The Stakeholder Society


You are viewing an older version of the Yalebooks website. Please visit out new website with more updated information and a better user experience:

Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott

View Inside Format: Paper
Price: $32.00
Our shopping cart only supports Mozilla Firefox. Please ensure you're using that browser before attempting to purchase.

Also Available in:

A quarter century of trickle-down economics has failed. Economic inequality in the United States has dramatically increased. Many, alas, seem resigned to this growing chasm between rich and poor. But what would happen, ask Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott, if America were to make good on its promise of equal opportunity by granting every qualifying young adult a citizen’s stake of eighty thousand dollars? Ackerman and Alstott argue that every American citizen has the right to share in the wealth accumulated by preceding generations. The distribution of wealth is currently so skewed that the stakeholding fund could be financed by an annual tax of two percent on the property owned by the richest forty percent of Americans.
Ackerman and Alstott analyze their initiative from moral, political, economic, legal, and human perspectives. By summoning the political will to initiate stakeholding, they argue, we can achieve a society that is more democratic, productive, and free. Their simple but realistic plan would enhance each young adultís real ability to shape his or her own future. It is, in short, an idea that should be taken seriously by anyone concerned with citizenship, welfare dependency, or social justice in America today.

Bruce Ackerman is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale Law School. He is also the author of The Future of Liberal Revolution, Social Justice in the Liberal State, and Private Property and the Constitution, all published by Yale University Press, and of We the People and Reconstructing American Law. Anne Alstott is professor of law at Yale Law School.

"Our world will never become a better place unless bright thinkers find the time and courage to formulate unconventional ideas, work them out in detail and refute the strongest possible objections they can imagine. The Stakeholder Society is an outstanding, paradigmatic example of what is needed."—Philippe Van Parijs, Professor of Economics and Social Ethics, Université catholique de Louvain

"A major book that will serve as a vital provocation to a nation in desperate need of civil civic debate."—Benjamin R. Barber, director, The Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics of Democracy

"The Ackerman-Alstott plan is a clever remedy for inequalities of wealth, but its really stunning contribution to policy is the way it underwrites people’s success. This is welfare reform as it should be."—Deborah A. Stone, Brandeis University

“I cannot think of a recent book on social and economic policy that so inspired and challenged me. I cannot imagine writing or teaching about tax policy and economic justice ever again without referring to it.”—Stephen B. Cohen, Georgetown University Law Center

"This is one of the most thoughtful and well-argued proposals for major policy changes published in recent years. Highly recommended for the political science and public policy collections of all academic libraries."—Library Journal

"Ackerman and Alstott’s immodest proposal . . . raises fundamental issues of principle and policy."—Cass R. Sunstein, New Republic

"Books like The Stakeholder Society, viewed as contributions to an emerging dialogue rather than as immediately realizable proposals, help us to rise to this large and very difficult challenge. If there is a genuine 'Third Way,’ it begins right here."—Gar Alperovitz, Lingua Franca

"There is a rare commodity here: a well-thought out, genuinely original idea. . . . The authors work out their proposal in some detail, and address likely objections with reasonable responses. They recognize that policies with even a hint of redistributive potential will face strong opposition, but there is a powerful bottom line to their argument: if you genuinely believe in equal opportunity and individual responsibility, what better way could there be to make them social realities? Ackerman and Alstott raise fundamental questions about citizenship, distributive justice, and above all, what it would mean to be serious about the political ideals routinely used to legitimate American political and economic institutions. Whether or not you like their ideas, they cannot be honestly dismissed without some serious thought and discussion. An important contribution that should enliven public discourse even if it does not gain wide popular acceptance."—Kirkus Reviews

"The new century needs political and social innovation even more than it needs business innovation. The authors have done well what intellectuals are supposed, but are seldom bold enough, to do—innovate ideas about important social issues. . . . If their $80,000 stake is not the path to greater equality of opportunity, the burden is on their critics to say what is."—Jack Beatty, Atlantic Monthly

"A serious, smart book, which also functions as a cogent critique of the inequality of opportunity that has become a given in modern America."—New Yorker

"A big idea like this is significant because it can reframe the public debate. It can change the prevailing assumptions. Eventually, it can change the course of the nation."—Robert Reich, Former Secretary of Labor, writing for the Washington Post 

“A Big New Idea so bold in its simplicity, so pure in its claims to justice, . . . that the only shock is that it is certain to get a hearing as the fight to fix Social Security heats up this year.”—Matthew Miller, New York Times Magazine

“Talk about putting a stake in every pot proves that signs of intelligent public life are out there.”—Matthew Miller, New York Times Magazine

“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. Ackerman and Alstott’s proposal is an interesting alternative to the similarly dramatic and simple plans for a flat tax currently being put forward.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The Stakeholder Society is an important book. The problem of inequality, in which the returns increasingly go to the best educated and most privileged is real and growing."—Economist

“[This book is] valuable for reframing an essential public conversation.”—Mary Carroll, Booklist

“Bold, provocative, radical. . . . Ackerman and Alstott argue their highly philosophical and statistics-laden case in a readable, straightforward manner. . . . The global economy threatens to leave behind legions of technologically unskilled Americans. Ackerman and Alstott have placed on the public agenda a coherent brave-new-world proposal that includes all. Let the debate begin.”—Ann G. Sjoerdsma, Philadelphia Inquirer

“What Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott see is that once we ask whether we might equalize resources, the genie will not easily be put back in the bottle.”—Alan Ryan, New York Review of Books

“A provocative framework for analyzing the integration of philosophy, public policy, and legal doctrine in a seminar context. Elegantly presented, brilliantly argued. A watershed in the tax policy field.”—Patrick Crawford, Brooklyn Law School

"Readers wanting 'big and bold’ ideas for reshaping America in the 21st century need to look no further than Ackerman and Alstott’s highly innovative and thought provoking The Stakeholder Society. Both authors are distinguished legal scholars who bring a fresh perspective to the challenge of creating more opportunity in our society. All of us have a 'stake’ in that goal and Ackerman and Alstott help explain why."—Robert E. Litan, Director, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution


Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 1999 by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300082609
Publication Date: April 10, 2000
320 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
Clean Coal/Dirty Air

or How the Clean Air Act Became a Multibillion-Dollar Bail-Out for High-Sulfur Coal Producers

Bruce Ackerman and William T. Hassler

View details
Deliberation Day

Bruce Ackerman and James S. Fishkin

View details
Voting with Dollars

A New Paradigm for Campaign Finance

Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres

View details
Bush v. Gore

The Question of Legitimacy

Edited by Bruce Ackerman

View details