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Nothing over a million dollars

By Valerie Yule - posted Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Those who cannot imagine how those in the future will see the present, doom that future.

Gulliver reported his Travels to the lands of the little people, the big people, the mad scientists, the tragic immortals, and the Yahoos. He did not report on his visit to the 21st century. We don’t know his comments on our economics. But we can guess.

Many bright sparks have suggested solving the economic woes of many countries by giving to them the surplus of any income paid to directors of all financial institutions over one million dollars.

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The immediate response to this is that the CEO and directors would then flee any taxing countries to nice taxless havens. The answer to this is - breathless - let them flee.

None of them would be missed. Our own country is full of people who could be content to be CEOs with incomes of less than a million dollars. With such low incomes they would be more likely to see the world as it is, and consequently their banks would be less likely to need bailing out on occasion.

There is no doubt that present incumbents would try and wriggle to get out of paying such a super tax. Their antics could be made public.

The bankers have used their powers so badly that they lurch us into peril rather than saving us from it. It is not a habit just acquired. We might imagine so, with the present government bailouts so huge and so international, but it goes right back to the 19th century if not before. It has just got worse.

“The power of the bankers must be wiped out. The have used their powers so badly that they have shown they are not safe custodians of the money and credit of the country.” That was Lord Beaverbrook in 1932, continuing a fruitless fight from “the deflationist twenties to the squeezes of the sixties”, arguing that the government should control the banks and not the other way round, since bankers did not know the signs of the times. Like Scrooge McDuck they wore blinkers made from their own incomes. (Michael Foot, Debts of Honor, 1981 p76) (transposed because Beaverbrook did not mention Scrooge McDuck).

Criticisms are even more justified today, because the salaries and bonuses of the financial leaders bear ever less relation to the wages of the people, or even to the wages of their own employees, to the detriment of morale and productivity.

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Their incompetence is shown by their very acceptance of such large discrepancies. A quick guide to the likely incompetence of a CEO is those of them who willingly receive an income more than 20 times that of the average of other employees.

This makes them incompetent because they are unaware of the most obvious situations in the world in which their company must operate. Their decisions are also likely to be wrong because of their bias - which is greed. What do they need so much money for?

Will people lose all ambition because a million dollars a year is all that they can earn - and no more?

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About the Author

Valerie Yule is a writer and researcher on imagination, literacy and social issues.

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