Earnings-related pensions or unemployment benefits would come of top of the unconditional basic income, at a level reduced by the amount of that basic income, fully financed by social security contributions and subjected to essentially the same sort of conditions as today.
In some proposals, the basic income takes the form of a higher basic pension from the official pension age.
The fundamental point is that a basic income would not replace social insurance but only rescale it and enable to perform its functions better than now.
Why do you argue that the economic sustainability of basic income is threatened by migration?
Immigration presents a challenge to any form of redistribution that is meant to benefit every legal resident, not just those who have contributed to a social insurance scheme. This applies to basic income proposals, but just as much to means-tested minimum-income schemes and to in-work benefits for low-paid workers.
If the transfers involved are generous, they will operate as magnets, even if immigrants are coming in order to work, not to cash in benefits.
You say basic income policy also exposes the most solid progressive to the “cruelest of dilemmas”: to choose between Us and Them, the national poor and the migrant poor. How do you escape the dilemma between democracy and racism?
The cruel dilemma for progressives in rich countries is not one between democracy and racism but between national solidarity and global solidarity. If it does not function too badly — that is by giving enough weight to public justification to the electorate — a national democracy can be made to implement a significant level of national solidarity. But this cannot be expected [to reach the same extent] for solidarity across borders. This may lead to racist accents in national democratic debates, but need not.
The fundamental tension, particularly salient in an unequal world is between national democracy and global justice. It cannot be resolved in one big jump. Hence the enormous historical importance of the European experiment. Building the socio-economic institutions required by the pursuit of transnational solidarity and the political institutions required to sustain them is a difficult, laborious process.
No political entity in the world is anywhere close to the European Union in terms of progress along this rocky road. There is a lot there to preserve and strengthen. But there is also a long way to go.
You propose a reform of the European Union into a transfer union. It is not about creating a “super-European welfare state,” but creating a “transnational redistribution.” What is it and what effect will it have on migration?
I propose the introduction of a Euro-dividend: an E.U.-wide or Eurozone-wide basic income of €200, modulated according to the average cost of living in each country and funded by VAT.
It can contribute to macroeconomic stabilization, but also to demographic stabilization: It will enable some people in poorer member states to remain closer to their roots and their relatives rather than flocking into overcrowded Western cities.
There is the helicopter money proposal, defined by Mario Draghi: The BCE prints money to fund a basic income and not just to buy government bonds. What do you think?