Bob Franken (formerly of CNN):
Help me understand why someone, anyone, should be allowed to get paid several hundred million dollars in any year and keep it.
What would be wrong with a confiscatory tax rate, maybe 90 percent on personal income that exceeds, say, 10 million dollars annually?
Is this class warfare? You bet it is. But isn’t hoarding such massive fortunes and keeping the money away from the millions of people struggling to subsist also class warfare?
And yes, I know: It’s the chance of great reward that provides the spark for great ideas, and incentive to take risk, but how much reward does one need?
Franken illustrates pretty well the difference between liberals (and socialists) and conservatives (and libertarians).
It's not that I think a few hundred million annually isn't enough, or that I think some people ought to have a dozen villas (as opposed to one). I don't know how much is 'enough.'
But I know that on person's wealth causes another person to be poor. When people are poor, it can be for any one (or more) of a range of reasons: they lack skills, they lack valuable ideas, they lack training, they lack economic opportunity, or they lack discipline, for example. No one's poor because some nefarious corporate executive or Hollywood actor is 'hoarding' wealth.
Further, I don't think it's any of my business how much a person earns, as long as the money is earned legally. And if it's none of my opinion, then by extension, it's none of the government's. Further, I recognize that our Constitution doesn't empower the government to consider how much someone should be 'allowed' to get paid. The founders never contemplated a role for government in that debate.
Those decisions are properly made in the private market. And if millions of ticket-buying fans judge that some athlete or entertainer is worth the money, why should I second guess them? Or if thousands of shareholders believe that their CEO is worth the money, how does it hurt me? Indeed, if I'm a shareholder I have my say in the debate. And if the CEO is in fact, worth the compensation, then all shareholders benefit. And if he or she is not, then the company provides a negative lesson.
So what's the problem?