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The Right to ExploitParasitism, Scarcity, and Basic Income$
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Gijs Van Donselaar

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140392.001.0001

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S(h)elling Labor: The Right to Work

S(h)elling Labor: The Right to Work

(p.144) Chapter 5 S(h)elling Labor: The Right to Work
The Right to Exploit

Gijs van Donselaar

Oxford University Press

In the previous chapter, it was argued that, regardless of people's perceptions, a basic income financed through a tax on the productive use of natural resources would be exploitative indeed, if by “exploitative” we mean parasitic in the Lockean sense. The proposal for a basic income, or citizen's income, or demogrant, is not brand new. Thomas Paine is generally acknowledged as the founding father of the idea that such a labor-free income should be financed by taxing all land rent and distributing the proceeds equally. But Philippe Van Parijs's proposal is especially innovative, more radical, and more significant than its predecessors because he extends the argument from resource rent to so-called “employment rent.” The first half of this chapter discusses and criticizes this special argument: if there is a parallel between jobs and natural resources, then there is a parallel between the arguments against giving equal access to them unconditionally, and without taking account of people's independent interest. It then argues that the idea of fair access to employment would be better served by a policy of sharing jobs and reducing labor time. Finally, the chapter offers some considerations with respect to the quality of employment, and how it should affect its just distribution.

Keywords:   Philippe Van Parijs, jobs, employment rent, natural resources, job sharing

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