Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hoarding

       Hoard - To keep for one's self. (Websters Third Collegiate Dictionary)


I have been searching for the correct word, and perhaps this isn't quite it, to describe the attribute of the rich amongst us. Whether it be Bill Gates, the Walton Family, Justin Verlander or George Clooney, those that amass fortunes are essentially hoarding what could be shared. They never have quite understood the word enough:  

      Enough - in or to a degree that satisfies or is efficient  or necessary for satisfaction. (Websters Third Collegiate Dictionary)

The Tittabawassee River in Michigan has been the unwanted recipient of dioxins the result of Dow Chemical's decades of producing chemicals like Agent Orange and other toxins used for both good and bad intentions.The clean-up was delayed for too many years to count as a result of Dow's hesitancy to absorb the costs of cleanup. Yet, sitting in the accounts of the Dow family private foundations, is  money they have hoarded over the years that could cover all the necessary cleanup.

The Walton family could easily cough up enough from their hoarded piles to pay all their workers a living wage, but instead they rake in more and more and while they resist any efforts to provide health insurance or  a living wage.

Justin Verlander's salary alone raises ticket prices more than $10/game for fans as he costs the team more than $500,000 per game pitched. He makes more in one game than the U.S. median family earns in TEN YEARS!!!

The common defense is that's what the market demands. It's why college football and basketball coaches make millions per year, while full professors in the humanities make a small fraction of that amount and custodians a fraction of that. Of course if there were no custodian, the coaches and the professors wouldn't want to work their very long.

Now if everyone on the planet had the basics, such hoarding might not be such a bad thing, assuming that our consumption was not unraveling the ecological systems that sustain life. But, even in the town that Verlander plays ball in, many if not most citizens cannot even afford to attend one of his games.

I have no personal grudge against Verlander or Clooney. I don't know if they are conspicuous consumers or if they live simply and give all their wealth away. I too enjoy viewing the display of their skills, but a system that justifies this kind of hoarding is surely out of kilter for what the planet needs. The media thrive on celebrity and wealth with few willing to question its accumulation, perhaps in hopes they too might one day be 'lucky'.

Mr. Gates has indeed donated $billions, as did Carnegie and Rockefeller before him. But as the old adage suggests:

True Charity is not a measure of how much one gives, but rather how much one has left.

or as Gandhi is often quoted:

There is enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed.

A system that glorifies and genuflects to such hoarding is a system that is in desperate need of overhaul. Where to start? How about a discussion of a just maximum wage ratio?