How? With a Universal Basic Income (UBI).
True, a UBI is undeserved good news for the idle surfer. But this good news is ethically indistinguishable from the undeserved luck that massively affects the present distribution of wealth, income, and leisure. Our race, gender, and citizenship, how educated and wealthy we are, how gifted in math and how fluent in English, how handsome and even how ambitious, are overwhelmingly a function of who our parents happened to be and of other equally arbitrary contingencies. Not even the most narcissistic self-made man could think that he fixed the parental dice in advance of entering this world. Such gifts of luck are unavoidable and, if they are fairly distributed, unobjectionable. A minimum condition for a fair distribution is that everyone should be guaranteed a modest share of these undeserved gifts. Nothing could achieve this more securely than a UBI. ….
Herbert A. Simon observes “that any causal analysis explaining why American GDP is about $25,000 per capita would show that at least 2/3 is due to the happy accident that the income recipient was born in the U.S.” He adds, “I am not so naive as to believe that my 70% tax [required to fund a UBI of $8,000 p.a. with a flat tax] is politically viable in the United States at present, but looking toward the future, it is none too soon to find answers to the arguments of those who think they have a solid moral right to retain all the wealth they earn.’” See Simon’s letter to the organizers of BIEN’s seventh congress in Basic Income 28 (Spring 1998) [p. 8].
“Forum: A Basic Income for All”, Boston Review, 1 October 2000. Philippe Van Parijs, “Opening the Debate“.
Université catholique de Louvain professor Philippe Van Parijs (born 1951) is a left-libertarian Belgian philosopher and political economist.
The research of the brilliant Herbert Simon (1916 – 2001) spanned many fields (including psychology and computer science), even though his formal training was limited to political science (BA and PhD from the University of Chicago). In 1978 he received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics “for his pioneering research into the decision-making process within economic organizations”.
Past BIEN congress papers – and much more – can be downloaded from the home page of the Basic Income Earth Network.
I shamelessly take this opportunity to point out that a universal age pension is a UBI, albeit one limited to those older than a specified, mature age.