Let’s face it, Republicans didn’t shutdown the government because they were listening to the American people. The only people Republicans listen to are their corporate puppet masters who recognize that Obamacare will be so popular that it will be impossible to take it away – even with all that gerrymandering and vote suppressing.
The only time conservatives care what ordinary Americans think is when a ballot initiative goes their way. When Conservatives embrace the ballot initiative it is because they can constitutionalize backward ideals like banning women from having access to reproductive health services, banning same sex couples from marrying or preserving white privilege by banning affirmative action.
Ah yes, there is nothing like direct democracy because that’s when the people can weigh in on a policy question. Of course, other countries have their own versions of direct democracy. In Switzerland, for example, the referendum can be used to establish policy at all levels of government and can even be used to decide if the country will enter into an international treaty. Critics of the Swiss referendum claim it slows politics down. Republicans should love this because they love everything that slow things down. Well, unless it’s a proposal to suppress the vote or give their corporate friends another handout.
A proposal to provide all adults with a guaranteed income equivalent $2800/month got enough signatures to be put on the ballot in Switzerland during the next referendum.
Naturally, the proposal has its detractors, making arguments that sound a lot like the ones Republicans make when the subject of increasing the minimum wage comes up. Of course, this policy differs from increasing a minimum wage or a living wage to give people who work for a living a chance to well, live.
The guaranteed income proposal is more about thinking that every adult must be guaranteed a minimum income. The intent behind the proposal is to address Switzerland’s growing income disparity.
Unlike unemployment insurance and social security, the Swiss guaranteed income proposal really is about the government redistributing income to reduce the income gap. The program, if passed, would be paid through the country’s social safety net account.
There’s something appealing about the population that pays the taxes having some say in what happens with those tax dollars. There is also something sane about using tax dollars to reduce chronic income disparity, like we have here, instead of using tax dollars to increase that disparity by giving handouts to corporations because they exist. Of course, if we want to leave the government out of the business of redistributing wealth, employers could pay a living wage instead of relying on tax payers to supplement wages that corporations are more than able to pay.
Chances are Republicans would point to this as an example of socialism gone crazy. After all, they can’t handle the idea that people who work for a living should have a living wage – let alone guaranteeing people with a guaranteed income regardless of whether they work or not. Republicans would especially freak out if they ever find out that the Swiss have universal healthcare too. Even worse, via the referendum, the little people get to impose limits on executive pay.
While I’m not saying that we should do as the Swiss, there is something we can learn from them.
Even with a real healthcare system and an ability to keep a lid on corporate greed, Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world. According to right wing measures, it is more economically free than the United States. Despite having a healthcare system that is accessible to all, and the 10th highest minimum wage in the world, Switzerland somehow manages to be the number one home for the rich. That is according to the Wall Street Journal, which is basically Fox for conservatives who can read.
The point is that there are ways to provide ordinary citizens with healthcare and prosper while doing it.
Image: The Richest