Bill Maher's suggested "maximum wage" is only partially wrong.



Comedian Bill Maher caused a bit of a stir when he suggested that a maximum wage, an upper limit on income, would be a good idea. If you haven't seen it, I've included the clip at the bottom of this page.

Maher is funny and the idea certainly has its merits, but I don't think it's necessary and it would have some unforeseen negative consequences. He is correct that some wealthy people are "like babies on a plane" but not all of them.

Some wealthy people do great, crazy and wonderful things with all of that money; things like starting companies that do commercial space travel and launch foundations that give billions to HIV/AIDS research and treatment. Also, if there are people out there who are so motivated by earning, yet another billion dollars that they will start companies and create jobs then let them go at it.

What it comes down to is that I don't believe in ceilings but I do believe in floors. Over the next few decades unemployment is going to go up sharply and permanently.

Over the next two decades, robotics and automation are expected to replace 47% of current jobs in the US. While that study pertains only to the US the situation will be similar in most of the developed and developing world and it will continue to rise beyond 47%. That, in turn, will have ripple effects throughout the economy, which will eliminate even more jobs.

There are some optimists who claim that all of that technology will create more jobs, but I simply cannot see it creating enough jobs to replace the ones it is taking. I, especially, cannot imagine it creating low end or unskilled jobs. The reality is that our population is going up by the day, life expectancy is increasing and we will never need all of the potential workers we have now.

To avoid a complete economic collapse we will need to build a new economy that is not dependent on jobs and that keeps everyone, working or not, above the poverty line. The way to do that is through some form of Guaranteed minimum income, that will cost money, that money will have to come from taxes and those taxes will have to be paid by people who have money.

So, no ceiling but it will get harder to make billions and billions. Wealthy people should be ok with that though. The "1 percent" and their apologists, are fond of saying that if you took all of the money from the rich and gave it to the poor that rich people would get it all back again. If that's true, then good, let them prove it, over and over again if necessary. That would cause a tremendous amount of economic activity and while it was happening the poor would eat.

There's really no need for a maximum wage, there just isn't a need for a maximum tax bracket either. Wealthy people, apparently, like nothing more than earning more money, even when they don't actually need more money so why should it matter to them if they are earning the same billion dollars over and over again. Let them play their game, but rig the system so everyone benefits from it.


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