Redesigning Distribution

by Harry on February 28, 2007

The newest book in the Real Utopias Project series is Redesigning Distribution (UK). The books are all based on conferences held at Madison, and each one focuses on a particular “real utopian” proposal – an institutional proposal which is supposed to embody or further some egalitarian ideal but is supposed to be in principle implementable in the real world and, more importantly, to be self-sustaining in some hard-to-specify way. This volume compares Basic Income Grants with Stakeholder Grants. Philippe Van Parijs makes the case for a BIG, a universal grant that all citizens would receive on a regular basis from the age of majority, funded most likely out of general taxation; Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott argue by contrast for a Stakeholder Grant, a one-off payment of (in the US at current rates) $80k paid to all high school graduates at the age of majority, funded by an inheritance tax (and returnable, with growth, to the Treasury at death).

I’ll assume some familiarity with the proposals (for the details of BIG see here and for the details of the Stakeholder Grant see Ackerman and Alstott’s book). I’ll also say at the outset that although I’ve been familiar with both proposals for a long time, and find both very appealing, I haven’t got a stake in the debate really. But I was surprised how much new and interesting stuff was in the book, so I thoroughly recommend it whether you are a newcomer to the debate or an old hand.

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Frenzied in Firenze

by Eszter Hargittai on February 28, 2007

.. is precisely what I don’t plan on being, but I liked my colleague‘s email subject line so I decided to use it here. Point being: I’ll be in Florence this weekend and am looking for suggestions for what not to miss. As a bit of background: 1. I’ve been already and have visited the relatively obvious touristy musts; 2. I have six guide books in my office with suggestions.

Of course, you could then say “so what do you need us for?”. Well, I’m looking for suggestions of that hole-in-the-wall place you found at the end of your trip having hoped in retrospect to have had more time to enjoy it. Or that specific sidestreet on which the view to some place is especially magnificent. Or whatever. There are hidden gems in every city so I thought it was worth asking.

And if anyone around here happens to be in Florence this weekend, let me know.* This is a work trip, but the meeting doesn’t start until Monday so I have Fri-Sun for fun.

For anyone curious, I’m going there for an OECD meeting on “new millennium learners”. Thanks to INDIRE for sponsoring this. We’ll also have a public meeting next Wednesday on this topic.

*I have another post in the works about how to keep people posted of one’s whereabouts.