On July 11th 2019, Enno Schmidt, co-founder of “Initiative Grundeinkommen” (initiative basic income) in Switzerland was the guest speaker at OIKPOPOLIS am Dialog.
“First you need an income, then you can work. This is the right sequence.” According to Enno Schmidt, the concept of work should be decoupled from income: income is not, as many people believe, the value of work or a tool for self-definition. Income is nothing less than the right to live, because without an income, you cannot live. Since the human existence should not underlie economic laws or fluctuations, Enno Schmidt demands a legal guaranteed basic income for everyone. He sees this concept as an expression of unconditional appreciation towards humans, or as a “welcome present” for everyone within the society.
From that perspective, work is nothing that must be done to survive. Work is the input of time to accomplish things that correlate with the personal interests and abilities and that serves the purpose of self-realisation. This does not suggest that everyone is for himself or herself. The freedom to work and to manage time without financial constraints offers people the possibility to take on responsibility and to put more work into the service of the society. The result is a job market, where employment is not a tradeable product, but where employers and employees meet at the same level and base their liaison on respect and a fair remuneration. The principle is to use human capabilities for the good of the society, while processes that do not need human thinking are taken over by technology and machines.
The ideology to earn a living by working is counter-productive, which is unfortunately demonstrated by the example of conventional agriculture. The financial pressure on the farmers led to a rationalisation that does not respect the needs of animals and the soil. Farmers are predestined to make the definition of work clearer: “It makes no sense to rationalise cows (…) Rationalisation finds it limits at living beings.” In every work with people, animals and plants or education better work needs more time effort, more patience, more care and more attention.