Freedom, Not Full Employment

1. To make participation in a community’s prosperity contingent on an individual’s work-output is justified only as long as this prosperity depends on human manpower. But manpower is now increasingly replaced by machines and computer software.
Hence, if we continue to connect income-distribution to work, we cause increasing unemployment (as an effect of automation) or declining incomes (as a result of non-automation).

2. The prosperity of our country is the prosperity of all citizens. This prosperity is our common achievement – as well as that of preceding generations.
Justice commands that all citizens share in the country’s prosperity.

3. Our country’s prosperity is the result of successful innovation. Innovation increases productivity and promotes value-creation because it makes possible labor-saving automation.
Accordingly, unemployment is not a sign of poverty but of our country’s increased productivity and of its assets.

4. If we fail to enhance innovation we sacrifice freedom from unnecessary work as well as prosperity.
The rights of citizens include freedom from unnecessary work that can be performed by machines.

5. Forcing the unemployed and welfare recipients to work mistrusts their commitment to the common welfare and restricts civil liberties.

6. If we insist on the goal of full employment we punish the unemployed as well as employees for our country’s economic productivity.
We force them to sell their manpower at declining salaries or wages and with reduced social security – even though their manpower is no longer needed.

7. To maintain the goal of full employment results in unnecessary work that can be automated. Automated work is replaceable work, replaceable work cannot be meaningful.
To stick to the goal of full employment results in a loss of meaning in work for an increasing number of citizens.

8. Emphasizing the goal of full employment ties up citizens in mind-numbing, undignified work. This means that employees have less time for meaningful activities. The person’s dignity is violated.

9. When human dignity and integrity are no longer the supreme guiding principles of our political decisions, our political community is shaken to its foundations.

We propose:
An unconditional basic income for all citizens that …

… strengthens the family. Parents can devote themselves to the education and care of their children without worrying about income security.

… promotes innovation in all social areas by providing leisure and intellectual opportunities. Innovative ideas could be freely developed without market pressure.

… strengthens businesses. Employers could replace workers with machines, and they would not need to worry about those they are laying off; they could expect remaining employees to be well-motivated.

… strengthens the economy. Unproductive industries and economic branches no longer need to be subsidized by the state.

… makes possible a drastic dismantling of bureaucracy in the social systems. An unconditional basic income would replace most current social benefits.

An unconditional basic income for all citizens creates new opportunities for individual responsibility and provides the freedom to make the most of them.

Ute Fischer, Stefan Heckel, Axel Jansen, Sascha Liebermann, Thomas Loer

Translation: Marc Batko and Axel Jansen.

24.06.2005

For further information: The Abolition of the Unemployed by Katrin Pinetzki

(Die Initiative “Freiheit statt Vollbeschäftigung” ist nicht verantwortlich für die Inhalte externer Internetseiten.)