The New York Times reports on a controversial proposal that made referendum in Switzerland motioning the idea that every Swiss person would receive -- "no matter how rich or poor, how hardworking or lazy, how old or young" -- a monthly income cheque, no string attached.
The proposal is, in part, the brainchild of a German-born artist named Enno Schmidt, a leader in the basic-income movement. He knows it sounds a bit crazy. He thought the same when someone first described the policy to him, too. I tell people not to think about it for others, but think about it for themselves, Schmidt told me. What would you do if you had that income? What if you were taking care of a child or an elderly person? Schmidt said that the basic income would provide some dignity and security to the poor, especially Europes underemployed and unemployed. It would also, he said, help unleash creativity and entrepreneurialism: Switzerlands workers would feel empowered to work the way they wanted to, rather than the way they had to just to get by. He even went so far as to compare it to a civil rights movement, like womens suffrage or ending slavery.
When we spoke, Schmidt repeatedly described the policy as stimmig. Like many German words, it has no English equivalent, but it means something like coherent and harmonious, with a dash of beauty thrown in. It is an idea whose time has come, he was saying. And basic-income schemes are having something of a moment, even if they are hardly new. (Thomas Paine was an advocate.) But their renewed popularity says something troubling about the state of rich-world economies.
|The Idea That a Car Runs Free, Those Days Are About to Close|
|Pirate Cinema: a Cinematic Collage Generated by Peer-to-Peer Network Users|
|Increments: Art Installation Creates Words Using Lightbulbs and Magnifying Glasses|
|The Rotary Phone Inspired Coffee Maker|
|The Makers of Things|
|Gira Lab Universal Timer|
|Japanese Robot Serves Ice Cream From Inside a Vending Machine|
|“What jobs will be created and what jobs will disappear?”|
|“Long live the instant gratification economy—and the increasingly sophisticated technology that’s enabling it.”|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form|
|“The robot age is nothing to be worried about.”|
|Why, Typewriters Are Alive and Well, Thank you|
|“Authoritarianism depends upon people getting used to hearing the things that they want to hear.”|
|“Computer algorithms increasingly control and decide our future.”|
|The (Very Scary) People of Public Transit|
|“Robots are key to a new wave of local agriculture.”|