Rejected by a wide margin. Thank goodness the people of Switzerland saw this was a stupid idea!
Swiss voters rejected by a wide margin on Sunday a proposal to introduce a guaranteed basic income for everyone living in the wealthy country after an uneasy debate about the future of work at a time of increasing automation.
Supporters had said introducing a monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,563) per adult and 625 francs per child under 18 no matter how much they work would promote human dignity and public service.
Opponents, including the government, said it would cost too much and weaken the economy.
Provisional final results showed 76.9 percent of voters opposed the bold social experiment launched by Basel cafe owner Daniel Haeni and allies in a vote under the Swiss system of direct democracy.
Haeni acknowledged defeat but claimed a moral victory.
“As a businessman I am a realist and had reckoned with 15 percent support, now it looks like more than 20 percent or maybe even 25 percent. I find that fabulous and sensational,” he told SRF.
“When I see the media interest, from abroad as well, then I say we are setting a trend.”
Conservative Switzerland is the first country to hold a national referendum on an unconditional basic income, but others including Finland are examining similar plans as societies ponder a world where robots replace humans in the workforce.
Olivier, a 26-year-old carpenter who works on construction sites and runs a small business designing and building furniture, said he voted “yes”.
“For me it would be a great opportunity to put my focus on my passion and not go to work just for a living,” he said.
Champions of the plan portrayed a more automated future in a poster bigger than a soccer field asking “What would you do if your income was secure?” They had also marched as robots down Zurich’s high street and handed out free 10-franc notes.
“I voted ‘yes’ because money does not really have its place in this world, it is so arbitrary and linked to power games,” said Ronnie Lehmann, 37, who makes less than 4,000 francs a month as a bicycle mechanic. “But I’m not surprised the proposal got rejected, the world is not ready for it yet.”
A woman named Meleanie said she reluctantly voted “no”.