Like most Americans, I am a few paychecks away from destitution. On any given pay period, I cut things close ... sometimes too close. This particular two-week stretch, I have paid my bills, but a little (i.e. miniscule amount) into savings, stocked up on groceries, and have "spending money" in my wallet. My checkbook cushion is $6.50. That's scary.
Once my financial documents were balanced, I then made the mistake of turning on the TV ... cable bill is paid, of course ... and cruising around the plethora of channels to learn just how much income is being literally handed over to politicians, actors, singers, and professional athletes. And my blood came very close to boiling.
I probably would have found an old movie or a vintage cartoon to soothe my anger ... bless you, Wile E. Coyote ... but I hit upon a holiday message about a professional athlete who had given $10,000 to a food bank in his hometown. I'm not going to mention the slightly aging football legend by name, but I did a small amount of research and learned that he makes nearly $8 million a year before any endorsements are even figured in. Now my breathing took on a ragged quality and my eyes glazed over. My teeth worked their way out from behing my lip and I may have even snarled slightly. To be more more precise, I was pissed!!
Why is it when the "celebs" of the world ... the Beyonces, the Clooneys, the Peytons, the Kanyes, the Will and Jaydas, the David and Victorias, the Brad and Angelinas, and the Oprahs ... give a mere fraction of their riches to a charity I am supposed to fall to my knees and embrace them as false idols?
Being from Ohio, I'm going to use Cavalier-turned-Heat basketball superstar LeBron James as an example. Earlier this past July, this athlete turned the collective heads of the sports world when he parlayed his "free agent" status into a controversial $15 million annual salary and a move to the warmer climes of Miami. But throughout the media circus that enshrouded his decision to leave Cleveland, James repeatedly claimed "it's not about the money!" Riiiiiggggghhhhhhtttt!!
Anyway, now that I've calmed the savage beast, here's my thought. Let's say James was the guy I mentioned who gave $10,000 to the food bank. But instead what if he ... and all the celebrities who seem to genuinely revel in their supposed philanthropic superiority ... were to simply lend themselves to the charities of this needy nation. For instance, what if James agreed to do a 20-city tour and attend any number of events in those cities. Things like high school spirit rallies, sports clinics, meet-and-greets at rehabilitation medical practices, and maybe even a "grilling demonstration" at a church social or a variety show at an outlying rural hospital. Hell, the possibilities for venues with a sincere need for "Benjamins" is endless. And furthermore, what if James covered his own travel expenses. And what if he charged absolutely no fees for his appearances AND demanded that all the profits raised went directly into the charities' various coffers. And what if the 30 or 40 most popular performers and athletes in the country did the same. Maybe I'm just a simplistic fool, but I believe the funds generated would be staggering. And I'll even donate my fee for thinking up the whole thing!
And maybe ... just maybe ... the giving spirit in Americans would be revitalized and those of us who don't have much in the way of discretionary income would see the amazing "alternative" benefits of instead donating our time and energy to area organization and causes.
POINT OF RANT: When you make millions, why can't you be the ones that give until it hurts?