Most of our mainstream political discourse on “fighting inequality” has revolved – for years now – around the more narrow goal of eliminating extreme poverty. Few of our elected leaders ever dare suggest that maybe we ought to think about eliminating extreme wealth as well. Even the mere idea seems a laughing matter.
Congressman Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, knows all this from personal experience. Earlier this year, in a talk to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Ellison suggested that the time has come to start contemplating the notion of a “maximum wage”.
A reporter who heard those comments later asked Ellison about this maximum wage “joke” he had made. “I wasn’t joking,” Ellison replied. We need to get past the idea, he added, that we can leave some people in poverty while we let others “stack up dead presidents like nobody’s business”.
America’s rightwing media promptly swung into mockery mode. “You won’t believe what the progressives want to do next,” the Weekly Standard mocked above a story that described Ellison’s maximum wage comments as “jaw-dropping”.