Today’s post comes from Wendell Wilkie High School’s perennial sophomore, Bubby Spamden.
Hey, Mr. C.,
Thought I’d better tell you how it all went down in the big debate in Mr. Boozenporn’s class yesterday. Me and Alicia Erickson went toe-to-toe in what will probably be our only-ever thing that we do together, arguing about whether there should be a maximum wage to go along with the minimum wage that got signed into law by the Governor yesterday.
I could tell I was in trouble from the start. Alicia had two big loose-leaf binders on her desk crammed full of papers and there were three of her brainiac friends sitting right behind her, just glaring at me. People had been saying on Facebook that she spent the whole weekend cramming factoids and statistics into her memory – stuff she found in macro-economics and labor relations textbooks that she got from her parents, who are both trial lawyers.
And I think her mom is also a ninja.
It made me kind of sorry that I spent all my research time on Sunday looking into the history of the word Woot!, but it was too late to kick myself over that. I had to go first and make my best argument for the maximum wage, so I launched into my speech that I wrote on the bus this morning and I have to say that I think it was pretty good.
I said a bunch of words about how some people are so good at economic stuff they manage to get a whole lot more than they need. Which is fine, I said, until it gets ridiculous and they have so much they can’t even think how to spend it.
And then I threw in a quote from “Grapes of Wrath”, that I caught Lester Wells saying out loud in the seat next to me on the bus. He was supposed to hand in a book report today in Ms. Hecubensen’s English class, which he had all written except he needed to add something to make it sound like he had really read the whole thing rather than just looking at parts of it online.
And it just so happened it really lined up with my project too:
“If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it ’cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he’s poor in hisself, there ain’t no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an’ maybe he’s disappointed that nothin’ he can do ‘ll make him feel rich.”
Which set me up for my big idea – capping personal income at 10 million dollars a year and then giving individual over-earners the WOOT! title – Wealthy Oligarch Opportunity Titan! Kinda like getting a knighthood, except it has the extra responsibility of using your money smarts to lift up other people.
Some of the kids in the class answered with “Woot, woot, woot” and every time I said it after that more of them joined in until Mr. Boozenporn told them they had to stop. But that was a cool feeling. Like I was winning them over!
So then Alicia gets up and I figure she’s going to come at me with studies and numbers and probably the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, both.
But instead, she says …
“My whole case comes down to gold and silver, two things the super-rich covet and collect. I’d like to see a show of hands. Who thinks there should be a maximum wage law to limit the income of those greedy super-rich people?”
Just about every hand in the room goes up. I’m feeling pretty good.
“And who thinks there should be a law to limit how much YOU can make?”
Nothing. It was the raised-hand equivalent of crickets chirping.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” she says, “And do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” “The golden rule and the silver rule. You can look it up.”
Then she sits down. And everybody says WOOT! Game over!
So I felt bad for a while but a bunch of people told me that I did better than they expected me to and they didn’t really disagree with me, they just weren’t ready to totally give up the idea of being super-duper rich someday themselves.
“But as soon as my hope dies,” said Jennifer Goff, “I’m on your side.”
That’s what friends are for!
Do you follow the rules?