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HUNGARY: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaks harshly against basic income

Picture: Viktor Orbán. Credit to Politics.Hu

Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, made reference to basic income in his speech at the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, held on 28 February, 2017.

 

The speech itself is very much focused on economic issues, centred on the Hungarian reality. Orbán, however, also offers comments about his vision for Hungarian society and energy investment in the near future. Regarding society, Orbán portrays a vision of a homogenous racial and cultural profile, in which all jobs are performed by Hungarians. In fact, he repeats the word “homogeneity” seven times in the speech within this context. On energy, he firmly supports a nuclear-powered “cheap energy” economy, despite the fact that other nations are divesting from nuclear, with nearby Germany, for example, having closed eight reactors in six years.

 

Most notably, Viktor Orbán refers to basic income midway through his speech. He starts out by labelling it as “communistic” and “some sort of basic benefit or pay – or something like that”. According to him, “this is an utterly unthinkable approach”, which nonetheless is being pursued in countries like Finland, Canada, and the Netherlands, and seriously discussed even in the United Kingdom. Orbán continues to declare that Hungary would “close shop” if something like basic income were to be implemented. He claims that it would mean Hungary would slip “back to the culture of benefit-based economies”, in what seems to be a reference to communist times. It would also, he warns, bury the “work- and performance-oriented culture based on merit”, and thus, under such a system, “investors can go to another country with their capital investments, because here they could only go bankrupt”. The assumption that people would become idle given a basic income seems to run deep in Viktor Orbán’s view. He concludes his critique of the basic income concept with the following words:

 

“So I propose that we protect ourselves in a timely fashion – firmly based on foundations of common sense – against these socialistic ideas, which originate from Heaven knows where. […] We don’t have the means or the capacity to distribute money without performance and work in return. We have the means and capacity to build a system in Hungary which is fundamentally based on competitiveness, performance and merit, while also asserting fairness and social and humanitarian criteria. If we undermine these philosophical foundations of the Hungarian economy, we won’t be able stay alive. So in this respect I earnestly ask you not to give in to any kind of political temptation, or to such siren voices.”

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7 comments

  • Serf Jester

    I don’t know how any rational person could think automation isn’t guaranteed because technology only goes forward. There’s like ten years according to Kurzweil before it’s 100% automation of everything. And it probably won’t even take but a fraction of ten years, say five years, before 5% of the entire society is automated. Five more years of doublings from 5% gets to 100%.

  • Rather good news for the movement.

  • Mike van Wyk

    Hungry exports approximately 79% of its commercial output to the EU, with Germany being its largest customer.
    In June 2015 the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH) published that 35% of Hungarians live below the poverty line. Social inequality in Hungry is growing at such an alarming rate that their government has halted publishing stats on poverty. A bit like an Ostrich hiding its head in the sand!
    With this in mind, I can certainly understand Prime Minister Orban’s disdain of UBI – such a ‘leftist’ concept may increase the cost of cheap labour or worse cause taxes to increase on those that line their pockets and continue enjoying the excesses of their ill gained rewards, while ordinary Hungarians suffer. The EU should address this morally apprehensible situation and ensure a more fair redistribution of Hungarian wealth, so as to benefit all Hungarians, not just the few elite Mr Orban serves.
    Mr Orban – your country seems aptly named – Hungry – how do can you look into the eyes of your hungry citizens without feeling shame. UBI has absolutely nothing to do with Stalinist Communism but everything to do with sharing the common wealth of a country fairly.
    I challenge PM Orban to research UBI and run a pilot UBI in Hungry – you may be surprised how positively it impacts on both ordinary citizens and the captains of your industry. A healthy, well-fed nation is a happy nation and a happy nation brings prosperity to all – not just some.

    • Andrew Pashley

      Hungary is complicated. Whilst I do not agree with many of the things Orban spouts and indeed does, he is right that his country is not ready for this kind of project. Under the communist regime, people were put in prison for refusing to work. This kind of thinking is still in the minds of many and will take more than the two generations to reset. There is also the problem of a very different class structure in Hungary. It indeed spans from the “filthy rich” to the exceedingly poor with a huge middle class/working class sector who are the ones that actually deliver. Many of these Hungarians are already very annoyed at top level corruption and the state handouts paid to the not so minority Roma in the country, the majority of whom indeed have a very different view on family size, work and personal finance. Orban would definately have a riot on his hands if he agreed to such a project and I fear this would quickly become convenient fuel for the far right. Whilst I share the view that 3D printing and automation will radically change the working landscape, I do not see the same urgency for Hungary as countries who have a high cost workforce.

  • Aaron S.

    Andrew Pashley
    April 3, 2017 at 12:35 pm
    “Hungary is complicated. Whilst I do not agree with many of the things Orban spouts and indeed does, he is right that his country is not ready for this kind of project. Under the communist regime, people were put in prison for refusing to work. This kind of thinking is still in the minds of many and will take more than the two generations to reset. There is also the problem of a very different class structure in Hungary. It indeed spans from the “filthy rich” to the exceedingly poor with a huge middle class/working class sector who are the ones that actually deliver. Many of these Hungarians are already very annoyed at top level corruption and the state handouts paid to the not so minority Roma in the country, the majority of whom indeed have a very different view on family size, work and personal finance. Orban would definately have a riot on his hands if he agreed to such a project and I fear this would quickly become convenient fuel for the far right. Whilst I share the view that 3D printing and automation will radically change the working landscape, I do not see the same urgency for Hungary as countries who have a high cost workforce. ”

    At first i would begin with a quote from one of Orban’s deputies to put into context why Orban says what he says about UBI and to demonstrate how this post-bolshevik, neo-fascistic maffia regime view social matters: roughly it would sound in English, that “…those people who own nothing are worth nothing ( as human beings )… ” Romani Hungarians overwhelmingly belong to the most disenfranchised, segregated underclass of Hungarian society, who have been excluded from any opportunity of social mobility, or even from some chances of relief of their third world like poverty. Their systematic mistreatment, segregation by the authorities, including the goverment controlled judiciary has been well documented by several NGO-s ( NGO-s critical of the government by the way are subject of intimidation and threaths of closure by the ruling Orban-regime, which flirts with Putin’s Russia and other authoritarian regimes like Erdogan’s Turkey or Dutarte’s Philippines for instance… ) , The misery of the Roma people is generally the same as the misery all of the impoverished classes in Hungary, even though the misery of the former is placed in to ethinicist dimensions by the ruling far-right ( yes, Orban and his maffia represents the the same kind of far-right politics just as the Marine Le Pen, or Geert Wilders likes, despite the fact that his party – for now – is still a member of the center-right European Peoples Party, although this membership is started to be challenged due to his increasingly authoritarian policies and cynical disregard for the rule of law and indeed the most basic human values ), , This country marches towards the Third World in every aspects, so UBI has indeed very slim chances to be realised ( there is not even a debate about it ) in Hungary, while the very foundations of democracy and the rule of law itself have been dismantled and whlile poorer and less sucessful people are looked down with contempt by the ruling regime and by most of the wealthier and middle classes… …even by some of those, who actually oppose Orban. Some of the fiercest opponents of any basic income scheme or even just somewhat greater social mobility by investing more into public education or health care ( into “human capital” ) are Orban’s quasi-liberal, quasi-opposition, which fanatically .believes in neo-liberal, market-fetishist dogmas and in a social-darwinistic view of society…

  • Welcome to the GRB Shareholders Basic Income Earth Network – GRB.net

  • Oriza Triznyák

    Communist-minded Fidesz who will steal European Union money his country (Which has already begun in the process of being a great Orbán who, of course, did not choose us, but in 2010 if he himself stolen the referendum. For his own benefit, he first abolished and destroyed the social care system in 2011, followed by compulsory public work etc . North Korea ? Come on, this is worse, Orbán is trying to get the hungarians out of here.
    There is virtually no social aid, there is no unemployment benefit, only unemployment is about 7%) and the majority will die for this reason. However, the salary of a FIDESZ politician is several million HUF a month. Even a FIDESZ mayor is looking for a million forint over a month. Unemployed benefit and social assistance is not provided by everyone . The unemployment benefit and social benefit for a month is 70 euros.
    Much of the Hungarian country still lives in the “third world” (Africa) level today. After 15 or 20 years (Thanks to Fidesz), the whole country will die. Back to the dictatorship repression is a shortage of labor, exploitation is vulnerability if there is work at all because most do not already have it. Poor social network. Exiting the eu will soon bring back the dissident period when the Hungarians are about to escape again to North America.

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