Minimum vs. Maximum Standards

Sometimes, politics is best devoted to setting minimum conditions: the bar below which no one is allowed to fall.

Everyone learns this version of history. No one is allowed to interfere with ships peacefully plying the high seas.

Other times, it’s better to focus on maximum standards, or at least raising the bar on the status quo.

Now that you’re Romans, you must act this way. “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

And many times, it’s unclear which is which. For example, is the idea of a universal basic income a minimum or a maximum standard?

It’s worth paying careful attention to minimums and maximums. Who’s framing the topic in which way, and why? Does it make sense in speech? Would it make sense in practice?