Celebrate Earned Inequality
Every election, we’re told, is pivotal. This time they’re right because Calvin Coolidge’s cherished maxim that “The business of America is business” is under as much threat as Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the $20 bill.
The Democrat candidates incite their mobs with self-righteous indignation towards the wealthy who pay for their handouts. Sanders’s automatons are beguiled by his simplistic denunciations of inequalities, and are probably unaware of his inherent contradictions. On the one hand he supports a higher minimum wage, but on the other he’s generally against free trade, which, at least when fair, helps the majority America’s workers.
CEOs are overpaid is a simplistic recantation requiring minimal consciousness amongst the gang’s progressive throngs. Some probably are, but many, especially company founders, may actually be underpaid. According to the Forbes list of Billionaires, the top 400 created or controlled more than 10 million jobs across the country. The top 100 founded companies employed, on average, 40,000 workers.
Business leaders who create or control hundreds or potentially thousands of jobs are probably worth their pay, but only a small portion is base salary; the majority is made up of performance-based compensation like stock options. Socialists don’t appreciate meritocracy, but if a company does well, business leaders will deservedly profit; consumers will have more choices; government will get revenues; and innumerable retirement accounts will gain. If the company does badly, activist investors and enhanced corporate governance will hold them accountable.
Unfortunately, the Democrats-cum-socialists don’t respect that most rich Americans generate societal wealth that far exceeds their compensation. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research they realize just 3 percent of the value they create, while consumers reap the rest. The Wealth-X and UBS Ultra Wealth Report 2014 (multimedia content) corroborates this, showing that the top 10 American male entrepreneurs’ main businesses employ over 865,000 people. In common parlance: no poor person ever gave me a job.
The socialist gang deride competition for fear of alienating their trance-induced followers, but not much ever got better without it. Here’re a contemporary example: Chick-Fil-A is prospering while KFC languishes, but KFC has decided to fight back.
KFC announced last week it is publicly recommitting to the quality of its products, with employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee. The company is calling the process "Re-Colonelization."
If they pull off a turnaround, as Domino’s Pizza did a few years ago, then an iconic American company will continue to thrive. The market, that agglomeration of consumers who know best, will decide how much the turnaround artists should be rewarded.
More studies indicate that a high proportion of rich people -- about two thirds -- are self-made, producing new products, new markets, new jobs, and new wealth. The top five on Forbes billionaires list all made their own fortunes -- and plenty of new jobs. Facebook’s Zuckerberg was a big mover on the list, and I suspect the Democrats won’t be telling him he’s already made enough as he splurges on their campaigns.
Even if we take an expansive view of wealth creation and admit that government plays a role in facilitating commerce, the private sector is much more efficient in allocating resources than bloated bureaucrats.
Our founders scorned a system that taxes and redistributes wealth according to arbitrary political interests. Jefferson exhorted that a wise and frugal government would leave men free to pursue industry, and “…shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
The great Alexander Hamilton, our first Treasury Secretary (who will be staying on the $10 bill) said: “True liberty, by protecting the exertions of talent and industry, tends more powerfully than any other cause to augment the mass of national wealth.”
For the first time in history, our founders elevated the “pursuit of happiness” to first-level human values on par with liberty. Much happiness is derived from the fruits of one’s labor. Inequality between the industrious self-made and the indolent self-entitled should be celebrated, all else being equal.