Free Markets, Free People

Famous dumb ideas: Let’s have a maximum wage, shall we?

Sometimes the mask slips a little on the left and you get a peek at the real collectivist agenda at work there.  Other times a leftist will just take the mask off completely and show you the collectivist behind it.

It is one of the reasons I find the left to be the most potentially totalitarian side of the spectrum … because their basic premise, the premise that spawns all others, is indeed collectivism.

For instance, this Gawker screed by some nimrod named Hamilton Nolan:

Let’s have a maximum annual income of, oh, $5 million, pegged to inflation. All income above that would be taxed at 99 percent. Our precious national sports stars, celebrities, and corporate executives could still be fabulously wealthy. The daydreaming poor could still have a nice big number about which to hopelessly dream. Five million dollars a year. Five million! Anyone with $5 million can invest it conservatively enough to earn 5 percent a year and still be making $250K per year without lifting a finger. In other words, $5 million provides you with the means to live as a member of the one percent without ever touching the principal. It’s everything that any reasonable person could ask for, financially speaking.

A million and a quarter per year? Far more than anyone should be earning, in a world with so much poverty and want, but not so much that someone could consider themselves set for life. It’s a number at which the go-getting rich person is still aspirational. They hope to double or triple that salary before their earning days are done. So a hefty 75 percent tax, though completely just, will not only spook them enough to flee, but allow them to retain a modicum of dignity while doing so, at least among the more affluent segments of their peer group.

But $5 million? I defy the slickest PR firm in America to explain to a nation of struggling, underemployed working class people with a median household income of just over $50,000 why an already-wealthy person felt the need to leave the country—taking money out of the taxpayers’ pockets in a very literal sense—rather than donate, to the common good, earnings over one hundred times the nation’s median household income. This requires an already-wealthy person who is, by definition, being paid a wage that far outstrips any measure of fairness or good sense, to stand up in front of a nation (to which he has no doubt paid ample lip service during his rise to the top) of people far, far less fortunate than he and declare: "I have far more than I need. But I would rather abandon you all than help you."

If someone is willing to do that, let them take their shame and go. Good riddance.

You have to read the whole thing to ensure its not a spoof. It’s not.  This knucklehead is serious. 

Note how blithely he decides what is proper for you to have.  “It’s everything that any reasonable person could ask for, financially speaking”.

Is it?  What if you’re trying to build a business that requires, oh, I don’t know, 10 million?

Well, you can’t have that.  Because Hamilton Nolan has arbitrarily decided that 5 mil is it.  It’s a bit like the crowd that decides that at a minimum, labor is worth, oh I don’t know, how about $7.25 an hour?

Sound good?  Let’s go with it and prosecute anyone that tries pay below that.  What do you mean that causes unemployment because wage payers aren’t willing to pay more than what the labor on a job is worth?  Why would some of them rather automate than pay that wage to a real person?   How does a minimum wage kick up the price of a product?

See it’s these little niggling questions that are never entertained by economic rubes like Nolan that blow their little collectivist theories all to blazes.

Things like “well if I can only earn 5 mil in the US but I can earn 10 mil in Russia, I’ll just move to Russia”, also known as human nature, simply don’t register. 

Dingbat’s reaction to such a move?  “Good riddance”.

Really?  Good riddance? 

Someone ought to ask this economic idiot if he got his job at Gawker from a poor person?   And when he got that job did he believe he got it because:

America has provided all of the opportunity necessary for these people to earn their fortunes. That opportunity is paid for with tax dollars.

Because that’s what he wrote.  Seriously Mr. Nolan, did “America” provide all the opportunity necessary, paid for by the taxpayers, for you to land at Gawker?  Or did your work and effort perhaps ‘earn’ you the job (although reading this hash one might be led to believe that Gawker has very low standards of employment)?

How does our collectivist plan on “rewarding” the high earners who remain and government coercively fleeces, taking most of what they’ve produced (note that the word “produced” never is used in Nolan’s rant)?

Newspaper articles.  No.  Seriously.

The wealthy could still earn as much as they want. It’s not that they don’t get anything for their earnings above $5 million; they get the distinct privilege of making a huge and helpful contribution to their fellow countrymen. Give them awards. Lavish them with praise. Publish the names of the highest taxpayers in laudatory newspaper columns. Allow them to bask in civic pride. But take their money. They have plenty.

Because Mr. Nolan and the mob, er collective, believe they have first claim on the money anyone earns.  They just have to vote for it (“hey, that’s democracy!”).  And that my friends is the basic difference between the left and right in this country.  They believe it is“their” money or the government’s money.   They have no idea of how wealth is produced.  They have no idea of the concept of what it takes to earn something.  Instead, it’s real simple:  you get to keep what they deem appropriate, because wealth doesn’t belong to the producer, in their world it belongs to the collective.


This is not primarily about raising our total national tax revenue. That’s a far broader issue. This is about inequality. It’s about what type of nation we want to be—what level of inequality we are willing to tolerate in order to protect a vague and twisted notion of "freedom" that most people cannot even fully articulate, and that was created by the rich to serve themselves. This is a baby step. But it’s one that would make us, fundamentally, a better and more just country.

And if the rich people don’t like it, fine.

It’s not at all about “raising our total national tax revenue”.

It’s about nascent totalitarianism masquerading as “fairness”.  Fairness is one of those code words on the left that is used to rationalize removing choice, using coercion and claiming their actions are justified because otherwise the status quo is “unfair”.

There is no worse of a sin in the collective than being ‘unfair’.

And screw you if you don’t like it.


Twitter: @McQandO

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31 Responses to Famous dumb ideas: Let’s have a maximum wage, shall we?

  • In my novel (that nobody read), written two decades ago, I propose the “Money Where Your Mouth Is Tax”.  If anyone openly advocates redistributionism, their assets are taken, and they are provided a “citizen of the world” level stipend.
    Depending on when, that would be about $1,500 per year.
    How ’bout it Nolan, you pizzle?

  • “Is it?  What if you’re trying to build a business that requires, oh, I don’t know, 10 million?”
    That was my very first thought.  Take all the large, or even medium, or even smaller businesses, with a capitalization of over $5 million and set up a tax structure that would likely destroy the means of building them and see if this yahoo still says, “Good riddance.”
    What. A. Moron.

  • We need to send this clown to Zimbabwe, a country where you can quickly learn that the 32 million Zimdollars you have in your wallet will still only buy you a loaf of bread.
    I can only wish this idiot experience this first hand in a way that leaves the rest of us unaffected and hopefully entertained.

    • actually, I was wrong, it was a trillion zimdollars for a loaf of bread before they killed the currency….so it would have been mean to only have given him 32 million to work with.

    • It’s good there were some real adults running loose to set the world up so little Hamilton could play adult dress up every day.

      • Keep going.  I bought ten $100 trillion Zimbabwe notes for $30 US.

        • My buddy (a ‘Rhodesian’) walks around with a zim note in his wallet – I don’t remember the denomination, other than the amount is ridiculous.    He emigrated to South Africa after Mugabe, and eventually here.

  • “The wealthy could still earn as much as they want.”
    No, they couldn’t. What sane company would offer a salary that will immediately be confiscated? It would be pissing away money better kept in the company.

  • Envy is soooo infantile!
    And envy has been de rigueur for the left since Rousseau, and some of the right since Augustine.

  • Even Obama has made more than $5 million in one year … and he took it all !

  • How can we coexist peacefully with people like this?

    • We can, you just have to make sure they have no control over spending anyone’s money but their own.

  • @DocD.  Another angle is what employee or business owner would produce over $5 million in value if the excess will be confiscated? In other words, why work the extra time, why build the new iPhone, why expand the business?

  • “what level of inequality we are willing to tolerate in order to protect a vague and twisted notion of “freedom””And why should you decide what job you do as an adult? I’m sure the government could determine your skill set and how you would best serve society anyway. They’ve established the meme that only religous nuts believe in a right to life, the only question is whether this is intended to go after “liberty” or “pursuit of happiness”. Not that it matters, the government assigns your rights, why listen to a bunch of dead white slaveowners with outdated thinking.

  • By this logic, it’s time for Obama to move out of the way.  He has had way more then his 15 minutes.

  • Whenever I hear some lefty whining about “fairness”, I’m reminded of a bumper sticker I saw:
    Capitalism IS Social Justice

    • Capitalism IS Social Justice”

      It could be, without the crony capitalism, corporate socialism, and regulatory capture. All of these things pervert capitalism into something that is decidely not social justice.

      You see that, right?

      • Of course, WE see that.  What you don’t/won’t/can’t see is that those things are not capitalism.
        They are Collectivism at work, doing what it does, which is corrupt and distort markets.  Your reactionary world-view in application.
        Something done with the POWER of government, expressed outside of the Constitutional limits imposed by our Founders.

      • and your solution to add power to the state by letting them control election campaign funds directly.

  • I know there is a lot of slander in politics; people calling eachother Nazis and Hitler and all – its very uncouth and unhelpful to the debate at hand.  I get it.  But at what point, without being slanderous, do we get to call people like this communists?  This guy is a flat-out communist.  Am I an a##hole for saying that?  would I get booed by Bill Maher’s audience?  Lets just call it what it is.  Communism as a philosophy is really making a comeback.

    • ” But at what point, without being slanderous, do we get to call people like this communists?”

      When has being slanderous ever stopped anyone?

      But to answer the question, I suppose you can honestly call a person a communist when a person is a proponent of the creation of a classless, moneyless, and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order.

      But hey, why not lower the bar just a little and call a guy a commie if they want to raise any tax at all.

  • 1) He should do his homework and make sure that he isn’t taking huge sums of revenue away with this plan, not to mention severely impacting economic growth, severely messing with pricing signals, etc.
    2) He should read about the Brits who fled the UK when they did stuff like this…the Beatles even made a song about taxes at that point!

  • Maybe we should make the unobtainable available for a price. Want to build a modern house within one of the Monuments of Monument Valley? Want the only house in a remote Redwood Forest? Price: 50 million dollars, or maybe 100. Want to lease an Island on our coast, with built-in autonomy? Provide a million good jobs for Americans. That sort of thing.