Salary for Life
= The Salaire A Vie is a proposal central to the work of Bernard Friot (book: L'Emancipation du Travail) and his associates in the Reseau Salariat, a French movement that is very critical of the Basic Income; it proposes a salary that is not determined by market forces;
"Le Salaire à Vie or Salary for Life. Le Salaire à Vie was imagined by the French sociologist, Bernard Friot. Friot has attempted to develop an alternative to UBI which has enormous potential to relieve us from some of the worst contradictions of capitalism and keep us out of the traps of UBI.
Friot, as a Marxist, has recognized these issues with UBI and has devised a solution, or at least a stepping stone, to a greater vision. A vision that doesn’t lock us into this system further but creates a way out by putting into practice socialist goals like worker autonomy and creating democratic workplaces as well as recognizing the value created by domestic labor and other social contributions.
In Le Salaire à Vie salary would be untied from employment, instead, linked to the individual and determined by a scale that an individual would climb based on factors that made their labor more valuable. In Friot’s examples, at 18 you would start receiving your salary, irrevocable, of 1500 euro (approx. $1700). Things like furthering your education or the amount of experience you have working would move you up the scale. Incentives could also be applied to specific industries or jobs where there is a shortage of labor to encourage people to work in those fields or industries. You would also be required to work in order to move up the scale, the more effort you put in the faster your salary increases, which would cap at 6000 euro (approx. $7000). In this way, Le Salaire à Vie recognizes all labor as socially valuable and necessary while still recognizing skill, effort, and the time one puts in to gain certain skills and abilities.
To understand Le Salaire à Vie properly we need to understand the two forms of property conceptualized by Friot: Lucrative Property and Property of Use.
Lucrative Property is property that is not personally consumed by the owner but from which forms of income are derived. This could be a house that the owner charges rent on or profits from a company or an investment portfolio. This is commonly referred to as private property.
Property of Use or “The Property of Jouissance” is property limited to the usufruct of a good and of which no profit can be drawn. We can think of this as personal or public property. The Property of Use can’t be sold; rental would be allowed as long as it is tied to the value the owner adds to the property such as services or renovations and maintenance. You could own your own house or car but you couldn’t sell or rent these items, again, unless the income derived is tied to the value you create.
Forms of value, like social contribution and domestic labor, that are currently invisibilized in capitalism will again be recognized by society for their necessity to the reproduction of the society. Since the workers value is determined by their qualifications and social contribution instead of labor time or social factors like socio-economic status, race, age or gender. Mothers and the elderly receive salary, this is not merely an act of solidarity or to be seen as alms, but rather, as a social co-responsibility. These types of labor that are ignored in capitalism are seen to produce real value that would be figured into the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or the total economic output of the nation. The gender pay gap would disappear and domestic labor performed mostly by women would have value. A mother raising a child would no longer have to choose between work and being a mother. The elderly or infirm would cease to depend on welfare programs like social security that allows them to barely scrape by.
As a way to escape capitalism, Le Salaire à Vie seeks to suppress and ultimately delete profit altogether, transforming the incentive that drives the society. To escape capital we must suppress profit, not tax it. The taxation of profit legitimizes it and makes us dependent on these profits and thus the capitalist system. Social programs that millions depend on currently rely on this; this creates yet another contradiction in capital.
Instead, Le Salaire à Vie would eliminate most social programs, they would be made redundant by automatic living wages along with socially provided services like healthcare, education, public transport, and basic necessities such as electricity, heat and water. Although, some social programs would remain for the disabled and others not capable of performing labor that otherwise would not be to increase their income. This would also free up the money we currently invest in social programs to be used elsewhere, possibly to more adequately fund healthcare, transport and education systems. So where does this money come from and how exactly would we be able to expand the economy with a salary cap? I mean we can’t possibly create new business, expand production, hire more people and so on without capital accumulation, right?
Rather than being directly paid by your employer, every employer would instead put the money that would normally go to workers to the salary contribution fund that would be determined by the nations Gross Domestic Product. To answer the latter, it’s obvious we would still need money to invest in new business. This would operate in a similar way to salary, via the creation of investment funds. This as well would be determined by GDP and this fund would be used for reasons such as the expansion of industries, investment in research and development, and upgrading the means of production.
Friot’s conception of how the GDP would be divided is as follows; keep in mind this would likely be fluid and dependent on certain economic conditions and may vary based on the specific nation and a manifold of other situations and conditions: 60% of the GDP would go to the salary contribution fund,
- 30% of GDP would go to the economic contribution fund dedicated to investment , - 15% for the self-financing of companies , - 15% for the financing of new projects, - 10% of GDP would go to the free contribution fund, for the financing of current expenditure of public services (beyond salaries and investment).
The most essential part of Le Salaire à Vie, and what really sets it apart and makes it superior to UBI is the democratization of the system; the employer, bosses and the CEO are gone. Workplaces would be worker controlled and horizontally organized. Currently, the manager chooses the workers but in this system, the opposite would take place, the workers would elect their own managers. After a year managers would be evaluated, if they are deemed to be competent and perform well in their duties they will remain, if not, a new manager will be elected.
The salary contribution and investment funds would be managed and controlled by worker assemblies comprised of workers, specialists and elected citizens that would democratically control the salary and investment funds. Decisions like which industries need incentives or where investments should be allocated would be decided here. Profit would no longer drive these choices; massive amounts of environmental damage would no longer happen just because it’s profitable. Workers would own there labor and all the value they create and have decision making power in their workplace, sapping the power that big business and corporations have over and within the state and all of us. Money would automatically be removed from politics giving people real decisions instead of having to pick from a few bought and paid for candidates that seek to uphold the status quo. People would finally have freedom and power in the place they will most of their adult life." (https://medium.com/@taylorfredrickson/la-salaire-a-vie-the-socialist-alternative-to-ubi-9f3f6091fad9)
Xavier from BlaqSwans with Céline Trefle:
"We were just discussing with Céline Trefle the clash (I think we can call it this way given the intensity of some exchanges) between the supporters of Bernard Friot and his Salary for Life, and those supporting an Unconditional Universal Income. In the French context that is.
We are not experts in Bernard Friot’s entire body of work so there is always a possibility that one of his supporters might say we haven’t understood it, HOWEVER, from what we see from their own sources:
=> On the quantitative front (the numbers): he’s promoting a 2,500 euro salary per month for anyone above 18 yo. That’s 50 million people in France. So x12 months, that would be 1,500 billion euros per year. The French GDP is 2,085 billion euro (yes we all agree GDP is a very unsatisfactory measure but let’s use it just to grasp what we’re talking about). That means that the Salary for Live would represent 71.9% of the French GDP, which is pretty massive given you’d still need to pay for the rest (Infrastructure, etc)
To give an order of magnitude, in 2016 the taxes and levies (prélèvements obligatoires = impots + cotisations sociales) represent 44.5% of GDP. Another measure: the public debt is 96% of GDP. So really, 71.9% is an extraordinary level.
So we’ve been wondering with what logic you could possibly make this number feasible. I think what Friot is looking at is the wage share as % of GDP, which depending of the sources gravitates between 50% and 60-70% (see picture here). He must then say that ALL of those wages get converted into a Salary of Life. That would be the only way to reach his 71.9%. So that would literally have to mop out any ‘private’ or ‘individual’ salary outside of that system.
=> Then the ensuing question is on the qualitative front: how to deliver this? Friot’s project is to set-up a centralised “caisse de salaire” – a central bureau managing the wages fund – administered by the State (not really a P2P thing) that would decide your level of qualification (on scale of 1 to 4) which would determine your salary somewhere between 1,700e and 6,000e. That determination would be done by the central office (again not really a P2P thing...) (source: http://www.reseau-salariat.info/d60e8d6f2500d2a81466e1d205be9c59?lang=fr )
The same document from Reseau-Salariat says "Comme le salaire à vie se double de l’interdiction de la propriété lucrative et de la généralisation de la copropriété d’usage des entreprises et services publics par les salariés, le producteur est aussi libéré du chantage de l’actionnaire ou du prêteur." That is pretty full-on: what does "banning lucrative property" mean? That I could not rent my flat? That I could not get hired for a contract to earn extra money?
As much as we really genuinely think we need people like Bernard Friot to stimulate the debate, the thinking, and push the envelop (genuinely meaning it: there's so much violence on the capitalist side, we need to unapologetically counter it with punch and chutzpah), some paragraphs in the text his Reseau-Salariat published really sound like a dystopian revival of the worst aspects of East-Germany and USSR. I'm sure (or hope) they don't mean it, but seriously... history shows human nature has had a terrible tendency to deliver this type of outcome when going that way... " (Facebook, May 2016)