<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

The United States has often been called a land of opportunity. Although the general idea of a ladder of opportunity for all citizens continues to exert a powerful attraction, specifics are often quite controversial. Society can experiment with a wide variety of proposals for building a ladder of opportunity, especially for those who otherwise seem likely to start their lives in a disadvantaged position. Such policy experiments need to be carried out in a spirit of open-mindedness, because some will succeed while others will not show positive results or will cost too much to enact on a widespread basis.

Inheritance taxes

There is always a debate about inheritance taxes. It goes like this: On the one hand, why should people who have worked hard all their lives and saved up a substantial nest egg not be able to give their money and possessions to their children and grandchildren? In particular, it would seem un-American if children were unable to inherit a family business or a family home. On the other hand, many Americans are far more comfortable with inequality resulting from high-income people who earned their money by starting innovative new companies than they are with inequality resulting from high-income people who have inherited money from rich parents.

The United States does have an estate tax    —that is, a tax imposed on the value of an inheritance—which suggests a willingness to limit how much wealth can be passed on as an inheritance. However, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2015 the estate tax applied only to those leaving inheritances of more than $5.43 million and thus applies to only a tiny percentage of those with high levels of wealth.

The tradeoff between incentives and income equality

Government policies to reduce poverty or to encourage economic equality, if carried to extremes, can injure incentives for economic output. The poverty trap, for example, defines a situation where guaranteeing a certain level of income can eliminate or reduce the incentive to work. An extremely high degree of redistribution, with very high taxes on the rich, would be likely to discourage work and entrepreneurship. Thus, it is common to draw the tradeoff between economic output and equality, as shown in [link] (a). In this formulation, if society wishes a high level of economic output, like point A, it must also accept a high degree of inequality. Conversely, if society wants a high level of equality, like point B, it must accept a lower level of economic output because of reduced incentives for production.

This view of the tradeoff between economic output and equality may be too pessimistic, and [link] (b) presents an alternate vision. Here, the tradeoff between economic output and equality first slopes up, in the vicinity of choice C, suggesting that certain programs might increase both output and economic equality. For example, the policy of providing free public education has an element of redistribution, since the value of the public schooling received by children of low-income families is clearly higher than what low-income families pay in taxes. A well-educated population, however, is also an enormously powerful factor in providing the skilled workers of tomorrow and helping the economy to grow and expand. In this case, equality and economic growth may complement each other.

Questions & Answers

why should a firm close down when it's unable to pay it's variable cost?
ANDREW Reply
what is oligopolistic competitive market?
ngong
exchange of goods and services between countries is call
Hosea Reply
what is constant opportunity cost
Tiffany Reply
Constant opportunity cost means the value of sacrifice remains constant in every step.
Dipam
Gross Domestic Product GDP
Yusuf Reply
what is g d p
Jayapal Reply
gross daily performance
domingo
How best can a poor country respond to an economic crisis , what does it have to sacrifice.
Bah Reply
they should pay tax as progressive system and should make sacrifice for taxation of their income and land etc
Hamza
how have the nations tries to solve the problem of scarcity in their economies?
Amani Reply
total concentration on to reduce the per unit cost of commodity by technically or whatever
Hamza
explain what will happen to producer of green coconut now that we have to lockdown in the kingdom of tonga
Tuha Reply
the demand for coconut will decrease and supply increases which result in the decrease in the price of coconut and the coconut will be more elastic
Hamza
tonga is producing more long run economic good explain the meaning of the statement and its implication on the tonga economy
Tuha Reply
Demand is the various quantities of goods and services that consumer(s)are willing and able to purchase at a price within a time
Muhammad Reply
What is demand
Mc Reply
demand relates with the need of people for their satisfaction.
Mohd
Distinguish between cross elasticity and income elasticity of demand
Ruth Reply
Distinguish between cross elasticity and income elasticity of demand
Ruth
if change in the demand of the commodity with respect to change in demand of the substitute or other product called cross elasticity
Hamza
and. if change in the demand of the commodity due to change in the income . called income elasticity
Hamza
👍
Vipul
Cross elasticity of demand is the degree of responsiveness of quantity demanded of a commodity to a small change in price of another commodity whiles Income elasticity of demand is the degree of responsiveness of quantity demanded of a commodity to a small change in income of it's consumers
Afriyie
but these are book wordings
Hamza
income elasticity of demand shows how quantity demanded changes due to changes in income on the other hand cross elasticity refers to how the quantity demanded of a particular good alers given a change in the price of another good.
Keysie
what is the competitive demand
Adiza Reply
Income
Sanni
Competitive demand are those commodity dat are competitive in nature e.g the close up and my my toothpaste the increase in price of close up may bring abt decrease in demand of it and it will serve as increase in purchase of my my
Daniel
With regards to coal shortage and manicipal debts the what form of intervention do you think Eskom can put in place.
kedibone Reply
economic growth of Bhutan
Nima Reply
please, explain all the mathematics terms used in economics
nelson
The answer is: little more than high school algebra and graphs.
Tere
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, University of houston downtown: microeconomics. OpenStax CNX. May 28, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11651/1.2
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'University of houston downtown: microeconomics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask