The Swiss people have helped me confirm my faith in humankind.
I recently wrote about a ballot initiative in Switzerland that would “give” a guaranteed income to all people. While the proposed initiative had no set figures, the general figures advocated were 2,500 Swiss francs for every adult per month and 650 Swiss francs for every child per month.
Since the franc is close to par with the U.S. dollar, you can figure out how much this would be. A family of four (two adults and two children) would “earn” over $75,000 per year without doing anything.
Well, the Swiss people have spoken and struck down the proposal overwhelmingly, with over three-quarters of voters going against the initiative. This is good news for the Swiss and good news for liberty.
I don’t know what other countries would have done with a similar proposal, but I’m guessing that it would not have turned out as well in most places. If such a vote happened in the U.S., I think more than a quarter of the voters would vote “yes”. But I am optimistic that a majority would still vote “no”.
I haven’t heard the Bernie socialists (or Hillary socialists) propose anything similar for Venezuela. I mean, if it is such a good idea, maybe it can help the people there. For some reason, the self-described socialists and progressives in the U.S. don’t really want to talk about Venezuela these days. They would prefer to talk about Norway, which isn’t actually a socialist state.
If Switzerland had passed this initiative, or even if the vote had been close, then it probably would have encouraged similar legislation or initiatives elsewhere. But maybe this overwhelming defeat will keep this idea away, at least for a while longer.
As I wrote before, I can understand why a non-socialist might actually favor this proposal, if he thought that we could get rid of the rest of the welfare state. But only a truly naive person would think that. We know from experience that the handouts and lobbying would not go away just because of a guaranteed income.
I actually don’t think a lot of U.S. politicians would really favor the idea because it would call into question the whole welfare state. They like the status quo too much to rock the boat in this fashion.
I am often seen as a pessimist in what I say and write about the U.S. economy. I prefer to see myself as a realist. I am only pessimistic in the short run. Compared to most other libertarians, I am a major optimist. I believe that the prospects for liberty in the future are very strong. As Harry Browne said, human nature is on our side.
I think the Swiss showed this recently. Harry Browne was a big fan of Switzerland and even lived there for a time. The country has slipped in certain aspects in terms of liberty, but we see that the deep roots are not easy to tear up.
Now if only the U.S. would emulate Switzerland with its foreign policy. That would really make me an optimist.