Updated below: Lucasfilm rep says Lucas backs Obama's economic policy, tax hikes on rich.
Noting that "the cornerstone of American capitalism is that you can make as much money as you want when you work for a company," filmmaker George Lucas told CNSNews.com*, adding that he thinks salary caps for corporate executives should be decided by corporate boards of directors, not politicians:
I think it would be a good thing for shareholders to unite and say, "We are not interested in paying our executives this much money." That would work. But it's not the government's job to do that. It's the stockholders' job, but of course, they don't seem to mind [high CEO salaries]. I'm not sure why. I wouldn't pay somebody that much money.
Lucas added that he earns his pay based on the success of his movies:
I have to make it a nickel at a time. You know, I have to have people come to the movies, and then when they go to the movies, I get my nickel. I don’t get a giant salary.
The "Star Wars" creator added that he didn't think tax hikes would help the economy improve:
NICHOLAS BALLASY, CNSNEWS.com reporter: When it comes to the economy there's a lot of talk of how far the Obama administration is going to go. They might raise taxes on those making over $250,000 a year. Do you think that will be a good idea to get the economy rolling again?
GEORGE LUCAS: No. No, I mean, the problem is very intricate. It really has to do with bad mortgages and until they solve the problem with bad mortgages and toxic funds they're not going to solve anything.
Lucas is hardly a right-winger. In fact a search of his recent financial contributions shows donations going only to Democrats, and all of that in the 2008 campaign. In July 2008 Lucas donated $28,500 to the Democratic National Committee and $4,600 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org, the Web site for the Center for Responsive Politics.
*CNSNews.com is owned by the Media Research Center, the parent company of NewsBusters.org.
Update (March 2): Lynne Hale of Lucasfilm wrote us to protest how NewsBusters relayed this story, noting that filmmaker George Lucas is fine with the government regulating executive pay for firms under a federal bailout. While we could have been clearer on that point in this post, it's abundantly clear in the embedded video of Lucas's interview with CNSNews.com that other than firms under federal bailout, Lucas believes government has no legitimate role in regulating executive pay.
Below is Hale's complaint:
Recently several web sites carried stories in which George Lucas was misquoted or quoted out of context with regard to the President’s stimulus package. I want to clarify Mr. Lucas’ position. George Lucas fully supports President Obama’s approach to the current economic problem. He feels that there should be caps on the salaries of bank executives who are accepting government bailout monies and he feels that the rich should be taxed at higher rates than those with lesser incomes. When Mr. Lucas said that it is up to the stockholders to regulate salaries, he was answering a question about Hollywood studios that are not involved in a government bailout.