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Felix Adler: The Maximum Wage Prophet

20 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2010  

David Litvak


Date Written: April 2, 2010


Felix Adler was the founder of the Ethical Culture Society. This short study analyses a New York Times article on a conference given by Adler in 1880 on the subject of social reform. In this conference, given at a time where there was no income tax in the United States, Adler proposed a graded tax on incomes in response to J.S. Mill’s flat tax proposal. However, Adler also pushed the logic of progressivity to its natural outcome and suggested an income cap, a tax-bracket at which the rate of taxation is 100 %. To my knowledge, this is the first documented proposal for an income cap, what is sometimes referred to nowadays as a “maximum wage”.

Keywords: Felix Adler, income cap, maximum wage, taxation

JEL Classification: E62, H24

Suggested Citation

Litvak, David, Felix Adler: The Maximum Wage Prophet (April 2, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

David Litvak (Contact Author)

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