September 19, 2013 by David K. Sutton
Deluded Forbes Author Says The One Percent ‘Should Be Awarded The Congressional Medal Of Honor’
There are occasions when you read an article by the “opposition” and you can’t help but think, “The joke is on me. You got me! This is a fine piece of satire, have you considered submitting it to The Onion?” Such is the case with a Forbes op-ed by Harry Binswanger, and the pseudo satire begins with the title, “Give Back? Yes It’s Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%.”
In his hallucination, Binswanger says, “It’s time to gore another collectivist sacred cow. This time it’s the popular idea that the successful are obliged to ‘give back to the community.'”
Yes, I’d say the wealthy should give back. I wouldn’t use the word “obliged,” but the fact that we are even talking about this topic is proof that they aren’t giving back enough. And I know how that sounds to someone like Binswanger, and I honestly don’t care. If we didn’t have vast income and wealth inequality, his article and my response would not exist. So while the wealthy are not duty bound to give back, they should personally feel compelled to do so.
Give Back? Yes, It’s Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1% – Forbes: For their enormous contributions to our standard of living, the high-earners should be thanked and publicly honored. We are in their debt.
Here’s a modest proposal. Anyone who earns a million dollars or more should be exempt from all income taxes. Yes, it’s too little. And the real issue is not financial, but moral. So to augment the tax-exemption, in an annual public ceremony, the year’s top earner should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett. Or if the moral praise showered on Mother Teresa went to someone like Lloyd Blankfein, who, in guiding Goldman Sachs toward billions in profits, has done infinitely more for mankind. (Since profit is the market value of the product minus the market value of factors used, profit represents the value created.)
Can you believe this guy? Again, I feel like I’m being punk’d. I’m peering over my shoulder, expecting Ashton Kutcher to rise up from the shadows — any second now.
I know there are people who give credence to what Binswanger is saying, but it never fails to shock me when offered an insight into “productive class” thinking. But it should not shock anyone to find out Binswanger is a Ayn Rand disciple. “It turns out that the 99% get far more benefit from the 1% than vice-versa,” says Binswanger. “Ayn Rand developed the idea of ‘the pyramid of ability,’ which John Galt sets forth in Atlas Shrugged.” Then Binswanger gives us an excerpt from The Bible of Rand.
Atlas Shrugged — When you live in a rational society, where men are free to trade, you receive an incalculable bonus: the material value of your work is determined not only by your effort, but by the effort of the best productive minds who exist in the world around you.
In other words, we have a productive class and a non-productive class. The lowly workers who make the products dreamed up by the productive class are merely tools of the productive class.
Atlas Shrugged — When you work in a modern factory, you are paid, not only for your labor, but for all the productive genius which has made that factory possible: for the work of the industrialist who built it, for the work of the investor who saved the money to risk on the untried and the new, for the work of the engineer who designed the machines of which you are pushing the levers, for the work of the inventor who created the product which you spend your time on making.
Again, if you buy into Rand’s selfish thinking, the average worker is simply a tool of the productive class. In fact, a more apt description after this passage is that workers are rats pushing levers.
Atlas Shrugged — In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability. The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains. Such is the nature of the ‘competition’ between the strong and the weak of the intellect. Such is the pattern of ‘exploitation’ for which you have damned the strong.
So a billionaire CEO is only reaping “a small percentage of his value”? You must remind yourself that this style of thinking is necessary to justify the obscene sums of money the richest people possess. You cannot possibly rationalize tens of billions of dollars in net worth unless, on some level (or every level), you buy into the idea that you are worth it, because you came up with that fantastic widget that everyone wants.
And remember, when you are working a labor intensive blue collar job, you should be kissing the feet of your overlord employer, because you are receiving an incredible sum of money considering how little “mental effort” that is required to be who you are.
See, I knew there was a REALLY good reason I could never bring myself to read Atlas Shrugged. I’ve read enough excerpts to know I would feel tainted and somehow less humane when I came out the other side. But again, we have Binswanger to set us straight. “An end must be put to the inhuman practice of draining the productive to subsidize the unproductive.” Or he could have put it another way — All you people who are unemployed, or underemployed, why can’t you just die already? You are such a drag on the productive members of society.
I do believe it’s possible Binswanger and his fellow Ayn Rand disciples are uncaring, self-absorbed assholes.