The debate about Basic Income (BI) has hitherto been preoccupied with questions of desirability. To correct this imbalance and to throw light on the problems of winning political support for BI, this article considers whether BI is viable. At this stage, the exercise is necessarily speculative, but can be useful as long as care is taken to specify institutional arrangements and to take into account the way social agents are likely to respond to the introduction of BI. Accordingly, I develop a theoretical model of the interaction between tax-transfer policy and economic performance to explore the options facing the citizens of an imaginary state, who are contemplating radical reform but espouse divergent moral values. Initially, to fix ideas, I assume that their options are independent of the prevailing normative climate. In the end, however, I show that this assumption is untenable, and I draw conclusions for BI as a political project.
©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston