Swiss voters over the weekend dealt a stern backslap to a ballot proposal that would have guaranteed a basic monthly income for all 8.1 million residents — regardless of their employment status — of that wealthy European nation.
The vote wasn't even close. Almost 77 percent of voters rejected the proposal that the government give every adult in Switzerland about $2,500 every month. (Children would have received a smaller subsidy of $650.)
Supporters had argued that the bold social experiment would help eradicate poverty and protect workers in an increasingly automated economy. Opponents said the measure, with an estimated price tag of more than $200 billion a year, was too costly and would lead to public spending cuts.
Virtually no one was surprised by the results. As The Wall Street Journal reports:
"The outcome was never in doubt, with the government, businesses and many trade unions lining up in opposition and recent polls suggesting the public was firmly against the idea."
USA Today quotes Alain Berset, the head of Switzerland's Federal Department of Home Affairs, as saying:
"The results demonstrate that voters are satisfied with the way our economy functions and don't think it needs to be revolutionized."
Switzerland was the first country to offer its voters their choice on the idea of a government-guaranteed monthly income, USA Today reports. The newspaper says the proposal is being debated in other countries, including the Netherlands, Finland, Canada and New Zealand.