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Maximum Wage/Universal Basic Income

Ralph tackles the topic of income inequality from two angles. First, he talks to veteran labor journalist, Sam Pizzigati, about his book, “The Case for a Maximum Wage,” about a plan to link top wages to bottom wages. Then, Steven Shafarman returns to give us an update on the Universal Basic Income with his new book, “Our Future: The Basic Income Plan for Peace, Justice, Liberty, Democracy, and Personal Dignity.”

Sam Pizzigati is a veteran labor journalist and associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He co-edits, the Institute’s weekly newsletter. Mr. Pizzigati has authored a number of books on the subject of inequality, including his most recent, The Case for a Maximum Wage, which offers a path to ending what has become to be known as America’s second Gilded Age.

“The maximum ought to be tied to the minimum, so what we say is that income over a specific multiple of the minimum wage ought to be subject to a 100% top tax rate and if we made that linkage, if we link that 100% top tax rate to the minimum wage than the very richest and most powerful Americans would have a vested personal interest in raising the minimum wage and improving the well being of America’s poorest and most powerless people. And that’s the sort of society that I’d like to live in.”

Sam Pizzigati, author of “The Case for a Maximum Wage”

“Portland in the end of 2017 passed what Branko Milanovic, one of the top world’s economists studying inequality, calls ‘the world’s first inequality tax’ so corporations doing business in the city of Portland, Oregon and that includes all the big corporations in the United States, Microsoft on down. Those corporations must pay a surtax on their normal city business tax if the gap between their CEO and typical worker compensation goes over 100 to 1. So, if they pass that 100 to 1 barrier they pay a 10% surtax. In other words, their city business tax gets increased by 10%. If the gap is over 250 times between CEO and typical worker pay they pay a 25% tax. And Portland is the first city that has done that.”

Sam Pizzigati, author of “The Case for a Maximum Wage”

Steven Shafarman has written five books on Universal Basic Income (UBI), including Our Future: The Basic Income Plan for Peace, Justice, Liberty, Democracy, and Personal Dignity.

“Even liberals today, liberal Democrats, tend to support military spending that goes to their state or district. And military spending often is promoted as a way to create jobs and promote economic growth. I’m saying that when everyone has a basic income it will no longer be government’s role to create jobs for people. It will no longer be appropriate to subsidize the military contractors or other big corporations, and so we will have the means to begin cutting the waste and excess in the military.”

Steven Shafarman, author of “Our Future: The Basic Income Plan for Peace, Justice, Liberty, Democracy, and Personal Dignity.

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 310 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. NooN says:

    World Education Equality:
    Educating every Soul to their Highest Potential; ie., to develop both skills & analytical ability
    to create something workable & valuable “for all Humanity” that is Healthy y Valuable for R Present & Future Economy y Proven Health levels, daily. We need teachers to a test their community schools water & send into oversite
    Members who publish it for us, so we can learn to compare & decide what gets cleaned & healed in order of calamity level.

    Therefore, we want to work.
    We want & need TesT, Compare & Prove a Theory with Skills: using The Scientidic Method

    We need 4/hours DAILY on he PUBLIC RADI0 SYSTEM WE PAY FOR & others need to pay towards using our Place & our Merchandise.
    We need Public a Radio to Learn, Teach, Share.

    We NEED to CALL STATE (4) For:

    Let’s put Skills BACK in all Schools again..
    let’s offer WORLD EDUCATION via eNET.4.all.


    Then we can ask:
    thru Certification &/or Diplomatte

  2. David Faubion says:

    Andrew Yang’s proposal of UBI seemed too linked to the Silicon Valley call for it, which gave it a doubious veneer despite George McGovern’s call for it decades ago. Steve Schafarman’s argument on the radio hour clarifies the matter, although a UBI is less vital amidstt fair wages and salaries.

  3. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Part of the scandal is not that a team of Mueller attorneys gave up, it’s how much jail time they were seeking for Roger Stone in the first place. 7-9 years of prison was an outrageous sentence to ask for one conviction of lying to Congress and one conviction of witness tampering, for threatening to kill Randy Credico’s dog (which he clearly didn’t mean, Credico himself wrote to the court asking for probation for that). Roger Stone is a bloviating bully and clown but the punishment must fit the crime. Nobody convicted of similar crimes has received anywhere near that length of prison time, our most recent example was 18 months of unsupervised probation for general David Patreus for lying to the FBI. Opposing Donald Trump does not mean you can do whatever you want, Ralph, you should NOT be supporting a different tier of justice just because someone is tied to Trump.

    On the topic of UBI, I think it’s wise to be skeptical of anything that was supported by the arch anti-worker snake oil salesmen Friedman and Hayek. Their support isn’t a sign of its “cross-spectrum” quality, it’s a huge warning flag. There are many ways to implement UBI, but the variant we are likely to get is theirs: one that comes as an excuse to cut social programs and cut worker wages, in fact functioning as a subsidy to bad employers and making workers’ conditions more precarious. And with apologies to Shafarman, “Libertarian” to progressive liberal Democrat is not the full “political spectrum”. Socialists and anarchists have a very different critique of UBI, which is that it is just another band-aid approach to rescue a fundamentally exploitative, fundamentally unstable economic system. We argue that you can’t end perpetual war by keeping capitalism on life support with measures like UBI because war and imperialism are fundamental outcomes of capitalism: capitalists need to destroy competition, open up new markets, and periodically wipe out machinery to rescue their profitability, and when this isn’t possible at home it has to be done abroad through force. The New Deal isn’t what rescued capitalism in the Great Depression, it was a massive worldwide war that obliterated vast swaths of machinery.

    Ralph had some conversations about the vague phrase “exploitation” used more in the past. Well, what it classically meant back then was not just “mean bosses”. Exploitation had a precise meaning as a technical aspect of wage labor under capitalism. All employees have their labor exploited by employers because the employer appropriates the value they produce and redistributes less of it back to them.

    • Donald Klepack says:

      Afdal Shahanshah, you are not alone about Roger Stone, agree with you 100%. A voter and a supporter of Ralph Nader, but I think he’s backing the wrong horse in this race with regard to Roger Stone. The sentence was obscene and Donald Trump has a duty to speak-up. It’s the Prosecutors that should be investigated for this discretion.

    • Theorist says:

      Basic to Federal law enforcement – the harshness of the weight of government power to punish wrongdoing is tied to the level of “cooperation” received. Cooperation is a defined term. When witnesses and targets (like trump, stone) carry out methods of deception obstruction even after they are charged with crimes, and show no acknowledgment of wrongdoing, you are not in the same category as others who… [insert your favorite reference here.. “lie to congress”]. See the history of the “Yates Memorandum” on the corporate aspects of this topic (of getting any “cooperation credit”), which was softened recently to enable obstruction by corporations that (according to DOJ policy) wouldnt have been tolerated by DOJ 10-15 years ago. This is largely missed as a point in all mainstream media coverage of trump’s criminal activities.

  4. Mark Hughes says:

    The concept of a maximum wage being tied to a certain multiple of the minimum wage is a great one but nothing new. No offense to Mr. Pizzagati, I enjoyed his ideas and all but Prof. Richard D. Wolff has, for years, spoken about worker cooperatives where just that happens. In those companies, the highest-paid earner can’t make more than x-number of times than the lowest-paid one. Wolff has given examples in which that multiple is 8 or perhaps 10 times. I think it’s Arizmendi Bakery but I could be wrong about that. So broadening that to work for an entire nation via taxation is indeed attractive and would solve multiple problems quickly. While this clearly wouldn’t overthrow capitalism, it would empower workers tremendously, something that Marx would likely be supportive of at least in a cursory sense.

    But it takes guts to do so by our so-called leaders, and they’re way too corrupt for this to happen.

  5. Ben Leet says:

    Inequality is not trivial. There is more poverty and hardship, call it needy people who can’t buy necessities, than is generally acknowledged. The United Way charity publishes an ALICE report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) concluding that 40% of U.S. households cannot afford seven basics: food, shelter, utilities, healthcare, transportation, phone service, and childcare. The American Payroll Association published a survey that found 74% of adults reported it would be somewhat difficult (34%) or very difficult (40%) if they missed a bimonthly paycheck. And the Fed’s report on Household Well-Being reports that about 25% of adults forgo either dental care, filling a prescription or seeing a medical specialist each year, and 17% leave a monthly bill unpaid each month, and 39% can’t pay an emergency expense of $400 in 30 days. And childhood poverty is much too high, 17% is it at the Supplemental Poverty Measure. The average household income is $141,000 but half have an income below $63,179. The lower 40% of households have a net zero in savings (the debts of the lower 20% are about equal to the assets of the next 20%). The average adult wealth is over $400,000, the average household wealth is over $800,000. Inequality. The Economic Policy Institute published “The New Gilded Age” and states that between 1972 and 2015 some 58.7% of economic growth was captured by the top one percent (see page 4 of the pdf version online). The lower-earning half of U.S. workers earn in wage income just 8.0% of the national income. I can’t go on forever, but I study this issue. Ralph did an interview with Luzkow who wrote Monopoly Restored which is really good. Pizzigati and the site are reporting top stories all the time. The “average weekly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers”, says the BLS data page, was higher in December 1964 than in December 2019, I’m not making this up. There are 109 million PN workers in the private sector, and maybe anothe 30 million in government employment. Growth overall saw a per capita expansion of 3 times since 1964, most workers saw no income gain. That’s about the end of my horror list. Bring on more guests to discuss this issue. I found the ALICE report convincing because of the personal portraits it includes of people who are struggling through low income, no savings, yet employed. I write a blog, Economics Without Greed, Part Two.

  6. margaret walsh says:

    good from some birds have returned..

    what if? a business incorporated outside the community (city, county, state ) takes their profits away from the community they must pay a “franchise” tax.. paid to the community where the profits were generated…

    thank you for your consideration.. Margaret Walsh

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