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Technological progress has radically changed production methods.
When I worked as a sound engineer in the sixties
this is how much equipment you needed in a recording studio.
Today, the studio is in here!
And because now everbody can be their own sound engineer
I and many others have had to retrain to find new work.
We have seen similar transformations in many different areas.
Today production methods have changed dramatically.
On the slides you will see :
3D printers
which are already being used to print construction materials for houses.
We've all heard about the “uberization” of the economy
for example with Airbnb.
Self-service checkouts
where customers replace cashiers in shops.
Self-driving cars
like Teslas
which you may even be able to summon with your phone
The robot from Boston Dynamics
which mimics human behaviour
particularly in the way it moves and gets up when it falls.
So we are now in the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
What is different compared to the other industrial revolutions?
Before, when jobs became obsolete because of technological progress
other jobs were created.
But before, machines just replaced our arms and legs
today machines also replace our brains.
So the jobs under threat today
are not only manual ones
but also highly qualified ones
such as accountants, analysts, journalists, etc.
Serious studies, e.g. at Oxford University
suggest that within 20 years
47% of today's jobs will disappear
and few new jobs will be created.
This means that only few people
with very specific skills and qualifications
will be in paid, formal work.
For example
Kodak used to employ 145,000 workers
to produce 200 billion pictures.
Today Instagram
produces twice as many images
with 13 employees.
the overall payroll is shrinking
and at the same time
the dividends are increasing as investors
(the owners of the means of production)
reap the benefits of technological progress.
These advances in technology
as my co-speaker Guy Standing said
are the result of discoveries and innovations
made by our ancestors.
They worked to make our life easier.
they did not predict that life would only be only easier
for people who own the fruits of these technologies
i.e. the owners of the means of production.
Why does this have a profound effect on the economy?
Because there is downward pressure
on employment and wages
which reduces the purchasing power of the middle classes
essentially the bulk of the formal workforce.
This then reduces consumption
and produces a deflation process
which domestic banks are trying to fight
and finally the loop is closed by reduced demand.
Therefore, advances in technology contribute to the economic crisis.
Another important aspect is that
robots do not get paid
they work around the clock
but without contributing to social security
and they are not unionized.
The fact that robots do not contribute to social security
threatens the whole social insurance system
described just now by my colleague to my right.
Social insurance is threatened by
because it is primarily based
on funding by social security contributions and taxes
paid by employees in formal work.
We are at a turning point.
We have to find another way
to fund our social security system.
I will now run through the main principles of a UBI
which is basically a monthly pension.
Whether a UBI should provide enough money
to live off is open for debate.
The initiative for a Swiss popular vote on a UBI specifies that it should.
However there are other projects
for example in Finland
where the UBI is not intended to provide enough money to live off
at least initially.
A UBI is paid to each individual for their whole life.
Regardless of whether the person is wealthy or well-paid
and without requiring anything in return.
This is very different to the current social security system.
There are several UBI models
some with left-wing support
others backed by the right wing.
This is perhaps because the principle behind UBI
is in itself neutral
but implementation is political.
Especially how much should be paid
how it will be funded
and what social benefits it will replace.
Basic income is currently a trending topic worldwide
with many pilot schemes in different places.
The picture shows Guy Standing at the Indian pilot scheme.
I myself was invited last month
to a three-day seminar at the Mexican senate
to consider introducing a UBI there.
They decided on a concrete resolution
to examine the different options
and find the right match for their social and economic conditions.
The difference between a social security system and a UBI is quite clear.
A UBI is an economic base
from which one can then begin to work.
People can choose what kind of life they want:
working more to have more money
doing volunteer work for less money
doing creative work
taking care of the family.
The current social security system
which is targeted and conditional
is problematic in many ways
some of which have been mentioned by my co-speaker Patricia Schultz.
It particularly disadvantages women
because it is based on the idea of having a full-time job for life.
For example
unemployment benefits are not granted to those who work less than 50%
which is often the case for women.
A break in contributions of more than 18 months
means a loss of benefits.
Women are also disadvantaged by the pension system.
But there are other issues too.
People on benefits can be discouraged from taking up paid work
if it provides less income than social security payments.
This is particularly true for low-paid workers with dependent family members
for whom they receive additional benefits, who are often women.
[I am going to move faster, because time is running out]
The government often argues that
Article 12 of the Federal Constitution guarantees a life with dignity for the entire population
and that this is provided for by our social security system.
However to be eligible for social assistance
citizens have to give up Article 13 which guarantees respect for privacy.
Because social assistance is conditional
inspectors may come into beneficiaries' homes at any time
to inspect the beds, the number of toothbrushes
and also their bank accounts.
The UBI also raises the question of motivation to work.
This image shows the situation before and after a UBI.
In the current situation, the main motivation to work is to make a living.
However, there are many other reasons to work
which have been highlighted by studies of retired or wealthy populations.
Other reasons to work emerge such as the desire to live an active life
helping others and personal fulfilment.
Does a UBI mean that we will stop working?
In my case, definitely not, the proof is that I am here today as a volunteer.
The initiative for a Swiss popular vote
on the introduction of a UBI was launched in April 2012.
The proposed wording of the law is interesting
in particular the second sentence
which says that the UBI is granted to everyone
and should be sufficient to live in dignity
and participate in public life.
This means that the aim of the referendum
is to have a enough UBI to refuse a job.
It has been fascinating to see how much media coverage the initiative has received worldwide.
To come to the financing:
For a basic monthly income at CHF 2,500 for adults and CHF 625 for children
the Federal Council says that CHF 55 billion could be saved on social benefits
Economie Suisse suggests the savings are higher
between CHF 60 and 70 billion.
Our estimates are of approximately CHF 62 billion
leaving a funding gap of CHF 18 billion.
But apart from talking about the cost of a UBI,
it also important to consider the returns it will bring.
Introducing a UBI will allow people to undertake activities
or take up paid work easier than today
which will greatly improve economic productivity.
From our point of view, UBI is not a cost
but would bring real returns to the Swiss economy.
In the current Swiss political debate
UBI would be funded from existing revenues
as you see in the slide to the right.
However, we could also fund a UBI from additional sources of income.
There is a proposal to introduce a micro tax
on all financial and economic transactions.
These transactions came to a total of CHF 100,000 billion in 2012.
A micro tax at just 0.2% of this total
would generate the entire CHF 200 billion needed to fund the UBI.
Financing the UBI is not really the problem.
The issue is making political choices about how to do it.
The Swiss Federal Council and opponents of the UBI initiative
simply say that it is problematic in many ways
in particular the financing.
I'd also like to point out that social progress
for example the abolition of slavery in the USA
has always faced the argument that it was bad for the economy
including granting women the vote (in Switzerland in 1971).
To conclude, in our opinion
the government has not really taken the initiative seriously.
The Swiss Federal Council has taken a very superficial approach to the popular vote
and is suggesting a financing method that will make implementation impossible.
They are suggesting taxing the first CHF 2,500
which would be a disaster for the economy.
Everybody on the left and the right knows that
this funding proposal will never be adopted.
To conclude, I would simply remind you that
we will vote on the principle of a UBI
so voting “yes” will give the government a mandate
to study the best way to implement a UBI.
The proposal does not set a time limit on implementation
so it can be put in place as the government sees fit.
I think we can say very objectively that
a UBI will be implemented if we reach a political consensus on how to set it up
and also if there is enough economic and social pressure
to push the parliament to take action.
There are referendum materials by the door for you to take
and some stickers. Thank you very much.


The Swiss Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income

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王惟惟 2020 年 1 月 13 日 に公開
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