Hey, buddy, can you spare a billion?

Robert Reich posted this on Facebook:

Amazon just announced an increase in its net income of $92 million for the second quarter, causing its stock to jump 19 cents per share. One shareholder who’s particularly pleased is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose personal wealth (much of it in Amazon stock) thereby jumped $7 billion, making him the fifth richest person in the world with a net worth of $50 billion. Bezos has thereby earned in several minutes as much money as 175,000 teachers (each paid an average of $40,000 annually) earn an entire year. Does pay any longer bear relation to what someone is worth?—Robert Reich

What are the implications to human values of sitting on that much money?

I will respond to Mr. Reich’s question. No. Pay is no longer linked to the ability to add value or deliver service. I have a “donate” button on this blog. It is sort of like the tip jar at Starbucks. If you get as much value from my posts (there are more than 500 of them) as you do from a venti decaf you might drop a dollar in the jar once in a while. It has not happened yet.

I posted on Facebook a request for opinions on giving money to people soliciting from median strips. The responses covered a range of opinions. These are two sweet ones.

I don’t give homeless people money, I give them food. In Arizona I can understand the need for water though and like someone else mentioned, they may be leery about taking water for fear of it being drugged. I think it’s awful that places do not let the public use the restrooms, homeless or not. To me that’s saying they’d rather have someone defecate in the back of their building, because that’s what usually happens.—Adela Gubson

I practice compassion. I use my own judgment. I have never had a bad experience though I also can’t say I give a dollar and wait to see what someone chooses to do with it. I give so much of myself and time helping and supporting organizations that I know are making a difference in the lives of our homeless so if I have to pass up a homeless person on the corner I hope at some point in our lives our paths cross again for all the right reason on the way up from the bottom.—Lola Lane

As a society we are not successful at dealing with change. We just let the rich and powerful dictate to us and make any rules they like. In the 1966 movie A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,  Zero Mostel plays a slave. His response, when whipped by his master, is “Thank you, sir. May I have another?” That’s pretty much the norm these days for most of us.

The end of our collective right to dignity is nigh. Stormy's derriere provides some temporary consolation.

The end of our collective right to dignity is nigh. Stormy’s derrière provides some temporary consolation.


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