- Capitalism and Alternatives -

MDG, you're in good company

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on January 19, 19100 at 23:11:28:

In Reply to: minimum effort posted by Gee on January 18, 19100 at 18:42:29:

Revolution can happen gradually, all it means is that things are radically different before and after. The industrial revolution happened peacemeal, for example.

The maximum wage proposal that MDG proposed is a good one, and has a long history in America. The Louisiana governor Huey Long proposed a maximum income of 1 million, and a maximum wealth of 5 million, but that was back in '32, so the numbers may need a little adjusting.

More revently, John Sweeney has proposed wage caps in the workplace. Sweeney is the leader of the AFL-CIO, biggest union in America and historically not a very radical organization, particularly in the Cold War context. The AFL, unfortunately, took a strong anti-Soviet stance. Sweeney, however, is a figure that i admire intensely, and is in the American context quite to the left; he's one of the few American leaders who openly calls themselves a socialist.

John Sweeney advocates that no employer should be able to make more than 50 times more than their least well paid employee. 50 times sounds like a big differential, and it is. However, it would certainly hit some of the big capitalists where it hurts. For example, if GM hired a janitor for $6/hr, which would net him a yearly income of about 12,000 dollars, that would mean that no GM executive could make more than 600,000 dollars annually! Given the salaries that some Americans make today, this would indubitably be a great step forward.

However, the 50fold differential is, to my mind, not the final goal. i was discussing this proposal with the Spartacist LEague one time and I suggested that maybe if we decdie now that 50-fold is the maximum, maybe in a couple of years we'll make it 30-fold, then 10-fold, then 5-fold. I could certainly be happy with a 5-fold maximum differential. By placing limits now, and gradually tightening the limits, we can slowly squeeze power away from the elite, and get more money to flow to those who need it.

To the argument that this would encourage rich businessmen to flee the country, I say, So what? If that's the sort of people they are, we don't need or want them anyway. No one has yet convinced me that capitalists per se contribute anything WITH THEIR CAPITAL to the making of a product. Most 'petty proprietor' aren't capitalists, because they ad something (engineering expertise, advertising, SOMETHING) to the value of teh porduct. But emrely to supply money for production is, I think, to perform a fictitious service. Fictitious because it only exists within a capitalist economy- if the government supied resources, then there would be no need for teh capitalists' capital whatsoever.

Also, where would the capitalists go? Guatemala? El Salvador? Just wait and see how the people there receive the ones who were responsible for their murdered relatives. I can just imagine the chairmn of Shell trying to buy a house in Ogoniland.

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