Thursday, May 21, 2015

Joining the Fight Against Inequality

The following provocative policy proposals are found in Anthony B. Atkinson’s book, Inequality: what can be done? (Harvard University Press, 2015): 303-304.

1. The direction of technological change should be an explicit concern of policy-makers, encouraging innovation in a form that increases the employability of workers, emphasizing the human dimension of service provision.
2. Public policy should aim at a proper balance of power among stakeholders, and to this end should (a) introduce an explicitly distributional dimension into competition policy, (b) ensure a legal framework that allows trade unions to represent workers on level terms, and (c) establish, where it does not already exist, a Social and Economic Council involving the social partners and other nongovernmental bodies.
3. The government should adopt an explicit target for preventing and reducing unemployment and underpin this ambition by offering guaranteed public employment at the minimum wage to those who seek it.
4. There should be a national pay policy, consisting of two elements: a statutory minimum wage set at a living wage, and a code of practice for pay above the minimum, agreed as part of a ‘national conversation’ involving the Social and Economic Council.
5. The government should offer via national savings bond a guaranteed positive real rate of interest on savings, with a maximum holding per person.
6. There should be a capital endowment (minimum inheritance) paid to all at adulthood.
7. A public Investment Authority should be created, operating a sovereign wealth fund with the aim of building up the net worth of the state by holding investments in companies and property.
8. We should return to a more progressive rate structure for the personal income tax, up to a top rate of 65 percent, accompanied by a broadening of the tax base.
9. The government should introduce into the personal income tax an Earned Income Discount, limited to the first band of earnings.
10. Receipts of inheritance and gifts inter vivos should be taxed under a progressive lifetime capital receipts tax.
11. There should be a proportional, or progressive, property tax based on up-to-date assessments.
12. Child Benefit should be paid for all children at a substantial rate and should be taxed as income.
13. A participation income should be introduced at a national level, complementing existing social protection, with prospect of an EU-wide child basic income.
14. (alternative to 13.) There should be a renewal of social insurance, raising the level of benefits and extending their coverage.
15. Rich countries should raise their target for Official Development Assistance to 1 per cent of Gross National Income. 
“The proposals are set out in a way that should apply quite widely to different countries, even if some are specifically designed with the UK in mind….”
Alongside the above proposals, Atkinson proffers some specific “ideas to pursue,” such as a minimum tax on corporations and a “thoroughgoing review of the access of households to the credit market for borrowing not secured on housing.” 

Among other things, these titles should help us assess Atkinson’s proposals vis-à-vis an understanding of the comparative differences between, capitalism and socialism):
  • Ackerman, Bruce, Anne Alstott, Philippe van Parijs, et al. Redesigning Distribution: Basic Income and Stakeholder Grants as Cornerstones for an Egalitarian Capitalism. London: Verso, 2006. 
  • Bardhan, Pranab, Samuel Bowles and Michael Wallerstein, eds. Globalization and Egalitarian Distribution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press/New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006. 
  • Chang, Ja-joon. 23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2011. 
  • Crocker, David A. Ethics of Global Development: Agency, Capability, and Deliberative Democracy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 
  • Dasgupta, Partha. An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • Drèze, Jean, Amartya Sen and Athar Hussain, eds. The Political Economy of Hunger. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1995. 
  • Elster, Jon and Karl Ove Moene, eds. Alternatives to Capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.  
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Oxford, UK: Polity, 1990. 
  • Goodin, Robert E. Reasons for Welfare: The Political Theory of the Welfare State. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988. 
  • Goodin, Robert E., et al. The Real Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 
  • Harrington, Michael. Socialism: Past and Future. New York: Arcade/Little, Brown & Co., 1989. 
  • Harvey, David. Limits to Capital. London: Verso, 2006 ed. (first ed., 1982). 
  • Harvey, David. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism: New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 
  • Luntley, Michael. The Meaning of Socialism. La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1990. 
  • Nussbaum, Martha C. Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011. 
  • O’Connor, James. The Fiscal Crisis of the State. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1973. 
  • Offe, Claus. Contradictions of the Welfare State. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984. 
  • Offe, Claus. Disorganized Capitalism: Contemporary Transformations of Work and Politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985. 
  • Piketty, Thomas (trans. Arthur Goldhammer). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014. 
  • Prashad, Vijay. The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. London: Verso, 2012. 
  • Przeworski, Adam. Capitalism and Social Democracy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985. 
  • Robertson, James. Future Work: Jobs, self-employment and leisure after the industrial age. New York: Universe Books, 1985. 
  • Schweickart, David. Against Capitalism. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996. 
  • Schweickart, David. After Capitalism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. 
  • Sen, Amartya. Development as Freedom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. 
  • Shaikh, Anwar. Globalization and the Myths of Free Trade: History, Theory and Empirical Evidence. New York: Routledge, 2013. 
  • Therborn, Göran. The Killing Fields of Inequality. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2013. 
  • Van Parijs, Philippe, ed. Arguing for Basic Income. London: Verso, 1992. 
  • White, Stuart. The Civic Minimum: On the Rights and Obligations of Economic Citizenship. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 
  • Widerquist, Karl. Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 
  • Wolff, Richard D. Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2010. 
  • Wolff, Richard. Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2012. 
  • Wolff, Richard D. and Stephen A. Resnick. Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.
  • Wright, Erik Olin. Envisioning Real Utopias. London: Verso, 2010. 


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