...And Economic Justice for All: Welfare Reform for the 21st Century

By Michael L. Murray | Go to book overview

10
Final Thoughts

In this final chapter, I summarize the line of reasoning which has led me to conclude that a guaranteed adequate income is the optimum alternative to our present welfare system in the United States. In addition, I present some thoughts on the issue of how much is enough. Finally, the prospects for passage of legislation are considered.


THE THOUGHT PROCESS LEADING TO THE GAI

An important, although by no means essential, step on the path to support of a GAI is agreement with the view that none of us is more worthy of economic well-being than any others of us. The path itself is made less difficult when one accepts the tenets of determinism. Those of us who have concluded that each of us is a product of factors over which we had no control recognize that we can fault no one for failure to (or even unwillingness to) earn a living.

For the same reasons that we cannot blame others for their poverty, so also can we not conclude that those with income deserve to have it. The whole notion of deserving as a basis for a just economic system is without merit for those who accept the cause-and-effect explanation for human behavior.

An alternative basis on which to found a system of justice might be a notion of rights. Although a substantial case can be made for the position that all have a right to at least a minimum economic status, I have not chosen to advocate that position. The concept of a right is subject to so much debate that it would be almost impossible to convince anyone who did not accept it intuitively. My only attempt to invoke the notion of a right was in pointing out the extent to which we no longer have ready access to certain means of survival which were

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