Basic income and the means to self-govern

Abstract

One line of argument in defense of an unconditional basic income is that it reduces the dependence of less advantaged citizens on others. However, its claim to help ensure individual self-government is undermined by the fact that it is consistent with social and economic inequality. For those who are more wealthy and talented are better placed to influence the democratic decision-making process according to their interests and contrary to the interests of those who are less advantaged. In sum, a basic income does not provide the sufficient conditions for equal citizenship. One solution to that problem, defended by Rousseau, is that in addition to a social minimum, material inequality should be moderated. In this paper I argue that such a measure is unnecessary provided that we can insulate the political decision-making process from the background inequalities. It is argued, following a recent innovative proposal by Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres, that to ensure the effective right to self-government the basic income should be complemented by a voucher of equal value to be used by each and every citizen as a campaign contribution to a candidate of their choice.

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Simon Wigley
Bilkent University

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