This conversation is closed.

A disproportionate few wealthy people own or control most of of the world's wealth. There may be a reasonable way out.

Suppose within a given world corporation, the only thing limiting the income of owners and management was that their income could never exceed 100 times the lowest paid person within their organization. It is OK for the CEO of Exxon-Mobile (for example) to make 10 million dollars a year, as long as the cleaning staff at corporate headquarters each receive a hundred thousand. In this scenario 100,000 dollars would be the minimum salary throughout the entire corporation. This proposal could extend to shareholders as well. People who can use their wealth to generate more wealth without lifting a finger may deserve some return on their investment, but it should never exceed 100 times the salary of the lowest paid worker.

I have heard estimates that 50 percent of Americans control only 2 percent of its wealth. This kind of pattern is the norm in many countries and is the source of much trouble.

In order for this notion not to become an excuse for companies to ship their jobs over-seas, the lowest paid employee, regardless of location would set the limit on management pay. A corporate worker being paid 5 dollars per day would limit the highest paid manager or shareholder to $500 per day.

A grass-roots movement would be required to get this notion off the ground, and I would expect nothing but resistance from the corporate world. I invite you to share your ideas as to how this more equitable arrangement could be made possible.

The number 100 times is just a proposal, perhaps it should be higher or lower, I welcome reasoned feedback or all kinds.

  • Aug 31 2011: @Don McCan

    Maybe as overall contribution to society - greater resource/energy consumption/growth. Maybe you are referring to it only in context of current socioeconomical order/politics. Yes but they both lived in 20th century, so it is not important if contributions are immediately felt, just their overall magnitude, only living in that time period is what matters when award is given. Einstein caused great paradigm shift in human thinking and E=mc^2 is not the only thing he did, he is also responsible for discovery of cosmological constant (a blunder he called it - but now we know he had predicted the expansion of the universe with it - which leads to big bang theory), also he got nobel prize of physics for solving the photoelectric effect problem (he set basis for quantum mechanics with it - most successful theory ever to be devised) not for his special/general relativity or only E=mc^2 like average layman would like to believe. Also Chuchill could not have much without Josiph Stalin and United States.
  • Aug 30 2011: I have removed the "Use for Greed" portion of my topic sentence. Most successful business people strive for success, not all are greedy, yet each striving person may benefit others while still benefitting themselves as much as 100 fold. I am not trying to demonize business people, I think I might be interested in changing the paradigm of what constitutes a "successful" business person.

    Businesses have been coaxed or coerced into being "green," "safe," "good corporate citizens" and of course profitable. The market tends to measure the success of a business by its profit, but we have seen recently with the BP oil spill that a lack of safety had a serious impact on their bottom line.

    These days being a "good corporate citizen" includes community activisim, donations to charities, and being community leaders. Perhaps this definition needs to be extended to the balance between how the human beings at the top of the ladder are treated, compared to those at the bottom. A profitable company with a smaller "benefit gap" may some day be seen as a wiser investment than a profitable company with a huge "benefit gap."

    I believe that well-treated employees are more effective and loyal workers than those poorly treated and poorly remunerated. I am certain that studies exist that bear out this assertion. Extremes of a "benefit gap" within an organzation suggest that one person is perhaps thousands or millions of times more important to an organization. I might be convinced that someone is 100 times as important to an organization than someone else, 1000, 10,000 or a million times is a much much harder sell
  • Aug 29 2011: Just a correction...I attributed a comment to Robert that I should have attributed to Thomas...Thanks Thomas, your comments have been incredibly uplifting. I do like the idea of using TED to get the idea out to celebrities. I think I would have trouble putting everything into a 20 min talk, but I would certainly give it a shot! Maybe I could call "Uncle Warren" to speak on my behalf. At age 80, I think he has a pretty good perspective.
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    Aug 28 2011: Don, I applaud your intention to address the inequities of capitalist societies/economies.

    We (US) rank well down the list of countries with the smallest discrepancy between rich and poor. Far, far down the list. I think your idea would work, but only in theory. If something is going to be done to address the problem I would start by investing in 21st century markets such as alternative fuels and everything that trickles down from that, green technology, technology in general and heavily invest in education and re-education. I would encourage innovation and put my money where my mouth is by tax-exempting qualified innovative ventures. I would develop a plan to modernize our countries infrastructure as well as it's technology infrastructure. I would make it our business to partner with other countries who wanted to protect and preserve democracy and freedom, and help other countries not as wealthy as ours to provide food clothing shelter and hope in their own future. I would make education the most highly valued of all our efforts because education is the key to keeping up with change, which is constant.
    • Aug 29 2011: Thanks Jim,

      That sounds a little more positive! Robert was correct that I don't believe I have "THE CORRECT ANSWER" but was hoping that it would morph into something that might find itself surfacing in the world's collective consciousness. Things move pretty fast today. Recently there was a call by Warren Buffet and some wealthy people in Europe for the rich to pay more in tax! Billionaires are figuring out that if they pay tax and as a result can live in a better country, with roads that don't shake their limos apart, and sufficient security that they don't feel compelled to hire their own, their life is better. I see these sentiments as a tiny ray of hope in what is otherwise a bleak future for so many. Perhaps we have finally reached the time when billionaires and millionaires have realized that being aquisitive brings short lived happiness.

      I was once significantly better off financially than I am right now, and while it was a bit wrenching dropping down a few pegs, I found that with less stuff I had less to look after. My time became my own to do with as I pleased. I have only one car to wash, and a much smaller house that is easier to care for. In short, my life got better by having less.

      Don't get me wrong, I am still living very well, much better than the folks I am interested in helping. There has to be a creative way to improve the lives of so many people, thanks for taking the time to help me search for it.
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    Aug 27 2011: Hi Don,

    I've been thinking about your topic and have had a few ideas.

    First, I apologize for, more or less, highjacking your forum: I often enjoy digressions of the kind I engaged in. I see them somewhat like conversational jazz-fussion - I try to hold a line and see what happens. The process is fun and the outcome (once in a while) is surprising. I probably should have cut it off much earlier and I appreciate your patience.

    With that:

    Here are some ideas that might help with your "cause." They are:

    - Drucker's idea that companies have to be run by "normal" people. (1)
    - Margaret Mead's idea of a small group changing the world. (2) And...
    - Collins and Porras' idea of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal.) (3)

    No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings. – Peter F. Drucker

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead

    A true BHAG [Bee-hag: Big Hairy Audacious Goal] is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines. – Collins and Porras, 1996

    A fourth idea is lead by example.

    I use these simple ideas (and others) for various projects I am involved in. One is a small company my wife and I have set up here in China.

    We have found a small group of "normal" people and we created a viable business opportunity for them. Then we asked them to identify what goals they would like to reach. There are several they came up with but one was, "Transform and improve the culture of service in all of China." Talk about a BHAG.

    It seems to be working. AndI think these ideas could be modified and applied to pretty much anything.
    • Aug 27 2011: Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for providing the best kind of response...exactly the sort of thing I had hoped for.

      I think that this conversation was started by me as a search for a BHAG, and your timely contribution has crystallized this notion and so now I would like to appeal to contributors for a concise quantifiable goal that makes practical sense. Such as:

      "Be it resolved that by the year 2050, the difference between that income of the poorest paid earner on earth will be no less than one percent of the highest paid earner". The idea is not to diminish the earnings of the most highly paid, but rather to raise the earnings of those at the bottom.

      Also, what steps might be taken to encourage those at the top to appreciate that it is in their best interest to subscribe to such a notion? Many rich people such as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are giving their fortunes away in constructive ways. Perhaps rather than accumulating huge sums and then handing them out, there may be dignified methods at both ends of the spectrum by which this wealth could benefit the poorest financially while recognizing the rich "contributor" as a good citizen of the world.

      I may be dreaming, but that is how all "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" begin life.
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        Aug 27 2011: Hi Don,

        Technically, we cannot set BHAGs for others. So, if you would like to establish, for yourself, a goal to link high/low salaries by, say, 2050, you are talking about establishing laws.

        You would have to arrange for your idea to be legislated.

        If you are thinking about getting voluntary compliance, then you are talking about stuff like "raising awareness" and "setting an example."

        Voluntary compliance with anything takes time - lots of time.

        About 30 or 40 years ago, Werner Erhardt (the fellow who started EST) also started something called "The Hunger Project." Its goal was to eradicate hunger by (I think) the year 2000. It was a program based solely on raising awareness, they did not provide food to the hungry, for example. It hasn't worked, yet. It has had an impact but, obviously, some people, lots of people, still experience hunger.

        So, unless you would like to legislate change, you are probably going to have to motivate and inspire change - and be prepared to take a long time doing it. (Christians have been trying to inspire voluntary compliance in a set of beliefs and practices for about 2000 years.)

        Still, setting an example is a good way to inspire change.

        Some people think that the West's biggest contribution to world culture is capitalism; it's not. The biggest cultural export from the West is "Scientific Management." Scientific Management, developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor, is used everywhere (most people don't even know they are using it.)

        Why has it been so effective?

        Because it demonstrated measurable improvements (that is essentially what Scientific Management is.)

        Basically, it worked. So people adopted it.

        If you can demonstrate linking high and low salaries "works" - you are more likely to have an affect on other people's behaviour.

        Getting people to "change their minds" using logic is (almost) impossible.

        If you would like people to change their minds, get them to change their behaviour.

        Actions speak louder than words.
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    Aug 24 2011: Ben and Jerry's used to have a 7-to-1 pay ratio. They abolished it in 1995 when they hired an "outside" CEO. They, more or less, had to or no one would have taken the job.


    It has been said that if we took all of the money in the world and distributed it equally, within a year, it would all be back in the hands of the people who have most of it now.


    As more of us become "knowledge workers," we carry the means of production with us wherever we go (between our ears.) So interestingly many "capitalists" are in a sense "communists."

    Personally, I find the emotionalism people bring to the notions of capitalism and communism amusing. But then, I find the emotionalism we brings to a lot of things amusing.

    We like to think we are rational. We aren't.
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      Aug 24 2011: it might be amusing first, but turns into scary sooner than you can imagine
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        Aug 24 2011: QUOTE: "it might be amusing first, but turns into scary sooner than you can imagine"

        You see Krisztián, that is exactly my point.

        For you, "it" is scary (emotionalism.)

        What "it" are you referring to?

        Communism (leading, no doubt, to totalitarianism or anarchy?)

        Economic collapse brought on by under- or over-regulated capital markets?

        I actually know what "it" you are referring to because of our previous conversations but the fact you think it is so obvious you do not have to specify is an example of emotionalism.

        Many of us have our own theories (that are usually not even ours - they are borrowed from Mills, Keynes, Schumpeter, Malthus, Marx, or Taleb and Ariely.)

        Of course, things just "roll along" and stuff happens. We then try to explain the stuff after the fact (with a deep sigh and an exhortation along the lines of: "If they had only listened to me before all this happened it would have been so much easier on all of us.")

        Interestingly, we don't even "see" the stuff until after it happens (Oh, look! We've just had three successive quarters of negative growth! Now there's an oxymoron: negative growth.)

        It doesn't seem to occur to us that maybe we haven't got it all figured out ... regardless of what side of the line we stand on.

        In hindsight, we are all brilliant.
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          Aug 24 2011: when you are put in concentration camp or your house is set on fire, it is not really a matter of "emotionalism", whatever would that mean.
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        Aug 24 2011: QUOTE: "when you are put in concentration camp or your house is set on fire, it is not really a matter of "emotionalism", whatever would that mean."

        No doubt, the people who set the house on fire were acting emotionally, as were those of us who put others of us in concentration camps.

        The fact that these kinds of things have happened in economic systems of all stripes seems to escape you.

        But, my point is: When we embrace a system of belief (any system of belief) we tend to react with emotion when it is threatened ... even when we perceive it is being threatened. (This is emotionalism.)

        You obviously believe that capitalism is a panacea. Fine, you might be right. But your certainty that you are right will blind you to other possibilities ("There are none!")

        What if the "best" system hasn't even been invented yet and, when it is, what if the people who invent it, have the poor sense to call it "socialism?" (Or "anti-capitalism?" Or "Bob.")

        You might very likely reject it outright because you are certain that "socialism" (or Bob) is wrong and bad.

        Look around, Krisztián, the state of the world is not the result of any one system; it is the result of our collective behaviour.

        That our behaviour is governed by belief in capitalism (in some places), socialism (in other places) and anythingism (in still different places) is essentially irrelevant.

        If it was not "thisism" we used to justify our behaviour, it would be "thatism."

        Do you really THINK - not feel, or hope, or believe; do you think - capitalism, or any other "ism," is going to change the way we collectively act?

        I don't.

        Do you think that any "ism" is going to be embraced universally?

        I don't.

        Don't get me wrong; I am not a pessimist; far from it. I just don't think utopia is a matter of capitalism, socialism, or any ism - it is a matter of individual behaviour and character.

        Give me a world of conscientious individuals and I won't care if they call themselves capitalists, socialists, or ...?
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          Aug 24 2011: setting a bank on fire, as for example greek protesters did, might be "emotionalism". but pointing out that communist/statist/egalitarian etc thought can lead to such events is not. it is just a enunciation of truth. i approach the topic with as much objectivity as humanly possible. if it seems grim, it is because the topic is grim.
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        Aug 24 2011: QUOTE: "...pointing out that communist/statist/egalitarian etc thought can lead to such events is not. it is just a enunciation of truth."

        Yes, your statement is an enunciation of "truth." But then so to is the statement that "anything, including capitalism, can lead to 'such events.'" And I notice you do not make such, equally "true," statements.

        That "things" CAN lead to other "things" ... even that "things" HAVE (apparently) led to other "things," is not a particularly useful statement. At least not from a rational point of view. From an emotional point of view, such statements can be very satisfying. They "prove" our point.

        However, that "A" can lead to "B" does not mean that "A" does lead to "B." Nor does the fact that "B" HAS happened in a state of "A" imply causality.

        Of course you know this already; and, if "A" was, say, religion, and "B" was, say, a peaceful society, you would see "the logic" of the argument right away.

        But, as I said, we are not rational; we are emotional.

        To prove my point, I suspect (if I was bold, I might predict,) you will find a "rational" argument to suggest "socialism" is "bad" and that "capitalism" is "good."

        We are irrational. That does not mean we are (completely) unpredictable.
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        Aug 25 2011: QUOTE: "please explain to me how buddhism can lead to such events. or how anarcho-capitalism can. i'm all ears."

        Hi Krisztián,

        You are "all ears?" Somehow I doubt your sincerity.

        My point is that YOU cannot explain how Buddhism or Anarcho-Capitalism can definitively lead to (or away from) such events anymore than YOU can (convincingly) argue that Christianity, socialism, or veganism can lead inexorably to (or away from) such events.

        There are too many variables involved when we talk about "such events."

        What we can argue (somewhat convincingly) is that people tend to behave in predictable ways regardless of the socioeconomic systems that they find themselves in.

        Is it the system that dictates such behaviour?

        Or is it the agent?

        Your argument seems to be it is the system.

        I disagree.
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          Aug 25 2011: this extreme relativism is yet another dangerous idea. we need to realize once and for all that not all ideas are equal in their dangerousness. ideas have effects, and the effect is not purely, not even mainly in the subject. ideas themselves have effects. the idea of jihaad is inherently dangerous, even if we cannot say that every person kills under its influence. the idea of non-violence, on the other hand, is not inherently dangerous, though it can make a crazy person to do crazy things.

          it is perfectly valid, even more, it is advisable to analyze ideas based on their own merits and faults, dangers and benefits. extreme relativism is also an idea, and it is nothing but a tool in the hands of apologists do defend harmful ideas.
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        Aug 25 2011: Krisztián,

        Why do you insist are arguing your point by adopting such extreme examples?

        When someone disagrees with you (I have noticed) you bring out the "BIG GUNS:" Jihad, Concentration Camps, Burning down houses, the end of the world as we know it, and so on. (Emotionalism.)

        Your assumption seems to be that if we do not share your beliefs, the world is destined to self-destruct. (Emotionalism.)

        These extremes do not actually support your position.

        EDIT: By the way, if we want to split hairs, I suppose we could say the Second World War was triggered, in part, by Buddhists. Shinto/Buddhists.
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          Aug 25 2011: extreme examples are a good tool to show the error in a reasoning in an easy to understand way. sorry if my extreme examples destroy your arguments. but i still insist on choosing examples freely.

          btw burning down houses is not an extreme example in the case of communistic/etatist thought. it actually happened recently in greece. and concentration camps are also not extreme, as they happened on regular basis in history. these are extreme only in the sense of "most severe", but certainly not extreme thought experiments.

          you still seem to be unable to separate the idea from the person. last attempt: ideas and persons has their own characteristics. a buddhist can commit murder, it just means he is a bad buddhist. buddhism does not promote killing. i think it is simple.
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        Aug 25 2011: Okay Krisztián, I'll bite: What argument of mine do you think your examples have "destroyed?"


        QUOTE: "... a buddhist can commit murder, it just means he is a bad buddhist. Buddhism does not promote killing. i think it is simple."

        ... a Socialist can commit murder, it just means he is a bad Socialist. Socialism does not promote killing. i think it is simple.

        ... a Capitalist can commit murder, it just means he is a bad Capitalist. Capitalism does not promote killing. i think it is simple.

        I agree, Krisztián, it is simple.
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          Aug 25 2011: this is the one after the last attempt: yes, socialism DO promote killing. that is what i'm trying to explain to you for dunno how long now. socialism promotes the following ideas: rich men are evil, rich men should be limited, big corporations are responsible for the bad things happen to us, it is okay to take from the rich, whoever opposes socialism is also evil, or at least serves evil, and so on. that is all integral part of the socialist thought. these are not misinterpretations by some individuals. are we getting somewhere finally?
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        Aug 25 2011: Yes Krisztián, I think we are getting somewhere. We are getting to see the rationale for your strong emotional reactions.

        Your image of socialism is frightening.

        It is no wonder you react so strongly.

        However, your ideas about socialism are somewhat skewed and they are no more indicative of the theory or practice of socialism than a similar statement about capitalism would be. (I do not expect you to accept this statement.)

        About half of the world practices forms of socialism. Much of the rest, like France, Canada, and the United States engage in limited socialist practices.

        Also, if socialism "promotes killing" then, so too, does every other political system you would care to mention.

        Blaming violence on socialism is like blaming violence on capitalism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, or white males. It is irrational.
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          Aug 25 2011: back to the beginning once again. no, free market capitalism does not promote killing. blaming violence on capitalism is a false accusation. and yes, socialism inherently violent, although it is not immediately obvious, and thus blaming violence on socialism can be either true or false, depending on the case at hand. but blaming socialism for being a violent idea in general is a true accusation.

          i'm not sure if i really end this debate here, or i, out of curiosity, check how many times you will just come back with the same argument that any idea promotes violence in the exact same degree.
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        Aug 25 2011: Hi Krisztián,

        QUOTE: "i'm not sure if i really end this debate here, or i, out of curiosity, check how many times you will just come back with the same argument that any idea promotes violence in the exact same degree."

        You mistakingly think the fact I do not agree with you means I do not understand you.

        It might help if you realize that the statement "any idea promotes violence in the exact same degree" is NOT my argument. It is, or more accurately its reciprocal is, yours.

        I checked your profile and see you live in Budapest.

        Your comments and your worldview now make a little more sense.

        If I remember correctly (and I am not sure I do), Hungary was socialist/communist until 1989 or so.

        As I recall people in power were brutal, and hundreds of thousands of people were killed, imprisoned, or fled.

        That the men who engaged in such atrocities called themselves socialist (or patriots) does not mean all socialists (or patriots) act the same way. You may be confusing coincidence with causality. And, - based on your personal, immediate, emotional experience - it is obvious, you are determined to continue in your belief that "socialism" promotes killing - in spite of large amounts of impersonal and distant evidence to the contrary. I have no problem with that - the personal, immediate and emotional usually trumps the impersonal, distant and rational. It is faulty logic but, as I have said, we are not particularly rational beings.

        A more "logical" argument might be that the "ÁVH" promoted killing but even that would be missing the point. It would be more accurate to say something like, János Kádár or Imre Nagy promoted killing. The ideology they used to justify their actions is essentially irrelevant but that does not seem to register with you.

        If blaming socialism for the "evils of the world" gives you some sense of comfort*, I don't think anyone will mind. I certainly don't.

        *Brain scans indicate we like to have "enemies" - oddly, it gives us a sense of pleasure
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          Aug 26 2011: you can check my background all day long, and try to find out my motivations, if it pleases you. but the situation can be handled in an easier way: just listen to what i say, and that's it.

          and what i say is, 2nd after last time, socialism itself inherently promotes aggression. it does not depend neither on the implementation, nor the believer.

          it is fun that you keep repeating it doesn't, but you never even tried to challenge that statement. you simply keep telling the opposite. yes. no. yes. no.
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        Aug 26 2011: QUOTE: "just listen to what i say, and that's it."

        Yes, Krisztián, I have listened to what you say. You say, "... socialism itself inherently promotes aggression" - and I accept you believe implicitly in what you say.

        I understand you. I do not agree with you.
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          Aug 26 2011: but you are not going to debate that, but instead try to figure out my motivation?
        • Aug 26 2011: Gentlemen,

          Some of us seem to be getting WAY off topic.

          Krisztián, making an assertion does not make that assertion true. You have your notions; not everyone agrees with them; I certainly don't agree with many of them. My intent with floating this idea was to test the notion that many people are underpaid, some are overpaid in comparison to their contribution, and while there is zero chance of making a "perfect" system, perhaps getting the idea out there of the need for a better (more equitable) system might create awareness and opportunity at some point for some enlightened readers.

          Krisztián, it is unclear to me if you believe this idea has merit, since you seem to be passionately arguing both sides. On the one hand you would set a world salary cap of $30,000, while on the other you argue that this is socialism and therefore will lead to violence and destruction. Perhaps you may want to consider your position more carefully before commenting further.

          I have also seen an unwelcome attack from Birdia Tak Wai Chan who has taken sides by attacking the person with whom Krisztián,has been debating (Thomas) who I think has been far more patient than I would have been. I invite you (Krisztián) to start your own thread regarding the inherent violence of socialism, but I would prefer to keep things closer to the topic than a considerable portion of the conversation has been to date.

          If you have some ideas regarding the main roadblocks of implementing this idea or some ideas about how it may be implemented, I would love to read them.
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        Aug 26 2011: QUOTE: "but you are not going to debate that, but instead try to figure out my motivation?"

        Krisztián, I have actually made my point quite clearly - more than once.

        It is interesting you do not seem to be able to "hear" it.

        How about we end it this way:

        You say, "socialism itself inherently promotes aggression."

        And I say, "aggression is a human trait and is not causally linked to socialism - or any other "ism."

        And we are not in agreement.

        How's that?
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          Aug 26 2011: ideas have effects, and the effect is not purely, not even mainly in the subject. ideas themselves have effects.
        • Aug 26 2011: Birda,

          I see no connection between our conversation about coming up with a framework to more equitably share that planet's wealth, and spirituality, or "spiritual diversions." When you say the core problem of this thread, do you mean there is something wrong with the thread or that the problem of unequally sharing the planet's wealth is caused by spiritual diversions?

          Every day I thank god that I am an agnostic. I have seen no evidence ot spirit or spirituality, and therefore see no reason to include it in this topic. If you have some clarification, or better yet, tangible evidence of the spiritual connection, I will read it, but I am looking for real solutions and ideas, not more talk about the increasingly-discredited notion of spirituality.
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        Aug 26 2011: [EDITED: To conform to Krisztián's actual statement - i.e. I changed the word "always" to read "inherently."]

        Yes, Krisztián, ideas have effects ...

        Ideas affect our perception. Our perceptions affect our choices. Our choices affect our behaviour. And so on.

        You have an idea that socialism (inherently) promotes aggression; your idea affects your perception; your perception affects your choices; and your choices affect your behaviour (for example by engaging in this discussion.)

        There is nothing particularly unique in this.

        The idea that socialism does not promote aggression would have a different effect.


        I understand, you believe socialism itself inherently promotes aggression..

        I do not agree with you.


        The idea that socialism inherently leads to aggression is what is called an heuristic; it is a "rule" that we can use to "make sense" of the world.

        We have lots of heuristics - some are physical (that movement in my peripheral vision might be a tiger.) Some are behavioural (put your socks on before your shoes.) Some are cognitive (socialism inherently leads to aggression.) And so forth.

        Heuristics are useful. It would take us a long time to get dressed without them!

        There is an interesting problem with heuristics. To quote Nassim Nicholas Taleb, "One central aspect of a heuristic is that it is blind to reasoning."

        So let me be clear, I am not trying to reason with you. I do not mind if you think socialism inherently leads to aggression.

        However, I do not share your opinion: I do not think socialism inherently leads to aggression.

        I do not mind if you do not agree with me.

        I hope you will accept that I do not agree with you.
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          Aug 26 2011: "I understand, you believe socialism always leads to aggression."

          wow. i didn't say anything of the sort. that conversation leads to nowhere.
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        Aug 26 2011: Let me rephrase:

        "I understand, you believe socialism itself inherently promotes aggression."

        (That sounds like something of the sort to me ... but it is your statement, I'll use the one you prefer.)
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          Aug 26 2011: that's the problem exactly. that you don't understand the difference between

          "idea X promotes behavior Y"


          "idea X always leads to behavior Y"
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        Aug 26 2011: Semantics and rhetoric aside, Krisztián, the point is not whether or not I understand the difference between "idea X promotes behavior Y" and "idea X always leads to behavior Y."

        [That is a tough one though ... give me some time.]

        The point is: You assert that "socialism inherently leads to aggression" and I disagree with you.

        You do seem to be having a hard time grasping that one.

        [Would you like to try another deflection?]


        Just out of curiosity, what do you expect the outcome of your discussion to be?
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          Aug 26 2011: semantics and rethorics? you simply misinterpret what i say. "inherently leads to" is not even a valid phrase, and i never said that. my point was: socialism is violent in nature. that is inherently promotes violence. that is, can lead to violent behavior if interpreted right (as opposed to buddhism, which only can lead to violent behavior if interpreted wrong)

          outcome: don't know. i'm just experimenting now. i'm curious how long you are willing to repeat your arguments that are already addressed.
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        Aug 26 2011: QUOTE: "you simply misinterpret what i say. "inherently leads to" is not even a valid phrase, and i never said that."

        Allow me to cut and paste it from your previous post: "socialism itself inherently promotes aggression..." [It's from about ten posts up.]

        I understand that English is not your native language but there is not a lot of difference between:

        socialism itself inherently promotes aggression.


        socialism is violent in nature [and it] inherently promotes violence


        As I recall we had a misunderstanding over another word some time ago (zealous.)

        You do know what "inherent" means, don't you?

        1. Existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute

        Assuming you do know what "inherent" means, these minor differences - aggression/violence, etc. - do not affect our discussion in any meaningful way.

        If you did not know what inherent meant ... well, that could make a difference.
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          Aug 26 2011: i perfectly understand the word inherent, and in addition, i provided alternative wordings for clarity.

          here are these two sentences:
          "socialism itself inherently promotes aggression."
          "socialism is violent in nature [and it] inherently promotes violence"

          can you explain why would there be any, let alone a lot of difference between these? these are exactly the same statements.

          i can also phrase it in these ways:
          socialism contains the idea of violence
          socialism tells people to be violent
          socialism and violence are compatible with each other
          if you follow socialism wholeheartedly, you will be violent in some circumstances
          violence is an integral part of socialism
          violence is an irremovable part of socialism

          that all means that violence is inherent to socialism. neither of these statements are true about free market capitalism or buddhism.
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        Aug 26 2011: QUOTE: "i'm curious how long you are willing to repeat your arguments that are already addressed."

        What, in your words, do you think my argument is?
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          Aug 26 2011: your argument is that since ideas are not 100% determine a person's actions, they are in 0% determine it.

          by the same logic, since meteorologists are not always right, we should not decide whether to take an umbrella with us or not based on weather forecasts. but we do. and right we are. because not knowing everything does not mean knowing nothing.
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        Aug 26 2011: QUOTE: "your argument is that since ideas are not 100% determine a person's actions, they are in 0% determine it."

        That does not sound familiar. Perhaps you could point out where it is I said that.
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        Aug 26 2011: QUOTE: "violence is inherent to socialism."

        Yes, Krisztián, you have made this point before: I accept you believe it implicitly.

        I (still) do not agree with you.

        QUOTE: "[none] of these statements are true about free market capitalism or buddhism."

        There are people who might disagree with you (there may be a few in Iran, Iraq, Africa, South America, North America, Europe ....)

        Of course, I would not disagree with you because I do not think capitalism, or buddhism, ... or socialism are inherently (let me check your phrase ... good thing I checked:)

        I do not think violence is inherent to capitalism, or buddhism ... or socialism.

        It looks like we might have 66% agreement!

        [You do not have to agree with me.]
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          Aug 26 2011: what boggles the mind is that we talked about

          1. whether ideas are important at all in shaping people's behavior
          2. my background
          3. my english
          4. meaning of some words
          5. my interpretation of your opinion
          6. your interpretation(s) of my opinion

          but we haven't even touched the core of the problem, which is why i say socialism inherently violent. that is probably the weirdest conversation i've had for a long time.
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          Aug 26 2011: birdia, worry not, i just want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
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        Aug 26 2011: Krisztián,

        I agree. Except I would use the word amusing. (Remember, way back when, I said I find these conversations amusing.)

        QUOTE: "...we haven't even touched the core of the problem, which is why i say socialism inherently violent."

        Hey, if you want to explain why you think socialism is inherently violent, no one is stopping you.

        All I have said is I do not agree with you that it is.

        However, it might be polite if you started another conversation ... Mr McCann has been very tolerant of us so far.
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          Aug 26 2011: "All I have said is I do not agree with you that it is."

          and that is exactly what boggles the mind. you simply refuse it without being even slightly interested in my reasons. you don't care. if i hear something like eating chicken leads to lead poisoning, the first thing comes to my mind is to ask why would that be the case, or ask for sources. instead, you came up with a dozen of slightly or not at all related issues and arguments.
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        Aug 26 2011: Hi Birdia,

        An interesting insight. Perhaps you missed the part where Krisztián initiated the exchange.

        (Do you really think he needs your help?)

        And, now that you have joined us: What do you think the "core problem" is?
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        Aug 26 2011: Krisztián,

        No one is stopping you from explaining your reasoning. (And I was not aware I was expected to ask you to explain yourself.)

        Do try to stay on target: If you would like to explain why you think socialism is inherently violent - go ahead.
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          Aug 26 2011: it would be completely off topic, since you started to talk about emotionalism (whatever it would be), then role of ideas in general (or lack of), and such things.
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        Aug 26 2011: QUOTE: "you came up with a dozen of slightly or not at all related issues and arguments."

        You keep mentioning these "arguments" I am coming up with: "a dozen of slightly or not at all related issues and arguments;" "your argument is that since ideas are not 100% determine a person's actions, they are in 0% determine it;" "your examples are destroying my arguments (or something like that), and so on.

        I don't recall making many, if any, arguments (but my memory is not what it once was) ... could you point out where I raise all these arguments?

        I do remember saying [and not to you in particular,] "I find the emotionalism people bring to the notions of capitalism and communism amusing."

        And I do remember responding to a lot of things you brought up after that point - things being scary, concentration camps, burning houses, peaceful buddhist, socialism being inherently violent, and so on - but I do not recall any "arguments" I have initiated. Again, if you don't mind, please refresh my memory.

        I may be wrong but I am guessing you will find "all these arguments" are, more or less, ideas of your own.

        For example, you say:

        "you simply misinterpret what i say. "inherently leads to" is not even a valid phrase, and i never said that" ... which leads to a discussion of language - no big deal.

        No big deal but then, a few posts later, you say I am talking to you about your English (as if I brought it up - and as if I would rather talk about your English instead of asking you why you think socialism is violent.)

        So far, this is what I've got: You think socialism is inherently violent.

        I disagree with you.

        Apparently, I am supposed to ask you why you think socialism is inherently violent. Fine.

        Why do you think socialism is inherently violent?
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          Aug 26 2011: let me see. how would you classify the following sets of letters? these are arguments, or a form of postmodern art?

          "Interestingly, we don't even 'see' the stuff until after it happens"

          "your certainty that you are right will blind you to other possibilities"

          "That our behaviour is governed by belief in capitalism (in some places), socialism (in other places) and anythingism (in still different places) is essentially irrelevant."

          "[I don't THINK ...] capitalism, or any other "ism," is going to change the way we collectively act"

          "Yes, your statement is an enunciation of 'truth.' But then so to is the statement that 'anything, including capitalism, can lead to such events.'"

          "My point is that YOU cannot explain how Buddhism or Anarcho-Capitalism can definitively lead to (or away from) such events anymore than YOU can (convincingly) argue that Christianity, socialism, or veganism can lead inexorably to (or away from) such events."

          "people tend to behave in predictable ways regardless of the socioeconomic systems that they find themselves in"

          "Your assumption seems to be that if we do not share your beliefs, the world is destined to self-destruct."

          "Socialism does not promote killing."

          "However, your ideas about socialism are somewhat skewed and they are no more indicative of the theory or practice of socialism than a similar statement about capitalism would be."
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        Aug 26 2011: QUOTE: "it would be completely off topic, since you started to talk about emotionalism (whatever it would be), then role of ideas in general (or lack of), and such things."

        Interesting dynamic: my first fault (or perhaps one of many): I refuse to ask you your reasons.

        My second fault (or perhaps one of many): I ask you your reasons.

        Timing is everything, I guess.

        Thank you, Krisztián, for a most entertaining and amusing exchange.

        I could not have asked for a more graphic display of "emotionalism" (whatever it would be.)

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          Aug 26 2011: yes, now i'm much more interested in where this conversation is going, rather than explaining why socialism is dangerous.
    • Aug 25 2011: Thomas,

      Thanks for your comments. I believe that Ben & Jerry's model of only 7X difference between the lowest and highest paid may not be enough, but 100X was probably well within the ballpark. It must be noted that if these rules applied to everyone, then Ben & Jerry's is as likely to attract a successful CEO as Goldman Sachs.
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      Aug 26 2011: Thomas Jones-in referance to your statements on emotionalism and rationalism,
      I have read and pondered on what you have said and in essence I think I understand your stand point. Please let me know if I am wrong. You are suggesting that it is in the human nature or psyche to gather/hoard resources. An almost instinctual drive probably developed early in our hunting and gathering days. Much like forms of racism…being scared of people that seem different, a knee-jerk emotional reaction. A not nice safety mechanism necessary for basic survival. In our modern setting these instinctive mechanisms are out of place but as a global species we are not yet ready on an emotional/rational level to achieve it. Am I on the right track?
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        Aug 26 2011: Hi Robert,

        Yes, you are on the right track. Although you take my point a little farther and offer a (quite good) explanation.

        At its most basic level, my point is: It is people who do things (not "socialists," "pacifists," or any other "...ists.")

        Blaming "socialism" or "pacifism" (or ecologists or economists or red, white, yellow, brown or black people) for our collective behaviour is simplistic ... and inaccurate.

        Let me demonstrate what I mean by emotionalism (I mean, demonstrate even beyond the exchange contained in this thread.)

        If you take the comment, "Blaming 'socialism' or 'pacifism' (or ecologists or economists or red, white, yellow, brown or black people) for our collective behaviour is simplistic ... and inaccurate" to its logical conclusion, we could say, "We cannot blame our collective behaviour on terrorists."

        And that is a statement I agree with: We cannot blame our collective behaviour on terrorists.

        If we wait a little while, that comment will (probably) elicit some strong emotional responses from ... people.
  • Aug 22 2011: The implementation of such a plateau-ing stipulation to wages would be impossible. Not only would those in their ivory towers argue that such action would stifle incentive and therefore productivity; but the fact of the matter is, THEY are the ones who call the shots with respect to such laws being enacted anyway -- what chance is there of them having a change of heart?

    Who do you think pays for the election campaigns of those running for office? Governments can do little outside of a socialist or dictatorial scenario -- they don't have enough tenure (or clout)... or will.

    Money and the influence it imbues is just too deeply rooted to extricate with a novel idea alone. Human greed is not innate but it is passed on from insular generation to generation. It's kind of like religion in this respect. So, just like with religion, there needs to be a circuit-breaker here, in this formative period, before any such change could take place.
    • Aug 23 2011: Sablicious,,

      The difficult we do right away, the impossible takes a little longer. We have seen this year in several countries where the established elite has been relegated to a diminished role. While I currently believe that most wealthy people are greedier than perhaps they should be, there are some, (Perhaps Warren Buffet is one) who could perhaps be convinced that they are taking far too much from their country. Someone like Warren Buffet is influential enough to plant the seed of this idea.

      My desire is not to make the rich poor, but rather find a reasonable way of reducing the disparity between the two groups. It may not be easy, but it is possible.
  • Aug 22 2011: Krisztian,

    You are correct that companies would resort to hiring "middle organizations" like Manpower. Clearly steps would have to be taken to avoid trickery, but limiting the maximum that anyone could make would probably smell like communism to some people and the idea would become a non-starter. My notion is to still handsomely reward entrepreneurs for their ideas and hard work at founding a company, while not "over-compensating" them to the detriment of their employees and their employee's families.

    The pendulum has swung way to far in favour of the rich; my idea is to bring some equilibrium to the employee/employer relationship. I was reading a while back that the last CEO of Exxon-Mobil received a severance package upon his retirement that was equal to more than $450,000 for each DAY he worked as CEO. That seems like over-compensation to me!
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      Aug 23 2011: so you prefer sneaky communism as opposed to honest communism?
      • Aug 23 2011: Communism implies that ownership of the means of production belongs to the state, and all "workers" benefit equally from the fruit of production. The corporation in which I work probably has $25,000 as the minimum salary paid to the lowest paid worker. The president of the company (about 3000 workers) makes about $250,000. Under my scheme, his salary ceiling would be $2,500,000.

        Few if any of the 3000 employees of this corporation feel like they are working in a communist system, and, although we all might like to make more, few feel seriously under-paid.

        In my system, the current owners remain owners, it is just that income is not as heavily skewed to the top of the earning pyramid. There would be nothing stopping a company from paying $20,000 to EVERY employee and $2,000,000 to the owner. It is just that if the owner wants an extra million, then the lowest paid person's salary increases to $30,000.

        If that sounds like communism to you, then perhaps you need to read a bit more about the topic of communism. Does the world truly need a SUPER-RICH class? Would $2,000,000 a year not motivate you to start a company or manage a company well? There was a time when Steve Jobs was working for Apple for $1 a year...he was their lowest paid employee, but he still did a good job.
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          Aug 23 2011: as a correction: it is state socialism that you described. communism aka anarchist socialism is a stateless form of society, in which the factors of production are commonly owned (whatever that supposed to mean).

          however i'm pretty much lost. you just described again that you don't want pure communism, but you want some of it, so people will agree to it. but it is a step toward communism. hence my observation about the sneaky and the honest approach.

          i find it troublesome that in the US and its northern neighbor, communist is not bad because stupid, but simply has a negative connotation. so people try to avoid the term, while freely promote its principles. being a communist is not evil, it is just wrong. and exactly because its principles are wrong.

          how would it sound if i said: i'm not a believer of the phlogiston theory, i just say that a substance without colour, odour, taste, or mass that is liberated in burning. or maybe i believe that to modern oxidation theory and the phlogiston theory are together describe the world the best.

          it is not possible that capitalists own the means of production, but they can not pay anyone they want as much as they want. these are two contradictory statements.
      • Aug 23 2011: To be clear, I am not advocating ANY type of communism. The New York Yankees operate under a salary cap that limits the amount that can be paid to the whole team. If management wishes to exceed that cap, they must pay a fine to the baseball commission. Would you call THAT communism? The New York Yankees are the epitome of capitalism, I am just proposing a similar notion in the rest of the capitalist world. But instead of a fine being paid to the "commission" the money is distributed among those that helped to earn it. In addition, if a company did very very well, such as Apple is doing right now, they could potentially pay a low-end salary of $100,000 to the janitor while Steve Jobs still earns $10,000,000 in the same period. On what planet could that possibly be called Communism? The janitor can afford a car, home, and medical expenses while Steve may have to lease his jet instead of owning it. There is no one on this planet that could not live exceedingly well on $10,000,000 a year.

        I am not speaking of collective ownership, a single person or conglomerate could own a company outright. They could also choose to pay each employee a million dollars each or more. My objective is not to impoverish any person in the company or its ownership, it is rather to equitably reward participants in the success of a company with its earnings. The highest paid person in a company simply cannot make MORE THAN 100 times the lowest paid person...two orders of magnitude between the highest and lowest paid gives a wide range of possible salaries for any significant organization. My own organization of 3000 people manages nicely on one order of magnitude difference between the highest and lowest paid.
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          Aug 24 2011: yes, such practices has some communism to them. this is how socialist/communist ideas come along these days. one step at a time.

          but back to the original topic: i still believe that it is not fair to tweak the rules so that your salary will be intact. we need to go further, and create a global rule. so i still think that my generalized rule is better. take the median income of the entire earth, multiply by ten, and call it the maximum income. i guesstimate the median income something like 2000-3000 dollars a year. that makes the income cap at 20000-30000 a year. i call it fair. any objections?
        • Aug 27 2011: The bloodlust of the Socialist regime finds its genesis in the New York Yankee clubhouse . . .

          "yes, such practices have some communism to them. this is how socialist/communist ideass come along these days. one step at a time" ---> "Socialism is inherently violent."

          Or am I misunderstanding your argument, Krisztian?

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          Aug 27 2011: seth: i don't know, because i don't understand your point.
  • Aug 31 2011: I am very familiar with the contributions of young Albert, perhaps you are not as familiar with Winston's. Britain was fighting Germany for more than 2 years prior to the USA coming into the war. Britain, under Churchill's insistence was supplying Stalin at great cost to the British navy.

    It could be argued that when the USA came into the war, they would have had a much harder time of things if they did not have a base close to continental Europe from which part of the liberating invasion could be launched. Ultimately, the soviets would have defeated Germany and conquered all of Europe. If this had come to pass, the world would look quite different today. We should really move this part of the discussion into a new debate forum instaed of cluttering up this one, if you wish to continue it...Don
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    Aug 30 2011: Here's an idea worth spreading:

    It's not the idea that is important so much as the action the idea engenders.

    That, in a sentence, addresses a question that has been on my mind for a couple of months

    I study all types of material; everything from sufi mystics and psychology to business management, biology and physics. It has intrigued me why some of us "latch onto" an historical figure, an author, or an idea and then, in effect, become devotees of say, Peter Drucker or Fredrick W. Taylor, the Koran or the Bible, capitalism or socialism, Stephen Covey or Tony Robbins, etc.

    In some respects, I think it comes down to this: Our belief in these people, ideas or things motivate us to act in a particular way; our actions then lead to experiences or outcomes that are both concrete and emotional; and our experiences reinforce our commitment to whatever or whomever it is we believe in. Suddenly, we find ourselves championing Jesus, Mohammad, Mary Parker Follett, Charles Darwin, David R. Hawkins, or Alfred North Whitehead.

    Interestingly, the actions we take, and the concomitant experiences we derive from them are pretty much the same regardless of what idea actually motivates us. In other words, It's not the idea that is important so much as the action the idea engenders.

    This little insight was triggered by the dialogue between Don McCann and some of the contributors to this topic. It took its initial form with this line written to Jim Moonan: " is not the idea that's important; it's Don."
    • Aug 30 2011: Hi Thomas,

      The person from history that I most respect, is Winston Churchill. I cannot believe that he was not voted to be Time's "Person of the Century," having been voted the man of the half-century in 1950. I have read several of his biographies, and recommend "The Last Lion" by William Manchester as the best, although volume three has not yet been published and poor William has been dead for seven years. Einstein, the man chosen to be Man-of-the-Century, had much to recommend him, but I shudder to think what the world might look like had Winston not been in the right place at the right time. He certainly was not perfect, but he was the best candidate.

      I do see where your idea of devotees has merit, I just don't see myself as someone likely to gather devotees. In fact my best friend chose me as his only friend, not because of my ability to attract friends, but because I have a tendency, more than anyone he knows, to attract enemies.

      I do believe that in a more perfect world, you and I would be friends. Thanks for your insights, I look forward to reading more of them as the conversation progresses.
      • Aug 30 2011: Well Einstein has contributed much more to society than has Winston Churchill, also his work is permanent, it doesn't fade away like politics... So IMO he totally deserves it.
        • Aug 31 2011: Hi Mr Mouse,

          I am not certain how one might quantifiy the difference between the contributions of two great men, but I think that the western society in which I live would look considerably different were it not for the contributions of Winston. His timely interventions allowed for a free world in which we now can enjoy the benefits of Einstein's contribution. I think it probable that Einstein's contributions are more likely to be felt in the 21st century and beyond.

          Thanks for the opinion...Don
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        Aug 30 2011: Hi Don,

        I don't think it is necessary that you attract devotees, at least not devotees of "Don" ... but it will probably be necessary for you to promote your idea long enough, and enthusiastically enough, for people to become devoted to it.

        In the process, a few people might not be able to distinguish between the idea and its champion. So, as a byproduct of your devotion, you just might end up with a devotee or two of your own.
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        Aug 31 2011: QUOTE: "I do believe that in a more perfect world, you and I would be friends."

        Hey Don, I think the world is perfect as it is (problems and all); and I think of you as a friend already.
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      Sep 1 2011: Forgive me Don, I am digressing from the original intent of this thread. Thomas, I think there are two (or probably more) agents at work in your idea. Firstly, there is the individual that initially latches on to an idea or person, possibly because it aligns with their way of thinking or just because it suits their ends. And then there are the subsequent people that latch onto the person who is the first devotee! Their motives are probably less in line with the original contributor and more likely to do with a need to belong to an acceptable social structure. It is indeed an interesting behavioral/emotional concept. The original person becomes bigger, aloof and untouchable with every subsequent devotee. While the first devotee is elevated ever higher and attracts certain amiable attributes, like having a direct link to the originator or being very pious etc. It is a pyramidal type construct where the top gets higher while the bottom becomes very numerous… but less focused. It is also interesting to note something quite like that construct being played out right on this thread in front of us. A most interesting thing to ponder. Of course I may be seeing links where none exists.

      I suppose what I am suggesting is that an idea may become less important than the construct over time. Is there a way to give the idea permanence? This may be most important to the success of the project.

      Could it also be shown that changing the paradigm of a successful business might actually entail changing the pyramidal construct of wealth aquisition?
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    Aug 28 2011: First, I wanted to say that Don's idea as stated is not realistic. That is, not even remotely feasible. If, however, the goal is to keep a lid on greed and level the playing field for all, the Obama administration has some ideas on that AND more importantly is actively seeking all ideas on how to achieve a better, evolved form of capitalism that is in sync with the global economics of today and the need to protect the less powerful (those average working people who are often ignored when it comes to the source of power - money).

    Those who sit back and wait for the perfect plan to come along are of no value. As Dylan said, "the times they are a-changing" and all you skeptics and critics are just "blocking up the hall"

    Bring proposals and ideas to the roundtable for discussion and constructive analysis.

    Back to the issue of greed...
    It is hard to believe that anyone who is associated with TED would ever propose that greed is good. But Krisztian Pintar appears to be doing just that. I will say one more time that greed is an anathema to a capitalist system and needs to be guarded against at every level.

    Krisztian, your understanding of the events that precipitated the US financial meltdown is skewed at best and borderline conspiracy theory. You are academic in your understanding of our economic situation in the US and would be a dangerous person if you were in charge. There was a point during the beginning of the meltdown when very very VERY tough decisions needed to be made and it was a high stakes situation to be sure. What we averted was a Chernobyl-like catastrophe. What we now in is a deep hole that we need to climb out of. I'll take the "hole" any day over the Chernobyl scenario.

    But again, greed had much to do with all of it. Greed is not good. Ambition is good. Please draw a distinction between the two.
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      Aug 28 2011: QUOTE: "First, I wanted to say that Don's idea as stated is not realistic. That is, not even remotely feasible."

      You're probably right. I think most big ideas are unrealistic. Most fail. Even the ones that do succeed only succeed partially.

      In some ways, I don't think total success is even the objective. Just trying and having an impact can be enough.

      Around 1945 two men, Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka, set up a small business in Japan. It was called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K.

      At the beginning, they did anything to make money. If memory serves, that included making electric blankets and soya bean paste (miso.)

      At that time, and well into the 50s, outside of Japan, the expression "made in Japan" was synonymous with "made poorly."

      Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka had a BHAG; they wanted to change that image. They wanted Japan to be seen as a country that, in the eyes of the world, exemplified quality.

      In the 50s one of the men went to America and visited Bell Labs. They obtained the licence to use the transistor and went back to Japan to see what they could make with it. They made commercially viable transistor radios.

      In January, 1958 they changed the company's name to Sony.

      These two men were instrumental in changing the way Japan saw itself and the way the rest of the world sees Japan.

      Don's idea may not have the same impact as Morita and Ibuka's. And Don may not be as successful in his effort as they were but, I don't think that's the point.

      It is trial and error that uncovers the good ideas. We know about Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka because their idea was one of the few that worked.

      There were probably tens of thousands of other entrepreneurs trying things out in the 50s - in every field from business and medicine to science and entertainment. Without all of their effort - and without all the failures - we would not have Sony. We wouldn't have the Bell Lab's solar cell, Drucker's "The Concept of The Corporation," leak-free ballpoints, computers, etc

      Go Don!
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        Aug 28 2011: There is just no way this idea as presented stands any chance of gaining the support it would need to become viable. I can empathize with it's sentiments, but the idea, the concept itself, doesn't stand a chance.

        Your example in contrast is good - but not in comparison.
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          Aug 28 2011: I think you're right. But I also think it is not the idea that's important; it's Don.

          He's here. He's looking for a way to address "something" ... Through dialogue, exploration, and thinking, his initial idea might morph into something else.

          Maybe your input (or someone else's) will transform his idea into something different - something viable. (Or maybe Don's idea will work "as is." ... and we are mistaken.)


          EDIT: I would have probably bet against the IDEAS of Bill Gates, and of Jack McGinnis (one of the early champions of the "Blue Box" recycling system.) However, history shows, it would have been a mistake to bet against Mr McGInnis or Mr Gates themselves.
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      Aug 28 2011: jim, i'm kindly asking you once and for all not to put words in my mouth, or else i will tell that you said that beating up children is a good thing. misrepresenting the other persons idea is as dishonest as unethical.

      i would also ask not to call my opinion "skewed at best", better not at all, but if you do, you at least have to present counterarguments.

      you are getting very close to make it to my list of obnoxious people who i ignore.
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        Aug 28 2011: Do you believe greed is a good thing and that it should be a part of capitalistic system? That's my understanding as I read your earlier comments. Please correct me if I'm wrong - and I hope I am.

        Your understanding of American politics, society and economics needs a reality-check and I'm trying to give it to you.

        Btw, you employed the same kind of verbal temper tantrum when I backed you into a corner with the Obama initiatives. Quit trying to push all of my buttons (beating up children?) and stick to the debate at hand. Otherwise, you're just another person standing in the doorway, blocking up the hall...

        If you ignore me, I will ignore you. We sometimes see eye-to-eye, often not, but stay in the game. And by all means correct me if I'm wrong - I'll do the same for you.
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          Aug 28 2011: either quote me saying i think greed is a good thing, or take it back. i'm not going to explain anything, it is not the point. the point is that i didn't say that, in fact i explained to you that i didn't say that, and you keep telling i did anyway. this is unacceptable.

          cite me or take it back, or even better delete it.
      • Comment deleted

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        Aug 30 2011: Relax, Krisztian. I'll take back this much:

        You never were dumb enough to come right out and equate "greed" with "good". That is, you never said, "greed is good".

        But I was smart enough to read between the lines of this statement you made: "but it [capitalism] is a form of society in which greed does not cause harm!"

        It is that statement of yours that I object to in the strongest way possible. In fact, I did and you never once clarified your statement.

        So what am I to believe???
        You said "greed does no harm".
        I said it is perhaps the most destructive force within a capitalist system..

        I think I'm right.
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          Aug 30 2011: help me analyzing a bit

          what can we say that the two statements

          1: "greed does not cause harm"
          2: "greed is good"

          they are

          A. equivalent
          B. not equivalent

          bonus question. suppose person X and Y have a conversation, and it goes as:

          X: how can you say greed is good?
          Y: where i have said greed is good?

          what do you think, person Y

          A: agrees to X's interpretation
          B: does not agree to X's interpretation

          final question: what do you think, telling that i propose greed is honest and polite, or not?
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          Aug 30 2011: birdia, do you know what happens if two men are in a heated debate, and a woman tries to calm them down? :)
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          Aug 30 2011: i'm the one being offended, so i'm not going to make proposals to resolve it
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        Aug 30 2011: OK, I'll answer your crazy quiz:

        1. "greed does not cause harm"
        2: "greed is good"

        they are

        A. equivalent
        B. not equivalent

        My answer: None of the above. I don't think this is a "black or white" issue; the truth is somewhere in between, like most things in life.

        "bonus question. suppose person X and Y have a conversation, and it goes as:

        X: how can you say greed is good?
        Y: where i have said greed is good?

        what do you think, person Y

        A: agrees to X's interpretation
        B: does not agree to X's interpretation

        My answer: Person Y is being evasive. Person Y is not willing to decry greed as being a pariah to capitalism. Instead, Person Y wants to point his finger at me for calling him out on it.

        "final question: what do you think, telling that i propose greed is honest and polite, or not?"

        My answer: Until you say it isn't so, I'm taking you at your word that greed does no harm to a capitalistic society.....

        I said I acknowledge that you did not say "greed is good". Take it or leave it.

        Birdia says we should fight. Birdia needs a martini.

        Let's just get back to constructive discussion.
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          Aug 30 2011: i've never ever hinted that greed would be good. it is not my opinion, and never was.

          constructive discussion is long since went down the toilet, and you've made no attempt to recover it. last time i said that greed was not the cause of the financial crisis. then you went on a rant which involved heavy use of question marks, and you still didn't manage to get rid of the steam.
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        Aug 30 2011: Birdia: "I recommend a boxing match between you two, the bloodier the better :)"

        Don't be so greedy. A good old-fashioned word war is all you get.
    • Aug 29 2011: Hey Jim,

      You stated earlier that "Don's idea as stated is not realistic. That is, not even remotely feasible." is a strange statement from someone who later states "Those who sit back and wait for the perfect plan to come along are of no value. As Dylan said, "the times they are a-changing" and all you skeptics and critics are just "blocking up the hall" Bring proposals and ideas to the roundtable for discussion and constructive analysis."
      Unless I am missing something, it seems in this communication, you are just "blocking up the hall."

      It may be that I am dreaming in technicolor, and I invite all participants in this conversation to put up their own ideas. If you think the idea has no merit, please suggest a better one or at least describe where you think this one is lacking..

      In my posting of this notion, I acknowledge the existence of greed and while I believe it will never entirely be eradicated, it can be moderated. It may take legislation (possibly) or it may take an awareness campaign.

      I have known a few people in my time who were very wealthy, not billionaires but people with tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. The richest of them all owned 27 airplanes, many of which were for his own personal use. Though the wealthiest, he was the least generous; he was the one who felt that he had done it all himself, and was therefore entitled to all this wealth. He was constantly vigilant that someone was not taking advantage of him and was therefore the most miserable.

      I can't help but think that this person's greed affected his world view to an extent that he had made himself miserable. This could be one aspect of "the hard sell."
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        Aug 30 2011: Yes, you are dreaming and there's nothing wrong with that - in fact, there are lots of things RIGHT with that!!! I do it all the time...

        I apologize if I came off as negative or unduly skeptical. There's enough of that in this conversation already!!! I was simply trying to be critical. Although your concept is well-intentioned, there is no realistic way of achieving it in my opinion; so my point is we should instead seek other ways of achieving what you propose.

        I do think the Obama administration has created a forum for change that could lead to many positive results - the problem appears to be that we lack the maturity to engage in the difficult discussions and decisions that must be made to achieve change. I have confidence that the dam will break sooner rather than later and positive change will begin to take root. Along the way, it is greed we must guard against. It is self-interest that will choke progress.

        I hope I have moved myself clear of the "doorway"!!!!
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    Aug 28 2011: Update; I posted the below before checking Thomas's excellent recent response to appologies. Hi Don, I am still trying to think of a viable platform to get the ball rolling for your idea. My initial thinking is that it would need to come from the side, not directly. Of course my background is music or creative arts and as such this is where I inevitably always start thinking from. It can be seen that many left of field ideas or causes have been successfully floated from the entertainment world and I was wondering if this could also be utilized for your idea. How? Well…more thinking is required on that one and even if the framework could be successfully created and actioned then how would that influence high rollers? Still no answers for you I am afraid, really I am just letting you know that someone is still pondering your idea. The very best platform that comes to mind is itself and I don’t just mean the threads. If could utilize its massive VIP pull and member list, organize general meetings, talks and promotional runs at every convention that is held under its brand world wide, then you might just be in with a chance. Although I am guessing TEDs universal attractiveness is due to not projecting any personal posture.
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    Aug 27 2011: A question that jumps in mind: When can I be consciously greedy?

    Just some free thinking, wondering out loud here;

    As Thomas mentions, only law enforcement stop people from personal gain. Law enforcement should only happen if there is a strong social (and mostly economic) incentive for it.

    The industrial age started with slavery and then when that was outlawed it moved 'happily' to child-labor. On one moment running a factory needed skilled workers so one needed to start to take care of the workers and families. Factory owners started to build houses, people could have a saving account for owning the house and later to buy a car. Safety was arranged by the company as it needed stability and peace of mind among workers. This need for 'care' is absent I guess as low-high income is not 'healthy' any longer. The Low income does not reach public health needs of a person/community.

    So what 'need' do post-industrials have today to take care of all their employees next to taking care of themselves?

    Isn't it that big corps run out of territory to move to if the profit or situation is not in their favor anymore where they are? Threatening to move out of a country is not a business model any longer? (What is 'after' India/China?)

    So with their backs against the wall, idealistically they could sit at one table and design the basic 'public health' for lowest income workers in an India/Chinese megacity region. Food.Shelter.Health.Education.Comfort. Like the late industrials in Europe did to have workers they need.

    Law enforcement to make Public Education obligatory had an economic and social incentive. Maybe Public Health can walk the same mile, to make public health obligatory to arrange to be free (greedy) after. If public health problems are absent in a family/neighborhood, what would you care how much the biggest boss earns a year? So as a big boss, if I arranged public health for all my workers, I could be consciously greedy..

    So the BHAG is not a number maybe..
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      Aug 28 2011: Hi Paul,

      I know you're just "thinking out loud" so I won't go into a LOT of detail but I would like to point out that the industrial age is typically attributed to mechanization (not slavery.)

      The first, "progressive" factory owner is usually considered to be Robert Owen of Wales (1771 - 1858.) His motives seemed to be altruistic. His mill, which became a model for others, was and still is, in New Lanark, Scotland. He was a utopian socialist and set up a model community in the United States (or maybe two, I don't remember); it (they) failed.

      I agree BHAGs do not have to be "a number." In fact, many people are motivated by BHAGs that are hard to quantify numerically.

      We do have "natural inclinations" - we like to feel safe, important, and appreciated, amongst other things. Very often things that tap into these needs are more motivating than monetary gain.

      I was surprised that the folks in our small company chose improving service as a BHAG (how do you measure that!?) but they are really excited by it.

      Let me tell you a little story:

      We ordered a dry-erase, whiteboard. When it arrived, it was damaged. The typical response (in China) would be to simply accept it.

      I asked our little team if accepting a damaged product was consistent with our BHAG.

      They said, "No."

      They wanted the service in ALL OF CHINA to get better.

      So I asked them what they thought we should do.

      Well, they thought about it and decided we should do whatever we could do to get the product we paid for - in the condition it should be in.

      They engaged in a very protracted but respectful dialogue with the supplier, who, in the end, fixed our board.

      Then, someone from our company wrote them a letter thanking them for THEIR excellent service. (The letter became one of their "prized possessions.")

      Some time later, the supplier told us they had never experienced anything like the exchange before and it had affected the way they deal with all of their customers.

      We celebrate small successes.
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        Aug 28 2011: Thank you Thomas, that is a very nice butterfly effect story. People and communities can be stuck in routines and a simple 'pinch' from outside can make a lasting difference.

        The Mill is a very nice romantic example, industrialization is mechanization and I was told many started with doing the math on the cheapest way of labor to operate machines, first moving slaves from the fields, later children. Now we have the situation how little can we pay so people stay healthy and keep on coming to work.

        The "natural inclinations" point you make is the way forward I think for this thread. A BHAG for wages is hidden in there probably for us.

        Don't have the answer, though it surely makes me think.
    • Aug 29 2011: Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I think it may be possible to be unconsciously and consciously greedy. I think some of your ideas fit into the notion of GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) instead of GDP which is seen to be the measure of a societies success by most western countries. There seems to be a link between money and happiness, which is true to some extent. When a certain income level has been reached, only marginal happiness gains are associated with more money.

      I think that there is some misunderstanding regarding my fundamental idea. It is not that I wish rich people to earn less, but rather I want poor people to earn more. The consequence of limiting a corporate owner to 100 times that of the lowest paid worker MAY have that result, but it is not always the case.

      I am certain that there are thousands of businesses throughout the world that are living within the 100 to 1 rule today, and their are no complaints at the top that they are underpaid. (There may be some at the bottom about under-pay, but that is a different kind of problem.) I am merely trying to restore a little balance to a system in which some live like kings while the others are invited to "eat cake."
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    Aug 27 2011: Greed is the temptress of capitalism. It is the siren that seduced the capitalists in the the 1987 USA market crash and a large part of what caused the US market crash and great recession of 2008.
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      Aug 27 2011: at least this is your interpretation. certainly not mine.
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        Aug 27 2011: Distribution of wealth in any given country is a reflection of that country's ability to thrive. It's not the only factor but it is an important one.

        How can you say greed is good?????

        Are you getting ambition and greed confused? I believe ambition is good, greed is destructive. Ambition is healthy, greed is poison.

        They made a movie about how greed took down Wall Street you might recall. Here is what Gordon Gekko said:

        The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good.

        Greed is right.

        Greed works.

        Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

        Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind.

        And greed -- you mark my words -- will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."
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          Aug 27 2011: did you perhaps misclick, and it is a reply directed to someone else? where i have said greed is good? i disagree with your (not too clear) observation that goes as "Greed is the temptress of capitalism." no it is not. people are motivated by a lot of things in capitalism. but it is a form of society in which greed does not cause harm! in any other society, greed can only hurt. but in capitalism, if you want more money, the easiest way to go is to create a working business. that is, to serve society. in socialism and any kind of statist societies greed leads to looting and corruption.
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        Aug 27 2011: Kirsztian: "but it [capitalism] is a form of society in which greed does not cause harm!"

        My whole point is that greed DOES cause harm in capitalist societies!! Looting? No. Corruption? YES! Financial meltdown leading to job loss and family misery? YES!

        Greed is indeed a temptress in all societies at all levels.

        Did you read that soliloquy above delivered by the character Gordon Gekko?

        It represents the classic blurring of the line between ambition and greed. Take the following excerpt from the monologue and replace the word "greed" with "ambition":

        "Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

        Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind."

        As is, it is a chilling statement of how ugly and destructive greed can be. When you replace the word "greed" with "ambition" it is a declaration of what drives capitalism to do great things for societies.

        You may have swayed me to your side when it comes to what is and is not socialization, but on the subject of greed I will not budge!!
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          Aug 27 2011: the financial meltdown is caused by regulations and the fed. none of these are part of a capitalist economy. corruption almost always happens with the state involved. you hardly hear any news that one company bribed a mid level manager of another company, causing million dollar loss. yes such things do happen all the time, but on a very limited scale. if we talk about corruption, we mean politicians and members of the administration. these things don't exist in a free market capitalism.
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        Aug 28 2011: It is common knowledge and widely accepted by reputable economists that the US 2007-08 financial meltdown had virtually nothing to do with government corruption. It was due to atrociously irresponsible AND criminal activity on the part of financial institutions such as Standard & Poor, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Finch and crooks such as Bernard Madoff. It was also due to a lack of oversight and consumer protection AND a republican(Bush/Cheney) administration that encouraged the financial industry to “manufacture prosperity” that caused the US financial meltdown. Even Alan Greenspan, for god’s sake, admitted as much!!!!During that time the Bush Administration started 2 wars and never paid for them. Instead, they paid the big war contractors and war profiteers who make weapons and all the other accoutrements of war.

        At the heart of much of this is greed. Greed will not disappear, as Birdia suggests, with a laissez faire approach, peace and prosperity (I don't even know what that means)

        I don’t know what you are experiencing in Europe but you have dramatically misunderstood what has happened here in the US. As the world continues to slowly merge into a global economy, capitalism must evolve, too. It must show a compassionate side, a willingness to play within rules and regulations.
        I get a sense that you would call yourself a libertarian. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all live like the libertarians? But it’s selfish to assume that can happen. It can’t for lots and lots and lots of reasons. So please don’t go there with this debate. If there is a place on earth that is ready, willing and able to establish a libertarian society, then go for it. But keep me far away from such selfish, self-centered, heartless people. I want to live.
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          Aug 28 2011: Hi Jim,

          Some of us think:

          It is the stage, and not the actors, that determines the quality of the play;

          One cannot have a "bad" play in a "good" theatre;

          And one cannot have a "good" play in a "bad" theatre.

          Some of us don't.

          ... if you know what I mean.
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          Aug 28 2011: it is pity that you have to fall back on "widely accepted economists", and you lack the knowledge to judge it for yourself. those economist failed to foresee any of the upcoming events, neither this time, nor any previous times in history. their proposed economic policies failed miserably.

          so i highly recommend to

          1. if you have time, get a closer look on austrian economics, especially the theory of money, the theory of banking, credit expansion and the business cycle. i don't recommend to read "widely accepted" economists about it, but rather the theories themselves, they are quite easy to comprehend, though takes some time.

          2. simply don't trust mainstream economists, because they are a failure.

          very very briefly: the government constantly increasing the total amount of money, and "gives" the newly created money to banks. this leads to cheap loans (=low interest rate loans). government also tries to encourage loans going to poor people (being such a nice guy). this lowering of interest, and cheap money causes economic bubbles, that is, money is invested in places where there is no real demand for it. the process has to stop at one point, being not sustainable. at that point, the money invested uneconomically are revealed, and materials should be salvaged. that is the bust.
  • Aug 26 2011: This headline from today represents exactly the sort of nonesense that this conversation is about:

    "New Apple CEO Tim Cook Gets $383 Million Stock Bonus " the full story is at

    I am certain Tim Cook is a perfectly nice fellow and a sterling corporate manager, who is already a millionaire several times over. However Foxconn, maker of the iPhone (for Apple) is installing nets on the top of its buildings to try to prevent its underpaid employees from committing suicide at work.
    Does this make sense to anyone reading this conversation? Am I just being emotional?
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    Aug 26 2011: @Don McCann:

    "test the notion that many people are underpaid, some are overpaid in comparison to their contribution"

    can you support that statement?

    "On the one hand you would set a world salary cap of $30,000"

    it was not serious. it was intended to show why the idea is dishonest. in my opinion, freely interacting individuals have to decide the details of their interaction. if the owner of a company decides to give the CEO one trillion dollars a year, it is their decision to make, and nobody else have a say. it is his money.

    "I have also seen an unwelcome attack from Birdia Tak Wai Chan"

    it was not unwelcome for me. tastes differ.
    • Aug 26 2011: Yes I can support that comment...Michael Jordon as spokesperson for Nike was paid the equivalent of more than 30,000 of its workers. He was already a millionaire, he played basketball and wore Nike products. His compensation was beyond all reasonable limits. There are many more examples in which the hard labor of many individuals is valued far less than someone who contributes far less to the company.

      Freely acting individuals are not always free to do as they please; their actions are not always in the good of the planet its societies. That is why we have laws to limit freedom of action in favour of the public good. I contend that paying somone as much as 30,000 others does no good for the planet or any society.

      My idea is honest, it may not be adopted, but it could be, and someday it might. If that is all the insight you have to offer, then I am certain that your dubious assertions are needed in a conversation other than this one.

      The attack by Birdia Tak Wai Chan was not a matter of taste, it was an attack on someone in this conversation, and was completely out of bounds. The only reason you welcomed it was because it was made in your defense. Similar attacks on you or any other participant would be as unwelcome in this conversation.
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        Aug 26 2011: so you say jordan was overpaid because you feel so? why was that money more than he deserved? if i go into a shop, and pay a dollar for a chocolate bar, i expect that chocolate bar to give me that much satisfaction. jordan might have a marginal revenue product of 35000 worker salaries, but he only got 30000. he might have been ripped off. unless you have an estimate on the value he made, we don't know that.

        by definition freely acting individuals are free.

        what do you think, paying someone a million times more than another person causes exactly what kind of damage to the society, or the planet?

        your idea is not honest, because you wrap your envy in fairness. but you carefully choose the limit of being unfair way above your income. so you are fair, but those who are more successful are not. nobody ever asserted that his own income would be unfair.

        no, i like birdia's acidic remarks even if directed toward me. you are the one thinking about your personal benefits only.
        • Aug 26 2011: By definition, stupidly acting individuals are stupid...this includes people who write such tautologies as "by definition freely acting individuals are free." Just because you act freely you are not necessarily free. Try shooting a policeman of your own free will in a police station and find out how free you are.

          In every society in which the economic distance between the richest and poorest reached a critical state, there has been unheavals, usually violent ones.

          Since I am already among the top 2 percent earners in my country, I would probably not benefit financially from a redistribution of the country's wealth, in fact I would probably be hurt by it (financially) I see great poverty amid vast wealth, and I see this trend going in the wrong direction. I am trying to refine a practical means by which other (poor) people can live better. As with many of the judgements you have made in this conversation, you are once again WRONG!
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      • Comment deleted

        • Aug 26 2011: You have saved me the trouble of saying it myself.

          I appreciate thoughtful respnses, I have thus far displayed far more patience with Krisztián than I actually possess. Attacks upon the motivation of anyone here or the perceived motives, do not help move the idea along.

          Can we just assume that everyone is trying to be helpful and make some positive proposals?
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        • Aug 27 2011: Birdia,
          My comment about thanking god I am an agnostic is my kind of joke. I am not always serious.
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        Aug 26 2011: "In every society in which the economic distance between the richest and poorest reached a critical state, there has been unheavals, usually violent ones."

        citation needed.

        the rest of your comment does not deserve an answer.
        • Aug 26 2011: Perhaps you have heard of the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the fall of the Roman Empire, and more recently the Arab Spring. History is replete with examples.

          Why is it that assertions other than your own require a citation?

          As for the rest of my comment, I hope you would see it as an invitiation not to answer.
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        Aug 27 2011: revolutions fought because of inequality? that's certainly new to me. perhaps theft and human right violations on massive scale also have something to do with them. just thinking.
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    Aug 23 2011: I like the idea, I really do but i am not sure on how it may effect advancements in technology. Of course it would be silly to deny the direct link between consumerism and technological advancement (not that I am suggesting you are)…It is a statement only. On the surface it seems to promote a better financial benefit to lower social economic peoples, which is a very good thing of course. I am uncertain how the richer people or should I say those that seem driven by finance...for the sake of competition...would view it. I mean to say, if it’s the competition of who is the richest, then how can the high rollers perform knowing that there can be no real gain in financial competition? Perhaps there could be another type of reward?? Perhaps something in the area of public acknowledgement, but more than just an accolade…I mean whole rock star/movie star type media hype for business accomplishments? I know they get their fair share already...but what if it was ramped up to greater than type status? Just a thought.
    • Aug 23 2011: Robert,
      Clearly you are much richer than me. Under my scheme, a person making $20,000 an year at the bottom of the corporate scale would entitle the person(s) at the top to make $2,000,000 a year. Two million dollars a year may not motivate everyone, but it is still a good income for a year!

      Right now it is fashionable for most corporate money to filter to the top of an organization. Under my proposal there is no absolute ceiling on how much someone can make, they just have to take their whole company with them. Perhaps a paradigm in which the care employees receive (pay & benefits) becomes a badge of honor for a corporation, like at Google. (The money is still mostly at the top at Google as well; I am sure the top people receive 1000 to 10,000 times as much as the lowest paid at Google.)

      I think it fair that the employees contributing to the success of a company should share fairly in its financial success. Under my plan, when the top earners at a corporation feel they need a $200,000 salary increase, the lowest paid employee gets $2,000. While a $200,000 annual increase sounds high, $2000, does not.
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        Aug 25 2011: Just to be clear, I come form a very poor large family, 13 siblings, I did not possess any toys that i did not make myself and things like sweets and holidays was something other families had/did. I know there are much, much poorer environments that a person can grow up least I had clean water, a mostly warm house, food and a loving family. I am doing ok now but i am certainly not considered rich in my country. You need to try and be less emotional when posting even when it is clearly such an emotional subject for you...just to be clear.
        • Aug 25 2011: Robert,
          I thank you for your response and encourage further dialogue. I am not particularly emotionally invested in this topic, as I recognize that it has a rather limited hope of success. In my life, I have seen many successful things that started with just an idea.

          My exclamitory comments in my last reply were focussed upon your question. "if it’s the competition of who is the richest, then how can the high rollers perform knowing that there can be no real gain in financial competition?" From my example, 2 million dollars a year sounds to me like real financial gain, but not to you!

          I would hope that something like this proposal would be an evolutionary step towards a meritocracy, but that will be the topic of my next discussion.
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      Aug 26 2011: Robert
      I think you bring up a good point. Money is a dual functional social construct. For some it is a way to meet real world needs, and wants. If you view money as such a salary cap would pose no problem as long as it allowed for one to live their lives in their own fashion. Others see money as a metric in which to measure themselves up against others. 10 million dollars is not enough because someone has a billion. Personally I view this thinking as pathological, but that is only an opinion.
      That said it seems we need to acknowledge money has these to mildly related functions and weed them apart. Have a monetary system that allows for everyone to contribute and benefits from their society. At the same time have some sort of system that feeds the ravenous ego of those few that need it.
      • Aug 26 2011: Yay! someone who is on topic and is willing to contend that excessive greed is pathological! I also contend that it is a pathogen for society.

        The term pathogen was devised about 1880 and was compounded from patho- meaning disease + -gen indicating a producer. Hence, a disease producer.

        To be clear here I am writing of a societal disorder, but the consequenses of this disorder can lead to physical disorders not limited to illness, poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition.
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          Aug 27 2011: Don
          Yes I consider it a social addiction that is causing so any financial embolisms. Like I said earlier I think much of the problem stems from the duel function of money. I'm not so sure a fix ratio of salary would work since it would be easy to get around. (hiring temps). I do think we need to establish a base line standard of living and then allow for some sort of competition for those that crave that sort of stimulation.
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    Aug 22 2011: "This kind of pattern is the norm in many countries and is the source of much trouble."

    exactly what kind of problems?

    "the lowest paid employee, regardless of location would set the limit on management pay."

    why only managers? who defines what is a manager? why not all employees? and who defines what is a company? what if american companies simply create companies oversees, and outsource tasks? i recommend a broader solution: take the lowest income person in the firm or in any of the firms the firm has contract with or any business with, and firms that those firms have contact with, and so on. and maximize the income of every employee in the firm at 100 times that of the lowest one. that would be a coherent idea. only doing so we can prevent any trickery.

    so i assume your company uses computers. the lowest paid worker in a coltan mine in congo, i assume, earns like 300 a year? how about limiting your salary at 30000? i'm a fan of that idea.