Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: MPs' Pay

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  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BenWilson,

    they’d say that some difference between rich and poor should still exist as an incentive for … um….something.

    To not sit at home on the xbox expecting others to work to put a roof over your head and earn the money to educate your children and pay your doctor's bills?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    To not sit at home on the xbox expecting others to work to put a roof over your head and earn the money to educate your children and pay your doctor’s bills?

    That's an old favorite, for sure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to BenWilson,

    though, anyone espousing such an opinion must fall into one of three camps, none of which is a good look, because either
    (a) they genuinely hold that opinion of others, because they believe that is how they themselves would behave given the opportunity (in which case: would you give this person a job with any responsibility over others?); or
    (b) they genuinely hold that opinion of others, because they believe that they personally are morally different from & better than the lower social classes (in which case: is this “self-aggrandised bigot” [to quote Tim Minchin] really the right person to be representing the public?); or
    (c) they are cynical hypocrites who don’t believe in even their own excuses for shafting the poor.

    ... Or have I missed some more charitable logical possibility here?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to linger,

    … Or have I missed some more charitable logical possibility here?

    I've mentioned it before, but Chris Hayes' Twilight of the Elites is a must-read if you want some insight into the "too smart to fail" brigade.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to linger,

    better than the lower social classes

    We’re talking about a system without class distinction where everyone earns the same no matter how much work they do or if they do any work at all – a completely flat income distribution – I think that change in incentives would make a pretty big difference for a lot of people.

    Whether that would manifest as people playing X-box, or parents spending worthwhile time with their kids, or in other better or worse ways, I do think it would change a lot! And in ways that lowered the income of government achieved through taxation (although I assume it requires that there are no private companies?).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I do think it would change a lot!

    I’m sure of that. I don’t make any particular claims about how it might be achieved, though, and as a good aim, it’s predicated around the idea that fucking around on the X-box all day really is the kind of thing someone in a poverty trap would do mostly because it’s so damned cheap. There are people who become addicted to them, of course, it’s one of the most common addictions. But if doing something else were made considerably easier, I don’t think it would be quite so popular, or at least it wouldn’t form such a large percentage of the time used by those people.

    Naturally antisocial people would possibly do it more, though, if there was no requirement on them to pay to be alive. Would this be better or worse? I don’t know – probably it’s not better, but I’m not sure that our entire social organization should be set up around making that kind of life hard.

    Edit: Change the word “antisocial” above to “unsocial”. Antisocial people is a stronger term, which I think denotes taking active steps to disrupt social situations. That’s not who I’m talking about. I mean people who are naturally reclusive.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I'm not sure anyone has ever suggested such a system would be practical without a radical change in attitudes. Most models of socialism start with to each according to their work and the migration to to each according to their need is expected to take many generations.

    In our current system, earnings are determined by such factors as:
    - the altruism of people in the same profession, so teachers and caregivers earn less than accountants and bankers
    - the rarity and demand for one's professional skills
    - the perceived attractiveness of the job, so media attracts poor or no pay at the low to mid levels
    - the influence your profession has in determining salaries, so public sector CEOs work in concert to boost their rewards

    I'm not sure that's any fairer than paying everyone a flat rate, even.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I’m not sure anyone has ever suggested such a system would be practical without a radical change in attitudes.

    They may say that a radical change in attitudes might come about from such a system, though. So which one comes first?

    I’m not sure that’s any fairer than paying everyone a flat rate, even.

    I'm not sure, either. I'm more in favour of a universal basic income. Then people can work more if they want to. I think the long run effect would be a gradual flattening. It could be sped up by making the UBI more or less generous. Too fast would probably be undesirable, and the social order would break down very fast, there would be hyperinflation, capital flight, massive drops in productivity, etc. But done slowly, it would transform societies attitudes and actions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm totally in favour of a UBI, along with measures like a cap on public service salaries (as practiced in that hotbed of socialism, the USA).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    There's a few other things that seem important too. Death duties seem like a good idea to me, although the details need some fleshing. For small amounts like maybe a house or so, inheritance doesn't seem unfair. But when it's old money in massive quantities it's a pile that won't shrink, and the people who have the pile didn't do a damned thing to make it. The idea that they should be so incredibly wealthy and powerful without having made any contribution strikes me as extremely unfair.

    Even the USA has them. Australia has capital gains that "crystallize" on the death of the owner, become effective estate taxes. We're not unique in not having them, but we're not progressive either.

    Inflating money supply might be a more effective way of taxing capital than actual taxes. It's pretty hard to dodge inflation. Not through QE, that shit is whack. I mean actually giving money to people who will spend it, not to banks to lend to people to get more indebted. It could fund the UBI, and be phased in very slowly. If bank produced inflation were actually dropped by slowly raising minimum equity requirements, the actual effect on inflation could even be zero.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

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