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Le droit universel à un revenu du capital

ATHÈNES – Le droit à la paresse était traditionnellement l’apanage des riches et des possédants, tandis que les pauvres étaient censés se battre pour obtenir des salaires décents, des conditions de travail acceptables, une assurance contre le chômage et l’incapacité, des soins de santé universels et tout l’arsenal d’une vie digne. L’idée d’assurer aux pauvres un revenu sans contrepartie et suffisant pour vivre a longtemps été abhorrée non seulement des nantis et des puissants, mais aussi du mouvement ouvrier, dont l’éthique était centrée sur la réciprocité, la solidarité et le concours apporté à la société.

Lorsqu’elles ont été lancées, voici quelques décennies, les propositions de mettre en place un revenu de base sans contrepartie ont fatalement suscité les réactions indignées des organisations patronales et des syndicats, des économistes et des responsables politiques. L’idée a pourtant resurgi récemment, recueillant des soutiens remarqués, non seulement de la gauche radicale ou du mouvement écologiste, mais aussi de la droite libertarienne. La raison en est que l’essor des machines, pour la première fois depuis les débuts de l’industrialisation, menace de détruire plus d’emplois que n’en créent les innovations technologiques – et de tirer le tapis sous les pieds des professions intermédiaires.

Mais le retour du revenu de base universel a sonné le réveil de ses opposants, à droite comme à gauche. Les premiers dénoncent l’impossibilité des réunir des recettes suffisantes pour financer ce genre de dispositif sans écraser le secteur privé, ainsi que la chute de l’offre de main-d’œuvre et de la productivité qu’entraînerait une disparition des incitations à travailler. Les seconds s’inquiètent d’une mesure qui pourrait fragiliser la lutte pour l’amélioration des conditions de travail, mais aussi légitimer l’oisiveté des riches, entamer les droits durement gagnés par la négociation collective (en renforçant des entreprises comme Uber et Deliveroo), saper les fondations de l’État providence, encourager une citoyenneté passive et promouvoir le consumérisme.

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