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Discussion on: 5% privilege tax for working remotely?

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Chad Perrin • Edited

The idea that nobody would work in jobs that require people on the premises is ludicrous. As workers get more scarce, their pay rates will climb based on the need for these services and the scarcity of willing workers. That would increase the number of people willing to do those jobs, because they need (or want) the extra money. In a time of pandemic, it's important to not have more people than are really needed goign out into the world when their jobs don't require it, and those jobs that do need to be outside of the home will see pay rates to balance the importance of the job against the scarcity of workers.

Speaking of economics . . .

The economic effects of taxing people who work from home more than those who don't just because they work from home would include a lot of horrific effects, like ensuring that:

  1. People who could work at home but don't have to would be encouraged to go to the office every day instead, to save that tax money, leading to more interpersonal contact in workplaces and in cities in general, increasing the spread of the disease. This would also increase the danger to the in-office workers, healthcare workers, critical infrastructure workers, and so on.

  2. People who are at higher risk from COVID-19 and don't have much money would be endangered by the choice between not being able to work and going into the world to likely get infected, and as high-risk people would be more likely to die from COVID-19 effects.

  3. Businesses whose workers could otherwise work from home would more likely go out of business, contributing to the financial troubles of their employees and general economic collapse because many businesses would be affected by this tax situation; they would be more likely to experience a widespread outbreak among employees destroying company productivity.

Those are just first three COVID-19 related problems that came to mind, off the top of my head. I'm sure you can imagine others, but even that is ignoring all the non-COVID-19 related reasons such as:

  1. Pollution from commuting would continue to increase, rather than decrease as it should if more and more people worked from home -- because population keeps climbing, resulting in more and more people commuting to and from jobs.

  2. Danger from commuting would continueto increase, rather than decrease as it should if more and more people worked from home -- because the population keeps climbing, resulting in more people commuting to and from jobs. Heavy traffic and people in a rush to get to work or get home causes increasing rates of accidents on highways. Longer term health is also affected by heavy traffic commuting, due to stress, poor eating habits (fewer home cooked meals and more "fast food" eating), and other factors.

  3. Taxing people for working from home is essentially a tax on being an introvert, which is doubly awful considering how much of the world is built around extraverts (because the squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say).

There are piles of other negative side effects to people individually and to society as a whole that would also apply. This was just off the top of my head, and I could keep going but this is getting too long already. Who's going to want to read this wall of text?

The upshot is that it would affect many people, and many businesses, in pretty profoundly negative ways, and ultimately end up hurting the people who might, supposedly, be helped by the tax money. This kind of taxation always basically just looks like a way to punish people who don't deserve to be punished because someone else envies something about them. Where the usual meaning of "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" is that people want to be in another person's shoes because they don't recognize the downsides, I think that kind of envy usually turns into outright jealousy with a meaning of people wanting to burn the grass on the other side of the fence, thus depriving the "luckier" people of the positives of their lives out of spite.

The real solution is to let people work from home or in an office as they prefer (when all else is equal), so that introverts and people who have other reasons to stay home (very tight budgetary constraints or those who are at more significant health risk, for instance) are no longer being penalized by society being so heavily weighted to support the preferences of extraverts, and everyone can just have the working environments they prefer.