S(h)elling Labor: The Right to Work

Gijs van Donselaar

in The Right to Exploit

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780195140392
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199871483 | DOI:
S(h)elling Labor: The Right to Work

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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

Chapter.  8533 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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