Rescuing Conditionality: an Egalitarian Defense of Welfare Conditionality
I am in the final stages of completing a book manuscript on conditional welfare policies. It offers a normative evaluation of redistributive policies in which welfare benefits are made conditional on the recipients’ compliance with particular behavioral requirements. In general, most research on conditional welfare policies focuses on the empirical issues associated with the design, implementation, and evaluation of this type of policy. But the equally compelling normative discussion about conditional cash transfers, in-kind benefits, and drug testing for welfare recipients has been limited. The purpose of this book is to argue that while some forms of conditionality are morally problematic, some particular forms of conditional welfare can be justified from an egalitarian standpoint.
In the course of this book I explain why the existence of conditions in a redistributive policy does not tell us anything about its progressive or inclusive nature. It is a mistake to assume that conditionality necessarily leads to discrimination, stigma, social exclusion and the deprivation of people’s rights. Instead of focusing on conditionality per se, we should spend more time examining the ways in which conditions may be justified, imposed, monitored, evaluated and so on. For example, I explain why workfare policies and mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients (both policies adopted throughout the U.S in recent decades) are morally unjustifiable policies. Likewise, I develop a novel defense of Atkinson’s idea of a participation income (PI), which is a universal income available to all members of a society, and paid to all individuals of this society in exchange for some labour or similar activity that is useful to all individuals. In contrast to other redistributive policies that impose work requirements, a PI does not require strict participation in the labour market; instead, it requires that payments be made based on a broad idea of social contribution. Social contribution can consist of any class of activity – from working in the labour market to caregiving for young or old people, among others.
I have advanced some of my central arguments regarding this topic in the following articles: “A Defense of Participation Income” (Journal of Public Policy, 2016), “The Problem of Stability and the Ethos-Based Solution” (CRISPP 2016), “What is wrong with Conditional Cash Transfers?” (Journal of Social Philosophy, 2017), and “What is Wrong with Testing Welfare Recipients for Drug Use?” (Political Studies, 2017). I expect that this book manuscript will be completed and under review early in 2019. The book proposal and some sample chapters for this book are available upon request.