A Citizen-Based Social Contract

Policy Paper
July 20, 2007

In the 20th century, Americans adopted a new "social contract" -- a support system to help provide every American with the basic security and goods considered necessary to enjoy a productive and enterprising life. Under a sound social contract, access to these goods should not depend on where you work, where you live, or what you believe. At its best, the American social contract is citizen-based.

About the Next Social Contract Initiative

A citizen-based social contract resonates with the American democratic republican values of personal independence and social equality. At the same time, a citizen-based social contract achieves a number of utilitarian goals, including liberating enterprise, facilitating job mobility, taking advantage of the sophistication of contemporary Americans, and strengthening American families. It should not eliminate all risks, but provide the basis for entrepreneurial risk-taking essential to innovation and development.

The next social contract should help to promote the fulfillment of "the promise of American life" -- the promise of opportunity coupled with responsibility for all Americans. The next American social contract, building on the successes of the past, should better enable new generations to achieve enduring American goals.