But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
- 1 Timothy 6:6-10
The PGA Tour Championship was a week ago. A lot of hype was created to highlight that the winner would get $15 million dollars. It was the largest purse for official payout in history, for any sport, according to what they said.
As people finished their rounds, the announcers were stating that this putt was worth a half million dollars. Finally, near the end, one putt was worth a million dollars, a difference in a tie for third and a tie for second. We weren’t talking about the winner. The winner finished with a birdie putt to win by four strokes. There could have been a multimillion-dollar putt, but the winner left nothing to chance. Jack Nicklaus, who I think is the greatest golfer of all time, messaged the broadcasters to simply say that his entire lifetime PGA earnings was less than what the second-place finisher would get for this one tournament. Of course, his comment does not account for inflation.
There is big money in advertising. There is big money in entertainment. That gets spread over tons of consumers so that we do not realize how much of the products being advertised have gone up so that a millionaire can earn more millions playing a sport that the consumer has to pay to play if he so chose to do, playing poorly.
Does this make sense?
My Economics teacher in high school said that several people in our graduating class would earn over a million dollars in our lifetime. Most in the class laughed. They could not imagine that statement being fact at the time. I earned roughly two million dollars according to some official statement near retirement time. Almost all of it is spent, mostly in interest fees (house, cars, credit cards, etc.) or insurance policies or utilities. Now our biggest expenses are rent, utilities, and medical expenses. I worked hard and the banker made, and kept, the millions, making more millions from it.
My wife and I had buying power when we got married. I was making over one thousand dollars a month, at the time a very high pay rate among starting engineers. At the time, the usual rate for chemical engineers was exactly $1000 per month, with mechanical engineers a few dollars less. I went into the military three years later after several pay raises, earning, in the military as an officer, a third of what I made on the Texas Gulf Coast. Our spending power was gone. When I got out of the military, inflation was astronomically high. Everything had gone up. Pay had gone up, but not enough to keep up with the cost of living increase.
Then I look at these athletes. Is it more important to ensure that a nuclear reactor does not blow up or melt down or to make a putt on a golf course? Is it more important to make the winning field goal in the Super Bowl or to teach someone how to read?
Actors and actresses get paid millions, once they are on top (but many never get much pay). Is the ability to make someone laugh or cry using what you do on film more important than checking vital signs at a hospital’s ER and determining how critical your illness or injury is?
These questions might spark anger among some people, but rating importance with money received… Our world’s values are upside down.
And now people who flip burgers are demanding that they want a $15 minimum wage. They complain that their pay is not a livable wage. But, if their pay goes up, it does not go up in a vacuum. Other things change, and eventually everything changes. The burgers that they sell will more than double in price. Since the guy at the gas station needs to raise prices in order to buy a burger, gas prices go up, and then everything that relies on a truck to deliver it (meaning nearly everything else) goes up in price to pay for the increase in gas prices. The guy flipping burgers will find himself in worse shape than before. What does the burger flipper do then? Demand a $30 minimum wage? In the meantime, those on a fixed income didn’t have their retirement pay doubled, but everything that they buy costs twice as much.
Of course, the guy flipping burgers could always get a better education and improve his earning power. Since I have said ‘guy’, I have stuck with the gender. Gender differences in pay are still prevalent, in spite of efforts to stop it. If you don’t like it, move to another country where in many of those countries, the gender bias is worse.
Yet, the nurse, the engineer, and the teacher all went into those fields to help other people. It is a shame that the people deciding pay scales pay the actors and athletes more, but that isn’t our job to fix. For if we pursue the money, it will lead to a variety of evils and we will be pierced with many griefs, including a reduction in buying power.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.