There's A Radical Message Behind The Auction Of A Vault Containing 8 Million Swiss Coins

Ever dreamed of living like Scrooge McDuck and swimming in a pool of money?

Well, your dream could become a reality. On JamesEdition, the “truly global luxury marketplace” that’s something like an eBay for the mega-rich, there’s a listing for a Swiss bank deposit safe full of 8 million real Swiss coins, which will supposedly moved to a location of your choice, where you can do whatever you want with it.

It’s an enticing idea. As Gizmodo puts it, “Holy wow, you can actually swim like Scrooge McDuck in this bank vault,” though Slate acts the killjoy by pointing out that swimming in 400,000 Swiss francs (roughly $US450,000) “would be extremely painful at the best, and potentially life-threatening at the worst.”

But what’s really fascinating about the stunt is the origin of the coins and who will profit from the sale.

Back in October, a group called the ‘Generation Basic Income Initiative’ dumped the 15 tons of money in front of the parliament building in Bern, the capital of Switzerland.

Bern Coins Dumped SwitzerlandREUTERS/Denis BalibouseA truck dumps five cent coins in the centre of the Federal Square during a an event organised by the Committee for the initiative ‘CHF 2,500 monthly for everyone’ (Grundeinkommen) in Bern October 4, 2013.

The group had acquired the coins to celebrate their initiative gaining the 100,000 signatures to go to a national referendum in Switzerland’s direct democracy system. Their idea? Giving everyone in the country an unconditional basic income of 2,500 francs ($2,800) a month.

It’s important to note that unconditional basic income isn’t a minimum wage (which, incidentally, Switzerland doesn’t have): It’s far more radical. The money isn’t designed to go to the needy — it goes to every adult citizen, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Most Swiss political experts we’ve spoken to don’t think that the proposal could pass (it will probably be voted on in early 2016), but the idea is making waves: Even American libertarians have begun debating whether such a system would work in the U.S.

“A minimum wage reduces freedom — because it is an additional rule,” Daniel Straub, one of the people behind the initiative told Business Insider in October.

“It tries to fix a system that has been outdated for a while. It is time to partly disconnect human labour and income.

“We are living in a time where machines do a lot of the manual labour — that is great — we should be celebrating.”

Money from the sale of the vault full of money will go to support ‘Generation Basic Income Initiative,’ who say they will use the money to “promote the idea of the basic income worldwide and especially in Switzerland.”

Thus what’s real awesome about the sale of this “money swimming pool” isn’t the Scrooge McDuck fantasies — it’s the subversion of a “truly global luxury marketplace” to help promote a radical egalitarian idea.

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