Income inequality is widely considered to be one of the most pressing social problems of our time. There is an intuitive sense that the economic pie ought to be carved up in a fairer way, coupled with the assumption that less for some will result in more for others. Thus we see a tension between distributive concerns and the productivity goals of corporate law.
Some people think work is just drudgery, and they can't wait for the robots to take over so we can all go on a perpetual holiday and never have to do a stitch of work ever again. Others consider work to be a blessing, and to be an important part of what makes us truly human. If you want to work, then you might be a bit reluctant to be replaced by a robot.
Is there a necessary link between individualism and competitive markets?Ultimately competitive markets are our best bet not because we want to bow down and worship The Market and follow market forces wherever they may lead, to whatever end, but because they serve us best in allowing us to be free to be who we are, each of us in our own individual and marvelous way.
It is a fact that not all people or nations are equally productive. This fact is often obscured when we debate inequalities of wealth, because many people do not see the link between productivity and wealth. They assume that people or nations are wealthy purely due to arbitrary and random factors such as good luck (they invested in the right stocks) or maybe just being very evil (they just stole all that money): nothing to do with productivity. So the debate about unequal wealth becomes a debate about redistribution and setting things right to make everything fair, with no inquiry into the need for someone to actually produce all that wealth.
It is very difficult to stop people from having ideas, or to control them while they’re trying to see if they can make those ideas work. All the more so because most ideas don’t work out in the end – they swallow up a gazillion research dollars and then come to nothing. This unpredictability and lack of control makes lawyers very nervous, because the main purpose of law is to control everything and make sure nothing goes wrong.
The problem with income inequality is that most people don’t like it when others are richer than them. As soon as winter is over and the weather turns pleasant the 99% will take to the streets to riot, burn cars, etc., to show how unhappy they are about some people being billionaires. Of course, the assumption is that billionaires must have done something wrong (cheating, stealing, being greedy, being unfair to other people, etc) to invite public ire.
In a modern welfare state, pay has nothing to do with work or productivity. It has more to do with income inequality. Poorer people should have more money so that they are able to live more like richer people. This is quite easy to achieve, through redistributive taxation. Rich people will be happy to pay higher taxes because that way they won’t feel so guilty about being rich, and the 99% will be less angry about inequality and hence less likely to take to the streets in the summer, rioting and burning stuff to show how angry we are.
In a few years the notion of human beings physically doing repetitive tasks will become inexplicable and even unimaginable. We will be so glad that the digital age and artificial intelligence have saved skilled workers from drudgery.
Corporations like Uber and Amazon are the byword for innovation and technological advances - the app to connect drivers with passengers, the ability to obtain virtually anything under the sun within minutes, and ultimately, of course, the driverless car. Such corporations do not make it easy to regulate work. It's almost as if they're so busy innovating, and creating opportunities for many workers to earn a wage and hence be less poor, that they haven't taken a moment to spare a thought for the regulatory challenges.
The 'deep pockets theory of justice' states that when there is a social cost, the person who should pay is the person who's got money. According to that theory, assigning legal liability is easy - you just look around and pin the liability on the guy who has the most wealth. As for justice and fairness, the deep pockets theory states that if the guy can afford it, then it's fair and just to make him pay.
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