Reciprocity and the Guaranteed Income
AbstractThis paper argues that a guaranteed income is not only consistent with the principle of reciprocity but is required for reciprocity. This conclusion follows from a three-part argument. First, if a guaranteed income is in place, all individuals have the same opportunity to live without working. Therefore, those who choose not to work do not take advantage of a privilege that is unavailable to everyone else. Second, in the absence of an unconditional income, society is, in effect, applying the principle "He who does not work, will not eat." If the application of this principle is to be consistent with reciprocity, it must be applied to everyone. Most modern industrial societies exempt many citizens from that choice. For example, the owners of external assets do not face the work-or-starve choice and do take advantage of a privilege that is not available to others. An unconditional guaranteed income is one way to eliminate that violation of reciprocity. Third, this paper addresses the criticism that the guaranteed income exploits middle-class workers by demonstrating that a basic income will have a positive effect on wages, which will at least partially counteract the effect of the taxes needed to pay for it.
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Date of creation: Jul 1998
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