Could capping top incomes tackle our rising inequality more effectively than conventional approaches to narrowing ghe vast economic divide? The Program on Inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies hss published “The Case for A Maximum Wage”, by Sam Pizzigati, an IPS associate fellow and the co-editor of Inequality.org.
Pizzigati docusses how egalitarians worldwide are demonstrating that a “maximum wage” could be both economically viable and politically practical. One major American city is already socking a higher tax rate on companies with wide divides between worker and executive pay. Activists in other jurisdictions are working to deny inequality-generating enterprises government contracts and subsidies.
Governments could go further still and start using their tax systems to enforce fair income ratios between rich and poor across the board. The ultimate goal ought to be a world without the super-rich.
Moderate Epicureans would probably support a maximum wage. Every unequal society in history has either descended into violence or otherwise collapsed, so there is an historical backing for quickly doing something about excessive income and wealth. Why does the owner of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, need $143.1 billion? How can he possibly spend even $1 billion of it? How can he justify the low wages and poor working conditions in his company? Yes, I have done my little bit to put him where he is – customers love the sevice – but the key is “moderation” – he has none.
The problem comes with implementation. Studies have shown how insecure rich people actually are. Few believe they have enough money and want even more. They are willing to spend some of it to protect their store of wealth, and this means lobbying and the suborning of ambitious people who are prepared to curry favour in return for hard cash. It’s why American democracy is descending into farce. The people involved are focussed on themselves, not the nation. Almost the last political patriot standing, John McCain, has just, sadly, died; the future of the Supreme Court as a fair arbiter of law and the Constitution is uncertain, to say the least. The chances of a maximum salary are slim indeed, but future generations will see the rich-poor divide as part of the death knell of a rather good political system.