American wages are so low, the robots don't want your job

Yes, that’s what Taxman is about.

Compensate the tax authorities based on the income they bring in (i.e. the taxable income they find). They’ll find the loopholes in the law and organize campaigns to eliminate them.

Just lump capital gains in with other income. The current system is explicitly designed to let the wealthy avoid taxes.


But its the same problem just with extra steps. If you don’t employ your customer base you fail to generate profits and you start playing a shell game with your investors by cutting costs and pretending they are profits.
The third world employees won’t buy the products priced for the first world markets and the first world markets stagnate because the customers are without an income to afford the product.

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Also worth noting is that the high tax rate was one reason John Lennon moved to New York.

When you’re talking about going for the big fish, you have to remember that we’re talking about enough money that plans break down. Most people live where they live, the government sets a tax rate, and they pay it, because they have no other options. The truly wealthy have options. They can re-invest it, if they’re confident in the economy. Or if they’re not, they can hide it in a pile of interlocking holdings and shells. Or they can just pay people who know the right loopholes to manage it for them. Or they can move it (or themselves) to a friendlier state (or country). Or they can lobby or influence elections. Or they can start to do things that start to get criminal.

The one thing they will probably not do is pay an exorbitant tax rate. And that’s why the calculus of these decisions is seldom as simple and linear as “raise taxes on the rich by enough to cover the budget gap”.

I don’t buy that explanation. Because Ford built his business before any of those regulations existed. He could have done the Gilded-Age equivalent of moving the factory to Mexico by building it in some impoverished corner of the US, paying the workers next to nothing, employing union busting tactics, and then shipping the finished cars to middle and upper class buyers who lived in a completely different America than his factory workers. Which is pretty much what everybody else in the infant automobile industry was doing before he came along.

No, there’s something fundamentally different about the attitude being taken by rich CEOs today vs CEOs back then. It’s not rational, it’s not based in facts or research, it’s ideological and emotional, it’s willful stupidity, it’s morons who read Ayn Rand in college and were blown away by how they could use her to justify their own selfish sociopathology. The rich used to understand that no matter how icky they thought the poor were, society would not function and they themselves would not have any wealth whatsoever without the lower classes. That understanding was the basis for noblesse oblige, for the rich creating charitable foundations, funding libraries and museums, and so on. The modern rich moronically think they float above the poor and are being held down by their weight. They want to eliminate the poor, or at least cut all connections between themselves and the poor so they can float ever higher. It’s a massive exercise in a group of privileged sociopaths making themselves stupider through groupthink, to their own immense disadvantage.


Only if their compensation is greater than the bribes extractable from those taxpayers they “overlook”.

Edit: your idea was used in ancien régime France, and was known as “tax farming”. Many of the tax farmers were among the first to be guillotined, not the least of the reasons being the near-limitless opportunities for corruption as mentioned above.


So many of the job-killing bugaboos of our age are completely dependent upon the availability of cheap oil: Outsourcing, “globalization”, massive container ships moving product around: What happens to those concepts when the cost of oil surges inevitably upward? The same thing that will happen to the concept of mass mechanization of work, I would guess.


That was the dream in the 40s and 50s. I think that didn’t happen because of trying to eek out as much money as you can from fixed costs. If you rent or own a building you pay roughly the same if it’s used 4 hours a week or 40. If you earn more money for every hour an employee works, then you profit way more from working 40+. Companies aren’t happy with a “comfortable profit” they, and shareholders, what the most profit.

At the margins, I think humans have a bit of an advantage. Companies dislike capital costs and much prefer operational costs. It costs less upfront and lets you be nimble when things change. Sure, you can get buy a bunch of robots upfront to make sandwiches, but if the market moves to wraps you have a bunch of sandwich-making robots you haven’t paid off, yet. With humans you can either retrain or just fire them.

Well, yeah, but remember that the original US income tax in 1913 did not tax anything under $3,000 per year.
Which would be roughly $75,000 in 2017 dollars.

The “alternative minimum tax” which was designed to affect something like the top 175 wealthiest households in the country, now impacts millions.

There is a long, long, long history of “just tax the richest” schemes that eventually migrate well down the income ranks.

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I view adding marginal rates to capital gains as a way of chipping away at this wall of separation.

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“The American “productivity paradox”: technology keeps marching, but the amount of profit generated by the average worker’s average hour is stagnant.”

But executive compensation has increased exponentially. Meaning the money is being generated which could raise the average worker’s salary commensurate with their productivity, but it is being hoarded at the top.


It’s been shown that the idea of tax flight in response to higher taxes is entirely a myth


Back in the Seventies or early Eighties, Cracked magazine postulated that at some point, the government would prop up industry by hiring people whose only job would be to consume.

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He tried that. It was a miserable failure.

Plus his reputation for paying living wages and providing safe work environments in factories only came after bitter and violent struggles with organized labor.


Yes, Ford was dragged kicking and screaming into paying his workers well, cooperating with unions, limiting shifts to eight hours, etc.

But he had the good sense to notice when these things actually turned out to be good for his business and good for his profits, and then trumpeted them (as great discoveries) to the world. Today’s reality-denying entrepreneurs refuse to admit that the water you’ve led them to is water at all.


He made full PR advantage of allegedly adopting those views. Not unlike someone who reverses their position and claims to have always supported it.

[See Religious Right trying to take credit for MLK and the Civil Rights Movement]

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Interesting take on wages and productivity on NPR yesterday:

The premise is basically that recessions cause low productivity because they depress wages. Why invest in better productivity when labor is cheap? It’s when wages rise that companies look for ways to get more done with the same or fewer workers.

Anecdotally, this makes sense. “I’ll buy robots to make hamburgers if wages rise.” would be an investment to improve worker productivity. And how French workers face high unemployment, but are among the most productive in the world: You only hire workers when they can produce more than they cost.

I’m also of the personal opinion that productivity measurements have a flaw. Sometimes it’s not about making more widgets, but about making better widgets. Or widgets production less damaging to the environment. Misquoting a Stalin: Quality is a quantity all its own.

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I’ve seen some analysis of claims that companies couldn’t find skilled manufacturing workers - almost inevitably, it was because the wages they were offering were so low that the wages were below that of jobs that had no skill requirements. The skilled workers were there, they just had no interest because they were better off making more money doing unskilled labor.


I definitely hear “We just can’t find workers. We’re only willing to pay X.” in all sorts of industries even in mine when interviewing around.

What surprised me was the talk about growing or fishing in the U.S., shipping it off to a place with skilled labor, like Germany, and shipping it back to the U.S. for sale. Like I said, it’s anecdotal, so I don’t know how often that happens, but there’s got to be a lot of space between paying close to unskilled wages and what I imagine they’re paying German skilled wages, plus transport and any refrigeration/spoilage of shipping it overseas.

Having so few people passing a drug test makes sense to me. Not having a concentration of labor could make sense to me, too. If it is drug tests because of insurance, I’d be curious to more specific reasons. Is it pot? Is it the opiate crisis? How could we address it? I think those things make for better discussion and lead to more bipartisan answers than focusing on things like tax incentives.