Is it a purely economic objection or do you have an ethical objection as well?
I try to leave ethics to priests and philosophers; I am neither. My concern is that the information economy is leading us into a dystopic future where the only people who live comfortable lives are those with STEM degrees and lawyers. If you happen to be born with an average IQ, you’re screwed.
I don’t know of any good solutions to this. In Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, the technologically advanced society tribalized, where some of the tribes chose to live their daily lives in a Luddite fashion; so, even though a person might spend their day resequencing genes or coding the next greatest thing, once they got home, they still needed cooks and cleaners and butchers and whathave you — — therefore, everyone was employed.
OTOH, in Dick’s book on which Blade Runner was based, society ended up where everyone lived like shit unless you happened to be brilliant enough to obtain an advanced STEM degree.
What I’m afraid of is that we don’t cogitate about this well enough and just grab the first idea that comes to mind, where today’s first idea is a Universal Basic Income. We have several other things we ought to try before going surrendering, in my view.
I mean, what is fundamentally wrong with having even the laziest fuckup subsidized with a roof and food when you have a thousand Bezoses, each with more resource than they can personally utilize in 100 lifetimes?
Well, “wrong” implies an ethical choice, which is what I’d prefer to avoid. The risk here is instituting a program which causes capital to flee the country, and even if you decided to give up on personal property rights and restrict that outward movement of funds, capital would still cease to be formed. Ergo, your solution becomes your problem in a few short years.
And what do you find wrong with the blunt force solution? Let’s start with something stupid. What would suffer if there were a cap on personal wealth?
What’s wrong, or inefficient about that? What is ethically objectionable? What is economically objectionable?
Well, what you’re suggesting is a high tax rate on high levels of income. The Swedes tried that after WW2; their top tax rate was 93% on incomes that were over (in today’s dollars) about a quarter of a million.
They subsequently dropped that idea for a very broad 55% rate which applies to not just the rich but reaches down to half the middle class. I don’t know why they gave up on the first plan, but I suspect that there is a lesson there.
Taxes on net worth are very difficult to make work, because you create a cottage industry in making that net worth disappear. :-) (On paper, at least.)
Here’s something that’s true of any taxation system: the majority of people have to agree that it’s a good system worth paying, or noncompliance shoots up through the roof. The government can’t find enough auditors to force compliance, and eventually the entire system blows up in your face. Greece is a good example. Whatever we do, we have to have broad agreement on it.