Standing in the shower, my eyes closed feeling the water hit my back, listening as the drops meet the porcelain floor, my mind starts to wander. A moment of tranquility is quickly overtaken by moments of chaos thinking about my eternal To Do list. I can’t believe I have one kid starting his senior year in high school and another starting kindergarten, with picture day happening the first week of school. Kids need a haircut. We have projects around the house that need to be completed. Fixer upper, good idea? Yeah, right! (sarcasm noted). And I still need to go get my first ever mammogram done (Too much information?).
Then…seventy five thousand dollars spring to mind. An entire years worth of work for many. Life savings for others. Seventy five thousand dollars. $75,000!!! Why did I think of this? Is it my $75,000? Oh, no, no, no. I’m not sure exactly why it presented itself, but I do know the origin of this quantity and the more I think of it, well, the angrier I get.
Picture a young woman. Exotic in nature possessing beauty enviable by many. She travels the world and engages with royalty, political powers and those well-known to fame and fortune. Many male contenders waiting to profess their love. Life has privileged her with a large family, good health and exceptional wealth. She is not naive to this elite lifestyle, she actually does all she can to maintain it. The world watches her every move. Young girls want to emulate her. Opportunities at her very fingertips. Every door opening without as much as a nudge. You see, I told you it wasn’t me. But, if it was, I wonder if my perspective towards life would be the same as hers. I would like to believe I would be different. How would I want to be different given the same opportunities?
Well, for starters, those seventy-five thousand dollars would NOT have been spent on a pair of diamond stud earrings. Yes, one single lonesome pair of studs cost this much. Don’t get me wrong, I would definitely want a pair of expensive earrings. Sure. I’d be a hypocrite if I said anything otherwise. What I’d hope to avoid though are the extremes that these people of fortune proudly display as a badge of honor. What about spending “only” a thousand bucks? Extremely expensive still in my eyes but would that be considered low-end for her? As I continue to put my thoughts down on “paper” it hits me as to what led me to think of this large sum of money in the first place.
It was part of my to do list. My five-year old is starting kindergarten. Along with that comes a school supplies list, of which two of every supply was requested. In conversation with my dear husband as we browsed through the aisles at the dollar store for these supplies, he asks why would our son need two boxes of tissue. I tell him it’s because we are all contributing to the classroom supplies. Dear husband’s mind is blown. Boom! Personally I thought this was common knowledge. I continue to tell him that teachers need to buy a lot of their own supplies. (This dollar store actually caters well to that purpose. The Dollar Tree rocks!) Yes, out of their own pocket to teach our children. Dear husband’s head is spinning in disbelief. “What the hell! They should just refuse.” Poor guy. “Well, then they’ll be out of a job. It just comes with the territory”. Fast forward, he has to look this up to disprove this so-called theory of mine. Fast forward a little more and yes, he admits I’m right. (This doesn’t come often so I’m recording it here for future reference). His appreciation for teachers has now increased with the knowledge of this little fact. Seventy five thousand dollars for one pair of earrings or donate to hundreds of classrooms? I would like to think that put in to the same scenario I’d choose the latter. Or would I? Be honest, would you?
I’m not quite sure what crosses ones mind to dish out that amount of money for an inanimate object that ultimately will collect dust as its abandoned into the corner of a jewelry box. I’m sure these have been forgotten along with the many other earrings in her arsenal of gems. Would she ever feel compelled to take a handful of her jewelry and trade it in for the cash value to use toward a greater cause? Who’s to blame here? When this young woman was being raised, was it enough for her parents to just remind her through words alone about how important it is to be thankful for all that she has because she could have ended up like one of the 3,000-6,000 folks living homeless on Skid Row, while they still exemplified a life of extremes and greed? We seem to live in a society where this lifestyle of extreme is associated with success. Where the wrong careers are celebrated and most compensated. I understand that many athletes and entertainers are hard-working and talented, and I’m not here to start arguing the definition of “hard work”. Talent, or the talentless can also be argued, but I can leave my opinions on that for another time.
Drew Brees himself recently told WWL radio in New Orleans via the teams official website regarding if they get paid too much; “Yes, we probably do. Unless you’re finding a cure for cancer or creating world peace, I don’t know if anybody deserves to get that much money. That’s the industry that we’re in. You could probably say the same for actors, actresses and entertainers. We’re in the entertainment industry and business is business and there is a market. The market establishes what you get paid.” You must know who Drew Brees is… but in case you don’t, he is a football quarterback for the New Orleans Saints of the NFL. Now THAT’S a smart man. But don’t get this twisted, he’s no idiot. He’s not going to turn a blind eye to his generous contract pay. What?!!! None of us would.
This is what I’m talking about. Someone that realizes the craziness and unfairness of the industry they work for. At least he uses it to give back. Quite the philanthropist, he and his wife founded The Dream Foundation to help children of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, they donated 2 million to help the community. After Hurricane Sandy, they donated 1 million to those affected by the storm. What’s crazy is that this amount equals the quantity donated by the NFL. The NFL could have easily reached down deep and donate a little more generously considering the magnitude of the organization. And here comes a foundation set up by a man and his wife, a man contracted by the NFL itself, and shows them up.
Imagine for a second all the good that can be accomplished if each excessively, I mean, disgustingly wealthy person that splurged on their abodes alone “downsized”, by a couple of million. Heck, I’m not saying that the rich and famous should live like us everyday middle class peons, but would it be so detrimental to Bill Gates survival to cut down from his 147.5 million dollar house??? Damn it, is that house self-cleaning? Does it “George Jetson” him out of bed on to a conveyor belt guiding him to mechanical arms that dress him each morning? Is he compensating for a life of nerdiness and being bullied with the excessive size and worth of this place? Okay, we get it, you’re rich. You’re beyond rich. Now I can’t complain too much about this man either since he’s like the KING PHILANTHROPIST. But unfortunately not many of those blessed with this opportunity donate so generously. They give just enough to soothe their so-called conscience or some don’t give at all.
My fury comes from seeing so much need, so much poverty, so much lost hopes in our own country. Then Americans try to hold a single government accountable, which they should be; in part. But let us not forget that people themselves can make a load of difference. There are plenty of wealthy folks with the means to make a difference even in ONE persons life. Personally, I Iive in a 5 bedroom house, fixer upper, that sits on an acre of land. I know for a fact that an acre of space is definitely not necessary unless you are the Duggar family (what are they up to now, 20 kids?) If I can admit that, then I’m sure Christie Brinkley can admit that her 30 million dollar home with 11 bedrooms with no children occupying any of them is more than she truly needs. I’m sure Kim can survive without those $75,000 pair of earrings. I’m sure that Justin and Jessica’s 6 million dollar wedding didn’t help them stay together any longer than they did. And none are more ridiculous than Lady Gaga dropping 50,000 real dollars on an Electro-Magnetic Field Reader which is a device that claims to detect ghosts. What the hell are they thinking? I didn’t realize that “stupidity” had a dollar sign attached to it. I finish my shower maybe a little more grateful for not being born in to the filthy rich. And I smile knowing that at least I make enough to contribute extra supplies to my 5 year-olds kindergarten class. How can you make a difference?
I thought this was the end of my post, but one last thought before I end this diatribe; we really need to start rethinking as a nation as to what jobs are truly worth more compensation. Reality TV star or Police officers / Firefighters? Basketball player or Teacher / Daycare director / Assisted living coordinator? Actors or Social workers / Paramedics / Ambulance dispatchers? Chances are you will benefit more from all these underpaid workers. Chances are you have already been affected greatly by one or more of these underpaid workers. Chances are that one of these underpaid workers took a personal interest in your well-being. And yet we all continue to dish out money for those that already make too much of it. Shame on us!