These Millionaires Want Higher Taxes

Office room

When it comes to taxes Americans love not paying them, but now some millionaires want to change that. The Patriotic Millionaires call on the rich to pay their fair share, and they call for that attitude to permeate the globe. Developed nations tend to tax money made through labour at a higher rate than money made through investments, meaning rich people can get richer by not working. The chair of PM, Morris Pearl, recently wrote a good op-ed explaining why he thinks the rich should be taxed and has a new book out.

Most of the ultra–rich make the vast majority of their money through capital gains, not income. They don’t work in the way most Americans work, because they live off of their investments. And it’s a lucrative path, because the top capital gains rate is barely over half of that paid for ordinary income.

That means a billionaire whose investments earn him millions of dollars while he sits around at the beach and goes to fancy cocktail parties pays a lower tax rate on his earnings than almost any working American.

Investing is not inherently more valuable than labor, and it’s simply not true that investing in the stock market creates jobs.

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Productive Companies Include Workers on Their Board

Interview

Since the late 1970s (coinciding with the rise of neoliberalism) wages have stagnated while executive pay keeps rising. This has led to inequality being one of the largest issues facing companies and countries in the 21st century. Accordingly, people sick of neoliberalism have been looking into ways to address inequality and the subsequent economic stagnation. One solution is to have workers sit on the board of their employer. This results in better treatment of the workforce while providing more opportunity for growth in efficiencies within the company.

Research has found that the setup reduces worker turnover, boosts salaries and productivity, and supports income equity. Shareholder returns do suffer slightly, but researchers largely agree that tilting the flow of revenue back toward workers is a good thing.

It stands to reason that the concept holds a great deal of sway over the American public. The gulf between CEO and shareholder earnings and that of employees is often as extreme as 25 to one. Wages for regular workers have held largely stagnant over the last three decades, as executive salaries have ballooned. Bringing actual employees to the table where these decisions are made could serve to flatten the cliff between management and workers.

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Even More Research that Raising Minimum Wage is Good for Everyone

happy workers in a factory

Haters keep telling us that minimum wage is too high, which is really saying they would love free labour for private profits. Those haters are also not thinking about the economy at large. A new, massive, study on the impact of minimum wage concludes that minimum wage increases help people who aren’t currently being paid enough and that the benefits to that group cascade upwards on the economic ladder. Trickle down economics is a clear failure and trickle up economics looks rather effective!

The study is indeed impressive. Census researchers Kevin Rinz and John Voorheis used data from the bureau’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which surveys more than 75,000 households. The authors then link this data with administrative filings from the Social Security Administration on wages and track the changes between 1991 and 2013. The study stands out for covering such a large number of people over such an extended period.

“[R]aising the minimum wage increases earnings growth at the bottom of the distribution, and those effects persist and indeed grow in magnitude over several years,” the authors write. At the same time, there’s little indication that other people will lose their jobs as a result of the minimum wage—the outcome conservatives always warn about.

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Six Shorts on Sexual Harassment

The Oscars last night were overshadowed by the many of the sexual harassment scandals that were revealed last year in Hollywood. Harvey Weinstein being one the more notable harassers exposed last year has gotten a lot of attention, but there are many men who don’t get called out on their inaaprioate behaviour. The conversation about sexual harassment grew quite a bit in 2017 and in 2018 we seeing the conversation continue. Former Friends star David Schwimmer has backed the creation of six short films about sexual harassment to highlight how common it is for some people to experience. The idea behind the videos is to let people know in their workplace they can avoid (and identify) sexual harassment.

The point of the series is to name unacceptable behavior, offer support for victims and call employers to action, Mr. Schwimmer said. He acts in one of the films, and made the series with Ms. Avin, who wrote and directed the films, and Mazdack Rassi, a founder of Milk Studios.

Ms. Avin came up with the idea for the videos, a version of which she first made in Israel, because she wanted to define and visualize what everyday harassment looks like. It was “taking what some consider a gray area and making it clear: That’s harassment,” she said.

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The Berlin Wall: Now Down Longer Than it was Up

Berlinermauer

The Berlin Wall marked a negative time in recent history in which two sides couldn’t communicate well and severed a country, and families, in two. During the Cold War people risked their lives tring to escape to West Germany from the oppressive East. The tearing down of the wall was a true turning point in modern history and it’s great to celebrate years of peace in Germany since its collapse.

As always, the Berlin Wall represents the inability to have meaningful conversations within our civilization. Let’s hope that no more walls between peoples get built.

The recoherence of Berlin over that later period is a testament to how far the country has come. Differences between the old east and west halves remain, some subtle (in the east street lights are yellow and the traffic-light man wears a hat, in the west they are white and he is bare-headed) and others more fundamental (Ossis support Union and are more likely to vote for the political extremes, Wessis cheer on Hertha Berlin and tend to vote centrist). But generally, to quote Brandt, “what belongs together grows together”. Central Berlin has been rebuilt, new east-west transport arteries like the cathedral-like Hauptbahnhof are open and others are under construction. Peter Schneider, a veteran chronicler of the city, writes: “The fall of the Wall and the reunification of Berlin’s two halves have sped up the city’s pulse, injecting new life energy. It’s as if the city had won back a temporal dimension that, during the years of the Wall, seemed to have disappeared from West Berlin and was merely alleged to exist in East Berlin: the future”.

To be sure, the past is visible too. Berlin epitomises the German knack for sensitively accommodating the scars of history. Parts of the wall have been preserved as memorials and much of the route is now traced by cobble stones which disappear under buildings built in the old death strip—The Economist’s premises in Berlin among them—and re-emerge on the other side. In a plot once bordered by the wall a block from the Reichstag, to which the Bundestag moved from Bonn in 1999, sits the Holocaust memorial, an undulating 5-acre sea of tombstone-like concrete slabs. When, last month, a local historian discovered a forgotten stretch of the wall in the woods by a suburban train line, it was a rare sight: an unarchived, uncurated piece of the city’s 20th century traumas.

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