Wednesday, October 1, 2014

When Rich Commies Find Out They're Profiteers

Tom Morello performing at Occupy Wall Street
I don't like to gossip about people, but anything goes when economics can be taught. Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello was turned away from the 5 Point restaurant in Seattle over the weekend. He then ranted online about them being "anti-worker" (along with some ad hominem attacks on the staff).

Morello, an outspoken far-left social activist, tweeted this hissy fit, apparently not knowing this restaurant to be one of the few small businesses in Seattle that provides higher-than-minimum wage pay and a number of employee benefits, like paid sick leave, retirement, and profit share. Benefits packages entice the best workers to a place of employment, one which can be more productive once the staff has incentives.

Furthermore, profit share is not a communist concept but a capitalist one.  Marxian communism focuses on abolishing private property and the profit motive. Shared profit upholds private property and capital, and is driven entirely by the profit motive.  These employees are shareholders, just like stockholders in a corporation, only this restaurant is much more exclusive by offering shares only to its employees.

While economic magic was happening around him, Morello and his posse ignored the fact that the restaurant was FULL, with a line outside of people still waiting to get it.  Anyone ever heard of supply and demand?  Morello actually asked to be let in ahead of everyone else and to get a special room in the back.  Due to the lack of supply for a ridiculous demand, Morello and his posse began throwing temper tantrums and were asked to leave.

It's incredible how activists for social and economic equality become the very things they hate when, as celebrities, they expect special treatment and privileges.  I can already see Fidel, fresh out of the jungle and still in muddy combat fatigues, eating lunch and smoking cigars at the Havana Hotel.  Standing next to him is Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, riding her private jet after giving a speech on reducing humanity's carbon footprint.  But I digress...

It's common knowledge that Morello is a Marxist. So what's the motivation for a wealthy celebrity to be anti-capitalist? Ludwig von Mises explains it:
There is money in show business. Popular actors and playwrights enjoy a six-figure income. They live in palatial houses with butlers and swimming pools. They certainly are not “prisoners of starvation.”  Yet Hollywood and Broadway, the world-famous centers of the entertain­ment industry, are hotbeds of communism. Authors and performers are to be found among the most bigoted supporters of Sovietism.

The essence of the entertainment industry is variety. The patrons applaud most what is new and therefore unexpected and surpris­ing. They are capricious and unaccountable. They disdain what they cherished yesterday. A tycoon of the stage or the screen must always fear the waywardness of the public. He awakes rich and famous one morning and may be forgotten the next day. He knows very well that he depends entirely on the whims and fan­cies of a crowd hankering after merriment.  [He] fears the unknown newcomers, the vigorous youths who will supplant him in the favor of the public.

It is obvious that there is no relief from what makes these stage people uneasy. Thus they catch at a straw. Communism, some of them think, will bring their deliverance. Is it not a sys­tem that makes all people happy?
Morello may have only been angry over his false sense of entitlement being shattered--the telltale sign of an out of control ego.  But maybe it was something else.  Maybe, as Morello was angrily leaving the restaurant, he realized the fact that he's not truly a member of the working class he professes to identify with.

Perhaps Morello realized he's an international celebrity with a sense of entitlement who, despite his Marxist views, has profited and accumulated great monetary wealth.  He profited not on his talent alone, but on the labor of an army of lesser-paid wage-earners--sound technicians, building contractors (who built the studio), software engineers, printers, copyright lawyers, promoters, merchandise vendors, retail cashiers--at the record label, retail and music stores, and the many venues toured by Rage Against the Machine.

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Image courtesy of David Shankbone via CC BY 3.0 license and obtained from Wikimedia Commons. Ludwig von Mises passage taken from Section 1 of The Anti-Capitalist Mentality.

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