I was reading a sport-related article on MSN before, and there was a vote asking readers whether they thought footballer’s salaries should be capped. Over 70% of people had voted yes. I wondered why. Before I venture a guess, let’s answer the question of “should footballer’s wages be capped?”, by extending it to the overriding theme: “should anyone’s wages be capped?”
The question comes down to this: should anyone decide how much money you deserve to earn? If you are employed you’ve reached an acceptable wage that you are prepared to work for and your employer is prepared to pay. To “deserve” a wage is to reach an agreeable figure that your boss is prepared to pay you – that is all that “deserve” can mean, and it is no one else’s business. Now some businesses, such as the entertainment industry, are so huge that the demand for top-quality entertainers forces up the price for the services of such individuals. Demand must be met with supply. Sport is massive business and generates huge amounts of wealth – why shouldn’t the key architects of this business that creates vast profit for millions of people – the players, be remunerated accordingly?
It is the success of private companies that allows them to reward their employees with greater pay. It is the moral right of bigger and better companies, such as more successful football clubs, to attract better players to their team and reward them accordingly. Money talks, and it allows companies to fight fairly over a wanted player. If one club can afford to pay more than another, tough – that is the beauty of money: it allows an objective worth to be placed on items of value. Has the bigger club earned the right to sign a player? Yes! By sheer nature of the fact that they can.
Who has the right to dictate to a private business how it uses its money? There are only two institutions that have the power to do so: any club or association that a company has voluntarily subscribed to, and government. Only the first of these institutions has the right to do so – this is because a company that is voluntarily a member of a business association agrees to abide by the decision of that association. The government however has no right to tell an individual (and by extension a private company) how to manage its own property. The only proper moral role of government is to protect the Rights of its citizens. How much any company chooses to pay any employee is a private matter, and no business of anyone else’s. If the wages of any person were to be capped by an act of government, this would be a gross violation of rights, and monstrously evil.
What about those who have more important jobs in society, like doctors, teachers, fire-fighters etc? What about them? Do I think it’s “right” that someone who kicks a ball around a pitch gets paid the same wage in a week as a doctor might get in a year? In a word, yes. Consider this: by what objective criteria can you decide how much someone deserves to get paid? And how would you enforce such a criteria, without violating individual rights? If you decide that being a doctor is morally worthy of more money than being a footballer, how do you go about reimbursing the doctor according to your standard? You cannot create money out of thin air – all you can do is artificially inflate the price of healthcare at the cost of the consumer so that the doctor gets the money he is worth, in your opinion. But where does this money come from? Or do you take the “surplus” money that footballer’s earn and give it to the doctor? In other words, do you redistribute wealth according to some egalitarian philosophy of equality or perceived “social merit”? In further words, do you ask the footballer to earn the doctor’s money for him; do you ask the doctor to live off the effort of the footballer? No? Madness? Unfair? Evil? Such is the nature and mentality of socialism.
I think I now know why many people think wages should be capped. I think it’s a result of a socialistic mentality (especially common in the UK): those on “too much” money somehow owe their excess to others. Those on “too little” money are owed more from others. What the socialistic mindset really breeds is this kind of thinking: “your extra money should be mine!” And of course, someone lower down the pay scale is thinking the same of you. Do these people think money grows on trees? The reason some professions pay so much and others pay so little is this: demand. Demand is met with production, and production is the source of all wealth. If, some day, sport massively declined in popularity, so would wages. If people feel there is something immoral about how much sportsmen are paid, there is only one solution: use your individual power as consumer to not finance that industry. How many people who complain about huge wages will give up their Sky TV, their season tickets, their replica shirts?? Not many. They want world class footballers but without the wages that go with them. They want hundred-thousand capacity stadiums, but without the industry that will pay for them. They want some of ‘their’ money back from the superstars who earn it, yet keep paying over money every week. How will their wishes be met?? Somehow. In other words: at someone else’s expense.
If we are going to complain about mediocrities being paid inflated sums of money, let’s start with politicians. Only politicians can vote themselves payrises that aren’t connected to any production or merit. If the government decides that you should pay an extra 10% of your wages to them, because they say so, that is all that’s required to make it law. And unlike sport, you have no choice in the matter. But that’s a subject for another article.
If the mentality of capitalism was more abundant, people would admire those more successful, not be envious. People would respect production. People would understand that wealth is not a finite resource to be scavenged and shared by a non-objective mob vote based on immoral notions of “merit” – they would appreciate that wealth can be created, and demand is met with supply, and the only thing anyone can claim to deserve is what they’ve earned by the mutual agreement of other people. That is why nobody has the right to tell any two people how much they may pay each other. Anyone who claims otherwise is immoral and invoking an evil philosophy.