Let’s stop talking about unemployment and underemployed for a moment, and let’s talk about an inversely related thing: the overemployed. Let’s talk about the CEO’s and shareholders who make 30 or 50 or 300 times their employee’s salaries. No, I am not a Marxist. I’m not a communist. I’m not even a socialist. But I think we need capitalism with a conscience. If you don’t like Marx, then stop proving him right. He said capitalism would lead to near-monolopolies and conglomerates and the consolidation of wealth into the hands of the few. He said it would lead to a steady decrease in wages to the lowest possible level to sustain the life of the workers. If you don’t like that analysis, then stop proving it correct. Start valuing your workers. Start seeing labor as valuable, no matter what kind it is. The guy who cleans the toilet and the woman who manages the teller line and the CEO are all valuable. If you’ve ever fallen victim to food poisoning, then you know firsthand the value and responsibility residing even in the so-called “lowest” jobs, like the dishwasher and the prep-cook. There may be slight differences in wages based on the time the job takes and on the level of responsibility, but that difference should fall within the range of 10 times, not 50 or 100 times, and and certainly not 300 times another’s salary. We need to use our freedom to create a truly free market, a market characterized by profound decisions about how to treat our customers, our colleagues, our employees, our shareholders and yes, even our bosses. Right now, we don’t have a free market. We have a deterministic market, a market run by the whims and fears of our lowest selves. We need to find our highest selves. And if you don’t believe you have something as mystical-sounding as a “highest self,” then use your imagination to envision one, and live your life according to what you think it might do.

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