The economic crisis has given impetus, in Europe as well as in Italy, to the theoretical and political debate about income support policies. Their aim is to guarantee every person a basic standard of life: in a word, subsistence. The article, following Henry Shue, suggests considering subsistence as a basic economic right and therefore recommends to protect it universally and unconditionally as a birthright. A discussion regarding the possibilities and limits of welfare measures follows, with particular reference to the Reddito di Inclusione (Income of Inclusion), recently approved in Italy, into the wider contest of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The article concludes with a description of a different and complementary approach to current selective welfare measures, which sets aside means testing and aims to prevent severe destitution and intergenerational transmission of poverty.