I’ve known this for a long time. It’s never really bothered me. It bothers the hell out of everyone else though. Had a conversation tonight with a few people I really care about, and they really had a hard time with it.
To start with, I don’t want a lot of money. I don’t want a big house. I don’t want a fancy car. I just want enough money to pay the bills and put a little away for retirement. If someone were to offer me a huge raise, I’d ask why. If they could give me a quantifiable reason for it, I’d accept it. If not, I’d turn it down. Negotiate a more reasonable pay raise. That is strange, apparently.
I should want to put away more and more money throughout the years. I should want to amass a huge amount of money that I will never use. Then dump it all on a charity or my children to do whatever they feel like with it after I die.
I don’t want any of that. I just want to do my best at what I do and hopefully leave the world a better place.
It all started with watching baseball. I said that baseball players are overpaid. I said if they all just said “You know what? Ten million dollars a year is ridiculous. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I’m playing a kids game, for Pete’s sake.” then the entire system surrounding it would be fixed. The tickets would cost less and more people could enjoy a game.
I was told that can’t happen because the agents won’t let it happen. I said fire their agents. I was told they need agents to get a decent salary. I said if they didn’t ask for crazy amounts they wouldn’t need someone to negotiate for them. I was told you can’t put it all on the players. I said I can blame the players, and everyone else in the process. The players, the owners, the fans, me, everyone.
So why would I start with the players, they asked. I said they won’t be hurt by the change, so they should start it. If you can cut your income in half, fourth, eighth and still pay all your bills, then it won’t hurt you. The fan is hurt by paying this much. The owner has to jack up ticket prices to pay their salaries. I could go on.
But the only one I can control is me. And so we’re back where we started.
They tried to change things over to my industry. They said who do I hold accountable in journalism. Here I, as usual, blame the industry. It is our job to sift through and find what is important in the world and share it with the viewer. The viewer doesn’t have the time or the expertise, they have other jobs to do all day. So it’s up to us. You have to hold journalists accountable. There is no one else. We would be the only ones not hurt by a change because its our job to do it.
They asked if I would take a raise if the boss told me I had done a good job. But I do my best work every day. They said you get better every day so they should pay you more. I said they do, every year. A raise of so many percent on top of the cost of living increase I get. That’s all I deserve. Hell, I was part of an Emmy winning show and I still don’t think that’s worth getting more money. I didn’t get it for doing anything special, just my job. So why should I be unduly rewarded for just doing my job? It doesn’t make any sense. If they can’t give me a quantifiable reason for the raise, show me where I’ve improved or the increase in responsibility I have or will take on, I don’t want it.
They hypothesized that if I were ever offered a giant raise I would take it despite all my rhetoric. I created a hypothetical situation where I was still single and living alone, and I had done the numbers and discovered what I needed to pay the bills and put away a reasonable amount of money for retirement and emergencies. Of course I don’t live in that, I have a wife to think of and hopefully someday children. I would have to think of them and their needs. But in the hypothetical situation I would turn down the raise as unnecessary. I was told that was insane. That it went against every normal human instinct.
They told me I could never plan for everything. That someday I’d be lying in a hospital and if I had socked away more money I could keep living. But otherwise I’d die. I said that was OK. If I have the choice of living and being a burden or dying, I’d rather die. That was also insane. As a living creature I should demand life. But I would rather die than be a parasite.
They said, what if you could give all that money to a poor friend when you die? I said, why wouldn’t I be giving it to him for all these years? Why would I let him be poor until I die? I’d rather give away my “extra” money while I was still alive to make sure it did some good, than leave it with a will that, no matter how well written, can never guarantee the money will go where I wanted it to go. I’d rather spend my time and money making people’s lives better while I’m alive. What better way to spend your life?
I hold others’ lives higher than my own. I just do. I’d jump in front of a bullet for any of my readers. Even the random person who just happened to stumble across this ridiculous blog. In a heartbeat. It would mean I did something good for someone else before I died. That would be OK.