The Basic Income (2008)

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100 min - Documentary - 7,584 Views

Grundeinkommen - ein Kulturimpuls (The Basic Income - A Cultural Impulse) is a German film with subtitles in 10 languages that makes the case for a basic income for all citizens.

Subtitles Note: To make the subtitles easier to read, we highly recommend clicking the "CC" icon, clicking on settings and then increasing the font size as well as setting the background color to black. It will make an incredible difference in the viewing experience. (!)

"An income is like air beneath the wings" so begins the film. Should a basic income be unconditional for everyone? The film stimulates the discussion of this unconventional idea in a way that opens the viewers mind - to think and to question the larger complexities in a refreshing and direct way.

"The film 'basic income' leaves one with a strong curiosity and invites you to think further. An extremely interesting economics lesson. " - Basler Zeitung

"The movie leaves a deep impression. He removes the fear of the discomfort of thought. It arouses lively interest in the affairs of society. A cultural impulse beyond idealism, a challenge! "
Nadine Aeberhard-Josche, Info3


I just saw this documentary, suggested by Lukáš Fireš, and it brought tears to my eyes, because here is something implementable now, which reduces the focus on profit in this system and empowers individuals, indirectly reducing competition and stimulating cooperation.
A great immediate step for the transition.

I see a basic income as a transitional substitute for "free access to basic necessities," and can imagine that if it were implemented and shown to be functional, it could gradually be increased, until we basically had "free access to most goods." At this point all monetary barriers could simply be dropped, as most people already would be working not for the pay, but because they wanted to. :) -


What is basic income?

Basic income is a simple idea. It consists in giving everyone a minimum amount of money or resources which are sufficient for sustenance. This will end poverty, hunger, starvation. All the beneficiaries of basic income will have a minimum monetary welfare guaranteed, no matter what.

A way to combine capitalism and socialism

Is basic income a communist-type idea? Not at all.

Basic income can exist within a fully capitalist market economy. One could even argue that basic income is the capitalist alternative to the welfare state. While in welfare-state economies, the state provides its citizens with services (education, health care, pensions, etc.), a state which implements basic income will provide its citizens with a minimum amount of money, instead of pre-packaged services. This means that basic income is fully compatible with a minimum state endorsed by anarco-capitalists and libertarians such as Robert Nozick.

Interestingly enough, the idea of basic income has been endorsed by many economists and philosophers of very different political orientations. Let me name a couple. The Belgian philosopher Philippe van Parijs, who is a neo-marixist, endorses basic income. The right-wing, capitalist enthusiast, the economist Milton Friedman supports a set of ideas similar to basic income under the name of "negative income tax." Not surprisingly, the philosopher Bertrand Russell held that basic income is a way to combine the advatanges of capitalism and those of socialism. For basic income has a socialist flavour because it guarantees a minimum to everybody. At the same time, it is a capitalist idea because it does not hamper creativity and personal initiative. Source

Some useful resources if you want to know more


For your convenience, a Summary of Relevant Quotes:

"A basic income would have the purpose of giving everyone the choice of saying NO to work"

"basic income would free people from work - to be able to work (on what they really want to). The idea that there is only leisure as the other choice stems from the dependence on today's jobs for income"

"It would lead to more freedom, to all men seeing others as equals"

"the financial viability has been guaranteed. it's the freedom that it's the difficult part"

"Germany 2001:
- paid work - 54 billion man-hours,
- unpaid work - 96 billion man-hours (in private, domestic, and civil engagement activities);
So, a basic income would not impede paid work,
the question might be how to manage people, if money is no longer an adequate mean of control"

"Ways a basic income can be used to abuse:
- setting it too low;
- tying it to conditions;
- eliminating all social security"

"the struggle for employment is a struggle for income. The right to work must mean the right to work in what a person really wants to (work that cannot be imposed nor taken away)"

"Poll - Would you still go to work if you had a basic income?
60% - Yes, nothing would change;
30% - Yes, but not full-time;
10% - Other answers (study; personal relationships; ...)"

"Poll - Do you think other people would go to work if they had basic income?
80% - No, we probably couldn't make them go to work."

"What kind of work do we have to MAKE people do?
- currently being done in China,
- or by underpaid foreigners here.
Solutions for this work to get done:
1) Pay better,
2) Automate, Reduce demand
3) Do it yourself"

"Lets ask the cashier lady 'Would you still come to work if you had a basic income?'
- YES, it would be too boring at home; I like my job, I meet lots of people."

"I really think work and income need to be separated; there is a lot of work needed that isn't being done because there is no money there - and a basic income would solve that problem."

"How to finance it?
- start explanation at 59m - all taxes gone, only VAT
- practical explanation at 1h14m"

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