Pay your fair share, Thornton.

Some very smart economists with Deutsche Bank's research arm have come up with an idea that's so innovative that it just might sound stupid at first, but when you look at it more closely, sounds even stupider. They argue that people who work from home have considerable economic savings — no commuting, getting food from the fridge, not having to waste money on "pants" — but are still being paid as if they were clocking in at the office. So how about if those lucky ducky telecommuters paid a five percent tax on their income, since they're "contributing less to the infrastructure of the economy whilst still receiving its benefits."

Jeez, now I feel guilty for not getting out there and gassing up my car more often. And without me, how will the coffee shop stay in business?


The proposal is just one of 18 essays in a report called "What We Must do to Rebuild," which offers a bunch of suggestions for reconstructing the post-pandemic world economy. Some of the other pieces sound a little less goofy, like calls for a "fundamental right to connectivity" or shifting to a hydrogen economy.

Lead author Luke Templeman notes that during the pandemic, as many as 56 percent of Americans began working remotely, as opposed to a mere 5.4 percent pre-COVID-19. Since many workers have said they'd like to continue telecommuting, either full time or several days a week, the piece argues,

That is a big problem for the economy as it has taken decades and centuries to build up the wider business and economic infrastructure that supports face-to-face working. If a great swathe of assets lie redundant, the economic malaise will be extended.

The essay envisions the WFH tax (that's "work from home," though it might just as well be called a WTF tax) would apply only to people working from home because they choose to, so it wouldn't be levied when the government mandates remote work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Along similar lines, if a business doesn't provide the worker with a permanent desk, the tax would be paid by the employer, But if people decide to keep working from home after the crisis is over, the authors reason, it only makes sense that they pay a little something for the "privilege" of withdrawing from the face-to-face economy. Like, even a bigger price than having to shoo the cat off the keyboard.

The proceeds from such a tax — the authors suggest it would generate $48 billion a year — would be used to provide a $1500 grant to subsidize the pay of low-income folks working essential jobs that can't be done remotely. It's a matter of fairness, because they

assume more 'old economy' and health risks," Jim Reid, global head of fundamental credit strategy and thematic research at Deutsche Bank, said in the report

That part of the proposal actually sounds like a good idea — we're all for greater economic equity. Also, I too would like to work in "thematic research," having written more than a few papers on literary themes such as man against man, man against nature, and man against a fucking investment banking oligarchy.

But we're not sure it makes a hell of a lot of sense to penalize workers who are staying home, not burning fossil fuels, or not crowding public transportation (where it exists). And in practice, we have a sneaking feeling the funds raised by a WFH tax might end up helping out commercial property owners, who would surely cry to lawmakers about how they're suffering because we selfish home office people aren't contributing our fair share to the office space infrastructure.

Tell you what: How about we instead do a genuine guaranteed basic income instead?

[USA Today / What We Must do to Rebuild]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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