BOOK: Malcolm Torry, The Feasibility of Citizen’s Income
Dr. Malcolm Torry, Director of the UK’s Citizen’s Income Trust, has written a new book on basic income, The Feasibility of Citizen’s Income, published by Palgrave Macmillan as part of the Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee series.
(Note for readers who are not familiar with Torry’s preferred terminology: Torry defines a ‘Citizen’s Income’ as “an unconditional, non-withdrawable income paid automatically to every individual as a right of citizenship” (p. vii), viz. a basic income paid to citizens.)
Torry has previously authored an extended defense of basic income in Money for Everyone: Why We Need a Citizen’s Income (published by Policy Press in 2013).
In his latest book, which draws from material presented at the 2012 and 2014 BIEN Congresses, he turns from the question of whether a citizen’s income is desirable — he maintains that it is — to the question of whether it is possible.
Recognizing that there are many components to this question, Torry assesses the feasibility of a citizen’s income along multiple dimensions:
• Financial feasibility, comprising two types. (“Is a basic income affordable?”)
• Psychological feasibility, which can be described, roughly, as the ability to secure widespread social acceptance (cf. p. 88). (“Would people buy into the idea of a basic income?”)
• Administrative feasibility. (“Would a government be able to administer a basic income program?”)
• Behavioral feasibility, defined as neither “producing perverse or counterproductive effects” nor “failing to produce key desired outcomes” (p. 143). (“Would a basic income not be that great for society?”)
• Political feasibility, or the ability to “cohere with mainstream political ideologies” (p. 167).
• Policy process feasibility, or the ability to “travel from idea to implementation” (p. 195).
The general ideas in this book are intentionally non-specific, pertaining to “any country and … any social and economic context” (p. vi), with each chapter containing a case study applying these general considerations to a particular country’s present situation (most often the UK).
Malcolm Torry (June 19, 2016) The Feasibility of Citizen’s Income, Palgrave Macmillan.