Citizen's dividend is a proposed policy based upon the principle that the natural world is the common property of all persons (see Georgism). It is proposed that all citizens receive regular payments (dividends) from revenue raised by leasing or taxing the monopoly of valuable land and other natural resources.
A concept akin to a citizen's dividend was known in Classical Athens. In 483 BC, a massive new seam of silver was found in the Athenian silver mines at Laurium. The dispersal of this provoked great debate. The statesman Aristides proposed the profit from this should be distributed among the Athenian citizens. However he was opposed by Themistocles, who proposed the money be spent building warships for the Athenian navy. In the end, Themistocles' policy was the one adopted.
In the United Kingdom and United States, the idea can be traced back to Thomas Paine's essay, Agrarian Justice, which is also considered one of the earliest proposals for a social security system. Thomas Paine summarized his view by stating that "Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds." Paine saw inheritance as being partly a common fund and wanted to supplement the citizen's dividend in a tax on inheritance transfers, but Georgist supporters now focus on natural resources.
Implementations and proposals
This concept is a form of basic income guarantee, where the citizen's dividend depends upon the value of natural resources or what could be titled as common goods like location values, seignorage, the electromagnetic spectrum, the industrial use of air (CO2 production), etc.
The U.S. state of Alaska dispenses a form of citizen's dividend in its Permanent Fund dividend, which holds investments initially seeded by the state's revenue from mineral resources, particularly petroleum. In 2005, every eligible Alaskan resident (including children) received a check for $845.76. Over the 24-year history of the fund, it has paid out a total of $24,775.45 to every resident. Some believe this dividend as the reason why Alaska has one of the lowest rates of inequality and relatively low levels of poverty compared to other US states.[dubious ] However, a 2018 paper found that the Alaska Permanent Fund "dividend had no effect on employment, and increased part-time work by 1.8 percentage points (17 percent)... our results suggest that a universal and permanent cash transfer does not significantly decrease aggregate employment."
The concept is also promoted as a tool to reduce carbon emissions. Peter Barnes created the concept of "Sky Trust" as an example of how this could be implemented. Barnes proposes setting up a public trust to manage the funds, separate from the private sector being taxed. A calculation based on specific assets by Barnes estimates that American citizens could each get $5,000 per year by this model. A Swiss campaign in 2013 advocated for a citizen’s income which could net each citizen an amount equivalent to $34,000 dollars. A citizens dividend based on resources according to Thomas Pogge is due to every citizen because everyone owns an inalienable stake in all limited natural resources. His theory goes along with Barnes with the exception of ownership, Pogge contends that the people own the resources. The Progress Report says that the dividend should be valued by the free market.
John Moser, a congressional candidate in Maryland, ran chiefly on the proposal that a citizen's dividend based around a portion of all income would eliminate homelessness and hunger, and would act as a collective risk share as used in Nordic model nations.
The New Physiocratic League, a project advocating for an economic reform revolving around shifting taxation towards land, advocates for a form of citizen's dividend as part of its Three Pillars program of income support.
- Asset-based egalitarianism (basic capital)
- Basic income
- Carbon fee and dividend
- Global resources dividend
- Land value tax
- Prosperity Bonus
- Social dividend
- Sovereign wealth fund
- Plutarch, Themistocles 4
- Holland, pp. 219–222
- "Agrarian Justice," Thomas Paine
- Makwana, Rajesh (2015-04-13). "From Basic Income to Social Dividends: Sharing the Value of Common Resources". Medium. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- "THE PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND". Alaska Permanent Fund. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- Makwana, Rajesh. "From basic income to social dividends: sharing the value of common resources". Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- Jones, Damon; Marinescu, Ioana (February 2018). "The Labor Market Impacts of Universal and Permanent Cash Transfers: Evidence from the Alaska Permanent Fund" (PDF). NBER Working Paper No. 24312. doi:10.3386/w24312.
- "Cap and Dividend". Institute for local self-reliance. 2010-01-29. Retrieved 11 Aug 2013.
- Barnes, Peter (2014). With Liberty and Dividends for All (1 ed.). Berrett-Koehler. p. 128. ISBN 9781626562141.
- Pogge, Thomas (2001). "Eradicating Systemic Poverty: brief for a global resources dividend" (PDF). Journal of Human Development. 2 (1): 66. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.488.2173. doi:10.1080/14649880120050246. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- Pogge, Thomas (2002). World Poverty and Human Rights (1 ed.). Polity. p. 29. ISBN 9780745641430. Archived from the original on 2015-09-19.
- "Citizens Dividend how big guaranteed income". The Progress Report. Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- "Baltimore Sun Voter Guide on John Moser". Retrieved 31 May 2018.
- Moser, John. "Modernizing Tax and Income Policy". Retrieved 31 May 2018.
- "The New Physiocratic League Platform". New Physiocratic League. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
- Holland, Tom (2005). Persian Fire. Abacus. ISBN 978-0-349-11717-1.
- Clive Lord. A Citizens’ Income. John Carpenter, 2003. ISBN 1-897766-87-4.
- The Permanent Fund Dividend