Assets and poverty

Theoria 44 (107):1-18 (2005)
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Abstract

Asset egalitarianism is a new agenda but an old idea. At its root is the notion that every citizen should be able to have an individual property stake, and it has recently been revived in Britain and in the U.S. in a number of proposals aimed at countering the huge and growing inequality in the distribution of assets. Such asset egalitarianism is fed from many streams; it has a long history in civic republican thought, beginning with Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, but has also featured in the distributist theories of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc; the guild socialism of G.D.H. Cole and the ethical socialism of R.H. Tawney; the market liberalism of the Ordo Liberals and some of the Austrian School, particularly F.A. Hayek; and more recently the market socialism of James Meade, A.B. Atkinson and Julian Le Grand, and the market egalitarianism of Michael Sherraden, Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis, Richard Freeman and Bruce Ackerman. There are also important links to the proponents of a citizens' income as a different approach to the welfare state (White 2002) as well as to the ideas of stakeholding (Dowding et al. 2003).

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