Imagine a world where the government is about to regulate wages so that top incomes are no more than ten times the lowest. Imagine you’re earning a really high salary, as a banker let’s say. Imagine your salary will be cut and your bonuses capped.
Ideologically you believe in the absolute purity of money, you believe it shouldn’t be interfered with and you believe you have every right to make as much of it as you can.
However, the restrictions are going to become law; you’re not being listened to and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. What would you do?
Maybe you’d leave the country, but that’s a big decision. Maybe you’d accept the world has changed and be grateful you’ve got a job. Or maybe you’d take to the streets and protest even though you’ve despised others for doing the same in the past. If you were backed into this corner and if you felt you had no voice – would you riot? Would you smash up your beloved City of London in the style of a retreating Russian army?
Sometimes it’s interesting to pause and imagine these things. If there’s nothing fundamentally different between low and high paid workers why wouldn’t they react the same when cornered in the same way? Maybe you think bankers are special and would never stoop so low. Maybe you think they’re more intelligent and would find alternatives. Or maybe you think they’re privileged and protected in a way that others aren’t?
Imagine a world where the defining law that creates equality is a law that prevents a chasm between the haves and have nots – what do you think would happen?
Being a leftie, I love the idea of the law you suggest – and in the meantime, if overpaid bankers do start to riot, they won’t be getting any sympathy from me! Great post!
There’s a precedent for this, in Sri Lanka where Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world’s first female prime minister in 1965, serving three separate periods up to 2000, when she died.
I remember she tried a policy of capping top salaries and only allowing them to rise as those of the lowest rose, though I don’t remember the details, or how successful it was.