Friday, April 4, 2014

The expense of the many... (video)

Peyton Manning plays for the Denver Bronco's, shows up for practice daily and puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like John Youboty. The fact that, in 2013, Manning's salary (plus bonus) bested Youboty's some 40 times over (throw in endorsements and you'd easily double that) would be the definition of income inequality. Of course I could go to a greater extreme and feature the average pay of the folks who maintain the football field. Then of course we'd be talking multiples in the hundreds. And maybe we should go there, I mean you can't play football without a field. Truly, Peyton didn't build that!

Harold Meyerson complains that capitalism enriches the few rather than the many. Peyton Manning, through years of practice and study, has enhanced, and capitalized on, bigtime, his unique abilities. Meyerson complains about the large share of "Americans' income" going to the wealthiest 1 percent: "capitalism itself enriches the few at the expense of the many", he writes. 

For starters, I didn't realize that the income the Bronco's organization distributes to Peyton Manning, or, for that matter, the income Apple distributes to CEO Tim Cook somehow belongs to me. I mean, I am an American, and Meyerson did say "Americans' income". Oh, wait a sec, he's right! While I can't go right to an example of where Manning's enrichment comes at my expense, I certainly can when it comes to Cook. Over the past few years, I have expended quite a bit on Apple. That is, on two or three Macbooks, a few iPads, multiple iPhones (considering kids, and upgrades), and who knows how much on iTunes and the App Store.

The funny obvious thing is, the fact that Cook's life has been enriched at my expense doesn't bother me in the least. As long as Apple keeps bringing me value, I'm good with whatever its board decides it wants to pay its CEO. Wait, scratch that: I'm good regardless. If Apple doesn't keep bringing me value, I'm free to expense myself on behalf of whichever of its competitors can. And in that event---in that I'd no doubt be one of many Apple expatriates---I suspect Apple's board would be less inclined to pay Cook nearly as much, if anything at all.

And I don't suspect "the many" Bronco's fans are the least bit concerned with what their team pays its star quarterback.

Of course I'm messing with semantics. When Meyerson refers to "expense" he's referring to loss. In a Meyerson world, those who produce---whether (I presume) it be touchdown passes or iPhone 5s---should do so on behalf of the many who don't happen to be the many who buy their stuff. Meaning, frankly, that---in a world where not every soul can afford a ticket to a game, or unlimited texting---the 1 percenters have no business hoarding as much of "America's income" as they do. Therefore, he, and the biased economists who confirm his bias, would look to big government to redistribute those big incomes.

The question, then, a freedom-biased individual must ask is, would "America's income" be what it is if it were more evenly, and coercively, distributed among those who produce the goods and services folks happily buy, and those who don't? Would we be a more prosperous society? I, like Margaret Thatcher (see below), would say no. I don't believe---as Milton Friedman pointed out (see below)---that any form of collectivism, to this point, has remotely delivered on its utopian promise. Quite the opposite in fact...

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