, they'll get it back. (7+ / 0-)

      A dollar bill (or any other piece of currency) doesn't just get taxed once and done.  It's sometimes taxed every single time a transaction occurs.  And people with guaranteed incomes are going to spend a lot more than save.  They don't have to worry about 'saving up for a rainy day'.  It's that 'confidence' Republicans are always blathering on about when they talk about why businesses aren't spending all of the loot they've accumulated.

      (And since they're in europe, they might go for the VAT instead of a sales tax on the purchaser.  But whether the tax is built into the sale or the manufacture and purchase, it's still a tax.)

      •  No one in Switzerland... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy, Neuroptimalian

        ...will bother to do any work if 85% of their labor is taxed away.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 07:43:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You need to stop equating the counter with (9+ / 0-)

          the thing being counted. Don't confuse the inch with the distance it measures.

          •  The thing is, to sell this to the vast majority (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            of people out there (including myself), you're going to have to sit down and put dollar and cents values on how it is going to affect them  personally, and also how this is going to reflect on the larger economy.

            Similar to how Joe the Plumber worried about his tax bill when he aspired to make $250K (at which point Obama's tax policies of way back when might have cost him a few bucks a month) but was actually then currently making something like $17K (and his taxes wouldn't have gone up at all).

            Like they say, the devil is in the details.

          •  So, magic (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Got it.

            Stop telling me what mistakes I am supposedly making and tell me what your scheme actually means to real people in the real world.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 08:35:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're asking for predictions. (9+ / 0-)

              I'm not in the business of making predictions. Politicians make predictions because they are inherently unprovable and/or false. The press likes predictions because they are easier to assemble than facts.
              Personally, I'm willing to wait to see how the Swiss experiment works out. I can understand that the countries in the euro zone are also contemplating this solution to a problem they didn't anticipate when they went from multiple currencies to one. I suspect the hold of the international bankers only became apparent after the consolidation.
              It might be useful to recall that in the 17th Century, it was the Dutch bankers who had managed to corner and sequester all the gold Spain and Portugal stole from the Americas and it was the Dutch (who co-incidentally settled New Amsterdam) who started issuing certificates of deposit instead of the gold and that enabled them to control both industrial development in Britain and trade around the globe.

              Nixon severed the U.S. bands of gold because he didn't want international speculators controlling our economy. He likely did not envision that Wall Street speculators would cause similar harm. Nor, one suspects, did he anticipate that the Congress would proceed to ration the currency to enhance their electoral chances or punish antagonists.

              It's only recently that we even started talking about money. It used to be "the last tabu," which, like all other secrecy, covered up abuse.

    •  Maybe they know something that we don't (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Portia Elm, Chi

      They've been holding a significant portion of the world's precious metals for hundreds of years. The fees on that alone in present day dollars must be in the trillions.

      I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

      by CFAmick on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 07:53:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Money needs to move everywhere (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, side pocket, martini, annan, psyched

    so economic growth and development keeps pace with human need.  And yes that means tired forms of evergy like fossil feuls will be replaced with sustainable resources because it makes economic sense.

  •  excellent diary, thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, annan

    by Portia Elm on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 08:00:16 AM PDT

  •  I have long thought that something like this... (4+ / 0-)

    was a possible answer to the complaints of Republicans regarding welfare.

    If someone gets something from the government, everyone should get it.

    With a single-payer health care system any and all complaints about people getting something for nothing are eliminated. Quit complaining Charles Koch, you are getting free health care too.

    Same with welfare which is what this does in Switzerland.

    Ted Cruz: The second coming of Christ, but not quite as good as Reagan (yet).

    by nuketeacher on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 08:02:13 AM PDT

  •  The 2800 is not actually in the proposal and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the actual number used would be established by law and, of necessity, far lower.  

  •  Interesting tidbit (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, Cassandra Waites, psyched

    Robert A. Heinlein's first book For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs espoused this very idea.

    Also free health care!

    It wasn't published until 2003 after a lost manuscript was found.

    "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

    by BOHICA on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 09:39:01 AM PDT

  •  Yes, we need to separate work from wealth. (7+ / 0-)

    People will by nature (or by proper education) work for the pure joy of it.  So what people receive in income should not reflect what they do (or not do).  This is the society which we are striving for.

    •  This is the society we used to strive for. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psyched, Cassandra Waites, TrebLoc, Chi

      In the olden days, the 1970s, I was a kindergarden teacher and taught the little children...all people are equal, all worthy of respect and value - janitors or doctors, each are needed in their own way.

      I haven't heard this refrain in a long long time.

      •  Yup, a professor at Harvard or a surgeon at the (0+ / 0-)

        Mayo clinic should be allotted the same income as the secretary or janitor or even the guy who just doesn't feel like working.  

        In addition, the homeless problem could be instantly solved by knowing the number of occupants of each private home, and those larger homes with spare rooms would immediately be required to shelter homeless people or for that matter anyone else who wants to move in.  There are lots of huge homes out there owned by rich people which are virtually empty with regard to number of rooms vs. number of occupants.

        •  Once the basic requirements are satisfied, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TrebLoc, psyched

          there's still lots of room for extras.
          The notion that people perform because they are paid needs to be debunked.
          I've been working almost my entire adult life without getting paid and none of my three children, all college graduates, do what they do because of what they are paid.
          Money is only significant to people who have no sense of self. That's why at least a million people a year, from whom taxes have been collected without being owed, don't bother to file returns with the IRS to get the dollars back.

        •  I suppose you aren't intending (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hannah, psyched

          to have your comment cited approvingly, but I agree spot on, 100% and more, with your first paragraph. Absolutely every individual in a society should be allotted the same basic income. If Prof. Harvard or Dr. Mayo Clinic decide to work then, sure, they gets to make even more money.

          Even granting that, though, I see no reason why Herr Professor and the good Doctor should receive more money than their administrative assistants (without whom, let's be frank, their successes would be lessened) and custodial engineers (without whom those titans' workplaces would be unfit for human habitation).

          So, yeah, those folks should have the same basic income as a person who chooses not to work.

          I'm also a big fan of repurposing vacant residences, something that squatters the world 'round ("Even," he whispers, "here in the United States- although it's never talked about.") engage in. So while I'm not entirely sure that vacant rooms should be seized through eminent domain and assigned to homeless folk (although, I'll admit, I like the idea the more I think about it, so thanks for mentioning it!), I strongly believe that vacation homes, second mansions, homes bought up for pennies on the dollar and left abandoned, homes purposefully abandoned for insurance purposes, and actually all of Jamie Dimon's possessions should be taken for the public good.

          Oh, you were intending to say that our society should remain stratified, and that already-wealthy people should continue to possess ever more of this country's treasure? My misunderstanding.

          •  What's the smart-a$$ with your last paragraph? (0+ / 0-)

            You question my sincerity?  I hope questioning people's sincerity is not a part of your idea of the new society.  BTW: How many empty rooms to you have in your home, and how many homeless people have you made offers to live there?

  •  money only holds value when we agree to give (0+ / 0-)

    it that value. I don't know much about how banking or currency works. All i know is that i have agreed to value it and am therefore part of the problem.

    Earth: Mostly harmless ~ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (revised entry)

    by yawnimawke on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 11:17:20 AM PDT

    •  The problem isn't that we have assigned (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, yawnimawke, psyched, chmood

      value. The problem is that the guardians of our currency are using it to rule, rather than serve the people.

      Instead of asking candidates for Congress what they think about sex, let's ask them what they think about money and how they intend to manage it.

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