Synopses & Reviews
Volume V in the acclaimed Real Utopias Project series, edited by Erik Olin Wright.
Are there ways that contemporary capitalism can be rendered a dramatically more egalitarian economic system without destroying its productivity and capacity for growth?
This book explores two proposals, unconditional basic income and stakeholder grants, that attempt just that. In a system of basic income, as elaborated by Philippe van Parijs, all citizens are given a monthly stipend sufficient to provide them with a no-frills but adequate standard of living. This monthly income is universal rather than means-tested, and it is unconditional -- receiving the basic income does not depend upon performing any labor services or satisfying other conditions. It affirms the idea that as a matter of basic rights, no one should live in poverty in an affluent society. In a system of stakeholder grants, as discussed by Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott, all citizens upon reaching the age of early adulthood receive a substantial one-time lump-sum grant sufficiently large so that all young adults would be significant wealth holders. Ackerman and Alstott propose that this grant be in the vicinity of $80,000 and be financed by an annual wealth tax of roughly 2 percent. A system of stakeholder grants, they argue, "expresses a fundamental responsibility: every American has an obligation to contribute to a fair starting point for all."
This book explores two proposals that render contemporary capitalism dramatically more egalitarian.
About the Author
Guy Standing is director of the Socio-Economic Programme of the International Labour Organisation. He directed the ILO's technical programme in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s and was an advisor to the South African government in 1995-96. He has written extensively on labour market and social policy issues.Erik Olin Wright is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of many books, including Classes, Interrogating Inequality, Class Counts, Deepening Democracy (with Archon Fung), and Envisioning Real Utopias.