Thursday, March 10, 2011

Getting by on $100,000

Prepare yourselves. I’m about to propose something un-American, anti-free market, and anti-individualistic.

You have now been warned and, I hope, immunized. You will not react to the following by saying “Why that’s utterly un-American! etc.”

Ready? Here we go....

In America, starting now, no person will be compensated more than $100,000 a year.

That’s enough, already.

With that lid comes universal health care, no income taxes (with one exception—see below), an adequate pension, the best schools in the world and guaranteed food and decent housing for all. There will be so little crime, the nation will be down to two or three prisons.

We might even see such a shift in values that we will disband our military, saving trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.

Starting today, your financial compensation and your perceived or proclaimed “worth” are separate concepts. You aren’t paid what you have been told you were “worth.” Your worth yesterday was what some kept “compensation” firm or over-paid board of directors told you that you were “worth.”

Today, your pay can not exceed $100,000. If, like many well-to-do, you get your kicks by being told that you are “worth” millions more than the next executive or hedge fund manager, you can still be told that. You just won’t be paid it.

To assuage your ego, I suggest a badging system like medals pinned on generals’ uniforms.

“My company has put my ‘worth’ at $50 million,” you can brag, pointing to your $50 million badge. Of course, you’ll look like a fool, but that’s your choice.

But, just to be clear, that so-called displayed “worth” is $49,900,000 more than your are actually paid, and everyone knows it.

In fact you are paid exactly what someone who is really “worth” $100,000 is paid.

Isn’t that unfair?

Not really, because the current “compensation” game is rigged and the executive market is grossly and dangerously inflated.

I contend that if you feel it is really important that you be paid 300 times what a line worker in your company is paid, or 3000 times what some off-shore worker is being paid by your company, you aren’t even “worth” $100,000. In fact, you might be worthless. A liability. The door is over there.

Some might even suggest that you morally bankrupt. I’ve even hear it said that you are insane. Delusional. Sociopathic.

So what happens to the difference between your alleged “worth” and your real compensation? That $49,900,000.

See those benefits above? The excess pays for them — for you and literally thousands of others. That’s right, thousands. Do the math.

“But I can’t get by on $100,000 a year,” you complain.

“Try it. You’ll like it.”

Say what?

Yes, you’ll live simply (and discover how much you don’t need), stop destroying the environment through overconsumption, be contributing to a more prosperous, equitable society, be helping thousands less fortunate than you (most will be making considerably less than $100,000 annually) and you and your corporation will no longer have a reason to rig the political system and make a sham of democracy.

You will also recognize just how important public services, equality and fairness are to you, your fellow executives and everyone else.

You owe that $50 million “worth” of yours to the nation’s infrastructure (now crumbling), its schools (now in crisis) and thousands of public workers (now having their rights taken from them) who keep the nation humming along so your company can afford your bloated “worth.”

Well, won’t this all contribute to a massive brain drain to other countries? Not if you keep your American citizenship. You may be paid abroad, but a “foreign earnings”
 tax kicks in. It claims everything over $100,000. Sorry.

If you can’t live with that, leave.

Won’t there be unintended consequences? Like empty mansions, plummeting Mercedes sales, and uneaten caviar. Absolutely.

It’s all part of living simply and fairly. It will mean getting rid of status symbols and discovering that life’s real gifts are available to all, even you.

Trust me, with time, you’ll get your values straight. You will even come to appreciate your own true value — as a human being.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Ptermclean Design said...

BRILLIANT! Its like you reached down into my throat and pulled the words from my voice box. ENCORE! ENCORE! Good sir, I salute you...

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I'm curious - what happens when business owners with successful businesses earn that $100K in the first few weeks of January, and then decide to layoff their entire staff and close the doors for the rest of the year? After all, they will have all the food, shelter, and medical care they need, and by your new law they won't be able to earn an extra penny. Same goes for the scientists, engineers, and doctors (to name but a minuscule few who earn north of $100K). Do you imagine they will all just work for free? Or will there be some extra-punitive penalty if they withhold their production from the world?

I've read posts like your elsewhere, advocating the same type of wealth restricting schemes, usually with the same justification - no one really 'needs' more than =insert arbitrary dollar amount here=. After all, I =the author of the post= live simply, enjoy a meager existence and am just fine with what I have. That's awesome for you that you are happy with what you have - but why should you be able to =dictate= what someone else "needs"? I always wonder if the authors of these posts recognize their own arrogance.

How about this - we leave successful people alone and let them continue to be successful and provide the rest of us with jobs and opportunities. Instead, we focus on getting rid of the rampant corruption and waste in the government and in the social services programs in the country. Legalize marijuana and empty the jails of those incarcerated for it. Start drug testing (hard drugs) public employees, welfare recipients, and those on unemployment. Eliminate the unbelievable fraud going on in medicare and the health ins industry. Restrict social services to those who really need it (the elderly and the infirm). Crack down on businesses who employ illegal aliens, clamp down on the border, and eject those not here legally. Do some of these things and there would be plenty of money for schools, single payer health care, social services, and more.

Problem is it's much easier to vilify a few 'wall st. fat cats'. As I've said to you before, in most cases the only thing separating the financially successful and those stuck on the bottom are the decisions they've made in their lives (kids too early, dropping out of school, etc).

As usual I know you and I will disagree on most of these points, but your posts do inspire me to write! Take care -

3:38 PM  

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