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Joshua Bowles

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How would you feel if every human was given unconditional income?

As humans I believe we should all have the basic necessities of life provided to us free of charge. These rights belong to every living being on the planet. Now I know there are some possibilities....(like given the money people will just blow it all anyways), this is besides the point though.

Please watch this video
http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/basic_income_a_new_human_right/

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      Nov 1 2013: wow.....they are so far ahead of the world i feel at times. If you were in America and there was money on the ground like that......it would be world war 3.......
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        Nov 1 2013: Switzerland is a direct democracy which makes it way more easy for the people to call for a referendum on matters of their concern and in their interest. To start a referendum it only takes 100.000 people to sign up for it and like never before in their history this many subscriber signed as fast as for the unconditional income. And I am very curious about the final outcome.

        Of course there is a controversial debate going on about it, yet this is what democracy is about, this is how decisions get formed in those societies - at least this is how its meant to be!

        Yet the Swiss people also pushed for another referendum in March 2013 which they call the 1:12th rule. By this they are going to decide, that the maximum difference between the lowest and highest income in their country will be 1 to 12. If this referendum passes, top manager will only be allowed to earn 12 times as much as their lowest paid employee (except interns and worker on short time).

        In the past, the top difference was 1:720 and is on average at 1:56 at the moment.

        You can imagine, that top managers in Switzerland are not really relaxed at the moment and some of them even threatened to leave the country when this referendum passes - on which many people already answered: bye, bye then ... :o)

        Another great experiment that would be if the Swiss people decide for it! I hope so and will stay tuned.
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          Nov 1 2013: The fact that the people are aware and have brought this issue up to their government says a lot. Its not communism. We in America are just now getting everyone adequate health care. You should have seen the money grubbers getting pissed about that one. They tried and tried and tried everything they could think of to not get people healthcare. In the end the people won.
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          Nov 2 2013: You are right Lejan, however, let's not forget that Switzerland is unique in the way they actually practice democracy.
          I think neither in your country Germany, nor in mine, Austria would that work, let alone in the US.
          Another thing is that unconditional income has to be paid for by somebody. Switzerland has only 3 % unemployment while the US has almost 3 times as much.
          Personally I'm not a friend of the Wohlfahrts Staat (welfare state), because it tends to take away the incentive for people to work.
          If you get 70 % of your last payment as unemployment compensation, where is the incentive to find a new job (at least as long as the money comes flowing in) ?
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        Nov 1 2013: Honestly, I was pretty irritated when I realized many years ago, that the USA didn't have a full covering healthcare system for their people. A nation that wealthy at that time when even the Soviets got that one right.

        Direct democracy is no communism, although it gets dangerously close in some respects for the 1%.

        I am also very curious about what is going to happen in your nation, as it becomes more and more obvious that for the majority of your people things are constantly changing for a worse and nothing is on the horizon so far to get this tendency into reverse.

        Occupy was hopefully just a warm up exercise for a general reconsideration of 'reality' so I stay tuned on this as well.
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          Nov 1 2013: A lot of truthful information is withheld from the people here in America. We are starting to become more aware of things due to technology, but even that is limited from us. There are a lot of us trying out there. Getting the lazy, won't do anything without money people involved is tough.
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      Nov 4 2013: Wow we zoo wow weE! Yes, Josh. We are far behind this kind of civilization.
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    Nov 4 2013: Great idea. How to persuade others?
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    Nov 3 2013: I want basic income, as I think it is a good way to organize society. It would replace all monetary incentives our government (unemployment, pensions, child-money... if they happen to exist in your current system)

    I would also like to see tax on work gone and have tax on consumption instead (health tax, ecology tax, cleanup tax,...).

    Of course, we still need a form of insurance (also for health-care: costs can always increase, so a rational choice for what is refunded and what not still needs a minimum and maximum)

    Basic income can mean some people will just live of that. But that will imply they live quite poor (no travel, basic food, no luxury, no car, small living place,...). I don't think all people would opt for that and I don't think it will threaten the system, as the basic provisions for all people on this planet can be produced by a fraction of all possible labor.

    Is it a human right? well, most human rights are a convention, so we can opt to make it one.

    If you are a European Citizen, you can actually sign this petition to put it on the European agenda:
    http://basicincome2013.eu/
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      Nov 3 2013: I agree with most everything you say here, and you put it well. But I would embellish on the poverty that people would still experience on a government-funded income. At one end of the spectrum, there will be a group of people that can't take care of themselves to varying degrees, and for whichever reasons, free money just enables their destructive lifestyle. I live in th US, which offers around $200 (varying among states) in food benefits to people of low income. It also offers cash benefits with an extra application, but it's a modest program. Still though, many people in my city can say they've seen someone buy cases of cola with their food card and dump them in the street, just to return the cans and collect can deposits (5 cents a can in most states) so they can purchase $2 40 oz.'s of malt liquor. $1000 a month could be blown on drugs, and they would voluntarily malnourish or starve themselves.

      I'm not sure if that's a pressing issue among European countries, but in US cities it's a small but growing demographic. Still, over 99% of the homeless wouldn't do such a thing, but many of them also don't apply for the food program. There's a good number that are covered by other programs like social security and disability, but the vast majority of homeless can be found at Christian shelters and soup kitchens, or in the park where a church visits every day with food (churches will organize in big cities and take turns each day of the week). I think most secularists should be fine with that, atheists might balk. There's a big movement by religious institutions (not just Christian) to help the poor and homeless, and that should be appreciated the same as a big non-religious movement to help the poor.

      I've just been talking about one end of the spectrum, of course. At the other end, we have working people taking care of themselves and their families. But as you said, they would live quite poor. I think that providing a base income is just enabling their situtation.
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        Nov 4 2013: Maybe If the income wasn't cash. That would eliminate some fraudulent spending. Any system in place will always have asses working it to their benefit. But for some people i see it as an opportunity to do things that usually produce little or no income i.e. Artists, musicians, volunteers etc. People would still work just like some would still be lazy.
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          Nov 4 2013: I see your suggestion that freeing people from undesirable labor could help foster culture, allowing people more freedom to produce art or volunteer. But I don't believe it would. If they had that drive, they could apply themselves and make a lot of money. Sure, there are plenty of musicians and starving artists that are poor and happy to be poor, and that's fine, but they're just as capable of figuring out a way to make a higher income. For various reasons they may have a defeatist attitude, but they could never expect to play a guitar well without working for it. Likewise they couldn't expect to make a decent living without working for it.

          I've lived homeless and in low income areas, and even today my lifestyle is modest. The majority of low-income people I've known aren't creators, and if they do community service it's court ordered. For whatever reason they have a defeatist attitude. People get settled in their situation, they may not be aware of ways out, they haven't thought about them or they don't believe in themselves. And their dependence on welfare has some very apparant effects on their psyche- it reinforces their lifestyle and world view, which keeps them living in the dumps. They become dependent and set in that lifestyle, and seemingly less capable of taking care of themselves.

          People that are poor often work general labour jobs. General labour jobs pay minimum wage because they don't require any valuable skills. If people build and market valuable skills, they soon start making considerable amounts of money, and in the grand scheme of things it fosters good culture and civilization, and better individuals. People apply themselves to succeed because they have a fire under their butt driving them to do so. There's a common phenomenon where wealthy parents raise kids that grow up to be losers- because the kids never had that fire under their butt, the very natural reality of poverty, to drive them to apply themselves.
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    Nov 1 2013: In Switzerland, they pretty well are (given an unconditional income if out of work). It's a nice country. Been there several times and have a daughter who lives there.
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    Nov 1 2013: A wonderful era when it comes, but then one will feel only equal to the majority. But at that point within society there will have to be another new measure that differentiates, and we will all be scrambling to achieve that. There is a natural instinct in many to want to be different, to control and have more choices than others. So far our socio-economic systems have not progressed beyond numerical measure; however very soon other forms of assets and human qualities will surely replace income as the quest for differentiation.
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    Nov 4 2013: Seems Like from most of the replies, people are afraid of their pockets getting lighter. Ironic.
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      Nov 4 2013: In the link Lejan posted below...I believe the people are civil about money being dumped on the street because they all came together for this to happen. There is unity and not individualism. Sadly, it's a completely different way of thinking for the American culture. This idea makes people lazy. Gives no incentive to "work". Maybe what this country needs is a new definition of the word "work". I don't understand. I don't have a job where someone pays me at the moment but everyday I work. I assume this makes me lazy and without incentive? What is the difference between "work" and "job" if any at all? Answering this question and thinking is not work? Obviously, I wouldn't consider it a j-o-b I don't get paid for it. Well damn, where and what is my incentive exactly? I don't know. :B A richer understanding of what in the hell is happening in the world today. To be honest, I feel more incentive doing this for free than feeling forced to do this because someone is paying me. Why? Can we not share our work in such a state?
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        Nov 4 2013: Excellently put. It will catch like fever.
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    Nov 2 2013: Imagine for a minute life before civilization. Imagine you and your crew are making a life for yourselves in the wilderness. How do you survive? You can hunt and gather. Or you can grow your own crops and keep livestock.

    Both of these methods require work on your part. If you don't hunt or gather, or if you don't tend to your crops and livestock, you will starve. You have no universal right to sitting on your butt and surviving. The reality is, your life has necessities, and it is up to you to secure them.

    Fast forward to 2013. Your life has necessities. You can hunt and gather. That is, you can go out into the world and seek an income. You can find a job, start a business, or develop a skill and market yourself. Or you can grow your own food and keep livestock, and your environment will provide you with your necessities.

    When exactly did a base income become an inherent human right? We have the power today to provide it to everyone through government. We can choose to allow any citizen to sit on their butt, do absolutely nothing for themself and stay alive. But for that individual, it's not a natural survival. They couldn't live that lifestyle and survive on their own. Essentially, the belief that every individual has an inherent right to a base, government-supplied income, is analogous to believing that we all have a right to sit on our butts, do nothing for ourselves, and be taken care of like pets.

    I don't believe that's healthy for the individual or society.
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      Nov 2 2013: I think what has become of society is not healthy. I understand that hunter gatherer theory. The problem comes when one hunter is killing all the food and keeps it all frozen for that "rainy dAy." He has killed all the MEat and all the while non hunters (women, Children, healers, intellectuals ) all starve.
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        Nov 3 2013: That is a commonly held view, but I believe it's more the fairy tale version. The truth is the hunter didn't kill all the food. He just came up with a great way to catch food. Maybe the others loathe him for it. But there's plenty more food out there to be caught.

        And all that's aside from the fact that you could be a farmer, whether that's growing food in your backyard, or if you're homeless, WWOOFing (http://www.wwoof.net/). What I do believe, which may be somewhat along the lines of what you suggest here, is that we all have a right to live off the earth. If we've been offered anything by the world we all share, it's soil and vegetation, air to breathe, self-healing wounds, etc. We deserve a clean environment to grow our own food, and that's worth fighting for if we don't have it.

        I get the commune mentality that people often alike socialism to. But a visitor to a commune will often find that they hate free loaders. Universal blanket welfare and redistribution of wealth don't bring a commune-style mode of operation to the national level, instead we get a successful class taxed to provide a living to a not-successful class. Sorry if that sounds harsh. I don't mean to say "Are there no prisons? Are there no work houses?" (Scrooge). I'm not challenging welfare for the disabled, handicapped, etc., but the topic here- an inherent, universal right to a base income.
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    Nov 1 2013: If we had no one to manage the construction....then would anything get built? Maybe he enjoyed himself ....there could be different reasons. Waiters have always been in demand. What would people do if suppose all of the waiters gave up waiting on tables and went into investment banking? If everyone stopped working for their low bullshit wages.......then what? unconditional income? perhaps so.
  • Nov 1 2013: think this is similar to the discussion earlier of a society with no welfare

    http://www.ted.com/conversations/20444/can_a_culture_be_developed_whe.html
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    Nov 1 2013: by whom? because as of it is right now, if we implement such a system, such a handout would be financed by me. so thanks, but no, thanks.
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      Nov 1 2013: “If there is a void in your life then you will never fill it with cash!”
      “What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?”
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        Nov 1 2013: that would your excuse for taking my stuff? i chose a void in my life any day over being a thief.
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          Nov 1 2013: taking your....."stuff"? thievery? wow...slow down there fella. Do not worry, when they put your body in the casket...we will make sure they put all of your "stuff" in there too.
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          Nov 1 2013: You justify and agree on market manipulation and price-fixing agreements against the interest of consumers, so your understanding of thievery is pretty narrow and self-centered anyway.
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        Nov 1 2013: i don't see how is that an argument, but i can assure you, you are not touching my stuff even when i'm dead. for those becomes the property of whoever i name in my will.
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          Nov 1 2013: you sound like my two year old. He is going through the "that's mine" phase. lol
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        Nov 1 2013: i don't know what kind of community you live in, but i certainly don't want to go there if the concept of private property exists only in childhood.

        but in fact it is just false on all levels. children don't respect the concept of property, nor animals. it is a concept that we have to learn as we grow up. some learns. some don't.
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          Nov 1 2013: i see where you are coming from ..i do. You have worked hard for your stuff and why should you just give it all back? The thing is people are tired of your system. If you can watch this video and still tell me that what you are saying is just and fair.......then we dont want to live in your community

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slTF_XXoKAQ
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          Nov 1 2013: and what i mean by we....are the workers who build your houses, and buildings, cook your food, take out your trash, mow your lawns, carry your groceries, babysit your children, fix your appliances, install your cable, design your inventions.....etc etc etc
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          Nov 1 2013: 'It is a concept that we have to learn as we grow up'

          Why? Says who? A natural law or something? Or just a concept and therefore questionable?

          It is the access to things, not the possession of things which makes life comfortable.

          Did you work for the sun to shine on you? No! Do you posses it? No! So why don't you live in the shade?
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        Nov 1 2013: i'm a worker too. i make software. some people hire me (our company) to create software for them. i hire people to bake bread for me. this is called the division of labor.

        how would that make my stuff not my stuff? taking what is not yours is theft. you can twist words all day long, but it won't change the act one bit.
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          Nov 1 2013: First off, i never said we were going to take your stuff. Keep all of your flaming shit....nobody cares.

          This is how I feel about people like you:
          Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment. --Mark Twain

          What a miserable thing life is: you're living in clover, only the clover isn't good enough. --Bertolt Brecht

          Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. --Thoreau

          "Those who own much have much to fear." Tagore

          You give and you give some more, never stop giving until the day you die.
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          Nov 3 2013: Wait, there will come a day we will not "need" software. What will Krisztian do next? I'd like to be the first to call you a lazy mental case unable to get a "job". I'd offer you a job but you would turn it down because it would be scrubbing my shoes for a dime a piece. I only have 3 pairs of shoes by the way. You would ask to scrub my mirrors in my home. I tell you Connie does that. You would go through many of your virtues you may posses and find there is absolutely no interest or demand for any of them. You "grow". You would hear about a field that is hiring for a short moment and by the time you apply/qualify the field is flooded with applications to choose from. You actually lost money to become qualified. What you do know can't get you money!

          Now, how do you feel? Can you even relate to what I am saying?
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        Nov 1 2013: i asked where do you want to get the money for it. you won't particularly busy giving some ideas. no surprise there, such recommendations are always followed by confiscation plans. it is nothing but envy in disguise. combined with a very lazy sense of ethics, in which helping the poor with money robbed from others is a nice thing.

        and before we sink to deep in this "i pity you, selfish rich man" sentiment, i must warn you that i probably earn less than you, and probably donate more than you.
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          Nov 1 2013: I never took you for a rich man. But the "my stuff" thing sort of through me off. If I have something and you need it more than i do....take it. Thats how we do things in my circles. It always comes back to you. Honestly, I get more things in my life by giving it all away! Does that make any sense?
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        Nov 1 2013: if you don't care about stuff, i can give you my bank account, and you could transfer, lemme see, how about a thousand dollars?
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          Nov 1 2013: ha! i dont even have a 1000 dollars! All my money is already given to everyone else. You can wait....but its a long line.
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        Nov 1 2013: so you say if you had it, you would give it to me? i call bullshit on this one
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          Nov 1 2013: Why is that so hard to believe?
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          Nov 1 2013: Yea you're right. From the conversation I had with you about all of your stuff........I doubt my thousand would barely even touch those things. Seems like you're trying to dig out now?
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        Nov 1 2013: for at least 5 reasons
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          Nov 2 2013: Anyways....heres My idea. first let me ask you this....how Much money could you possibly consume in a week? Its called Moneyshare. money is shared by members only. monthlY you are given a "fee" you must meet this small fee charge to make money. Your only job is to get people to join you. By the end of the cycle, once every human is a member, its all gonna be one big pot. Sort of like insurance, but without the accident. Thoughts?
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        Nov 2 2013: the question is still the same: who pays all that? if you find anyone to finance it willingly, go ahead.
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    Nov 1 2013: I Will feel back to Normal.
  • Nov 1 2013: The communism block tried that sort of thing for years. Its doomed to failure, and its one of the reasons it fell.
    It encourages people to become parasites on the system, as opposed to doing something useful for their salary. Paying people for unproductive work (or no work at all) essentially punishes those that are working on useful things. The money has to come from somewhere, after all, and if not from taxes, then where?

    The elderly and people with severe disabilities at least have a very convincing excuse that they physically can't. As for the rest of us, no work, pay, simple as that. Otherwise you're punishing the people who are working.
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      Nov 1 2013: People would still earn money for working. I suppose I am suggesting a flat rate for every human for basic life necessities.
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    Nov 1 2013: Income is a compensation for goods or services you deliver to somebody;
    If you make no contribution to society why should you be entitled to any income at all ?
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      Nov 1 2013: What do you consider contributing to society? Would paying taxes be suffice?
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        Nov 1 2013: This depends. If you go to Scandinavia taxes are very high but you get more in return (e.g. Free education, free healthcare) than in the US where taxes are lower.
        In general, what you get should be related to your contribution to society. I'm against entitlements unless you pay in one or another way for them.
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          Nov 1 2013: Ok fair enough. So from now on I will not contribute anything to society unless I am getting something in return.
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        Nov 1 2013: You are lucky because you live in a country where you still get something for nothing.
        Regardles of whether or not you make any contribution the govt. builds infra structure, maintains public order, etc.
        There are other countries where you don't even get that.
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          Nov 1 2013: sad but true. Ok look at it from this angle. Is it ok for one group of people to have so much excess that they can buy fast food everyday, have a thousand tv channels, shit man...i have waited on tables in my younger days and watched people drop 150$ to 200$ for one plate meal and then not even eat all of it. and then you have this other group starving and dying or sick? .......What if everyone contributed to society equally? Would it still be lopsided?
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        Nov 1 2013: What you propose is a communist society of which we already know that it doesn't work.
        People have the right to make more money if they make larger contributions to society and if they want to spend money on needless stuff, that's their decision as well.
        That's what a free society is about.
        If that is something you don't like perhaps you should sample life in places like N-Korea or Cuba. Maybe then you come to appreciate a bit more the society you are living in right now.
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          Nov 1 2013: I feel you have the wrong impression about me. I do appreciate the society that I live in. I am not bashing any style government. I am not proposing communism. This in fact one day will happen. It's not going to be called communism, or any other name for that matter. It will take several years before it does happen. Consider it a part of evolution. Like back in the 50's people thought it ok to have smoking ads on the television. We evolved and learned fairly quickly that it was a bad idea. At the time though......they would had probably said the people against cigarette ads were communists. (not a know fact but a guess). Evolution of the mind and the continued spreading of humanity being more important than your lexus.
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        Nov 1 2013: I think you will see that your predictions are wrong.
        The more scarce resources become the less room for freebies. Want something ? Cool, go and deserve it.
        If not, then you have to be content with whatever you have.
        Here again we will see evolution by natural selection at work. The scarcer the resources the smaller the room por parasites.
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          Nov 1 2013: You could be right. I will still persever through the doubters and the nay sayers. One idea or one thought could change our perception on "economy" and the necessary needs for adjustment. Thank you sir for your thoughts and intelligent conversation.
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        Nov 1 2013: One final thought.
        Rather than granting income to everybody regardless of his/her contribution to society, I'd like to see a world with equal opportunities for everybody.
        What everybody makes of those opportunities wil be the choice of the individual.
        I think, although we are very far from such a state, such a society would be much more sustainable than handing out freebies to everyone.
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          Nov 1 2013: sustainability!! Now that is something I am very interested in. From having self generating electric homes to electric cars and solar powered mass transportation.

          Now let me go back to the contribution to society thing. Lets say you have a construction worker who breaks his back for 30 years making 60K a year. Thats ALMOST a million dollars! This guy gave his body up to construct various projects and only comes out with a half a mil and a bad back. Then there is this financial investor who makes deals and exchanges money for years and makes 100k to 150k a year for 30 years. Who contributed more? The guy with the most money? or the guy who sacrificed his body and safety for the benefit of others?
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        Nov 1 2013: In this I would ask why didn't your construction worker go into investment banking ? In principal he could have done that, couldn't he ?
        What is considered high or low contribution isn't something absolute but depends on offer and demand.
        I just read that interpreters and translators are in high demand and depending on the language you can make up to 200K especially if working for the govt.
        On the other hand waiters are probably much lower on the list of demand but higher on the list of offer, which is reflected in their income.
        At the end, society (through your compensation) defines the value of your contribution.

        But that aside, your topic is "inconditional income" which is different entirely because that would really mean handing out money for nothing.
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          Nov 1 2013: In your world then, the Darwinian fittest survivor is king; fair enough. So you don't mind a ruling elite then who are even fitter survivors?
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          Nov 2 2013: A Ruling elite is always necessary. People will still work. They wont be doing shit jobs for low pay anymore. Provide them With real opportunities that benefit mankind. Give them That feeling that they are making a differencE....instead Of subliminal advertisingfor food and cars bullshit....why Not subliminally advertise wealth,well being and civility. Its laye just rambling.
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        Nov 1 2013: If a ruler is necessary then I'd prefer the best one. Unfortunately, with our current "rulers" I have my doubts.
        • Nov 3 2013: Harald, I agree with you on that. All this ideology about equal income is nothing more than the utopic concept which existed quite early in human history. But the problem is who are going to manage the redistribution of these "unconditional income" or the wealth? Unfortunately by the human nature, there hasn't been a successful model of such utopia in our long history. Regardless of how you call it, the communism or so-called socialistic society were all based on the premise of entitlement without any work-for-pay mentality. If you look at the modern day countries, such as Switzerland, Sweden or New Zealand, their citizens are more highly educated and seem to have more personal responsibility, and with less people treating welfare income as entitlement and think their income without responsibility as a given (entitled). By comparison the more or less the same welfare system simply wouldn't work in Southern Europe, or the USA. There are only two reasons for this difference. One is that there are simply too many "lazy" or irresponsible, (able-bodied) citizens, or there are simply wrongly elected government leaders who don't have any idea of how to properly manage the distribution of such " unconditional income" or the revenue to balance them. By the way, these two conditions seem to feed on each other, i. e. each may feed on the other.
          In conclusion, one might dream on all the utopic concept, but without the proper managers, or the proper group attitude of the populace, they would probably stay as a dream.
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        Nov 4 2013: Yes Bart, I agree 100 % . That's exactly how I see it. This is not only true for welfare but for democracy in general.
        The Swiss have a long history of direct democracy where the people get directly involved in the decision making process. The Swiss system could be a model for other countries but only after changing the mindset of its people.
        Everybody being equal and everybody having the same sounds good in theory, but doesn't work, because it ignores that different people are driven motivated by different things.
        Some people don't care about wealth and are happy as long as they can cover their basic needs. Others are achievers and want more and more. Neither is right and wrong but a free society has to have room for the driven as well for the not so driven.
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          Nov 4 2013: please stop pretending that sweden has direct democracy. out of the tens of thousands of decisions made, some hundred per person is decided by voting, this is a tiny minority. sweden is a good old representative democracy. minor tweaks make zero difference.
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        Nov 4 2013: Krisztian, I said Swiss. Just to clarify Swiss are from Switzerland. People from Sweden are called Swedes ;-)