"Basic Income versus Basic Capital: A Temporal Perspective"
This paper considers the radical egalitarian proposal of enforcing a right to unconditional cash. I ask when the unconditional payment should be made: in a lump sum at the beginning of people’s adult lives – as proponents of the basic capital grant argue; or in regular installments throughout people’s adult lives – as proponents of the basic income guarantee argue. Drawing on the ‘equality through time’ debate and the field of intergenerational justice, I provide an original account of the normative distinctions that underpin the policies. I systematize a number of claims found throughout the literature of the past two decades within a single coherent temporal framework, and I add a number of novel arguments along the way. I argue that the debate between basic capital and basic income is in fact best expressed as a conflict about the temporality of social justice, and I conclude that basic income is preferable to basic capital, for both diachronic and synchronic reasons, and that it should be the baseline of egalitarian universal cash policies.