So the decree came down from the Hill that companies who were bailed out by the government will have to cap the salaries of their executives. All that has been running through my mind during these tugs-of-war between government and business is the oft-uttered phrase of parents across the country: If you want to be treated like an adult, you have to act like one.
Executives cannot cry foul over government intervention when it was through the government reaching into a pool of excess to pluck out the companies whose demise threatened our entire economy that they have a job at all. It is due to the repeated abuses of market and financial powers that the people of this nation had to turn over our money--intended for our defense, for our public education, for our nation's prosperity--to some of the largest industries in the nation, and still some of those companies continued to abuse their good fortune. So what if some of AIG's executives have failed to quit: if they were so great at their jobs, why did they need a bail-out in the first place? (I may be over-simplifying, but any disastrous decisions made throughout the ranks of the company were with the blessings of the top.)
For any who decry the "redistribution of income" they perceive through taxes, was not the bailout a redistribution of the taxes that we all paid, including the lowest earners among us, to sustain those who made more than 97% of us? Did not those companies continue to lay off workers, taking away the income of the innocent to provide income for those who brought those companies down in the first place? The free market system suffered a blow when the government had to reach in to control executive salaries, but not a blow by so-called socialists: it was a blow by those who would abuse the rights of others and gamble the freedoms of the entire nation for their own profit. Does not every person deserve an opportunity to earn and thrive to their maximum potential? Is not the abuse of those in charge of the country's largest market leaders an abuse of the freedom of all?
We must enter a new era of responsibility in business, of accountability in business, of unity toward the purpose of prosperity for those who will work for it within the healthy competition that keeps ingenuity alive. We must end our blaming the problems of the nation on government alone. The government responds to our cries, and they usually do so quickly and with unintended consequences. If we want the government out of public enterprise, enterprise must respect the public. A nation unable to support individual rights to work for a fair wage or to work without fear of economic collapse at the hands of its corporate leaders becomes a nation of us-against-them, the very Marxist prediction that so many fear. If we want to protect our liberties and succeed as a nation, we must act as one. Only when we teach each generation to respect the freedom of the market and appreciate the rights of all who build it and buy into it will we rise above our need for regulation and enjoy the ultimate freedoms and joys so longed for by our heritage and by our future.
Many thanks to Dr. Jeff Cornwall and his blog entries of late, which keep me optimistic that wiser heads than have led us to where we are will prevail.