Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposals are on the rise, with many backing the system as a possible solution for unemployment caused by the rise of machines equipped with artificial intelligence taking over the workforce.
The system would see governments paying every citizen of a country a base salary to cover costs including food and rent.
The guaranteed sum would be paid by the state to everyone, regardless of wealth or work status.
Dpending on the details of the UBI proposal, the funds could be added to existing benefits or put in place of them.
Left-wing supporters of the system say that it could lower proverty rates. For the right-leaners, it’s a route to a less bureaucratic wellfare system.
The program would likely be funded by an increase in income taxes across all income levels.
To pay every adult and child in the United States a yearly income of £8,045 ($10,000) per year, the government would likely have to cut most non-health social spending programs and raise the share of GDP collected in tax by ten per cent, according to the Economist.
Another suggestion is a negative interest rate, that would take a percentage of every citizen’s bank account each month.
A universal basic income in the United Kingdom that would give every adult and child £12,000 ($14,900) per year requires a negative interest rate of 2.5 percent per month, according to the Centre for Welfare Reform.
So, if a person were to have £5,000 ($6,600) in his or her bank account at the beginning of the month, by the end, £4,884 ($6,500) would be left because £116 ($153) would be taken by the government for a universal basic income pot.
Some have suggested a sliding scale of basic income, so the higher a person’s employment salary, the lower basic income check he or she would receive from the government.
The left-wing French presidential candidate Benoit Hamon, backed by the star economist Thomas Piketty, has also made the basic income part of his platform.
Finland is the first European country to pay its unemployed citizens an unconditional sum.
The two-year pilot scheme, which started January 1, gives unemployed Finland citizens aged 25 to 58 a guaranteed sum of €560 (£490/$648) that replaces existing social benefits.
The funds will still be paid if they eventually find work.
In Marica, Brazil, a seaside town of about 150,000 people near Rio de Janeiro, the left-wing municipal government has spent the last year finding out universal basic salaries work.
In Marica – a surviving Workers’ Party bastion in increasingly right-leaning Brazil – the basic income idea fits in well with the leadership’s socialist fervor.
However, if Finland is handing out payments of about $590 (£450) a month – and only to a test group of unemployed people for now – the amount in Marica is a measly 10 reais, or about $3.20 (£2.40). The new mayor hopes to raise the amount to $32 (£24) in 2017.
Only the town’s 14,000 poorest families are currently being given the income, which is denominated in Mumbucas, a virtual currency created to pay welfare under Quaqua three years ago.
The 10 reais is added to the 85 reais ($27/ £20) monthly welfare check for families whose income doesn’t top three times the minimum wage. The extra money is also given to poorer people aged between 14 and 29 and pregnant women already receiving other benefits.
There’s another limitation: only 131 local businesses – less than 10 percent of the total – accept payment in Mumbucas, the mayor’s office says.
The currency, which physically exists only on specially issued red magnetic cards, is unpopular with business owners because they must wait more than a month after purchases are completed for the government to convert payments into reals.