The Problem with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Part Dos)
The 2018 Mid-Term elections weren't so much of a Blue Wave, but a Blue Ripple. Yet in that small wave was something of note in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Youngest Woman ever was elected to the House, 29 year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Now we have written of the dangers of Ocasio-Cortez before. Not her specifically, but her brand of Socialism. Today, today though, I am feeling charitable and I would like to help out the freshman Congresswoman from New York. I asked myself: What would sell socialism to the masses that wouldn't bankrupt America? One idea came to mind that barely registers on the National Consciousness.
The Maximum Wage.
Please grant me patience while I expound upon my idea. Back in the year 2000, I was listening to Jello Biafra's spoken word classic Become the Media. About 4 minutes into his riff on The Green Wedge (below), he laid out his "crazy" idea of a maximum wage.
Now Biafra was as much of a showman as he was an ideologue, so let me give a little history lesson. Biafra wanted a flat maximum wage of $100,000. Now that number was arbitrary and would never work, just like FDR wanted a maximum wage of $25,000 during World War II. There have been a few minor examples of attempted maximum wages through American history, but let me tell you something, for you and me the maximum wage is already here.
Let's take my former employer (Company X) as an example. If you were a regular employee, the minimum wage was $8.30. But what the masses don't know is that the maximum wage for that same employee was $20.00 an hour. Now the corporate weasels would shriek that if you wanted more than $20.00 an hour, you could make it, you just had to earn a promotion. For example, the next step up the corporate ladder was a coordinator. The minimum wage for that position was (I believe) $18.00 an hour, but again, the cap on that position was $28.00 an hour. Each level of management had a ceiling and a floor all the way up to the CEO. All of a sudden, at the top levels of management, the "ceilings" began to disappear and the CEO made $8 million a year.
Now an employee making $8.30 an hour, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, would make around $17,000 a year. The CEO would be making about 470 times as much as his lowest employee. I 100% guarantee you that the CEO is not working 470 times more, or harder, than the minimum wage laborer.
To say a maximum wage is un-American is a flat out lie. At my current job there is a cap on my salary for my position, and, because I now work in the public sector, both my salary and the head of the district's salary are public record. Depending on how many extra hours I chose to work this year, the head of our system would make between 5 to 6 times the amount of salary that I made. Not speculation, I can look it up.
With that in mind, I propose the Ocasio-Cortez/Hunt 2019 Wage Fairness Act geared toward the 99%. No member of a government agency, corporation, or multi-person entity shall make more than 100 times more than the lowest paid full-time employee of the same organization.
As a matter of fact, almost every public worker in America would be unaffected by a maximum wage law. In Ohio the minimum wage is $8.30, so the maximum wage for Ohio government employees would be $1.7 million. Basically putting a cap on how much College Football and College Basketball coaches could make. (In most states, the highest paid public employees are college coaches.) Sorry Urban Meyer.
Now the private sector is where the law would bare its teeth. If you had a small business in Ohio, the rules for you would be the same as government agencies in Ohio. For my former employers at Company X, the rules would be different. Company X has an office in Beijing, China. The minimum wage for Beijing is $250 U.S. Dollars a month, about $3,000 a year. So if you have a company with employees in China, your company's maximum wage would now be $300,000.
If you're a CEO of a restaurant chain and you pay the $4.15 rate to your waitresses, your maximum wage scale would slide down to $850,000. In theory, the bigger the multinational company, the smaller the maximum wage. Because it's a sliding scale based on how many people are on your "team." Every job in America thinks of their workplace as a team. Some people buy into that, but usually those in leadership positions are selling you the concept of team.
Speaking of teams, if you're the Chairman Emeritus of Nike and you have plants in Bangladesh, you are taking a huge hit. The minimum wage in Bangladesh is $95 a month. 95 time 12 is $1140 a year. So instead of taking in hundreds of millions, you will be capped at $114,000 a year compensation.
This law isn't just for CEOs, it goes for celebrities, too. The guy cleaning the toilets in your trailer on the movie set makes $11.00 (in California). Your wage is now capped at, let's see 11 times 40 hours a week, times 52 weeks, the janitor makes $22,880. So now you're capped at $2.28 million a year. Same as the CEO of your movie studio.
Now you can partially circumvent this law in a number of ways. Say you're Google, you make your minimum wage for employees $100,000 a year and then subcontract out things like building management and janitorial services. Your CEO in this scenario is pulling in a cool $10 million a year.
Say you're Nike, you sell that plant in Bangladesh, you now have two choices. You can return the factory to America, or do business with an independent company in Bangladesh that you now have as a subcontractor. Either way....
Now rich men across the continent are huffing and puffing that I'm restricting their Pursuit of Happiness guaranteed to them by the constitution. The Ocasio-Cortez/Hunt 2019 Wage Fairness Act is unconstitutional. And now things start to get interesting.
The Preamble of the Constitution clearly states that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Now once the rich start to argue that their rights are being curtailed by having a capped income, you can now sue the rich for capping your income. Back to the Company X example. If my friend, let's call him Ted, hits the company mandated ceiling for his position, he can then sue Company X for not giving him a raise the next year. If that's the argument the 1% wants to use, they are going to be swamped by litigation from their own employees.
I don't hate the rich. My Brother-in-Law is one of the top Brain Surgeons in his state. He works his ass off and is one of the smartest people I know. He probably makes 10 to 12 times as much money as I do a year and I don't begrudge him a bit.
Why? Because he has a skill set which nearly no American possesses. Should Brain Surgeons make that much money? Absolutely. And the Ocasio-Cortez/Hunt Law wouldn't affect him either. The very top surgeons in American can approach $500,000 a year. Now let me turn it around, to you, the reader. Who do you think deserves at $500,000 a year salary more? A corporate CEO or a Brain Surgeon. I would argue that the Brain Surgeon has more education and a more unique repertoire than a CEO. Say Company X fired their CEO, it would probably have their choice of dozens of other potential CEOs. If a hospital fires their Brain Surgeon, depending on the part of the country they're in, they may not have a Brain Surgeon to replace him with. The law of supply and demand helps drive up the Brain Surgeon salary structure, but does not keep down the CEO salary. How many companies run without a CEO because they just can't find one?
The CEO of the Cleveland Clinic had a total compensation package of $4.48 million in 2017. He would probably be the only one in the whole Clinic system affected by the Ocasio-Cortez/Hunt Law. But because the Cleveland Clinic likes to restrict Constitutional Liberties in the name of health care, I wouldn't be surprised if they opposed the maximum wage, strictly based on hypocrisy.
How do I figure? Again, we have touched upon this briefly in the past. If you smoke and work for the Cleveland Clinic, you will be terminated. It's irrelevant that it's legal, smoking is bad for you. The Cleveland Clinic is also starting to cancel insurance policies based on your weight. You read that right, my former co-worker at Company X is on his wife's insurance policy and he was told to lose weight or he'd be charged a surcharge for their insurance coverage and then possibly be dropped in the future unless he hit certain weight-height ratios.
If the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic was against the Ocasio-Cortez/Hunt Law based the restriction of his pursuit of happiness, my buddy could then sue the Cleveland Clinic on the exact same premise because he likes to eat, but wants health insurance.
See a lot of laws in America are for "us" and not for "them." At least once a month I read an article about how unfair the perks of Congress are. Well that's the scam, a Senator's salary is only $174,000. Unaffected by the Ocasio-Cortez/Hunt Law, if the all the perks a congressman were cut out, you may have more average citizens run for Congress instead of millionaires.
Speaking of which, while I was writing this article I came across some news about young Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She can't afford a Washington DC apartment. See, as much as I disagree with her political stance, I can't disagree that she's not unlike you and me (in both good and bad ways.)