Ba­sic in­come would ben­e­fit the work-shy

Bray People - - OPINION - with Deb­o­rah Cole­man

AREFERENDUM to in­tro­duce an un­con­di­tional ba­sic in­come in Switzer­land was re­jected with an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity this month. A whop­ping 76 per cent of vot­ers were against the pro­posal which was made in a bid to re­duce poverty and in­equal­ity.

Switzer­land was the first EU coun­try to hold such a vote and the fig­ure pro­posed was equiv­a­lent to €2,250, whether you work or not. This sim­ply could not be a good thing. While many be­lieve the so­cial wel­fare pay­ments in Ire­land are too low, giv­ing ev­ery sin­gle cit­i­zen this amount of in­come re­gard­less of their con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety would be a mas­sive mis­take.

While ev­ery gov­ern­ment must en­sure that no cit­i­zen is liv­ing in ex­treme poverty, there has to be some recog­ni­tion for those who work and pay taxes and who in fact fund the coun­try.

A move like this would to­tally de­value the work of tax­pay­ers in all sec­tors and worse still, would make it far too easy for more and more peo­ple to live off the state for a life­time.

There would be no in­cen­tive for peo­ple to go out to work and this would not serve any coun­try well.

The Swiss peo­ple clearly felt that this would be a mis­take for their coun­try and it is heart­en­ing to see a sen­si­ble out­come in this ref­er­en­dum. I dread to think of how those who ‘want ev­ery thing for noth­ing’ and who feel they should be kept by the coun­try they live in would re­act if such a pro­posal was made here at home.

Hav­ing an un­con­di­tional ba­sic in­come wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it was paid to those while they were in ed­u­ca­tion, or tak­ing a ca­reer break for fam­ily reasons or to give back in some way like through char­ity work.

One of the ar­gu­ments in favour of the pay­ment was that a large por­tion of the work car­ried out in Switzer­land is done for no pay­ment, such as by par­ents or car­ers in the home.

Per­haps a more sen­si­ble ap­proach would be to take th­ese on an ap­pli­ca­tion-based ba­sis, rather than pay­ing out such vast sums un­con­di­tion­ally.

To have it paid out across the board how­ever would send a very dan­ger­ous mes­sage to those who are in any way work-shy and would al­most cer­tainly re­quire a huge in­come tax hike - once again forc­ing the work­ing pop­u­la­tion to carry the bur­den.

Swiss back­ers of a min­i­mum uni­ver­sal in­come spread out coins at a re­cent rally in Bern. A whop­ping 76 per cent of vot­ers were against the pro­posal.

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