It is not easy to distinguish between self-interest and selfishness. Self-interest is a virtue that underpins industry, self-reliance, and individual responsibility. It would be difficult to support and defend yourself, your family, and your friends, if you didn't care about your own interests including the welfare of those you love. Selfishness is a different matter, because it implies being ok with the suffering of others who are not connected to you, and caring nothing for the welfare of those not in your own intimate circle.
There seems to be a general consensus that corporate executives are paid Too Much, though nobody is quite sure what measure is applied to deciding whether other people are paid too much or how we measure the value of what they have produced - do we simply conclude that if they are paid much more than other people, that is by definition too much? The difficulty then is, that doesn't seem like a very scientific way of measuring things.
If you want to run your own taxi service but you're too poor to be able to afford an actual car, then you just get two beat up old bicycles, tie them together with ribbon or elastic bands (whatever you have available), attach a platform for your passengers to sit on, and you're good to go.
There is no consensus on the meaning of freedom and liberty. Many people think that liberty means freedom to follow their own path in life but other people view liberty as freedom to wield power over others. Those who view liberty this way, as a measure of power, are inordinately concerned with inequalities of wealth. They would regard freedom as meaningless if they were relatively poor, and powerless to boot. They are not content to get on with their own life, free to do as they please, while elsewhere there are rich people spending money and being most infuriating.
What's that? Children selling produce? In a food market? That's child labour! That's banned!
It is obvious why poor people would have a problem with rich people, but today we will consider why middle class people should also have a problem with rich people. Of course it's about schools, and especially rich people being able to afford better schools (or better homes near better schools) than middle class people. I know, shocking.
No man is an island, we all know that. We all need each other to prosper and thrive. Nobody can create a market by himself, without other people to sell to and buy from. Does this mean that the individual is insignificant, and it is the community or society that matters most? In the politics of inequality, does this mean that we should all share the available wealth and in that way, by building the bonds of society, we will eradicate inequality?
Any system so chaotic and untidy as capitalism is surely begging for a system of rules to restore order. One element of this chaos is the unwieldy size of large corporations which poses many difficulties. By now everyone has heard of the separation of ownership and control in large corporations, since the problem was exposed by Berle and Means in 1932. There the corporation stands, a giant capitalist monolith, and when you try to pin down the owner, the person you can hold responsible for the crime of being too rich, he isn't there.
The debate about regulating executive pay is highly entertaining because very few people have any clear understanding of what these executives actually do at work every day, and only a few people have any clear grasp of the form and structure of executive pay schemes.
One of the main themes in regulating executive pay and improving corporate governance is that of disclosure. The idea is that bad corporate executives operate in the stealth and shadows, concealing their astronomical salaries. If the law could force them to display what's going on behind closed gates, everybody including shareholders and nosy members of the public could have a look and express their disapproval and disdain. That would fix things.
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