Money, Greed

COVID’s been good for the über rich.

Let’s say you’re a millionaire. That’s a lot of money, right? Now let’s say you’re a billionaire. That’s a lot more money! But how much more?

Think of all those dollars as seconds on a clock. A million seconds would total 11 days — but a billion seconds equals nearly 32 years! Rich is nice, but billionaire-rich is over the moon — and the wealth of billionaires is now zooming out of this world. There are only 2,200 of these überrich dudes in the world, but the wealth stashed away by these elites hit a new record this summer, averaging more than $4 billion each. They’ve even pocketed an extra half-billion bucks on average in the midst of the COVID-19 economic crash.

Bear in mind that these fortunate few did nothing to earn this haul. They didn’t work harder, didn’t get one digit smarter, didn’t create some new breakthrough product to benefit humankind — they could just crank back in their gold-plated La-Z-Boys and let their money make money for them.

Then there are multimillionaire corporate chieftains who are cashing in on their own failure. Having closed stores throughout America, fired thousands of workers, stiffed suppliers and creditors, taken bailout money from taxpayers, and even led their corporations into bankruptcy, the CEOs of such collapsing giants as Hertz, JCPenney and Toys R Us have grabbed millions of dollars in — believe it or not — bonus payments!

The typical employee at JCPenney for example, is held to part-time work, making under $12,000 a year. Thousands of them are now losing even that miserly income as the once-mighty retailer is shutting 154 stores. Yet, the CEO was paid a $4.5 million cash bonus before the company filed for bankruptcy this year.

And still, the corporate establishment wonders why the people consider it a club of heartless, greedy bastards. 

Meanwhile, in sports... I’m somewhere between sad and disgusted that the self-centered corporate ethic — Survival of the Greediest — is becoming the guiding spirit of even amateur games. The decline is most prevalent in big-time college football programs, where coaches make millions while the actual athletes are paid nothing and face crippling, even life-threatening injuries.

But when the pandemic slammed into college budgets, squeezing out professors, students and workers, the old school spirit kicked in and coaches made widely publicized sacrifices, accepting pay cuts of 15 to 20 percent. Yay, Coach!

Only, it was a scam. Their “cuts” only applied to their base salary, not the full compensation they actually get. North Carolina Coach Mack Brown, for example, draws $750,000 in base pay — which ain’t bad — but his full paycheck is $3.5 million a year. So, his ballyhooed sacrifice is really only 3 percent — he’s still taking about $3.4 million in pay.

But wait, the scam gets scummier, for even those minimal cuts are just deferments in pay. University of Texas Coach Tom Herman, for example, took about a $500,000 cut, but — with a cynical wink — the university promised to give that same sum back to him within three years.

What models of sporting character they are, teaching young people that it’s not how you play the game that counts, but whether you win.