Thursday, January 19, 2006

A little bit of this, a little bit of that...

I can't watch TV programs that have laugh tracks -- I can barely tolerate programs with a live audience doing the laughing. I find myself wondering as the chuckles, guffaws and weird sounds wash over me: is there someone to the left of the stage holding up a "LAUGH LOUDLY" sign? I feel like laugh tracks are a mild form of coercion. They are telling us what they think we should find funny. Yuck.

I also have a hard time with sound tracks in movies that are otherwise working hard at being real. Are the characters hearing that dramatic music? Couldn't I please just experience the story as the characters are?


As we hear again and again, the gap between rich and poor is growing in this country (one of the many awful legacies of Ronald Reagan). Hand-wringing from some, glee from others.

A solution, or partial solution, to this problem is quite straightforward, I think: pass a law that stipulates the following:

The highest-paid employee of your company shouldn't earn more than 25 times what the lowest-paid employee is paid.

For more on this topic, visit a now mostly hidden part of my website: 25X&NOMORE


Anonymous said...


Stick to programming, your political views leave a lot to be desired.

If you truly want to live in a country with a massive redistibution of wealth, move to a communist country. Be warned however, that some countries such as Russia have already learned that redistribution of wealth doesn't work which is why they are embracing capitalism.

Workers in this country have free will. If they don't like their current situation, they can change jobs, educate themselves, etc. to improve their lot in life.

And before you blame CEOs for the difference in wage scale, you may want to blame the companies board of directors and shareholders that vote to approve these salaries. If you don't agree with a particular companies wage scale, boycott the company. But to impose mandatory wage scales is morally reprehensible.

Anonymous said...

If you have followed the history of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, you know that this premise is not only do-able, but it works just fine. Until they sold the company several years ago, the rule was that the highest paid employee couldn't make more than (now I'm a bit hazy - don't recall if it was 25x or 10x) more than the lowest paid employee. Started in a garage, turned into one of the biggest ice cream companies in the U.S. Not sure if it still applies today since Unilever bought them (my guess? - Nope). Shame that other businesses didn't (and STILL HAVEN'T) taken notice.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

No one said it wasn't "do-able". You could pay everyone the same wage if they all agreed to it.

The issue is whether or not to make these wage scales mandatory. To make it mandatory is so wrong that it boggles the mind that people can even think that way. Let market forces dictate the prices and then everyone benefits. History proves that this is true. If you don't like your current situation, you have the freedom to change it.

If mandatory wages are in place everyone loses. Maybe I want 30x instead of 20x. If someone is willing to offer it to me, I should be allowed to pursue that offer. The market will dictate whether or not the 30x price was the right decision.

David Aldridge said...

Another fine example:

What anonymous 1 fails to understand is that it is in the interests of the board's of directors and compensation committees to vote high salaries and perks for CEO's, because if they're not already CEO's of other companies then they're just establishing a precedent for their own tenure.

Robert Vollman said...

Consider this statement:

"As we hear again and again, the gap between rich and poor is growing in this country (one of the many awful legacies of Ronald Reagan). Hand-wringing from some, glee from others."

Firstly, Reagen left office almost 20 years ago. How can the growing gap between the rich and poor, which took place before, during and ever since his Presidency, be his legacy?


Secondly, who do you think is gleeful about that? Do you think rich people are gleeful that there are people not as fortunate as they? I think you are attaching a very unnecessary asperson on others.

I am tall, do you think I'm gleeful that others are short? You're very good at PL/SQL, are you gleeful that others are not? Are educated people gleeful that others haven't had those opportunities?


Then why would the rich be gleeful that not everyone is as fortunate?


Steven Feuerstein said...

I *love* the kinds of responses I get to this suggestion.

HORRORS! Actually put some constraints on how much wealth an individual can gather up in his/her hot little hands? "Morally reprehensible"? Hah! Morally reprehensible is a political system (our corrupted democracy) that lets itself be run so roughshod by its economic system (our corrupted capitalism) that millions go without health care.

"Workers...have free will...can change jobs"

Can you really be THAT out of it, THAT out of touch with reality? And "educate themselves"....well, even if everyone had a PhD, you still need people to clean up the toilets in offices. So how much do you think college graduates people should be paid to clean up your shit?

"The market will dictate whether or not the 30x price was the right decision."

I also really enjoy those references to "the market". Which market is this? The supposedly free market that is subsidized by our government to the tune of billions of dollars each year in a thousand different ways, all to the advantage of corporate owners/controllers and to the disadvantage of workers and consumers?

Anonymous said...

Actually, you are the one that is out of touch. Your example of everyone having a PhD, or even a college graduate is misguided, because not EVERYONE will WANT to do so. My point was that IF they wanted to, they can change jobs or educate themselves to pursue a different career when they aren't happy with their wages. You seem to think that people doing unskilled jobs deserve a free handout, or worse, you want to punish those people that have skilled jobs by lowering their wages.

You may believe they have too much, but they would disagree with you. They would be correct.

And as far as "the market", yes I'm talking about a pure capitalist market. Yes there is corruption in our current market. I don't believe in subsidies for farmers, I don't believe in free health care for the poor, etc., etc. I'm truly sorry if people in those positions can't have all the things that they want. But free handouts should not be guaranteed. If you believe these people should be helped, then spend your money to help them. Don't force others to go along with your socialist beliefs.

David Aldridge said...

>> Your example of everyone having a PhD, or even a college graduate is misguided, because not EVERYONE will WANT to do so. <<

Ha ha ha *wipes eyes*

Right, the only thing stopping people from having a PhD is whether they want one or not ... good one.

Steven's point is that your universal cure-all for poverty, that people get educated etc, is nonsense because it does nothing to stop the existence of poverty even if everyone is educated. The loophole that so many people try to use is to point to individuals who are poor and say, "You, Poor Person! You can improve yourself through education and hard work and stop being poor!", but that doesn't work with a population of millions, especially when so many people are failed by society before they even reach adulthood by an incompetant education system. You can't wash your hands of moral and ethical responsibility with that trick.

It's one of the remarkable features of this country that so many people are willing to abandon their ethics as soon as they've left church on Sunday. For a nation that prides itself on it's Christian values, this "fuck-the-lazy-poor-people" attitude is breath-takingly hypocritical.

I don't know why you don't just admit that you don't give a crap about other people as long as you get a new car every couple of years -- you might at least get respect for honesty that way.

Hater of Liberals said...

First of all, I never said it was a "universal cure-all". The example of getting a PhD may seem silly to you, but it doesn't change the fact that if someone truly wants one, they can pursue it. Whether or not they achieve that goal is up to them. But the PhD example has mislead you from the true point. Reeducating yourself doesn't necessarily have to come from attending a university. There are plenty of other avenues in life you can persue to educate yourself and grow. Under capitalism, if you don't like your situation, you have the freedom to change it.

I know full well that there will always be poverty as well as richness and all that falls in between. My whole issue with the original post is that these levels would still exist even under Steve's system to redistribute wealth.

And don't give me lip service about not caring for the poor. My wife and I give thousands of dollars to help poor people through various charities. We could even give more if our government didn't tax us so heavily.

My whole point is that I don't believe anyone should dictate how someone else spends their money or how much money they should be allowed to accumulate. Let the truly "free market" work it out and everyone will benefit whether or not you choose to believe it. But don't take my word for it, read some history and learn for yourself.

Bill S. said...

Seems like "hater-of-liberals" must be in damagement (that's what us working stiffs call "management" in case the irony escapes you). I am always appalled at CEOs and sports figures who make multi-million-dollar salaries (including all their perqs) while people in this country go to bed hungry. May I remind you that, in order to earn that precious Ph.D., one has to put up the front-money for the education or BORROW IT and then have to pay it back at exhorbitant interest. Nice solution. It's past time that corporate America gets reigned in, and prevented from influencing the legislative end of this country. Why is it that our president is allowed to completely gut the Clean Air act without anyone so much as opposing him? Because it benefits big business. We need more energy sources in this country - so our president tells us he will help build more......coal plants. COAL PLANTS. When there are plenty of renewable energy sources that can be used. Why is it that you think it is fine for CEOs to walk away from companies after putting in 5 years of work with $20 million in cash, stocks, and bonuses? That is ridiculous, it robs from the workers what is rightfully theirs (remember, without the folks on the front lines, there would be NO COMPANY).
Now, that doesn't mean I agree with EVERYTHING Steve espouses. But we need to start SOMEWHERE now, don't we?

olu said...

The nordic contries are doing simlar things like this. The Nordic countries are NOT communistic, rather it is christian, and the ENRON way should be named unchrisitan...

Here is some links to the "Swedish Model" that is used in Sweden and Finland.