The Stakeholder Society

Bruce A. Ackerman, Author, Anne Alstott, Author, Anne Alstott, Joint Author
Bruce A. Ackerman, Author, Anne Alstott, Author, Anne Alstott, Joint Author Yale University Press $45 (320p) ISBN 978-0-300-07826-8
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-300-08260-9
Hardcover - 297 pages - 978-0-585-35256-5
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Do Americans truly believe in equal opportunity? This provocative book outlines an ambitious proposal to put our collective money where our rhetoric is: give every American a one-time grant of $80,000 when he or she reaches early adulthood. The money would be funded by an annual 2% tax on the nation's wealth, to be paid for by the wealthiest 41% of the country. The funds could be used for anything: education, home purchase, business investment. The authors, both professors at Yale Law School (Ackerman's books include The Future of Liberal Revolution), may be liberals, but their proposal is informed by libertarianism: they want people to make their own decisions. But, unlike libertarians, they argue that Americans don't begin from a ""fair starting point."" The authors speculate on intriguing possible effects: the grant might foster patience rather than instant gratification, cause colleges to compete more and give child-rearing women new independence. Thus, they suggest that stakeholding would serve more as a citizenship program than an antipoverty program. While there may not be the political will to establish such a stakeholder society, Ackerman and Alstott's proposal is an interesting alternative to the similarly dramatic and simple plans for a flat tax currently being put forward. (Apr.)
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