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Tax, Inequality, and Human Rights$
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Philip G. Alston and Nikki R. Reisch

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190882228

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190882228.001.0001

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Basic Income as a Human Right?

Basic Income as a Human Right?

(p.541) Chapter 24 Basic Income as a Human Right?
Tax, Inequality, and Human Rights

Daniel J. Hemel

Oxford University Press

This chapter suggests a human rights–based justification for national basic income schemes, contrasting it with justifications based on welfarist principles or notions of entitlement to a share of the global commons. Starting from the premise that a state is a collective enterprise that generates a surplus, it contends that any human being who is an “obedient” member of that state has a right to some share of the surplus. That right—which arises from the relationship between the individual and the state, and is independent of need—could justify the entitlement to a basic income. Such income should be provided in cash, not in kind, because the latter risks depriving the individual of the enjoyment of his share of the surplus—in effect, forcing him to forfeit or transfer it to others if he does not use the public goods or services provided by the state.

Keywords:   human rights, basic income, basic income schemes, entitlement, state, surplus, public goods, public services

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