In an article published on the Bloomberg View site, Robert and Edward Skidelsky discuss the perils of relying on markets to secure the livelihood of members of a society and the need to diminish the incentives to work. They argue that full employment can be achieved by decreasing work hours per person and increasing the percentage of the population employed. For those not able to be employed or low-wage workers, they propose a basic income paid by the government. The authors note the major objections to basic income of work disincentive and cost, however, reject both on the grounds that: if the goal is not economic growth but securing good lives, de-incentivizing work is a positive outcome; and wealthy societies are able to afford the costs of a basic income. Skidelsky and Skidelsky assert, “an unconditional basic income, in the form of a single capital endowment or a guaranteed annual income, would start to give all workers the same choice as to how much work to do, and under what conditions — a privilege now possessed only by the wealthy.” Finally, they conclude the article by recommending a redistributive consumption tax to divert resources from consumption to societal betterment.
This article is available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-07/too-much-faith-in-markets-denies-us-the-good-life.html and is an excerpt from their new book, “How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life,” which will be published on June 19 by Other Press.