The Corona period reminds many people of the unconditional basic income. Still, it’s not a good idea – not even in a crisis.

An initiative in Switzerland in 2013 promoted an unconditional basic income with 15 tons of coins.

Dhe crisis breathes new life into many old ideas – the unconditional basic income is one of the most popular: the idea that everyone receives a basic monthly amount of money, regardless of whether they work or not, whether they need it or not. Around 500,000 signatories can be found on the Internet for a petition that now calls for a test for at least six months. That’s a lot of support: Last year, 200,000 signatories were enough for Finance Minister Scholz to lower the VAT on tampons.

In the meantime, proponents of the basic income can even be found among the highest academic dignitaries: Nobel laureate for economics Robert Shiller has recently found that the basic income could be a way out of the crisis. A Spanish minister announces a new social benefit, which in Germany is understood as the introduction of such a basic income.

It’s not a miracle. After all, life reminds some people a little of the basic income: You sit at home in front of the computer, the children play in the next room, but money still flows into your account – some privileged people can definitely gain something from their home office.

Other social benefits would have to disappear

But it is also clear to every home worker: The money only flows in the long term if it is actually generated. And there’s the catch: the unconditional basic income is pretty expensive. The required six months alone with 800 to 1200 euros would cost around 500 billion euros, almost doubling the federal government’s existing aid packages. In just six months, Germany would be more than 10 percentage points further away from the 60 percent target for national debt.

The country could only afford such a boon in the long term if all other social benefits ceased to exist. The pensions too. It would no longer be possible to pay more to people with a higher lifetime achievement. Paying more people with higher needs would no longer be possible. It’s not social.

Spain cannot afford such an unaffordable rain of money either. Only a minimum income for the needy is being introduced there. The Spanish project is not that far away from Germany’s Corona-Hartz-IV, which the state is currently freely distributing to people with large fortunes. 1000 euros a month? No problem with Hartz IV: In cities like Hamburg, the standard rate, rent assumption and heating allowance easily add up to four-digit amounts, even for singles. But the money only goes to those who have lost their income. A basic income also flows to people who do not need it at all.

Basic income tests fail

Those affected by the crisis are therefore covered. But wouldn’t the crisis be the best time to try out the daring idea? No. The main danger of an unconditional basic income is that some of the people give up work and remain lying in the social hammock without drive. Such a limited attempt cannot even test that: Hardly anyone will voluntarily remain unemployed if the basic income might later disappear again. If you have to go back to work in six months anyway, you’d better start looking for a job right away or do something else useful that will help you earn money later.

The Friends of Basic Income, on the other hand, aim to ensure that nobody has to work if they do not want to: Freed from the “pressure to exploit” their own work, people could do what is really important to them, so the argument goes. It goes under: The fact that work is subject to pressure to sell is a very useful principle of the market economy. You only earn money when you do something for others – and not just anything, but an activity that is also worth something to others. In this way, egoism is made usable for the common good.

It is true that this principle does not always work in practice – taxes and social benefits have a lot to balance out. It is also true that the practice of taxes and social benefits is so complicated that it desperately needs to be simplified.

But there are too many fashion designers and artists who want to gain more freedom for unprofitable projects with the unconditional basic income. You should seriously ask yourself a question: whether people should really finance their self-realization.