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The Stakeholder Society Hardcover – March 11, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (March 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300078269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300078268
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,948,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

From Publishers Weekly

Do Americans truly believe in equal opportunity? This provocative book outlines an ambitious proposal to put our collective money where our rhetoric is: give every American a one-time grant of $80,000 when he or she reaches early adulthood. The money would be funded by an annual 2% tax on the nation's wealth, to be paid for by the wealthiest 41% of the country. The funds could be used for anything: education, home purchase, business investment. The authors, both professors at Yale Law School (Ackerman's books include The Future of Liberal Revolution), may be liberals, but their proposal is informed by libertarianism: they want people to make their own decisions. But, unlike libertarians, they argue that Americans don't begin from a "fair starting point." The authors speculate on intriguing possible effects: the grant might foster patience rather than instant gratification, cause colleges to compete more and give child-rearing women new independence. Thus, they suggest that stakeholding would serve more as a citizenship program than an antipoverty program. While there may not be the political will to establish such a stakeholder society, Ackerman and Alstott's proposal is an interesting alternative to the similarly dramatic and simple plans for a flat tax currently being put forward.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charles Bradley on June 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
I recently read Charles Murray's "In Our Hands."

A reviewer of it suggested "The Stakeholder Society" as an

alternative drastic change. I recommend both books to anyone

that considers reading either.

At the risk of oversimplifying, here are the proposals.

"The Stakeholder Society" recommends a one time cash payment

of $80,000 as citizens turn 21, financed by a wealth tax.

"In Our Hands" recommends an annual cash payment to all adult

citizens financed by the elimination of all other transfer

payments.

Both books have lots of detail to explain how and why to

implement their proposal. Both admit that some details will

have to be worked out based on experience, and both identify

some potential weaknesses of their proposal.

The biggest problem with "The Stakeholder Society" is the

observation that leads to the proposal. Since there is an

unequal distribution of wealth, there must be an unequal

opportunity to accumulate wealth. If the stake increases

the disparity in wealth, the same arguments can be used to

increase the stake and the corresponding wealth tax. If the

stake decreases the disparity, but does not eliminate it,

the same arguments can be used to increase the stake and the

corresponding wealth tax.

Those that favor equal outcomes will favor "The Stakeholder

Society." Those that think there is a large degree of

opportunity for most will favor "In Our Hands." Both books

are worth considering carefully, but not worth worrying about.
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By Deborah Youngblood on March 30, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliant, creative idea. If only there was political will to implement. Worth reading and helping to build momentum. I'm impressed.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Searight on April 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book lays out an idea on how to setup funding to all young citizens so that everyone has capital for investing for their future. The idea, although well explained, is completely flawed and makes drastic and unreasonable assumptions about behavior and money. Assuming that individuals will respect money that is given to them, regardless of possible requirements to pay back the money in the future, is to completely ignore past human behavior. To assume that money can quickly uplift one from poverty ignores that wealth is how we measure ones economic status. Money is but one component of wealth and it is the most volatile and easiest to loose (poor investment decisions to simply blowing the money on unnecessary items). There will always be poor and there will always be rich individuals. Nothing one does can prevent that. Even in communist countries there are significant differences in individual wealth and class differentiation. The book tries to address these issues as well as others, but simply assumes behavior will change. The behavior changes are drastic and unlikely. Again, it is a well written book with a simple idea, but the idea is not well thought out and it is hard to take seriously outside of pure academic discussion.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter LaPrade on April 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott have written a great book on how to realize the American Dream. "The Stakeholder Society" tells us how we can practically achieve true equality, so that America will have many that will have many more productive citizens, while ensuring that women have a true equal footing with men. It is a complex idea, but written simply enough so most of the Stakeholder plan could be understood by the average American. This book ought to be read by all politicans, and then maybe we'd have true economic prosperity.
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