“I just retired at the end of September so I was fortunate enough in my career to set myself up and my kids anyway, and there was no doubt in my mind where that money was going to go, it was going to go to charity.”
—Tom Crist, of Calgary, Canada, announcing that he was giving the 40 million dollars he won in Canada’s Lotto Max jackpot on May 3 to support cancer research.
Just in time for Christmas comes the aptly- named anti-Scrooge named Tom Crist. Christ retired as president and chief executive of the electronics company EECOL in September, and has said that he had done well enough in his career that he did not need the money.
He did not need the money. How often does anyone in this country say that, feel that, or think that? In a nation that is founded on the principles of liberty and self-determination, the freedom to make as much money as we can also imparts the freedom to say, “Ok, that’s it: enough.” Yet we do not.
The disparity and wealth between the richest and poorest in America, logically and realistically, shouldn’t matter as long as the poorest have sufficient resources to live, as long as employees at all levels are paid commensurate with their talents, industry, productivity and effort, and as long as the wealthy acquire their wealth legally and by virtue of their success and skill at their chosen endeavors. Evidence of greed, avarice, and complete disregard for the welfare of the community and society, however, should matter. I do not believe it is the government’s place to decree how much any individual is permitted to acquire by his or her own ambition, toil and ability, but I do believe that it is the culture’s job to teach and communicate values that create more citizens like Tom Crist and fewer like—well, heck, I might as well pick on a former New York Yankee—Robinson Cano.
Cano, a star second baseman who already has many millions in the bank at the ripe old age of 30, announced that the New York Yankees, the team that raised him from a tiny minor leaguer, had treated him with disrespect by offering him “only” $170 million dollars to play baseball during six months each year for the next seven years. He is no worse in this respect, however, than, to take a non-Yankee, Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, who has made $191.5 million in combined stock option profits and salary over the past four years. Why wouldn’t any sane, reasonable, competent CEO of any kind of company reach a point where he or she would say, “All right, I’ve got all I can spend, and more. My kids don’t need to live like sultans–I can give them enough to have a nice nest egg and a head start in life—any more than that, and they are likely to end up like Ethan Couch. Let’s hire some more employees, pay the ones we have some more, expand the business, and maybe even lower some prices.”
Even the philanthropic tycoons today squeeze every inch of compensation they can out of their businesses and then play heroes in their dotage by setting up foundations to distribute it according to whatever pet causes they care about. It is their money, and they have that right, but why is it so difficult to just turn down the money in the first place? Just because you can get it doesn’t mean you have to, not when the marginal value of it to you is almost nothing, while the same amount can change and better the lives of many.
Why can’t more successful Americans be like Tom Christ?
(Now if someone will just explain to me why someone like Crist plays the lottery in the first place…)
Facts and Graphic: Huffington Post
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