Towards a Social Wage

The first Muslim Caliph Abu Bakr introduced a guaranteed minimum standard of income, granting each man, woman, and child ten dirhams annually; this was later increased to twenty dirhams.

American revolutionary Thomas Paine advocated a Citizen’s Dividend to all US citizens as compensation for “loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property” (Agrarian Justice, 1795).

French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte echoed Paine’s sentiments and commented that ‘man is entitled by birthright to a share of the Earth’s produce sufficient to fill the needs of his existence’ (Herold, 1955).

In 1918, philosopher Bertrand Russell argued for a basic income in Roads to Freedom as a means to decrease the average working day and full employment

In 1963, Robert Theobald published the book Free Men and Free Markets, in which he advocated a guaranteed minimum income (the origin of the modern version of the phrase).

In his final book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967) Martin Luther King Jr. wrote

I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.

—from the chapter titled “Where We Are Going”

In his 1994 “autobiographical dialog” Friedrich Hayek stated “I have always said that I am in favor of a minimum income for every person in the country.”

SEE: South Africa’s Welfare Debate

Leave a Reply