Leftist Envy-Mongering: Why and How

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Walter Williams examines the use of envy by leftist politicians, explaining in the process the curious double standard that exists for sports and entertainment figures vis-à-vis corporate executives.

[P]romoting jealousy, fear and hate is an effective strategy for leftist politicians and their followers to control and micromanage businesses. It's not about the amount of money top executives earn. If it were, politicians and leftists would be promoting jealousy, fear and hatred toward multi-multimillionaire Hollywood actors, celebrities and sports stars. But there is no way that politicians could usurp the roles of Drew Brees, Kobe Bryant, Robert Downey Jr. and Oprah Winfrey. That means celebrities can make any amount of money they want and it matters not one iota politically. ...
This explains quite a lot, but it doesn't explain everything. Williams soon after notes something that seems borderline obvious once he explains it:
Why the high salaries? Ask yourself: If a corporate board of directors could hire a person for $45,000 who could do what a CEO could do, why would they pay CEOs millions? If an NFL team owner could hire a person with the athletic ability and decision-making capacity of Drew Brees for $100,000, why would he pay Brees $40 million? If some other actor could have created as many box-office receipts, why would movie producers have paid Downey $75 million?
Why must Williams point this out? Anyone can see that they are incapable, say, of playing football as well as Drew Brees. It isn't too hard for most to gauge their own acting abilities, either. These are things most people have seen lots of or have tried themselves. But running a business? Probably not, and we can probably also blame the cultural penetrance of Marxism -- which treats physical labor as the only source of added value in work -- for making people even more confused about the matter. But in any case, one must use indirect arguments to show most people why CEOs command high salaries.

So the left is also exploiting ignorance, using what one might call a "reverse bike shed argument" to foment envy among people not too interested in thinking very hard or deeply. It's too bad that, while success might allow leftists to micromanage businesses or commandeer already-created wealth, neither is the same thing as running a business (i.e., creating and sustaining wealth).

This reliance on ignorance by the left to further its political agenda reminds me of that of creationists, whose "argument" is sometimes called the "God of the Gaps". Amusingly, when searching that term, I discovered that this is not the first time Barack Obama and his ilk have reminded me of that reliance on ignorance.

-- CAV

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