An interesting term floated the radio waves on a talk show this morning: morbidly wealthy. Looking up morbid in a thesaurus reveals synonyms such as: dark, diseased, dreadful, and unwholesome, to name a few.
Consider one example. Aroldis Chapman is a closer for the NY Yankees, meaning he usually pitches one inning at the end of games. He’s very good, and the Yankees recognize such by paying him $20 million for the coming 2018 season. As a closer, Chapman will throw in the neighborhood of 1000 pitches this year. Go figure: $20,000 a pitch. To put it in plain English: he’s getting paid twenty thousand dollars every time he throws the ball from the mound. The average number of pitches/game for a closer is around twenty. For Chapman, that means $400,000 per game.
So what if an athlete (or entertainer or hedge fund manager) gets that kind of money? I’d say no big deal . . . if there weren’t fifty-seven thousand homeless people in Los Angeles County (then add New York City, Chicago, or your own community) . . . if sixteen million CHILDREN in the U.S. were not underfed and malnourished . . . if hundreds of thousands of American families didn’t go bankrupt each year due to medical costs . . . ad nauseum.
The homeless, the hungry, and the bankrupt experience life as dark, diseased, dreadful, and unwholesome. Creating a more equitable society would not solve every problem for everyone. But it would make the world . . . well, more equitable. I’m not a professional economist with specific proposals for a more just distribution of a society’s resources. But I am a professional ethicist, and I have no problem stating that there is something wrong with one person “earning” twenty grand every time he throws a baseball while two blocks from the ball park a mother, single because her husband drank himself to death, struggles with two jobs so her child might get Kraft Mac n’ Cheese four or five nights a week.
It’s always much easier to identify a problem than come up with a workable solution. But a society won’t even look for solutions unless the problem is first recognized. Freedom and incentive are valuable, but when taking advantage of such throws people under the bus, society needs to examine seriously what contributes to (or diminishes) the common good.
Think what positive changes could be made with nineteen million dollars . . . and we’re talking about only ONE player. Just musing, but don’t you think Chapman could squeak by with a salary of $1 million per year?