the essentials The idea of a universal income is attracting more and more people, in France and abroad, where the economic consequences of the health crisis of the Covid-19 epidemic have accelerated discussions. In France, 15 department council presidents want to experience it.
Was Benoît Hamon right too soon? In the election campaign for the last presidential election, the Socialist Party candidate made a universal income such as the tax on income from robots a flagship of his program. He proposed the creation of a universal basic income (RUE) of 600 to 800 euros per month as a first step for those whose income is less than 2,200 euros net. Regarded by some as utopian or by others as too expensive, Universal Income – the idea of which dates back to the 16th century with Thomas More followed by John Stuart Mill or John Locke – is now more than ever in the foreground of the stage, in France as in Europe , especially because of the health crisis and its economic consequences.
In fact, Covid-19 has plunged thousands of people who have lost their jobs into precariousness and insecurity. A basic income would therefore act as a safety net in bad weather, but also correct social inequalities. Whether basic income, universal income, minimum income or citizenship, it has been or is currently being experienced by several countries around the world, from Finland to Italy, from the USA to South Korea.
An idea from the 16th century
Since the 2000s, several economists in France have spoken out in favor of a basic income, such as Jacques Marseille, who suggested paying every French person from the age of majority to his death € 750, Bernard Maris or Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, co – 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics. Yesterday in Les Echos, the economist Philippe Aghion, professor at the Collège de France and one of the inspirers of Emmanuel Macron’s economic program, endorsed the idea. “I support the creation of a universal inclusion income for young people like in Denmark. This device could be a powerful tool to guide students, “says Philippe Aghion, who puts the cost of the device at around 7 billion euros and sees it as” the major social reform after Covid at the end of the five-year term in office. “
The idea of basic income is also unique in that it crosses political divides. If we have found many of his supporters on the left, in the PS or in the EELV for a long time, they are also in the middle and even on the right. Christine Boutin, former president of the Christian Democratic Party in 2003, called for a “universal dividend from cradle to grave” when former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin spoke in 2011 of a “citizen income”. Creator of the liberal think tank GenerationLibre, Gaspard Koening, defends the idea of a universal income in the form of a negative tax to run one’s life without being economically dependent on the benevolence of an employer or the state.
Occitania on the front lines
Because beyond the group of citizens affected by the universal income and its level, about which everyone has their own ideas, the question of its financing remains open: Replacing existing social assistance (RSA, unemployment, APL, etc.), claiming certain existing or new taxes (VAT increase, income from the future corporate income tax recently decided by the G7)? The paths are numerous and deserve consideration.
For some who want to react now to the emergency, this consideration seems too slow. A group of fifteen PS presidents of the departmental councils and the Mayoress of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, have just called for the right to experiment with new solutions at the departmental level, in particular opening the RSA to young people aged 18-25 and creating a base income.
“We, department presidents, refuse to let young people remain the blind spot of this government” storm these elected officials, including Sophie Borderie (Lot-et-Garonne) and several department presidents in Occitania: Hermeline Malherbe (Pyrénées-Orientales), Georges Méric ( Haute-Garonne), Kléber Mesquida (Hérault), Sophie Pantel (Lozère), Hélène Sandragné (Aude) and Christine Téqui (Ariège).