Yesterday, President Obama issued that all executive salaries for corporations aided by the US Government bailout packages be limited to $500,000. Aside from the see through bullshit of the value of this limit and how little it will effect stock options, benefits, under the table compensations, and side-bar bonuses, this action seems to have struck up an interesting launching point for discussion in the office. In particular a concept which started out as a idealist theory of earning what you get in life was abundantly brought up. It's a word that is commonly associated with our new President, and justifiably so. If only it hadn't taken on such an ugly meaning.
There I said it. The neo-liberal agenda has turned socialism into such a dirty word(much like what it has done to liberal as a word, search for a great John Stossel article on this subject). What Marx once believed as the fruition of meritocracy has turned into a complete sham of egalitarianism. Granted: that guy also saw economic socialism as a transitory period to communism (how'd that work out?), the initial basis of his brain child is pure and true.
Socialism has turned from depleting exploitation in the world to actually means of enforcing it. For example, self-labeled socialists I have spoken with insist that this "salary-cap" should be employed universally. One specific example was made of star athletes. Player X makes 35 million dollars a year. The advocate of socialism in this case insisted that over his 12-15 year career in professional sports and his added compensation from endorsements and post-career work would lead him to make more money than one man could ever possibly need. They believe his direct salary should be limited to 500k just as the executives salaries are limited by Obama. While true in the simplest sense, that no man could spend all that money in one lifetime without being foolish and extremely spend-thrift (example Mike Vick), let's look a minute deeper...Player X is employed by the Z-town Juggernauts. As a franchise and a brand, the Juggernauts are worth 1.5 billion dollars. Player X, who aside from his on-field performance and value to the actual team, is a brand as well, who is owned by the franchise. Lets call it equivalent to the Pepsi Corporation selling Mountain Dew. While many people love all the Pepsi soft drink products, Mountain Dew, should it separate from the company, would still enjoy some level of success. Similarly, players like X have jerseys, team paraphernalia, and tickets to games all sold on the value of thier personal brand.
The difference lies in the income. The Pepsi company may roll 10% of its total earnings into the Mountain Dew division. The Juggernauts are giving the employee, that earns as much as 20% of the revenue, less than .03% of the total. If he was to only earn 500k, as my astute colleague suggested, he'd be earning less than one thousandth of a percent of that franchise's value. Give him just the percentages and even Karl Marx would call that exploitation of the worker.
The worker is the man that controls the means of production. Fair is fair even in socialism. You deserve to earn what you are worth. Sure, there are some absurdly rich people doing things that no one should get paid that much to do, but Neo-liberals shouldn't think for a minute that they have the right to tell a man what he is worth. And they definitely should not do it while touting the banner of socialism.