Free money is only an American dream

Switzerland is working to create a monthly salary plan, but that policy doesn’t work everywhere.

Martha Pietruszewski

My first job was working at a dry cleaner’s. I was paid a whopping $7.25, the minimum wage at the time. Extra cash for doing cool high school things? Nice.
Because I worked about 10 hours a week, I probably made $50 per pay period, after taxes. However, if I lived in Switzerland, I could soon automatically be paid 2,500 Swiss francs per month (that’s $2,455 in American dollars), regardless of whether I hold a job. 
Switzerland’s guaranteed monthly income plan, if successful, could be groundbreaking. However, if the United States were to adopt a guaranteed monthly income model, it wouldn’t necessarily make sense to model it off the Swiss plan. At the end of the day, Switzerland and the U.S. have different needs and economic abilities. 
To begin, if our country were to adopt Switzerland’s plan, the government should distribute money based on need. 
Right now, the Swiss model guarantees that everyone will receive monthly money, regardless of need. But it doesn’t make sense for the nation’s millionaires (and even billionaires) to get this kind of money. 
Instead, the people who should receive monthly government stipends should be working, single parents, who could use the extra money. Students in debt would also be prime candidates, as well as people who have recently lost their jobs. Giving money to people in those situations would eliminate a lot of stress that comes because of financial difficulties. 
Alternatively, the money could be given out as measured by a percentage of each person’s income. This would make it more fair for the government, which would not be giving more money away than necessary. 
Furthermore, this Swiss plan should also include some stipulations that the people who receive money have to continue working. It’s not productive for the economy if the government is giving its citizens money they use to replace real careers. There would be a surplus of jobs and not enough people to fill them. However, when asked, about one-third of people thought that if Switzerland’s proposal went through, others would stop working.
Finally, it would also be important to make sure people use this money responsibly. Perhaps it could come in the form of credit to pay rent or mortgages instead of just straight cash.
As idealistic as this sounds, in all reality, this program would be highly unlikely to work in the U.S. Even if a bill were introduced, there would be a lot of disagreement about where the money should go and how the program would work. 
Perhaps this program is something to revisit after this election year when the U.S. is more politically stable. It is also important to see whether Switzerland passes the measure and proves its feasibility. 
For now, if you really can’t wait for that extra money, I encourage you to buy a lottery ticket — or you can just be thankful that the minimum wage is no longer $7.25. 
Martha Pietruszewski welcomes comments at [email protected].