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Discussions of basic income generally presuppose that a basic income scheme could be implemented by political parties, parliaments, and governments in established democratic procedures. This is highly questionable. The implementation of a basic income system would be an unprecedented challenge which conventional democratic institutions cannot be expected to rise to. Realistic chances for democratic majority support of a basic income scheme could arise only under two conditions. First, basic income must be safely fundable and the resulting tax rates plausible. This requires for basic income to be complemented by a sophisticated public job guarantee. Second, the transition to basic income must be designed as a generation-spanning process in which no age and income groups feel as losers. This can best be achieved if only future born citizens become basic income recipients. These conditions may appear simple enough, but at closer inspection a sophisticated generation-spanning transition scheme lies beyond the capacities of established democratic institutions.
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All arguments below have been presented in previous publications of the author, inter alia Wehner ( 1990, 1992, 1995, 2019, 2020).
Central topics therein include:
Wehner 1990: The potential role of basic income in the postsocialist transformation process.
Wehner 1992: Basic income in times of rising Unemployment, a theory of the of the labor market and risk allocation, a new institutional framework for basic income.
Wehner 1992/1995: The transition to basic income as a generation-spanning process. The concept of an autonomous governmental authority responsible for basic income.
Wehner 2019: The political logic (political economy) of basic income. The inadequacy of conventional Democracy for implementing basic income systems.
Wehner 2020: Basic income and the cohesion of nations.
For the rationale of a transition period spanning a human lifetime, see also Wehner ( 2019).
This, of course, raises the question whether basic income is to be paid to all residents or only to citizens. This question shall not be pursued here. But in a highly transparent tax system (as proposed, e.g., in Wehner [ 2019]) the amount of individual income tax paid for financing collective basic income could easily be calculated or at least estimated, and this amount could therefore easily be refunded to taxpaying residents who don’t receive basic income.
Proposed in Wehner ( 2019).
See footnote 7.
That citizens born before the transition period will not be affected by the system change is, of course, a somewhat abstract promise. To substantiate this promise, sophisticated simulations would have to be run in the entire (generation-spanning) course of the transition process.
At a certain stage, such simulations may suggest that the personal income tax rates for remaining non-recipients of basic income (i.e., remaining participants of the old social security system) be differentiated from the rates for basic income recipients.
Moreover, there would be stages in this process in which the remaining participants of the old social security system pay more contributions than necessary to cover the payouts, and there will be a stage when this old system runs a deficit. To solve this problem, a fund could be established that would collect and later distribute surpluses of the old system among its remaining participants.
Ultimately, however, of course the later born would have to be the guarantors of this promise.
But problems of this kind are not specific to the transition concept here proposed. They are, on the contrary, greatly alleviated by this concept.
It may be a realistic guess that, with very few or no exceptions in small countries, first slight chances for a sufficient consensus on a basic income system will emerge no earlier than one generation after the era of Donald Trump and his kind.
The number of such specialized (politically and fiscally autonomous) governmental bodies (i.e., legislative and associated executive authorities) could be anywhere between initially two and eventually, say, a dozen.
Any degree of reduction of political generalism would be helpful. The entire process of specialization could take decades, if not centuries.
It would be hoped that in this process voters would also specialize and vote only in policy areas in which they feel sufficiently competent or personally affected.
In order to avert that such specialized—and accordingly professionalized—political authorities make decisions too inconsistent with current public opinion, novel grassroot democratic control bodies could be created, which in turn could be equally specialized in individual policy areas. These specialized control bodies could be conceived as lay parliaments whose members are determined in a sophisticated combination of lottery and electoral procedures.
For the concept of specialized lay parliaments, see Wehner ( 1995, Chap. 6).
Zurück zum Zitat Wehner, B. 1990. Der lange Abschied vom Sozialismus: Grundriss einer neuen Wirtschafts- und Sozialordnung. Frankfurt a.M.: Anton Hain. Wehner, B. 1990. Der lange Abschied vom Sozialismus: Grundriss einer neuen Wirtschafts- und Sozialordnung. Frankfurt a.M.: Anton Hain.
Zurück zum Zitat Wehner, B. 1992. Der Neue Sozialstaat: Vollbeschäftigung, Einkommensgerechtigkeit, Staatsentschuldung. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. CrossRef Wehner, B. 1992. Der Neue Sozialstaat: Vollbeschäftigung, Einkommensgerechtigkeit, Staatsentschuldung. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. CrossRef
Zurück zum Zitat Wehner, B. 1995. Die Logik der Politik und das Elend der Ökonomie: Grundelemente einer neuen Staats- und Gesellschaftstheorie. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. Wehner, B. 1995. Die Logik der Politik und das Elend der Ökonomie: Grundelemente einer neuen Staats- und Gesellschaftstheorie. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
Zurück zum Zitat Wehner, B. 2019. Universal Basic Income and the Reshaping of Democracy: Towards a Citizens’ Stipend in a New Political Order. Cham: Springer. CrossRef Wehner, B. 2019. Universal Basic Income and the Reshaping of Democracy: Towards a Citizens’ Stipend in a New Political Order. Cham: Springer. CrossRef
Zurück zum Zitat Wehner, B. 2020. Freedom, Peace, and Secession: New Dimensions of Democracy. Cham: Springer. CrossRef Wehner, B. 2020. Freedom, Peace, and Secession: New Dimensions of Democracy. Cham: Springer. CrossRef
- Is Democracy Fit for Basic Income? Toward a Hybrid Income Guarantee for Future Generations
- Chapter 3
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