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

By Michael L. Murray | Go to book overview

6
Why the Guaranteed Adequate Income

The foundation has been laid. It is time to give the specific arguments for a guaranteed adequate income. First, a quick review of the argument thus far. I presented the concept of determinism to suggest a view of human nature inconsistent with our current, categorical welfare programs. Each of us is a product of our past and neither entitled to praise nor deserving of blame for who we are. Thus, a welfare system which attempts to distinguish the deserving from the undeserving does not logically follow.

I noted that the citizens of the United States wish to have a just society. It is necessary to concern ourselves with economic status in order to provide a just system. This does not mean everyone has to have the same amount, but it does mean everyone must have some minimum income.

We saw how our current public assistance programs are in dire need of significant reorientation. Undesirable gaps are left, since some poor fail to qualify under one of the categories of entitlement. The administrative costs are too high, primarily because of the need to preclude the undeserving from benefits and the frequent use of in-kind benefits.

I made a case that our private market system is the best for creating wealth and economic development, however it earns a failing grade as a means of justly distributing the wealth. The people must play a role through government to rectify this injustice while retaining the favorable features of the system.

Because any income distribution system will, in part, be evaluated in terms of its impact on work, the notion of work was addressed separately. My twin conclusions are that society need no longer insist all of its members work in the traditional sense; and the need for work as felt by individuals is not inherent, but culturally inculcated. Therefore, if fewer people choose to work because of a guaranteed income, that will not be

-153-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Life Is Not Fair, but People Can Be 11
  • Notes 33
  • 2 - Are You Worthy? Current U.S. Welfare Programs 41
  • Notes 65
  • 3 - The Market Who Gets What, Why, and Whether 75
  • Notes 100
  • 4 - Work--Who Needs It? 107
  • Notes 124
  • 5 - We Are What We Were 129
  • Notes 145
  • 6 - Why the Guaranteed Adequate Income 153
  • Appendix Results of Negative Income Tax Experiments 169
  • 7 - The History of Guaranteed Income Plans 178
  • Notes 187
  • 8 - The Guaranteed Adequate Income Proposal 190
  • Notes 201
  • 9 - Cost and Funding Calculations 204
  • 10 - Final Thoughts 222
  • References 227
  • Index 229
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