A couple of days ago, my friend, Evelyn Forget, wrote to the History of Economics list about the history of the negative income tax (guaranteed annual income) idea. Evelyn is a fine historian of economic thought who also works on the economics of healthcare at the University of Manitoba. Her query has stimuated some interesting responses on the list. Perhaps most interesting, was this one by Dan Hammond:
It is well known that Milton Friedman argued for a negative income tax in Capitalism and Freedom (1962). But I recently came across a similar suggestion by George Stigler in "The Economics of Minimum Wage Legislation," AER 36 (June 1946). Stigler wrote, "There is great
attractiveness in the proposal that we extend the personal income tax to the lowest income brackets with negative rates in these brackets" p. 365.
This was news to me! I asked my co-author, David Levy -- Stigler's graduate student -- and was surprised to get the answer: "No! Really!" from him. If David doen'st know this, I figure not many others do. So I decided to post this, another sort of debunking. Sometimes we don't fully know even our immediate teachers, let alone the more distant past.