Forum Post: FULL BOOK: Greed and Good - Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality That Limits Our Lives
Posted 6 years ago on May 7, 2012, 1:58 a.m. EST by XenuLives
from Charlotte, NC
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
I just started skimming this, and it looks like a great read so far. The entire book is available to read online at the link.
"The notion of a maximum wage, a national income cap, actually first surfaced in the original Gilded Age. Back in 1880, amid the starkest inequality America had up until then ever seen, moral philosopher Felix Adler called for “an income tax graduated up to 100 percent on all income above that needed to supply all the comforts and refinements of life.” 4 Adler, the founder of the Ethical Culture movement, would be a leading crusader for social justice in New York and the nation for the next fifty years. A young Franklin D. Roosevelt may have heard him speak, or read his work. In any case, as we have seen, FDR would propose his own maximum, a 100 percent tax on all income over $25,000.
Roosevelt, the greatest politician of his time, would prove unable to assemble much of a political coalition behind his income cap proposal. His allies likely saw FDR’s “supertax” as a politically impractical declaration of war against the rich, a war that Roosevelt could not win. If income were capped at FDR’s $25,000, after all, the wealthy would have felt themselves locked in place, fiscally frozen, left with no prospect of improving their material well-being. In that situation, the wealthy would have had but one choice: to battle against Roosevelt’s cap by any means fair or foul. No cap would have been able to withstand their subsequent pressure.
But suppose FDR had proposed a cap, a maximum allowable income, not fixed at a particular dollar amount. Suppose FDR had asked Congress to set this cap, this maximum, not as a set amount, but as a multiple of the nation’s minimum wage. If that approach had been proposed and adopted, if we had an income ceiling tied to an income floor, a maximum tied to a minimum, then the wealthy, to increase their earnings, would not have had to subvert or sidestep the 100 percent tax. They would have needed only to convince Congress to raise the minimum wage. By working to help others, they would have helped themselves. America’s income tax system, if all this had taken place, would have become reciprocal, not just progressive. Wealthy people, by playing within this tax system’s rules, would have been able to see their own individual income status improve."