Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hank Reardon Answers Bill Maher's Call for a "Maximum Wage" Law

The Daily Kos posted Bill Maher's Excellent Commentary on Income Inequality. Maher's commentary is full of falsehoods, like that the rich caused the financial crisis and recessionary meltdown rather than the government, and that the rise in worker productivity over the past 30 years occurred because workers worked harder, rather than because of the investments of "the 1%."

But I'll focus on this. Kos posted the entire transcript of Maher's diatribe against "the 1%," but highlights this:

    Did you know that during World War II, FDR actually proposed a cap on income that in today's dollars would mean that no person could ever take home more than about $300,000? OK, that is a little low. (audience laughter) But wouldn't it be great if there were Democrats out there like that now, who would say to billionaires, "Oh, you're crying? We'll give you something to cry about. You don't want a minimum wage? How about we not only have a minimum wage, we have a maximum wage?" (audience applause)
    That is not a new idea. James Madison, who wrote our Constitution, said, "Government should prevent an immoderate accumulation of riches." Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, they all agreed that too much money in the hands of too few would destroy democracy.

I'll get back to that Madison quote in my next post. For now, I'll let a great industrialist answer Maher.

In Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, Hank Reardon, an ambitious man who rose from poverty to become a super-rich steel industrialist, is put on trial to answer criminal charges of selling more steel than government quotas would allow. During his public trial, this brief exchange occurred between Reardon and one member of the panel of judges he faced. From page 478:

JUDGE: "Are we to understand that if the public deems it necessary to curtail your profits, you do not recognize its right to do so?"

REARDON: "Why, yes, I do. The public may curtail my profits any time it wishes—by refusing to buy my product."

JUDGE: "We were speaking of . . . other methods."

REARDON: "Any other method of curtailing profits is the method of looters . . ."

This gets to the heart of the issue underlying any call to mandate any limit on what any productive human being can earn.

Related Reading:

Atlas Shrugged—Ayn Rand

1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

I just wish talk like that in public would come from an industrialist in real life today, at the highest level government officials, both appointed and elected.