Thus, we might decide that everyone should have at least a minimum income, that Society will make up the deficiency between what the less fortunate can earn and this minimum. Once this is realized by those who fall below the minimum, there is no longer an incentive for them to work at the margin, at least in pecuniary material terms. This is clearly bad social policy, not because I have a vulgar prejudice in favor of work and against leisure. On the contrary, the increases in real income in the years ahead probably will be spent in considerable degree on leisure. It is wrong because it forces the rest of society to give up leisure [emphasis added].This was clearly an odd thing to say, not because Samuelson opposed a guaranteed minimum income. On the contrary, 21 years later Samuelson signed an economists' statement calling for just such a "clearly bad" policy (see embedded link below). The odd part comes in the last sentence, the reason for the policy's wrongness: "it forces the rest of society to give up leisure." How so?
- Jobs, Liberty and the Bottom Line
- Time on the Ledger: Social Accounting for the “Goo...
- Intermediate Goods and Duplication
- The Long Term Problem of Full Employment
- The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties...
- Grundrisse: "Capital (like property) rests on prod...
- Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844: "W...
- McCulloch on Combination Laws
- Submission to the White House Task Force on Middle...
- Thinking Along the Right Lines
- The Problem with "The Problem of Social Cost"
- State and Prospects of Manufactures
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Clearly Bad Social Policy?
In his Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947), Paul Samuelson wrote the following critique of the idea of a guaranteed minimum income:
Posted by Sandwichman at 4:00 PM