Are you making up for lazy workplace colleagues?
Good piece by Cornell's Robert Frank in the NYT. To argue in favor of progressive taxes (taxing the rich proportionally more than the poor) he notes that a similar dynamic takes place in the workplace: High-status, highly productive workers make less as a portion of their output than their lazy, skating-by, washed-up colleagues.
Every workplace has them: Unmotivated or just dim colleagues who force everybody else to do more work. How do these folks get hired? The effect, says Frank, is that the competent, productive workers subsidize the lazy ones. In a perfect market, good workers would make more; bad ones would make less. "In short," he says, "the startling fact is that private businesses typically transfer large amounts of income from the most productive to the least productive workers."
For Frank, this is an argument to extend the same dynamic to society as a whole: high-status, high-earning workers pay more in taxes per dollar that they earn to take care of less-productive members of society. Interesting thought, but there are superior arguments for progressive taxation. They are: 1) It's morally right to take care of the laggards. 2) It justifiably extracts higher "user fees" from the people who benefit most from government protections and societal stability. 3) By addressing poverty and limiting social disintegration, it preserves that stability. A good progressive tax system would have nipped the French and Russian revolutions in the bud.
This is an editing week, with limited time to blog, let alone write columns. But I will try to weigh in on the changing household electricity market later today or tomorrow.