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- Basic Income Worldwide - Horizons of Reform | Matthew Murray | Palgrave Macmillan
Finally, as mentioned in the beginning of this section there is also a second version of the pragmatic response to the exploitation objection b , which is based on the idea that nonexploitation is not all that matters and, perhaps, not what matters most. Specifically, the aim of effectively ensuring that all persons are able to satisfy their basic needs in a dignified way, and have the necessary bargaining power to avoid or escape situations of dire need and exploitable dependency, are objectives we have reasons to ascribe fundamental moral importance something to which we return in connection with equality of status below.
Thus, even if we accept the exploitation objection as valid, and even if the basic income would lead to a net increase of exploitation, the objection is not necessarily decisive White, ; Van Donselaar, Goodin, According to the pragmatic approach to the exploitation objection it becomes important whether certain hoped-for, contribution-oriented effects of the basic income would actually materialize. However, there is also a second and more principled response available in the literature, which I shall here refer to as the pre-distribution argument.
This view questions one of the key assumptions of the exploitation objection, and makes the justification of such a reform much less dependent on its possible consequences. It is important to see that the exploitation objection usually assumes that the basic income would be financed exclusively or mainly through the taxation of earned incomes to which workers have valid moral claims, on grounds of reciprocity or desert or ambition.
According to this view, we should interpret the basic income as a strategy for pre-distribution of assets to which all have an equal claim rather than a redistribution of earned incomes. Based on this observation the problem is not, perhaps, that there are opportunity-expanding assets that we receive without any clear or deep connection to our own work efforts, or that we may have unconditional access to some of them.
Due to the spontaneous concentration of such resources, some have the economic opportunities and bargaining power that allow them to say no to unattractive jobs, to opt in and out of work in flexible ways, to choose when and how to retire, and so on. However, most people have a far more limited range of options in these respects.
Yet, for reasons suggested in the early proposals of Paine and Charlier mentioned above, this does not stand in the way of justified redistribution. According to some, the most straightforward way of addressing this inequality is to ensure that all may access a share of the competitive value of natural resources by providing unconditional payments in cash, financed by people who claim more than an equal share of these resources Steiner, While such an argument may provide a foundation for a wide range of taxes on the ownership, control, or use of natural resources, including environmental taxes, it is not clear that such sources of taxation would be sufficient to offer a substantial or strongly redistributive form of basic income.
For left-libertarians of this sort, this is not perceived as a problem or at least not a problem of justice. The size of the justified basic income may turn out to be high or low. This simply depends on the revenue from taxation of natural resources. However, the general idea of pre-distribution can also be fleshed out in a way that allows a much wider range of taxes for financing a basic income, and that links the basic income more consistently to an egalitarian project of equal opportunity. Yet, it is important to see that he thinks that we should ultimately dissociate our views about liberty from the strong notions of self-ownership endorsed by orthodox libertarians, and the restrictions they impose on justified redistribution Van Parijs, , p.
This is, of course, not the idea , p. However, larger inter vivos gifts and bequests may clearly be an important source of concern for anyone who is guided by the aim of counteracting the impact of luck on the social distribution of life prospects, and have been ascribed a role in the financing of unconditional payments for such purposes Atkinson, ; Piketty, ; White, Van Parijs argues that so-called employment rents are incorporated into the wages of privileged jobs of contemporary economies, and call for redistributive transfers by way of predictable taxes on income and capital.
The mechanisms that lead people to access and hold on to privileged jobs so very unequally in contemporary societies are diverse and involve a complex mix of causal factors. The pre-distribution argument articulates powerful reasons for why efforts to equalize opportunities should include elements of unconditional transfers, and why such transfers are not inherently exploitative.
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However, it is misleading to suggest that we must choose between a view that we may refer to as libertarian resourcism exemplified by the different versions of the pre-distribution argument above —with its emphasis on cash payments as the privileged method of distributing opportunities—and objectionable forms of perfectionism. Surely, Van Parijs is right that we must not be work fetishists. On the other hand, we should not be resource fetishists either, by fully disconnecting a concern about the distribution of measurable resources from an evaluation of how it affects the terms of social interaction or inequalities of social and political power more broadly.
A central topic in his arguments on this theme is how to equip citizens with the resources necessary to effectively participate as equals, and to identify and pursue their projects with a lively sense of self-worth. Such considerations on resources, status, and voice in social and political relationships have been central in recent works on so-called relational egalitarianism and its critique of focusing exclusively on the impact of luck or the distribution of resources rather than the wider terms of social interaction.
Self-owners do not necessarily care about powerlessness in social relations and, in any case, such conditions are unrelated to justice—as specified by these conceptions—as long as no libertarian rights are violated. These observations also suggest that libertarian ways of thinking will have great difficulties to explain the view of basic income supporters that a regular income stream should be given priority to some form of basic capital , that is, lump-sum payments rather than a monthly stream of income as defended by Paine and, much more recently, Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott, for discussions of basic capital see, e.
After all, the latter would provide greater opportunities and flexibility to make large and risky investments at an early stage of life, and it will generally be hard to rely on libertarian principles to justify the restriction or denial of such options. This type of argument is not primarily about counteracting the impact of luck on the distribution of life prospects, or about endowing people with an equal share of natural resources important as this may be. Instead, it focuses on the links between power, status, and self-respect. Such a condition may easily prevent us from articulating or expressing our own views with strength and confidence, and to relate to others with a non-subservient self-conception McKinnon, Under these circumstances we must be prepared to strategically adapt to the will of those we depend on to satisfy our basic needs, and we will thus remain vulnerable to their changing moods and shifting judgments.
Whenever we lack a genuine exit option from a very poor job or a bad relationship because we depend on that particular relationship for satisfying our basic needs, we have no option but to live at the mercy of another in order to effectively exercise our basic liberties.
The general objective to provide a basis for people to say no to working conditions or relationships where they are constantly bossed around and looked down upon; where they may reasonably feel that they are a nuisance to others much or most of the time begging for money or applying for jobs that it is obvious they are not suitable for ; and, so, lack a context for recognition and esteem in their everyday lives, cannot plausibly be dismissed as perfectionist in any objectionable sense cf.
Chan, Much of the more recent work on the normative theory of basic income, work conditionality, and the welfare state provide arguments in this direction, suggesting that we should find ways for equality of opportunity and equality of status to work in tandem. Carole Pateman , defends the basic income as a tool for democratization. Philip Pettit , Frank Lovett , David Casassas and Jurgen De Wispelaere all defend basic income as a promising instrument to serve the republican notion of freedom as non-domination.
To flesh out some of the possible practical implications of these general arguments in the philosophy of basic income, I will now distinguish three discourses in which such considerations play out in more problem-driven scholarly discussions on welfare reform. It has been argued that basic income may not only be desirable for reasons expressed by theories of social justice but that it may also be an indispensable instrument for addressing some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges of our time. First, there is a fear that trends of growing socioeconomic inequalities and precarious forms of work increasingly insecure, temporary, and flexible jobs have now become so pronounced that that the prospects for social cohesion and deliberative politics for the common good are increasingly bleak unless resolute measures are taken to revive and radicalize the universal welfare state Bauman, ; Standing, There is a growing awareness and sense of urgency about the extent to which wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated in fewer hands in many countries, and a more widely shared conviction that this may pose a fundamental threat to our long-term capacity to build and maintain political communities responsive to the common good rather than sectional interests or the power of money Piketty, , ; Atkinson, White, When interpreting the debates on inequality and the precariat through such a normative lens, it becomes an important task to assess the potential of basic income to help build citizenship on democratic rather than increasingly oligarchic foundations.
These growing asymmetries of power and social security also give rise to wider questions about the preconditions for social peace, solidarity, and the civic virtues of democratic societies. The development of the robot society may potentially provide us with far greater opportunities to reduce the standard working week and a new interpretation of full employment that involves the decoupling of social security from the labor contract by allowing all to reap the benefits of these technological gains.
Again, however, this places wealth inequalities at the center of attention and, in this context, the question of who owns the robots Atkinson, That is, such scenario will not materialize if the profits of massive productivity gains are allowed to accumulate in the hands of the owners of private capital, and holders of privileged jobs Van Parijs, , rather than providing a basis for universal dividends or social investment for the common good.
Third, an ethically acceptable approach to the questions of equality and inclusion in future labor markets should not be dissociated from the wider challenges of environmental degradation and climate change. Given the assumption that we would otherwise fail to respect our obligations to future generations, this suggests that we must look for ways of adapting our economies to less material-intensive forms of social and economic development. In this context, basic income has been advanced as part of a wider post-productivist political project, providing a green alternative to the option of relying on accelerating growth to prevent increasing productivity from resulting in higher levels of unemployment Van Parijs, Another component of such a green strategy against unemployment focuses on the potential of the basic income to help facilitate certain non-market forms of production that tend to be not by definition but on average less damaging to the environment Van Parijs, b , p.
Much of the analysis of basic income has taken the form of a relatively speculative and philosophically driven discussion about the normative foundations of a just economy. It is striking that so many discussions of basic income simply stipulate that the basic income considered would be sufficient for basic needs, and then go on to discuss its advantages or disadvantages of such a proposal in very general terms.
While this is perfectly legitimate for some purposes, many of the most difficult and important questions about the feasibility and attractiveness of basic income as a fruitful, concrete policy tool rather than a distant, utopian aspiration can only be addressed satisfactorily by engaging much more thoroughly with the specific reform package in question, and the empirical evidence on welfare state reform. With this in mind, several forceful objections to basic income are not primarily concerned with the philosophical justifications discussed above.
Instead, they are motivated by the more practically oriented suspicion that even though the case for basic income is guided by justified intentions, it may be difficult to find a type of basic income that would actually work out in accordance with such intentions. Specifically, when turning to questions about the economic feasibility of basic income, it becomes evident that a full basic income without a so-called poverty trap i. This is not to say that it is impossible but that certain trade-offs are difficult to avoid.
We will not be able to fully assess the more immediate feasibility and attractiveness of basic income in any particular context until we know how specific proposals are designed to address these difficult choices Torry, Atkinson, If we focus on tax-based measures of funding the basic income here and now, the most important questions when addressing the issues of costs and economic incentives are not whether the income guarantee takes the form of a basic income or a negative income tax.
A full basic income will often seem socially valuable but economically unaffordable while a partial basic income may be economically feasible but fail to deliver many of the crucial advantages linked to such a reform, such as full freedom from poverty and exploitable dependency. One way to tackle this challenge is to opt for a very sharp rate of benefit withdrawal. However, under this strategy many of the key advantages of such a reform, relating to smooth transitions, encouraging economic initiatives, and combining incomes for different sources in flexible ways e.
Indeed, such a scheme would seem to magnify such problems since these taxes would now apply to all low-income earners and not just people who depend on social assistance payments. A basic income designed to improve work incentives i. However, while simplification and replacement are bound to play a role in a sensible basic income proposal, more far-reaching versions of this strategy are often likely to be counterproductive. In such a policy configuration, the basic income may well have a corrosive rather than supportive effect on the long-term resilience of the universal welfare state.
Empirical research suggests that the potential of welfare states to reduce or prevent socioeconomic inequalities often seems to depend importantly on their capacity to build alliances between low and middle-income groups. In this context, there is an important egalitarian concern that some forms of basic income may weaken rather than support the sources of power and political alliances that are crucial for contributing to high levels of socioeconomic equality.
To the extent that it would imply a step in the direction away from comprehensive income-related social insurance thereby increasing the relative importance of private insurance and insofar as it may reduce rather than supplement the power of unions supporting individual instead of collective bargaining power , it may have problematic repercussions on the balance of power between labor and capital and, more broadly, between politics and the market cf.
Vanderborght, Or suppose that the unconditional basic income would be offered as a replacement or alternative to high-quality day care and forms of parental leave designed to help facilitate the combination of parenthood and work for men and women see, e. Such solutions are likely to have gender-conservative implications Robeyns, , rather than enhance the social standing and opportunities of women McKay, ; Pateman, Thus, the exploration of means to strengthen the voice and freedom of individuals from exploitable dependency must not be disconnected from the analysis of the collective voice or wider, structural empowerment of disadvantaged groups Davala et al.
These general considerations illustrate that the dynamic, long-term impact of basic income in relation to such objectives will depend fundamentally on the details of the basic income proposal, and the wider set of measures with which it is combined.
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In conclusion, future basic income research needs to bring normative theory on basic income into closer and more systematic communication with empirical research on the welfare state. The intensified discussion on, and concrete plans for, new basic income experiments around the world in countries like Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, and Kenya is encouraging in this respect, and offers the potential for a new empirical phase in basic income research for updates on such initiatives and relevant links, see www.
An important issue to examine in this context is the extent to which a basic income can have great social value even if it may not initially be high enough to fully replace social assistance type schemes. As argued above, however, future basic income research also needs to pay closer attention to the interaction between basic income and other institutions and policies, that is, by focusing on regimes or systems rather than individual policies. Can a basic income plausibly play a central and productive role as part of a strategy that provides a more radical and inclusive foundation for social equality while improving the long-term prospects for strengthening and stabilizing the relative power of the disadvantaged?
While there are many reasons to welcome basic income experiments, we also need to recognize that these structural connections and the dynamic long-term effects of basic income in the wider population will not be fully captured by studying the impact of a temporary basic income program on the net beneficiaries of such a scheme. Ackerman, B. Redesigning distribution: Basic income and stakeholder grants as cornerstones for an egalitarian capitalism. London: Verso. Find this resource:.
[PDF] Basic Income Worldwide: Horizons of Reform (International Political Economy Series)
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Edited by Erik Olin Wright. Birnbaum, S. Basic income reconsidered: Social justice, liberalism and the demands of equality. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Brynjolfsson, E. The second machine age. New York: W. Buchanan, J. Politics by principle, not interest: Towards nondiscriminatory democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Caputo, R.. Basic income guarantee and politics: International experiences and perspectives on the viability of income guarantees.
Casassas, D. Republicanism and the political economy of democracy. European Journal of Social Theory , 19 2 , — Chan, J.
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Legitimacy, unanimity, and perfectionism. Philosophy and Public Affairs , 29 1 , 5— Colin, N. The next safety net. Foreign Affairs , 94 4 , 29— Cunliffe, J. The enigmatic legacy of Charles Fourier: Joseph Charlier and basic income. History of Political Economy , 33 3 , — The origins of universal grants: An anthology of historical writings on basic income and basic capital.
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Davala, S. Basic income: A transformative policy for India. London: Bloomsbury. De Wispelaere, J. The struggle for strategy: On the politics of the basic income proposal. Politics , 36 2 , — The public administration case against participation income. Social Service Review , 81 3 , — Fitzpatrick, T. Freedom and security: An introduction to the basic income debate. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Forget, E.
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The town with no poverty: The health effects of a Canadian guaranteed Annual income field experiment. Canadian Public Policy , 37 3 , — Galston, W. What about reciprocity? Boston: Beacon Press. Goldsmith, S. The Alaska permanent fund: An experiment in wealth distribution. Standing Ed. London: Anthem Press. Goodin, R. Towards a minimally presumptuous social welfare policy. Van Parijs Ed. Gorz, A. Reclaiming work: Beyond the wage-based society.
Groot, L. Basic income, unemployment and compensatory justice. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Haarman, C. Pateman Eds. Hum, D. Economic response to a guaranteed annual income: Experience from Canada and the United States. Journal of Labor Economics , 11 1 , S—S Jordan, B. Basic income and the common good. Korpi, W. The paradox of redistribution and strategies of equality: Welfare state institutions, inequality, and poverty in the Western countries. American Sociological Review , 63 5 , — Lavinas, L.
Lo Vuolo Ed. Lovett, F. A General Theory of Domination and Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McKay, A. Feminist Economics , 7 1 , 97— McKinnon, C. Basic income, self-respect and reciprocity.
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Journal of Applied Philosophy , 20 2 , — Meade, J. Liberty, equality and efficiency. London: Macmillan. Munnell, A. Lessons from the income maintenance experiments. Boston: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Murray, C. In our hands: A plan to replace the welfare state. Murray, M. Basic income worldwide: Horizons of reform. Offe, C. A non-productivist design for social policies.
Property-owning democracy: Rawls and beyond. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Paine, T. Agrarian justice. In Eric Foner Ed. New York: Library of America. Pateman, C. Freedom and democratization: Why basic income is to be preferred to basic capital. Dowding, J. White Eds. London: Palgrave. Democratizing citizenship: Some advantages of a basic income. Van Parijs Eds. On What Matters. Volume One. Continue shopping.
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