The Paradox of the Universal Subsidy and the Loss of the Work Culture

Julian De Diego

Lawyer. Employment advisor of companies and chambers of business. Academic Counselor for Libertad y Progreso.

CRONISTA – For many years I have been warning from my oral and written opinion that there are no longer unemployed or excluded in Argentina, there are only subsidized, (La Nación, July 6, 2014).

The Covid 19 revived as a tool the universal health subsidy now as a resource against the paralysis of activities due to confinement and quarantine.

Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) in his work “De La Guerra” where he stated that “War is the continuation of politics by other means” was wrong in his predictions, he said that the armed war would continue with the commercial war. He forgot about the invisible enemy of a pandemic like the coronavirus, the army to defend against it from doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and health teams, from the weapons factories that are now pharmaceutical research laboratories, and from the strategic weapons that are curative medication and vaccines.

The universal subsidy or universal basic income (RBU), Universal Basic Income (IBU), unconditional basic income (RBI) or citizen income is a non-contributory social security benefit, paid from Treasury resources or through other institutions, and it is financed from the general income of the State and other resources. In our country, it is financed with monetary issuance and a systematic increase in the fiscal deficit.

The universal subsidy had its first rudimentary version in our country with Raúl Alfonsín with the PAN programs, he continued in the management of Carlos Menem who transformed it into Law 25,724 / 2000, during Fernando de la Rúa they remained unchanged, grew and expanded in the management of Nestor Kirchner Cristina Kirchner adding different social plans and was strengthened and expanded again in the management of Mauricio Macri with former Minister Carolina Stanley.

All are responsible for having generalized a temporary tool and turned it into a plague according to the mode of implementation in our country, since it has become a political tool speculating on the need for poverty, indigence and necessity, and its objective has been denatured central, which is to be a bridge between those who suffer basic needs and reintegration into the labor market, fostering employability with training and coaching, preserving the value of the culture of effort, work and thereby achieving personal success.

In the current administration, the IFE, or Emergency Family Income, was created, aimed at informal workers, domestic workers, social monotributistas, and monotributistas with lower incomes. It benefits native and naturalized Argentines with 2 years of residence, who do not have any formal income. It is also charged by the beneficiaries of the Universal Child Allowance, the Pregnancy Allowance, and the Progresar program. The sum awarded by the IFE is $ 10,000.

Curiously, there are many cases of fraud, and they perceive it as social plans, for example, numerous foreigners, who in neighboring provinces such as Formosa, Jujuy or Misiones do not even live within our territory, add votes for certain rulers, by obtaining Argentine documents and fraudulent demonstration of two years of residence.

Should the universal subsidy exist? If we review the primary function of the State, which is to ensure the common good and general welfare, without a doubt that the universal subsidy must exist. In the current circumstances where the political, social and economic crisis in our country worsened considerably with the Covid 19 pandemic, the IFE and social plans are essential to assist the most vulnerable population.

However, so that the plans do not become detractors of the work culture, the beneficiaries must enter the retraining plans by following the training courses in arts and crafts with job opportunities, or perfecting themselves when they have already acquired one, in order to generate employability, that is, the minimum conditions for companies to enter them into the formal market.

The universal subsidy comes in various formats, for example in the United States, fifty-one million unemployment insurance were paid, in addition to having more than fifty million other people subsidized by other causes (ex-combatants, victims of addictions, the disabled, and others) and that more than forty million workers provide services undocumented without receiving any benefits.

In countries where the system was tested, such as in Finland, in 2015, the cabinet of the conservative Finnish Prime Minister, Juha Sipilä, announced the implementation, on an experimental basis during the years 2017 and 2018 of a pilot project of RBU evaluable in 2019. It proposed a budget of 20 million euros, about 560 euros per month, for 2,000 registered unemployed in 2016. However, in April 2018 the Finnish government decided to suspend the project, which would no longer apply in 2019.

In the context of the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic, different countries, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and even Pope Francis have spoken in favor of the implementation of a Universal Basic Income.

Entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) consider Basic Income adequate to cushion the effects of the crisis in terms of inequality and to face the inevitable automation of the immediate future and the advancement of technologies exponentials within the revolution implied by the new business models.

The universal subsidy has been installed to stay, so now it is time to guide it towards a constructive transformation. For the time being, all cases of fraud and fraudulent clientelism must be removed. In turn, it must be placed with the objective of retraining and the reintegration of vulnerable groups into a new market creating employability, where new technologies and new ways of organizing work will set the course for a true “new reality”.