Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Economic, Social, and Environmental: Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy: Basic Income: A Guide for the Open-Minded

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Economic, Social, and Environmental: Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy: Basic Income: A Guide for the Open-Minded

Article excerpt

Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy BY PHILIPPE VAN PARIJS AND YANNICK VANDERBORGHT. Harvard University Press, 2017, 400 pp.

Basic Income: A Guide for the Open-Minded BY GUY STANDING. Yale University Press, 2017, 392 pp.

Is the world-or at least some countries- ready for a basic income? These two books argue strongly in the affirmative. Such a policy involves the government providing cash grants to every member of society at a level that could sustain life: an amount equal to one-quarter of gdp per capita would suffice, suggest Van Parijs and Vanderborght. The size of the grants could be affected by various factors, such as the recipient's age and level of need, and could be conditioned on grantees meeting certain behavioral requirements, such as preventing truancy in their school-age children. Van Parijs and Vanderborght, however, prefer a universal, unconditional cash grant-as does Standing. Van Parijs and Vanderborght's book is more scholarly than Standing's and explores the history of basic-income schemes going all the way back to sixteenth-century Antwerp. Standing, for his part, usefully examines present-day pilot projects in Finland, the Netherlands, and the Canadian province of Ontario. …

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