This report provides both a record and a critical assessment of the fourth workshop of the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society’s programme, The Social Contract Revisited. The workshop was held in Oxford on 29–31 October 2008 and dealt with work, employment, and industrial relations in the modern social contract.
This policy brief argues that the traditional social contract has fragmented, unable to stand firm in the face of multiple centrifugal pressures. It suggests that labour markets now operate in the absence of an overarching institutional structure that satisfactorily balances employee demands for decent work with employer demands for organizational efficiency and flexibility.
A guaranteed income (GI) that replaces the welfare state is not currently on the political agenda, but it offers the possibility for a grand compromise that could attract a majority political coalition: for the Left, it represents larger government in that it constitutes a state-driven redistribution of wealth, while for the Right, it offers smaller government in terms of the state’s power to control people’s lives.
Inheritance taxes have rarely ever contributed more than two per cent to the budget of any modern state. Nevertheless, in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries some of the most vocal conflicts over taxation took place over inheritance taxes. This holds true for the United States as well as for many European countries. In the United States, estate taxation has been a topic of controversial political debate and will remain on the political agenda, at least until a decision has been made on what will happen to the tax after 2010.