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Response to chemenger (Original post)

Thu Sep 20, 2012, 01:58 PM

75. Depends on how you do it.

Absurd fantasies of financial equality among all walks of life rely on humans who have both perfect altruism and perfect work ethics - an impossible state even as an aspiration. If surgeons made the same money as parking lot attendants who would do choose the former?

Similarly caps on wealth are harmful too. There is nothing wrong with being successful and seeking further success, especially as that further success may come from truly beneficial entrepreneurial activity.

But redistribution on a sliding scale to the benefit of all is absolutely fine, absolutely workable, and quite realistic. Heck it's pretty close to achieved in some Northern European nations.

Few basic principles needed even:

1) Health care provided to all from common funds, as efficiently as possible (we don't need 9 MRI centers in a town of 45000 people as I saw in my last home). Forget basic humanity if you like - this removes the biggest obstacles to labor mobility, entrepreneurism and equal competition among companies of different sizes and locations.

2) Education likewise, with seats assigned purely on academic merit. Not everybody needs to be a PhD - but the ones who could do the best by being one may not be the richest applicants.

3) All income taxed equally. Work for it, invest for it, get it from rich uncle, gamble for it or whatever - same tax rate

4) Tax rates vary progressively, with zero below poverty level, X% up to modest income, X+5% up to decent income, X+10% up to middle class, X+20% up to upper class and X+40% in the very rich segment. The barriers are beyond my actuarial knowledge but guesses would be 0 to 17k 10% to 30k 15% to 50k 20% to 100k, 30% to 250k and 50% thereafter. Nobody ever pays more than half, so always incentive to make that extra milion or billion.

5) Everyone is guaranteed a minimal subsistence income - yep even if they never work a minute in their life. Not pleasant, barely comfortable, but survivable. The more effectively and efficiently goods and services are produced, the fewer people are needed to do them. The less capable, less industrious and less fortunate need to survive even if they are no longer needed to produce. If you think living on a subsistence income is pleasant, feel free to be one (a lot of the self-proclaimed producers see this as an intractable weakness, but when I hear a 40 something guy whine about people who prefer to live on welfare than work, I have to wonder how economically unproductive he himself must be to not have that choice himself from savings. I am far from wealthy but I could quit tomorrow and live in welfare-level squalor for decades. I don't. I wouldn't want to. Who would? Paying somebody, say, $1000 a month if they don't work does not give them a great lifestyle choice that would make an otherwise potential middle-income earner say "sure I'll settle for that!". It does give the desperate underclass a roof and food though.

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