Saturday, March 21, 2009


by Richard Crews

Nobody needs to make a million dollars a year.

Why do I say this furtively and apologetically? I don't.

In a world where a billion people (most of them children) are starving, where a billion people (most of them children) don't have safe drinking water, where tens of millions (most of them children) die each year of curable diseases, no one--NO ONE--should rake the cream off the top.

This includes professional athletes, Hollywood stars, entrepreneurs, business executives, or anyone else.

The arguments against this--that you won't get top talent ("the best and the brightest"), that you won't motivate financial risk-takers, that freely competitive markets maximize overall growth and wealth, even that you would stifle philanthropy--are spurious.

The arguments that you will drive big business and big investment overseas--that manufacturing will fly off to China and banking to the Cayman Islands--are not spurious. And they cannot be overcome by regulation and protectionism. But perhaps they can be overcome by creating a civilization (a "cultural expectation," if you will) that correctly reflects our mutual interdependence--that we are all humans--one single, fortunate species--embarked on a remarkable journey across time on single, fragile planet hurtling through the wide emptiness of space.

It serves our spiritual growth and emotional health to recognize this. It also happens to be true, and also pragmatically necessary in even the "short" run of a few centuries.

Will Rogers, the down-home, humorist philosopher, was asked once by a reporter during the Second World War what should be done about the German submarines that were savaging Allied ships and coastlines. He replied, "We should boil the oceans--I'll leave the details to you fellows."

And that's where I shall leave my perspectives on pay, along with all my other "good ideas."