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What would society be like if we implemented maximum income laws?

Our neo-liberalist economy is driven by consumption, growth of production and wealth accumulation, which is getting harder and harder to support.
While the argument of free market forces creating equal opportunities for all has some theoretical logic, the reality is that the world of industrialised society has now in fact created more debt than there exists wealth in the world. It is hard to argue that this is a good thing.
Since there exists enough money in the world for all to survive, and to eradicate ALL poverty, it must the method of allocation that is at fault.
Therefore, I conceive the idea of a world with not minimum wage limits, but maximum. As John Maynard Keynes predicted, we now have the ability to transcend the 'economic problem', to exist for purposes higher than acquisition of dollars. If we had a maximum we could earn, which would of course allow comfort and dream actualisation, we would be forced (empowered?) to assess our success by other factors.
We would achieve, if anything, greater levels of tertiary education- People would only study the things in which they were interested in, as wages would not be a factor. Lecturers and professors would teach for the pleasure of it. University fees would be non-existent, as wages and costs would be minimised.
People would be motivated by self-upskilling, to the point where they worked for the joy of achievement, or stimulation provided by activity. We would work less and less, having time to pursue societal goals of family living, healthy exercise, charity and development work.
My question to you wise and wonderful people is- What is the downside? I open this question to the world and its infinite knowledge.
One could theoretically answer that accumulating wealth for the sake of having it is an acceptable ambition, but besides that questionable proposition is there any foreseeable drawback? Economic or otherwise?


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  • Apr 22 2011: Go Harald.

    I think the best alternative to the system we currently have is more governments that are more favorably regulated for small businesses. Make it easier for more people to start businesses and get rich. They'll employ those who don't want to start businesses. Innovation will accelerate (like it isn't already going a million miles per hour :), basic survival needs will get cheaper and more widely distributed even for those third world countries. The faster the innovation the faster the important inequities disappear. At a certain point income gaps won't matter to us because everyone's survival AND comfort needs/wants will be taken care of. We're already seeing than in advanced countries where the poorest either aren't really that bad off or they're deliberately poor.

    We're right at the beginning of an era where very high quality education is very cheap. I watch lectures from the best professors in the world on almost any subject while I'm in my PJ's at 3am. I started a profitable internet business from my home based on what I learned on the internet. This cheap, actionable education is a great equalizer. (It's only a matter of years before the first free, accredited online school is available.) For anyone with a little bit of drive and an internet connection there is no reason they shouldn't be able to make enough to cover basic needs.

    Random:People in Africa living off of a grid are charging their cell phones with solar chargers and then getting paid via that cell phone. That's awesome.

    Mankind has clearly shown it is most amenable to equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome. When we strive for equality of opportunity we are less inclined to blame our circumstances, because we have control of them. It also works very well for our fickle natures. Equality of outcome, while it sounds happy and full of rainbows and we have jobs perfectly suited to our interests, is oppressive and destroys the soul.

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