Re: AltInst: Stakeholder Society

From: Robert E. Lewis <>
Date: Wed Sep 27 2000 - 14:59:32 PDT

Robin Hanson wrote:
> The Stakeholder Society, by Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott.
> Yale University Press, 1999.
> This book proposes that the federal government give each
> citizen $80,000 upon his or her 21st birthday, 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 hope to narrow differences in opportunity
> due to family income.

If they wish to give 21-year-olds the ability to buy a
house, start a business, or pay tuition, wouldn't it be
simpler (and cheaper) to have the government make a blanket
guarantee of loans for those purposes for every citizen who
attains the age of 21 years?

I am skeptical of the real need or wisdom in enabling people
at the age of 21 to buy a house or start a business. Most
people don't have the skills necessary to develop a business
at 21, and those working for someone else (though I think
the pool of young entry-level workers would virtually
disappear if this proposal were enacted) are likely to
change jobs several times over the following few years, and
really don't need the commitment of homeownership at that
point in their lives.

What you would see with this proposal, I think, is an
explosion of educational "opportunities" for exactly the
endowment price of $80,000. And even more vocational
schools ("Become a paralegal!" "Train in the exiting field
of computer service!") for $80,000, less the going price for
a new Corvette or SUV.

And you would see a whole new kind of house-type go up: The
XXI-Special Condo: Built-in big-screen/satellite TV, beer
taps in every room, built around a swimming pool with
guaranteed parties five nights a week. Takes the frat house
to a whole new level.

And, in the interest of "fairness," what's in this for those
of us who past the magical age before this new largess
arrived, except to shoulder the bill and be all the more
bitter that a bunch of youngsters are livin' it up on our
dime? Will they have a pro-rated giveaway - at 21 you get
$80 grand and can spend it on an education, or a XXI special
condo and a new sportscar; at 35 you get enough for a down
payment on a house and a three-year lease on a sedan; at 45
you get money for the kids' braces and a down-payment on a
minivan, and at 55 you get enough so that either hubby or
wifey can have the newly-common "LV Special" facelift?

--Robert E. Lewis

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Received on Wed Sep 27 15:26:08 2000

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