Ideja o UTD se ne samo vse bolj širi kot virus (glejte spodnji članek v The Times), pač pa jo kot koncept tudi vse pogosteje preizkušajo v praksi (Finska, Škotska), politiki pa uporabljajo v predvolilnih kaampanjah. Tokratna razloga za viralno širitev ideje UTD sta dva – (1) razmah in vzpon prekariata in (2) razmah robotizacije. Prvi zaradi zagotovitve vsaj minimalnih življenjskih dohodkov za popolnkma brezpraven segment delovne sile. Drugi pa za kompenzacijo vvsaj majhnega dela izpadlega dohodka tistim, ki jim bo avtomatizacija pobrala službe.
Financiranje? Prek poenotenja socialnih transferjev in dodatno prek obdavčitve dobička tehnološko intenzivnih podjetij, ki odpravljajo tradicionalne službe.
Problem je le, ker UTD, če zanemarimo njegovo nepravično naravo (dobijo ga tudi tisti, ki ga ne potrebujejo, tisti, ki potrebujejo pomoč, pa je v obliki UTD dobijo premalo), ni neka prava rešitev. Minimalni dohodek kot kompenzacija za neredno in slabo plačano službo ali kompenzacija za izgubo srednje dobro plačane službe ne vrača človeškega dostojanstva. Ljudje potrebujejo dobre in dobro plačane službe. To pa pomeni, prvič, nujnost izkoreninjenja prekarnih služb in njihovo transformacijo v redne službe, in drugič, dvig minimalnih plač in s tem ustrezne popravke plačne lestvice v spodnji polovici lestvice. Vse to pa zahteva močnejšo vlogo sindikatov. Delavski razred (spet) potrebuje močnega zastopnika. kapital ima mnoštvo zastopnikov (zbornic, fundacij, think tankov, novinarjev, odvetnikov, ekonomistov…), le delavcem so njegovega edinega zastopnika zmarginalizirali (govorim z zahodnih kapitalističnih državah, ne o Sloveniji).
A universal basic income (UBI) was last week endorsed by the Indian government’s 2016-17 economic survey as “a powerful idea . . . whose time is ripe for serious discussion”, and one that would be more effective than the existing system of state benefits.
A trial of the system began at the start of this year in Finland, and there are plans for similar trials in Fife and Glasgow in Scotland. It is part of the policy platform of Benoît Hamon, the French Socialist Party presidential candidate, admittedly a very long shot for the Elysée Palace. The idea was in the Green Party’s manifesto for the 2015 general election in Britain. Groups such as the Citizen’s Income Trust have been advocating it for years.
UBI attracts some strange bedfellows. Though usually associated these days with the political left, it has sparked the interest of Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs. In the 1960s, both Milton Friedman and Martin Luther King advocated versions of it, as, more recently, has the libertarian Charles Murray, who has written extensively for this newspaper. Friedrich von Hayek, beloved of Margaret Thatcher, also favoured a guaranteed minimum income, although this was one of his ideas she did not take up.
The idea of a basic income, sometimes known as a guaranteed or citizen’s income, has been around a long time, so why is it gaining new interest now? There are two main reasons.
One is the rise of what Professor Guy Standing of the School of Oriental and African Studies, in London, has described as the rise of the “precariat”. Standing, who presented his arguments at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, describes the precariat as the “many millions of people experiencing a precarious existence, in temporary jobs, doing short-time labour, linked strangely to employment agencies, and so on, most without any assurance of state benefits or the perks being received by the salariat or the core.”
The second reason for the revival of UBI, which has particular resonance in Silicon Valley, is the rise of the robots.
If robots are indeed set to make serious inroads into employment, as some predict — one estimate suggests that 47% of jobs in America will be automated over the next 20 years — then providing people with a stigma-free alternative income courtesy of the government might be the way to go.
“There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” the tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, responsible for Tesla cars and the SpaceX rocket project, said recently.
Another argument favoured by advocates of UBI is that it offers the opportunity of radically simplifying current highly complex systems of welfare benefits, tax credits and taxes. A simple handout would replace today’s confusing methods.
So why not? Many people instinctively smell a rat about basic income, and they are right to do so. Though an unconditional handout would not prevent people from working, and for most would come in addition to existing earned income, the risk of paying people to be idle — the “why work?” syndrome — would increase.
Vir: David Smith, The Times