Sunday, June 6, 2010

Germany's Take on a Basic Income for All

According to a growing bloc of Christian Democrats—under the leadership of Dieter Althaus, former premier of the German state of Thuringia—the problem isn’t that the state is providing insufficient incentives to work, but rather that the state is enforcing a duty to work at all. The only way that Germany can honor people’s right to material dignity while freeing the labor market of distortions, they argue, is by means of bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen, or unconditional basic income: a single monthly payment, pegged to levels currently received by the unemployed, guaranteed to every citizen from cradle to grave.

More fundamentally, basic-income advocates argue that the duty to pursue work is based on the mistaken assumption that there’s work to be had. A growing number of economists suggest that Germany reconcile itself to the fact that in the postindustrial age, the country will provide ever fewer opportunities for low-skilled workers. In this context, policies in pursuit of full employment make no sense; indeed, the demands currently made on the out-of-work are nothing less than perverse.

Furthermore, the advocates of basic income say, the contemporary mind-set has allotted to salaried work an exaggerated role in shaping personal identity. Basic income would allow Germans to combine different avenues of part-time work or pursue types of labor that aren’t normally honored with pay, such as caring for the elderly. (This is an important difference between Murray’s concept and the German one: Murray sees his yearly $10,000 grant as a spur to work; the German variation pivots on the belief that many Germans ought to be taking up pursuits outside the classic economic framework.) Also, basic income would encourage citizens to think more like entrepreneurs in pursuing work and allow unfettered labor markets to regain control over wages. (Emphasis by ed.)

via StatusNet message from Olivier Auber at Sun 06 Jun 2010 09:09:01 AM PDT:
RT @NeuerWeg: [City Journal USA] A Basic Income for All? #Grundeinkommen #revenudevie #basicincome