Albert Einstein’s IQ is estimated to have been around 160. The average American’s IQ is 98. If an Einstein-like mind can be said to represent the upper stratus of individual intelligence in this country, please note that his IQ was not even double that of the current national average.
Based on intelligence alone, then, does any man, woman, magnate or CEO deserve to make more than twice as much money as the average rest of us based on how smart they are?
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt shattered the world record in the 100-meter dash by running it in 9.58 seconds. The average working adult in America probably runs the 100 meters in 17-20 seconds and even the uncoordinated or mildly decrepit can probably manage it in 30 seconds. If Bolt can be used as an example of the highest level of coordination and speed that a human being can achieve, please note that his record-breaking time in the 100 meter dash probably isn’t even three time faster than ours.
Based on speed or coordination alone, then, does any man, woman or athlete deserve to make three times as much money as one of us based on how fast they move?
A week has 168 hours in it. The average work week is 40 hours. The practical maximum number of hours a person can work in a day for weeks and months at a time is probably 16 hours. But let’s say someone really motivated adds an extra eight hours to the 112-hour work week achieved at a 16-hour-a-day pace and consistently strings together 120-hour work weeks. Even if someone managed this incredible clip, he or she would only be working three times as much as one of us; so is there any way, based on the number of hours worked per week alone, anyone could deserve to make more than three times what the average worker makes in a week?
Some folks are stronger than others, to be sure; and some folks went to college. But the average professional football player isn’t three times stronger than your average man and, I’m sorry, but the average college student isn’t three times as educated as someone who just settled for a high school degree.
But let’s say—hypothetically speaking—that we stumbled up against the ultimate wage or salary earner. Let’s say he or she was two times smarter, three times faster, three times stronger, had a college degree and regularly worked 120 hours per week—even at that exaggerated pace and preposterous performance level, the basic math indicates that he or she would never deserve in excess of 162 times more than the average employee in the workplace. And yet we have corporate CEOs that earn five and ten times that.
Truth be told, our ultimate wage-earner does not exist and never will exist. And, arguably, there isn’t a human being on this planet who’s worth more than ten times the next, much less 100 times the next. Sorry, again, but no one is that special. And no one is that indispensable.
Conceding these suppositions, then, compels us to answer two unpleasant but unavoidable questions.
First, regardless of how smart someone is or how hard he or she works, what kind of human being honestly believes they are 100 times more deserving than another?
Second, what kind of human being is actually driven to become the kind of human being who—in good conscience—receives 100 times more than another?
The former epitomizes what is worst in us as a species. The latter diminishes any hope we have for the future of our species.
The planet’s resources are finite. The planet’s ecosystems are imbalanced. Most of the planet’s inhabitants are endangered. If our individual or collective definitions of success endanger other species or our own, jeopardize our habitats (specifically or generally) or deplete our natural resources, then we are not defining or achieving success. We are promulgating failure.
If the short-term “means” for a people’s way of life are Capitalism, Materialism and/or greed in general, the long-term “ends” are death, destruction and doom. It can’t be said any plainer. And we—as a culture and a species—pretend otherwise at our own rapidly approaching peril.
There’s nothing wrong with being successful unless success is meted out in increments of extravagance or superfluity. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful unless you’re measuring your own success in terms of extravagance or superfluity.
Our species will not survive as a pampered class or preferred tax bracket. The only abundance we should be encouraging is that of this very awareness. And any enlightened society should begin gauging individual worth in terms of the acknowledgement of this awareness and the steps we take to thwart the power and control of wealth and the wealthy.