Anti-Managerialist Christ Dillow is curious, are neoliberal economists’ predictions about the effect of taxation on workers’ attitudes self fulfilling prophecies? Given a sea change in belief systems, will people behave more like the “new social(democratic)ist man?” Without providing any data either way – and I won’t either – he speculates that such attitudes are malleable and that talk of incentives in a market context are taken for granted by “boneheaded right wingers.”

I commented, writing that even assuming people held beliefs about taxation that didn’t entitle them to “higher than average wages,” IIRC most Americans believe themselves to be solidly middle class, even when their income would place them below, or above, the average. In this case beliefs about paying your “fair share” may already maintain, contra neoliberalism allegedly conning Americans into believing one is due their marginal productivity regardless of their place on the totem pole once income is accrued; it’s just that nobody believes themselves wealthy enough to be morally obligated to fork over their earnings for the greater good of equality. Everyone thinks they already do earn average wages/salaries. And those remaining, the uber-rich that know what a big deal they are, aren’t numerous enough to carry the full burden of equalizing outcomes (because at that level of taxation my hunch is that the disincentive effect is likely to kick in regardless of popular belief systems).

Given the above, the biggest impediment to greater equality would be the lack of popular knowledge of the income distribution, not right wing economic theory.

In any case, there are good reasons to support neoliberal belief (generally speaking) in market competition and civil society that have nothing to do with notions of incentives and just desert for rugged individuals, but this takes us into the post-libertarian emphasis on voice vs. exit, radical uncertainty, and other ideas you can read about here and elsewhere.

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