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The Stakeholder Society
ISBN 0300082606 / 9780300082609 / 0-300-08260-6
Publisher Yale University Press
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The main obstacle that many young people face in building their future is a lack of initial resources. Now here's a radical idea--what if every United States citizen with a high school diploma was guaranteed, on their 21st birthday, $80,000, no strings attached? Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott believe it's a doable scheme to ensure that every American will get "a fair share of the nation's resources as they accept the full responsibilities of adult life." The Stakeholder Society lays out the basic principles of their plan and rebuts potential objections. No, it's not a gift--you have to pay it back, if you can, towards the end of your life. Yes, some people will use their stake unwisely--but the authors argue that freedom is better served by having the opportunity to make mistakes than by never getting a chance to move forward. They are also careful to point out that, ultimately, the stakeholder system is not so much a full frontal assault on poverty as it is a citizen-building program, helping people feel like a valued part of U.S. society and making it easier for them to contribute to that society's success. "If America drifts away from the promise of equal opportunity," the authors warn, "it is not because practical steps are unavailable, but because we have lost our way." Whether The Stakeholder Society contains those "practical steps" is a matter that should be considered very attentively by policymakers and all citizens concerned with the fate of the United States in the 21st century. --Ron Hogan [via]