The Leisure Society


  1. And yet the article is self-contradictory. If you look at the fundamental graph around which he builds his case, the effect of Reagan incentivizing the sucking of all the money out of the corporations and CEOs putting it "in their pockets" should have resulted in the productivity graph leaning over starting in the '80s if his argument is correct. I see no sign of this - it appears to be well approximated by a linear function from 1940 through 2000.

    Further, none of the 1% that I know of (not being in the 1% myself) put the money in their mattress or gold bullion. The lowest rates for high earners come from capital gains. If you can invest your money into the company and increase its productivity, reduce its expenses, and increase its share price, your investment will be taxed at 15%. And the 1% typically have enough not to need the money to send their kids to college or buy food.

    I don't contend the tax structure is perfect but, in my opinion, this was a very poor argument.

  2. You have a point about the tax rate argument. I don't see the top marginal rate as the single key to what is going on.

    Indeed, too much is often made of the top marginal rate. In America, that's not even all that important to the total tax burden of the wealthy.

    But it's important to remind everyone that there is an immense surplus, and that we aren't getting it. And that's my point in running this. The lack of leisure is in my view precisely the key to our problems.

    Of course, the fact that the surplus is all going to the plutocrats is not really a surprise. This is exactly the outcome that Norbert Weiner was worried about when he contacted Walter Reuther to talk about the downside of automation. It was always the likely outcome in the absence of a more vigorous social contract.

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