Full Employment, Unconditional Basic Income, and the Keynesian Critique of Rentier Capitalism

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This paper argues that Philippe Van Parijs’s original arguments for an unconditional basic income, while representing a distinctive proposal, rest on flawed assumptions. A contrast is drawn between Rawls’s anti-capitalism and Van Parijs’s defence of an optimised capitalism. His UBI proposal leaves in place the social power of the rentier-investor class and undermines effective political agency. This poses a problem for achieving a sufficient level of a UBI given its grounding on gifts and rents. The innovation of treating labour market rents as the source of a UBI involves a tension between full employment policy and that which a liberal state may promote. A UBI is also likely to be inflationary in a self-stultifying way. An alternative view, drawing on the work of Keynes, Kalecki and Minsky, is developed. Ultimately Van Parijs’s “Left Rawlsianism” collapses into Rawls’s anti-capitalist conception of a property-owning democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20190015
Number of pages38
JournalBasic Income Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2020

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  • Unconditional Basic Income
  • Justice
  • Equality
  • John Rawls
  • Hyman Minsky

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