Public Perception of the Basic Income in the Czech Republic in the Twenty-first Century. Eva Hubáčková - PDF

Public Perception of the Basic Income in the Czech Republic in the Twenty-first Century Eva Hubáčková Bachelor s Thesis ABSTRAKT Tato bakalářská práce se zabývá nepodmíněným základním příjmem

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Public Perception of the Basic Income in the Czech Republic in the Twenty-first Century Eva Hubáčková Bachelor s Thesis 2016 ABSTRAKT Tato bakalářská práce se zabývá nepodmíněným základním příjmem z pohledu řádových občanů. Práce se dělí na teoretickou a praktickou část. V teoretické části je rozveden základní příjem. Praktická část se zabývá pohledem občanů na základní příjem. Rozebírá rozdíly mezi současným systémem sociálního zabezpečení a základním příjmem a případnými důsledky jeho zavedení. Dále vyhodnocuje dotazník, který ukazuje úroveň znalostí českých občanů ohledně základního příjmu a také jejich postoj vůči tomuto systému. Klíčová slova: Nepodmíněný základní příjem, systém sociálního zabezpečení, Česká republika, občané ABSTRACT This bachelor thesis focuses on the unconditional basic income from the perspective of the Czech citizens. It is divided into theoretical and practical part. The theoretical part contains various pieces of information about the basic income. The practical part focuses on the attitude of the Czech citizens towards the basic income. It compares current welfare system in the Czech Republic and the basic income and illustrates possible outcomes of the basic income implementation. Furthermore the practical part contains a survey which portrays the citizens knowledge and opinions of the basic income. Keywords: Unconditional basic income, welfare system, Czech Republic, citizens ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank my family members for their support and my advisor Ing. Martina Kubíčková for her guidance. CONTENTS INTRODUCTION I THEORY GENERAL BASIC INCOME Description Relative Concepts of Social Politics Financing History From 16th to 19th century th and 21th Century INITIATIVE FOR UNCONDITIONAL BASIC INCOME European Citizens' Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income In the Czech Republic STATES WITH GENERAL BASIC INCOME Countries with Features of the Basic Income in Brazil Alaska In the Process of Preparation Finland Switzerland GENERAL SUPPORTING AND CONTRA ARGUMENTS Supporting Arguments Loopholes in the Current Welfare System Working Conditions and Freedom Change of Economy Demands Reformation of the Welfare System Contra Arguments Migration Motivation to Work The Unconditional Basic Income and Psychology SUMMARY OF THE THEORETICAL PART II ANALYSIS INTRODUCTION TO THE ANALYTICAL PART AND METODOLOGY ANALYSIS OF THE CZECH WELFARE SYSTEM... 30 7.1 Structure and Description of the Czech Welfare System Insurance Subsidy Help Summary of the Analysis of the Czech Welfare System Comparison to the Unconditional Basic Income Summary of the Possible Changes THE SURVEY Evaluation of the Survey Survey Questions Linked to the Basic Income Summary of the Survey Results SUMMARY OF THE PRACTICAL PART AND ANSWERS TO THE RESEARCH QUESTIONS CONCLUSION BIBLIOGRAPHY LIST OF FIGURES LIST OF TABLES APPENDICES... 64 TBU in Zlín, Faculty of Humanities 10 INTRODUCTION Unconditional basic income is not entirely a new idea, which might however solve many social problems, which need to be addressed. As our society deals with the problem of diminishing number of workplaces because of new technologies and machines which manage to cover the work needed, the basic income idea becomes more and more current. Since it is impossible to reach 0% unemployment rate, the society needs to be ready to help the people who are unemployed. The traditional welfare system which is supposed to deal with this problem is often too complex and clumsy and basic income could simplify the system greatly. Basic income also strives to change the point of view of our society on kinds of work which are truly valuable and gives each person freedom to decide about their workplace. The debatable part of implementing the unconditional basic income is its behavioral impact on people and its financing. Because the basic income is not implemented anywhere in the world in its full potential, it is only possible to speculate what would truly happen. However I believe that the Czech Republic is not ready for accepting and implementing unconditional basic income as most of its citizens would not see it as beneficial. The goal of this thesis is to determine the actual changes for Czech citizens if the basic income was implemented, how much is the public acquainted with the idea of the unconditional basic income, which of its attributes citizens find the most appealing or, on the other hand, the most ill-favored and the whether the opinion of the general public is positive enough to dedicate research to find possible ways to implement it. This thesis is divided into theoretical and analytic part. It the theory, definition and history of the basic income will be discussed as well as description of basic income initiative and states which already implemented basic income idea or are in the process of doing so. Lastly, the theoretical part will contain description of arguments supporting basic income and its contra arguments. The analytical part will contain a system analysis of the current social welfare in the Czech Republic, an analogy of the current welfare system and the basic income, a survey, as a quantitative research method, answered by the general public in the Czech Republic. TBU in Zlín, Faculty of Humanities 11 I. THEORY TBU in Zlín, Faculty of Humanities 12 1 GENERAL BASIC INCOME This chapter will introduce the unconditional basic income. It contains its definition and elaborates on it, it briefly discusses the history and possible ways of financing the basic income. 1.1 Description The concept of basic income is very simple, but a little more difficult to implement in our contemporary society. The basic income means that every member of the society would receive certain amount of money which would ensure a decent living for him, although he would not be obliged to work. He or she could work to higher their income or for pleasure or for any reason but existential needs. (Basic Income Earth Network 2016) A basic income is an income unconditionally granted to all permanent members of society on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. (Birnbaum 2012, 3) The overall aim is to lower the poverty rate and improve the living conditions of all people and install more human oriented approach. It would be much easier to be for example full time mother or taking care of the elderly relatives instead of choosing daycare as soon as possible or the rest-home because of the lack of income. It could restore close relationships in and among families, although it requires effort of the society members to move in this direction. It is an alternative to the current welfare system in the Czech Republic. Basic income is also sociological and philosophical issue. The advocates of basic income aim to ameliorate working conditions - because the workforce would be more appreciated since the employees could leave easier as no or much less existential problems would face them. The proponents of the basic income are mostly left-wing activists, called Libertarianists. Among these is one of the most famous Philippe Van Parijs, a Belgian philosopher and professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain who publishes books and articles concerning the idea of an unconditional income. Another well-known proponent is Guy Standing, who is a British professor at London University. He is also one of the founders of Basic Income Earth Network. In the Czech Republic, one of the proponents is Doc. PhDr. Marek Hrubec, PhD, a philosopher and a social scientist. TBU in Zlín, Faculty of Humanities Relative Concepts of Social Politics Beside the general basic income, there are other terms which are similar in the sense of improving the living conditions of the lower class; however they differ in some aspects. The two most known are negative income tax and social dividend. The negative income tax means that people, who would not reach certain amount of minimum income, would receive money instead of paying it to the government in the form of taxes. The main positive is lowering the administrative expenses of the welfare system, because this would happen automatically, without the need to submit any paper forms and processing them. The negative income tax concept then differs in the amount of money which is given to each individual in the form tax returns. What is set is the negative income threshold. (Investopedia, s.v. Negative Income Tax - NIT, accessed March 31, 2016, Social dividend is a redistribution of economic profits to the citizens. It can be generated by publicly owned enterprises or by the extraction of resources located in publicly owned land. Just as the basic income or negative income tax, its main aim is to eliminate cost of social welfare. To some extent, an example of this is Permanent Fund Dividend in Alaska. (Searle 2013) Below are two tables comparing unconditional basic income and the negative income tax. The income tax rate would have to be much higher than the current 15 % in the Czech Republic. For the purpose of this thesis, 40 % tax rate is applied in the tables. Also the numbers were chosen so that the beneficiary with no income would receive 10,000 Czech crowns which nears the current minimum wage in the Czech Republic and the outcome would be the same for each wage or salary. In the tables it is possible to see, that progressive taxation is implemented in both schemes and that the unconditional basic income requires more involvement of the state as more money would be collected and then redistributed. Table 1. Negative Income Tax example in Czech Crowns. (self-created) Monthly income NIT threshold Tax 40 % Net income Net tax 0 25,000-10,000 10,000 0 % 10,000 25,000-6,000 16,000 0 % 25,000 25, ,000 0 % 40,000 25,000 6,000 34, % TBU in Zlín, Faculty of Humanities 14 50,000 25,000 10,000 40, % Table 2. Basic income example in Czech Crowns. (self-created) Monthly income Basic income Tax 40 % Net income Net tax 0 10, ,000 0 % 10,000 10,000 4,000 16,000 0 % 25,000 10,000 10,000 25,000 0 % 40,000 10,000 16,000 34, % 50,000 10,000 20,000 40, % 1.2 Financing Two main sources of the basic income financing are taxes or revenue generated by public enterprises or state s natural resources. The cash generated by public enterprises would be distributed to the citizens in the form of shares just as would be the worth of the extracted natural resources or a part of its worth as it is in Alaska nowadays. The most popular source is value added tax, which would have to rise to 50 %. However, this change could reflect upon prices of the final products which would mean that the citizens would pay more for goods in order to receive the basic income, therefore the outcome would be indifferent. Another source is the income tax, which would have to rise at least to 40 % and it is described in the table number 2 (above). Other sources for the basic income could be luxury tax or ecological tax. Most sources have potential to educate the public and set the values in the society as it would for example provide incentive to save the environment and invest in the renewable energy resources in the case of the ecological tax or stimulate the people against overspending in the case of the luxury tax. (Santens 2014) Careful planning of the financing is necessary not only for feasibility purposes but also for psychological reasons. 1.3 History From 16th to 19th century In 1516 Thomas More published his book called Utopia in Louvain. This work was the first to contain a glimpse of helping the poor in the sense of guarantying an income. His arguments were, that giving some income to the poor would discourage them to steal as TBU in Zlín, Faculty of Humanities 15 they would not be in the desperate situation of not being able to provide for their family. Also the number of death sentences of thieves would lower. However the first one to truly think of a basic income was More s friend Johannes Ludovicus Vives. He was a professor in Louvain and spent most of his life in Bruges. There he addressed the town s officials and proposed that all citizens in need should receive certain amount of money if they prove they value to the community, in other words they are willing to work. From today s point of view his idea was strongly based on religion and was rather socialistic in that the wealthy should not retain for themselves what God created for all. He also came to the conclusion, that the income should be received even before the actual need for it, so it would prevent desperate actions as theft. And this idea is what laid foundation for actual basic income. During the French revolution, the idea of an income to the poor rose again, this time thought of by Marquis de Condorcet. He introduced an idea which was a little removed further from the basic income scheme, because the proposal was, that an income in the situation of need would be only paid to those who would previously drain some percentage of the income to the government. However in his work he also proposed that young people who come of age and are able to work and start a new family should also receive some money, because these actions are valuable to the society. In 19 th century, the idea of basic income first appeared as universal applying to all. Josef Charlier elaborated his idea on thoughts of his predecessor, Charles Fourier. In his work Solution du problème social ou constitution humanitaire he first formulated the idea of basic income to be general and unconditional. That is how he differed from Charles Fourier. However Charlier s concept was not accepted well and he was soon forgotten. (Basic Income Earth Network 2016) th and 21th Century In 20 th century first real discussion and first experiments of the basic income were realized. After the Second World War in 1918 several works about the basic income were published, where one of the authors was Nobel laureate in literature Bertrand Russell. Another was Dennis Milner, member of the Labour party, who formulated most of the argument later used in the discussions. In 1960 s a Nobel Prize laureate proposed a negative income tax as a simplification of the American welfare. Is was much discussed on the political level and several versions were created, but this idea was definitely rejected in From that point TBU in Zlín, Faculty of Humanities 16 the basic income idea was discussed mainly among academics. From 1980 s the idea of basic income reappeared in the European states like Denmark, Netherlands, Britain, Germany and France. The voices of the basic income proponents have grown louder, conveying the debates from academic ground to the general public. (Basic Income Earth Network 2016) TBU in Zlín, Faculty of Humanities 17 2 INITIATIVE FOR UNCONDITIONAL BASIC INCOME The European Citizens Initiative is innovation of the Treaty of Lisbon. It enables the citizens of European Union address directly the European Commission in a matter of proposing a legal act if their numbers are a minimum of one million. The initiative is not affiliated to any political or other organizations. (European Commission 2016) In 2013 the European supporters of the basic income submitted their initiative to the European Commission. 2.1 European Citizens' Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income The European Citizens Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income consists of European citizens who strive to implement the basic income as a new human right. Their main aim was to bring the European Parliament s attention to the idea of basic income. In one year time, from January 14th 2013 to January 14th 2014, they had to collect one million signatures supporting the basic income in the European Union. Each state was assigned a number of signatures needed. (European Citizens Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income 2014) On January 15th the initiative released a statement to the press, stating they had collected 285,041 signatures from 28 countries, therefore they have not succeeded in arranging a public hearing for their initiative in the European Parliament. Nevertheless, the organizers were impressed with the large support within the final weeks of campaign and they were also satisfied with growing number of their supporters. The most supportive countries were Bulgaria which even more than doubled the quota of signatures with 32,006 Slovenia, Croatia, Belgium, Estonia and Netherlands, which have all fulfilled their quota. On the other hand the least supportive were Lithuania, Latvia and Cyprus with not more than 500 signatures all together. (Jordö 2014) Therefore the initiative was not successful in the try to implement the basic income, but it was successful in shedding some light on this idea and starting discussions about it throughout the social spectrum. 2.2 In the Czech Republic The initiative in the Czech Republic is the branch office of the European initiative. Its role was to promote basic income in lectures, articles and in social media. Also their task was to collect the signatures in the Czech Republic. The quota assigned to the Czech Republic was 16,500 signatures and the actual number of citizens who expressed their support was TBU in Zlín, Faculty of Humanities 18 4,572 which is 27, 7 % of the quota and 0, 04 % of the total population of the Czech Republic. (Haimann 2014) The public acceptance of the basic income in the Czech Republic was not very high, the Czech Republic was situated in the bottom half of the list of countries where the signatures of support were collected. TBU in Zlín, Faculty of Humanities 19 3 STATES WITH GENERAL BASIC INCOME This chapter will portray the schemes of the basic income in several states and also will describe the preparation of implementation of the basic income in two states at this moment. 3.1 Countries with Features of the Basic Income in 2016 In 20th century, many experiments of basic income implementation were made, including Canada, United States and Namibia. These experiments were carried out locally, in a small scheme. In Namibia this experiment helped to lower the extreme poverty rates as well as the rates of malnourishment of children and adults. This success persuaded the officials to keep distributing small income to the citizens. (Murray and Pateman 2012, 7) Other countries which implemented the basic income idea are Brazil and Alaska. They implemented it nationwide although not in its full potential Brazil In 2004 Brazil implemented social politic called Citizen s Basic Income. This was enabled by a bill, which was first introduced in 1991 by the senator Eduardo Suplicy. This social policy was to establish the basic income over the course of time, firstly facilitating families whose income was under a certain agreed level expressing poverty. Further expectation was to enlarge the number of recipients until the basic income would be distributed to everybody. In its beginnings it supported about 5 % of Brazil s population. Currently it supports about 25 % of Brazil s population. However this income is not totally unconditional, because to receive it, families must fulfill certain obligations such as sending children to school or undergo compulsory vaccinations. (Nagarajan 2012) All in all, Citizen s Basic Income is not an unconditional basic income in its true meaning, but it is meant to be in the future Alaska Alaska was the first to introduce the basic income in its full scheme. It is called Permanent Fund Dividend and it has been working since Alaskan constitution states citizenship s ownership of land and since 1967 oil has been extracted from this land. Then in 1976 a state referendum created the Alaska Permanent Fund assets which were to be invested into from the oil revenues. And in 1982 the Permanent Fund Dividend became part of Alaska Permanent Fund. The value of the Permanent Fund Dividend fluctu
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