Reciprocity and the Guaranteed Income
This paper questions what could be the oldest principle in U.S. politics: "(s)he who does not work will not eat." In 1608, twelve years before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, Captain John Smith established this principle for the first successful English-speaking settlement in what is now the United States. Captain Smith's principle has been endorsed by sources as diverse as the New Testament and the Soviet Constitution.2 Why take issue with such a widely held principle? Because as it is applied in modern industrial economies in which work is defined as employment, this principle conflicts with the principle of reciprocity (also known as "neutrality" or "equality before the law". The principle of reciprocity states that government policy should not favor one group over another. To be consistent with reciprocity, this "work-or-starve" principle must be applied to all citizens. If the rules of a nation force some individuals to choose between work and starvation, a society must force all individuals to face that choice. However, in most modern industrial societies, those who own a sufficient amount of land, natural resource rights, capital, and government bonds are exempt from the fear that they will not eat if they do not work, but those who do not possess such assets do face that fear.
External LinkAuthor's website: http://www.widerquist.com/karl/Articles--scholarly/reciprocity.pdf
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Politics and Society, 27(3).
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Perspectives on the Guaranteed Income, Part I Widerquist, Karl (M.E. Sharpe, 2001)The article focuses on the concept of "Guaranteed Income." The idea of a guaranteed income has been around in one form or another since Thomas Paine proposed a version of it in 1796. Except for a brief period in the 1960s ...