Questions to Professor Philippe Van Parijs

Japanese Version

Shin'ya Tateiwa 7 July 2006
Workshop with Professor Philippe Van Parijs (Japanese)

1) Should distribution be restricted to distribution of income ?

I think distribution of income is good, basic income is good. But if distribution is resricted to distribution of income, why is it ?
I myself think that 3 types of ditribution are requested and effective (Tateiwa [2004][2006]). There are some reasons. The most important reason may be that they are requested for "real freedom". And one of them is that job is asset, as Mr. Van Parijs pointed out. I also think so. People who get job can get more income than other people. and also get other benefits. And job is limited and scarce.
This comprehension is good and important. I agree to it. So, by the same reason, I think job should be distributed to the people (who want to get job).
"Pople who keep their jobs work without leave, so they should share to people who don't work (....) 'Please share us job. If you don't like it, please share us money.' It is reasoable request. 'Please share us money. If you don't like it, please share us job.' It is reasoable too. And it is more reasonable to request these two at the same time." (Tateiwa [2005, 2006:166])
But advocators of basic income (Mr. Van Parijs ?) are not positive to distibution of work and production goods. Why ?

i): It may be worried that distribution of work and production goods give bad effects to production, and basic income will decrease.
Theoretically it can happen. But a) if difference of abilities is small in fact, and nevertheles, some people are excluded from labour market, productivity will not get down too much after distribution of work.
And b) although the level of total production become a little lower, people may want relatively narrow gap and job as asset.
ii): Is excessive intervention by gouvernment worried ?
But first, it is relatively simple task to limit work time. And we don't have to realize it compleltely. So it does not need many people, big organization and much money.
it is same to distribution of production goods. I think property of technology and knowledge important, but in many cases we only need change the term of patent right. It does not need more time and work than ever.

2) Right not to work / Duty to work

Next question is about "duty to work".
Basic income is provided to people who don't work. So someone may misunderstand. They think as if assertion of basic income don't admit duty. But it is not true.
Advocators of basic income assert that it is the right for everyone to get basic income. Then it is duty to offer what people get as basic income. If basic income is realized as social policy, people are requested to fulfill obligation to pay tax for basic inome. In this sense advocators of basic income admit duty of people.
Therefore their assrtion is that some people must do their duty but some people can be exempted from duty. People who have duty are people who work and get income in market and people who don't have duty are people who don't work in market. How is the difference justified ?
The answer may be that people who work in market get more benefit than other people, so it is justified to put them under obligation. It is said that they must not complain because they can live by only basic income but they don't choose it and work more voluntarily.
i) Here people want to get and keep job because gap is wide enough. In other words, because it is neccessary for basic income to make much people keep working, wide gap is requested and justified.
But if basic income is justified by the idea of freedom, wide gap is not justified by the same idea. People who choose not to get job may not complain, but there are other people. Especailly people who want to get job but cannot get it will not welcome this system.
ii) Second problem is whether all the working people get so big benefit. Advcators of basic income will say that If they like to get only basic income than work, they can choose it, so they like to work. But if level of basic income is not sufficient, many people must work unwillingly.
It may be said that level of basic income is sufficient by definition. But especially if basic income doesn't correspond to difference of people, level of basic income often becomes too low. For example, if there is a patient in family, peoply must work more.
They probably do not think that they are better than the people who get only basic income. They don't feel it good that some people get basic income and don't work.

In reality job is scarce, so many people cannot get job. Therefore it is impossible and harmfull and not justified to coerce to work in this society. The policy of "workfare" is not justified and is not effecitve. Instead of it, we should choose 3 types of distribution.

3) Correpondence to differences between peopl

My third question is about correpondence to differences between people. There are two dimensions. i): difference of income in market in relation to their (dis)abilities, ii) difference of needs in relation to their (dis)abilities.
Does system of ditribution correspond these differeneces, or not ? I agree with the idea that all the people should get basic income, but, at the same time, I think that differential distribution has to be done.
Mr. Van Parijs affirms differenctial distribution (Van Parijs [1995:chap.3]). But it seems to be restrictive. I think it strange. Because I think that distribution according to (dis)abilities of people is central aim of social ditribution. If social environments and personal (dis)abilities are equal, people can get same in market. i): Income gap in market is generated accoding to (so called) "internal endowment" and it is not justified. It is equally true in case ii).
The reason of this hesitation may be that advacators of basic income take equal provision to everyone important. Distribution which is correspndent to difference breaks simplicity of ditribution system.
But I think this problem is not so big. Problem i) can be solved by setting total income (income from market + from gouvernment ) equal. About problem ii), goods which make good the handicap are only resources to get normal lives, so the goods are not themselves attracitive. Therefore in many cases people don't need more. So we don't have to make criteria of provision. We don't have to assess of needs. So I think that we should and can correpond to differences between people.

How do you think ?

* TATEIWA, Shin'ya Specialities: Sociology
Professor at Ritsumeikan University Graduate School of CoreEthics and Frontier Sciences

Tateiwa, Shin'ya 1997 On Private Property(shiteki-shoyu ron), Tokyo, Keiso-Shobo, 465+66p. ISBN:4000233874
------------- 2000 Freedom to be Weak (Yowaku Aru Jiyu e), Tokyo, Seidosha, 357+25p. ISBN:4791758528
------------- 2004a Equality of Freedom(Jiyu no Byodou), Tokyo, Iwanami-Shoten, 349+41p. ISBN:4000233874
------------- 2004b ALS, Tokyo, Igak-Shoin, 451p., ISBN:4260333771
------------- 2006 On Hope(Kibo ni tsuite), Tokyo, Seidosha, 309+23p. ISBN:4791762797


OOn a "Distributing Minimal State": A Proposal *
Shin'ya Tateiwa, July 2006

* This will be inserted in Inaba & Tateiwa [2006]

* Enforcement is required, if it is necessary to assure peoples' lives and they should be assured were there a person who does not consent that. There are at least two reasons for this kind of enforcement. First, without such enforcement, it would be difficult to assure peoples' lives under the current circumstances. Second, it must not be permitted that each person's life is assured only by the voluntariness of those around that person, in other words, by their arbitrary discretion. If one calls an organization making such enforcement within a certain geographic domain "the state" and only the state can do it, the state is required. (See my Equality of Freedom, ch. 3 "On Bases," sec. 3.2 "Rights and Obligations: Consent to Enforcement."* Here I am not saying that such an organization should be called the state, which is a matter I do not address here.)

* One of the things for the state to do is to prohibit harm to others. Another is, though it cannot be distinguished from the former, to distribute goods. (I have long argued for this. I refute the positions against distribution in, for example, my "The Idea of Freedom Does Not Support Libertarianism" in On Hope. I propose my own position with arguments for it in On Private Property and Equality of Freedom. For my arguments about the distinction between what should be distributed and what should not, see On Private Property, ch. 4 "The Others," sec. 2 "Borders.") Exchange would be reciprocal, if every person had enough resources to exchange. So the market where such exchanges occur would not be denied.

* Especially goods-distribution should not be geographically limited. There are at least three reasons for this. First, there is no reason why a place where one lives should be a crucial factor in how well one lives. To say more, it ought not to be permitted that a place where one lives is such a crucial factor. Second, if goods are distributed only within each state, goods and the wealthy flee from where more just goods-distribution is enforced. Third, under global competition such as one seen now, the states give priority to investment and production rather than distribution. Which makes distribution more difficult. (See ex. my "Enjoy to the Boundaries" in On Hope, where I argue both that various local, cooperative, and voluntary associations must not be denied and that their limits also should be acknowledged.)

* Therefore, the geographic domain of goods-distribution should not be divided into each state's domain. Though it is difficult, goods ought to be distributed globally, and we should do what is possible to realize it. (See my Equality of Freedom, Introduction, sec. 3 "Restricting Borders.")
I have used the term "Goods-distribution" or simply "Distribution" in the above, but we can distinguish distributions of many kinds of goods. Here I mention just three kinds of goods: production goods, labor, and money. (See Equality of Freedom, Introduction, sec. 3.4 "Distribution of Labor" and sec. 3.5 "Distribution of Production Goods and Production.") Distribution may be done in all these three goods. I argue for distribution of labor in "The Reasons Why Distribution of Labor Is a Correct Answer" in On Hope. For distribution of production goods, see my "Transformation of Modes of Ownership and Production" in ibid.
While it is certain that there are difficulties with distributions of these goods, the system doing only money-distribution would be much simple. If the systems for distributing the other two kinds of goods are introduced, it might make the market less efficient. Such worry is not groundless. However, take the validity period of a patent on production goods as an example for a mode of production. In order to change the validity period of patent, it would be enough to change its rules. It takes little administrative costs. (Sometimes we forget that the rules about ownership are already enforced in most cases. The market is not "natural." The structure of the market depends on what rules about it are enforced. The issue is what rules should be enforced. There is no a priori judgment about whether administrative costs of another set of rules are more than that of the present one.) We can do something with caution.

* Avoid doing the other things than prohibiting harm to others and distributing goods. Or, we can think that we need not do the other things. What is good to do, what should be enforced, and what may be done by the state are all different. This quite simple and big difference is often ignored. One should question whether what the state is doing now need to be done by the state. Affirming distribution is neither affirming everything the state is doing now nor affirming the present "welfare state." The state can retreat from many of what it is doing now, and it might have to retreat from them.

* Suppose that distribution ought to be done. The next issue is the system of distribution. What goods should be supplied in kind by the state? If the state supplies goods in kind rather than money, the range of how to use what is supplied is much more limited. Since resources to distribute are limited, we have to choose how to distribute and use these resources through a certain political scheme. This would be criticized by those who think that how to use resources in one's own life should be decided by each individual. And, as it has been pointed out, goods and power are concentrated around governmental organizations, legitimately or illegitimately, if these organizations supply goods in kind. So the following system is supported. Under this system, not goods in kind but money is distributed to individuals; each individual decides how to use this money in their own lives; they choose from various (non-profit or for-profit) suppliers. We have to consider what difference is between this system and "privatization," which is often argued for and done without caution.
We can extend this system globally. Many "international aids" have been goods in kind, and many of them directed to some fixed projects of governmental or non-governmental organizations, not to individuals directly. Distribution to individuals is better, and distributing money to individuals is better if money assures a broader range of choices for those individuals than goods in kind do.

* The simplest way to decide how much each individual gets is to divide all goods and money in the world among all individuals equally. However, because of their different situations, each individual needs different kinds of goods and a different amount of money in order to live a sufficient life. So it is not desirable to adopt only that simple "equal share" scheme. Differentiated shares for each individual are required.
However, if differentiated shares of a certain good are required, it does not mean that eligibility for free supply of that good should always be limited. Sometimes it does not need to be limited. For example, in the case that demands for a certain good remain within a manageable extent if there is no limit on eligibility for free supply of that good, such a limit might not be required. "To each according to their needs" is possible, and realized in some areas. (See Freedom to Be Weak, ch. 7 "Distance and Encounter: On Personal Assistance," sec. 8 "Trying to Escape from Measurement of Needs." When standards or the upper limit for free supply of a certain good is not set, supplying that good in kind or coupons for it might have to be introduced. For it is not desirable to supply money in such a case because money can be used to buy the other kinds of goods than a good in question.)

* I do not deny that "public goods" may be supplied. Still one has not considered so much the question in what case we should choose one of the following options: giving money to individuals, giving goods in kind to individuals, and putting goods in kind in society. It is a quite stupid question which is better: big government or small government.

* There are many things which need not be done, or, which cannot be justified. They would include feeding the wealthy. At least in the states such as the present Japan, tax does not have to be used to produce more material goods. (See my "For Capitalism at a Standstill" in On Hope and Equality of Freedom, Introduction, sec. 3.3 "Refusing the Politics for eProduction,' " etc.) If policies for economic stability may be adopted because business fluctuations are necessary, the question might be raised how policies for economic stability is distinguished from those to produce more material goods. Though it would be impossible to distinguish the former and the latter rigidly, I think that distinguishing them does not matter in many cases, in which policies to produce more goods are not so unjust that it has to be prohibited strictly.

* The above is, I think, a basically desirable starting point. It is meaningful to set a starting point like this, though it is difficult to realize such a society. Part of the reasons why it is meaningful is that a stating point itself is unclear for many in the current situation. (See my "On Hope" in On Hope.)

* I do not take a position that what is agreed is right. However, persons' will should be respected, and cannot be ignored because it concerns making this society work. Democracy is sustained. Still I claim that the position should not be taken, position which, taking persons' current will for granted and not questioning it, admits only the options permitted by that will. (See Equality of Freedom, ch. 4 "Not Detouring Values." The same applies to the case of "euthanasia" or "physician assisted suicide." I argue this in several papers on theses issues collected in Freedom to Be Weak and On Hope.)

* It might be troublesome to change suddenly and drastically the present social institutions in some cases. Gradualism or piecemeal ways will be adopted sometimes. In these cases, it takes more or less long time to do what to do. However, if a basic direction is clear, it would not happen that it becomes halfway unclear what to do, and that change is unfinished. At the same time, the system by which no retreat occurs due to changing situations or opinions needs to be embedded into society once a more just scheme is achieved
* In the current situation, what can be done is very modest. For example, goods-distribution in global scale, which is done as compromise or charity now, is redefined as obligation. This is a very small step, but better than doing nothing.

* All writings by the author cited in this article are written in Japanese, so each has the original title in Japanese. Here I show those titles translated into English in the text. See References for the original Japanese titles.

(The original Japanese titles appear within [ ] after the titles translated into English.)

Inaba, Shinichro & Tateiwa, Shin'ya. Future of Property and State. (Tokyo: NHK Press [Nippon-Hoso-Shuppan-Kyokai], 2006).
Tateiwa, Shin'ya On Private Property [Shiteki-Shoyu Ron]. (Tokyo: Keiso-Shobo, 1997).
-----. Freedom to Be Weak [Yowaku Aru Jiyu e]. (Tokyo: Seido-Sha, 2000).
-----. Equality of Freedom [Jiyu no Byodo]. (Tokyo: Iwanami-Shoten, 2004).
----- On Hope [Kibo ni Tsuite]. (Tokyo: Seido-Sha, 2006).

-----.@2010@"On "Undominated Diversity"", The Second Workshop with Professor Philippe Van Parijs

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