Tag: Switzerland

The Swiss Voted Down a Universal Basic Income Plan. Now What for the Hot Policy Idea of 2016?

People cast their ballots during a vote on the basic income in Bern, Switzerland, June 5, 2016. (REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)

Who turns down free money? Well, the Swiss did on Sunday, voting down by a 3-1 margin an initiative that would have guaranteed all Swiss residents a minimum income, maybe $2,500 or so. Of course the Swiss probably didn’t view it as free money, which it really wouldn’t be. Es gibt keinen Baum Geld! There is no Money Tree! The basic income would have meant big tax hikes, even if some social spending were cut. This was not a “replace the welfare state with a government check” kind of basic income. It was additive.

So what next for the big policy idea of 2016? (Maybe next to Donald Trump’s MexicoMegaWall™, that is.) Finland and the Netherlands are planning limited experiments, as is the American startup accelerator Y Combinator. If you believe automation fears have driven renewed interest in the basic income, then the idea should have some staying power. It has proponents both on the left (“Yay, redistribution!”) and the right (“Yay, no more intrusive welfare state!”). In that way, the basic income has an edge over another policy also offering an appealing elegance and simplicity, at least in theory: the flat tax. Then again, the basic income also has opponents on the left and right.


Does Giving Immigrants Citizenship Improve Assimilation and Civic Participation?


shutterstock_155168414_SwissPassportYou wouldn’t know it by listening to Donald Trump, but rounding up and deporting — humanely, according to Trump — some 11 million undocumented/unauthorized/illegal immigrants would be pretty pricey. Lots of different estimates, but maybe anywhere from $100 billion to $600 billion, if preventing future illegal entry is also included.

Legal status for many or most undocumented immigrants already in the US seems more likely. One potential compromise is legalization without citizenship. Immigration expert Peter Skerry has outlined a plan for “permanent non-citizen resident” status. These immigrants would be prohibited from ever becoming eligible for naturalization — unlike green card holders — but they would have full access to the labor market. And that may be enough for most of the undocumented. Skerry notes that a quarter century after the 1980s amnesty, only 41 percent of the nearly 2.7 million individuals who became legal permanent residents had gone on to exercise the option to naturalize. In other words, when offered the chance to become citizens, the overwhelming majority of the undocumented have settled for less.