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Punitive marginal tax rates on all income above certain threshholds.

That way, at least they won't make out like bandits in the boom part of the boom and bust.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 07:09:45 AM EST
See this discussion.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 07:15:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm with Linca on that discussion. The upper middle class isn't the problem, it's the tiny number of people at the top. If you look at where income gains have gone over the past couple decades, it's the tiny number at the top. What I'd want is a return to Clinton era tax rates for most people, plus (indexed) capital gains counting as straight income, plus ending the cap on SS, plus a new tax bracket for folks earning over $1million/year of sixty-seventy percent, federal. Europeans, who don't have local/state income taxes should have the national tax at a correspondingly higher level.
by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 11:00:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that the median household income for a family of four in the wealthier parts of the US is on the order of $90K - $100K. Incomes are not perfectly stable - they go up and down for each household. What that means is that the majority of couples in this region will at certain points in their lives be earning six figures. A 200K level for punitive rates seems a bit low under those circumstances.
by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 12:12:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... being rolled back if implemented.

I still like the idea of converting the estate tax to a cumulative gift tax, with the first $2m of gifts received free of gift tax, then next $2m at 25%, then next $2m at 50%, then 75%, then 100%.

That would break the aristocracy of self-perpetuating fortunes, as marginal income taxes even of 90% at their height in the US never could.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 01:02:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about prohibiting renumeration differences of a certain magnitude throughout a company, Say 10: If the CEO gets a million, then the lowest janitor in the company must get at least 100K, and everybody else at least as much as well. No ceiling for the stars, but they have to drag everybody up with them....

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
by martingale on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 07:37:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think banks have actually directly employed janitors for quite some time...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:01:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is actually a good thing. Quite a lot of the time, concentrating on the core competency and hiring subcontractors to do the other stuff is a good idea and increases the total wealth of a society.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:06:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"increase the total wealth of society" being, quite particularly in the case of the cleaning staff, a codeword for more efficient exploitation of wage slaves.
Instead of being one of your co employees, the janitor becomes faceless ; going around labor laws is much easier for the subcontractor than the large bank ; a janitor asking for better wages gets a "but we will lose the customer" rather than a non credible "we can't afford it". This goes for work conditions, too.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:11:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because all the increase in wealth (and sometimes more that 100% of it) accrues to the business that outsources the non-core function.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:11:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How much of the "increase in wealth" is actually a transfer of non-monetary wealth towards monetary wealth ? In which case there is no increase in wealth.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:13:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It does result in economies of scale and higher efficiency when there are a number of specialised cleaning or security or whatever companies serving customers compared to when every steel mill or fire station have their own guards or janitors.

I didn't talk about equality or labor conditions. That's something for labor unions and politicians to deal with.

But I really, really dislike the word "wage slave" except when used in jest. There are still real slaves around you know, and they don't get any wages. Even crappy jobs are real jobs, not slavery.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:22:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, a few of those holding these kind of jobs in France actually are slaves, and many are "illegal aliens" who as such don't have access to legal and union defense of their working conditions.

Janitors and guards don't result in "economies of scale". Those are service jobs, and take as much time to do wether the worker is employed by the the large company or a subcontractor. Hell, the large company is certainly more efficient in dealing with the administrative side of employment. The "economies of scale" come solely from the possibilities of enforcing rougher working conditions (which includes wages).

How can you separate working conditions and efficiency ? Very often, "efficiency" improvals come from transfers from the utility function of the employee and that of the employer - the later is monetarised, unlike the former, and that why it shows up as an "increase in wealth" which it is not.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:31:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... employing their unskilled employees is also something that ought to be tackled, and probably won't be.

If there is regular employment at a business for a certain number of janitors, which they have outsourced, they should pay a penalty on outsourcing that work as opposed to hiring the janitors directly.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 01:05:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably not easy to do, but much more fair.

A 'centrist' is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.
by nicta (nico@altiva․fr) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 08:26:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wealth is delayed consumption resulting from income, and double taxation is a bad thing.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:02:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, right now both incomes and consumption are taxed. So, what's the point ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:07:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gah, I knew you were going to say that. I haven't actually considered if we should change the VAT into an income tax, but... Triple taxation is bad.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:09:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tax unearned income: inheritance and gifts.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:08:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wealth being "delayed consumption" is, at best, only partly valid in its application to holdings of debt. But yes, Double Taxation is a bad thing.

Since when was private property in the "Wealth" of land, non-renewables, intellectual property, and shares in joint stock corporations - which constitutes a huge part of our stock of wealth - "delayed consumption"?

Taxation of the privilege of private property in land eg a "Location Benefit Levy" or a tax on land rental values, is perhaps the simplest, and certainly least avoidable, tax there is.

Even Milton Friedman said it was the "least bad" tax, and Martin Wolf - no pinko subversive, he - was suggesting it again in the FT only a day or so ago.

Likewise Corporation Tax should be abolished (double taxation again) and replaced by a "Limited Liability Levy" on gross corporate revenues, collected at the transaction clearing level.

Such a tax on the privilege of limitation of liability would again be simple, equitable, and unavoidable.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 08:41:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
60% on anything above $200k.

And when they get outraged, we'll all just shout, "Mars, Bitches!"

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:00:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US the big problem would be controlling tax loopholes at the higher brackets.  That problem is essentially insoluble with the current system of campaign finance, as the average citizen only gets to vote for their representatives; representatives actually work for the large contributors.  Fix that and things might improve.

The other big obstacle is the degree to which the neo-classical mythos has been written into the brains of so many of our populations.  Given over 30 years of repetition and conditioning and the extent of biblical world views I wouldn't be surprised if >50% actually think that "The Invisible Hand" is "The Left Hand of God."  Half or more of such folks would rather believe that the present financial crisis is all an evil plot of the Democrats, even if the Democrats didn't have a black man as their presidential candidate.

Perhaps this is best attacked through humor.  In the '30s and '40s labor organizers added alternate lyrics to old religious standbys such as May the Circle be Unbroken:

May the Circle be unbroken
In the Great Bye and Bye
There is a better world awaiting
In the sky, Lord, in the sky

This was appended with:

There'll be Pie in the Sky
Bye and Bye! It's a Lie!

Followed by a "consciousness raising" discussion.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 10:38:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a little hopeful on this point, actually, should we win the election: Yesterday Biden said that wealthy Americans paying higher taxes was their patriotic duty.

And he got away with it!  The Reps tried to make a big deal out of it, but it didn't work.

It was awesome.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:04:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm just wondering why no one ever tried wrapping it in the flag before.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:07:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They have.  Kerry certainly tried it.  But I guess between the press's love for the Bidens and the ever-growing "McCain is a Liar" meme (and McCain, of course, lied about what Biden said immediately), it managed to get through.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 09:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two things are needed to be done right away. First is to pass a 'livable minimum wage' which takes into account actual living expenses and is indexed to rise with inflation. Santa Monica, California has it and I believe its about $11.50 per hour vs. the US minimum of $5.60 ? Require all countries to adopt a similar 'livable minimum wage' along with penalties for offshoring jobs which will be effective enough to limit many jobs being exported to other countries. Require low wage countries like Mexico, China etc to have their own 'livable minimum wages'; otherwise their exports are not allowed out of their own countries.

Raise the taxes on the wealthiest 10% to start with and limit the amount of money they are allowed to have offshore. Create a wealth tax for the top 25 %.

by An American in London on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 02:36:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well shit, if we're doing pie-in-the-sky recommendations, I want ... let's see ... super powers like the Silver Surfer, a dick the size of a horse's, Marg Helgenberger's personal email address, and a whole bunch of "never gonna see it" shit.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 02:42:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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