My husband likes to talk about sports. Since I gave him an "e-book" computer for our anniversary in 2009, he makes use of his "library time" (I'll leave it to the reader to figure out which room in our home qualifies as his library) reading sports stories from all over the internet. He has, in fact, become somewhat of a walking sports encyclopedia in the course of the past sixteen months.
Absent a community of other men with whom to engage in analytical sports banter, he sometimes gets really desperate and starts spouting his facts and figures at ME. To my credit, I have enough residual interest in sports (I used to be a genuine fan) and just enough exposure to news outlets that I can generally engage in a moderately satisfying exchange on the subject.
We were sitting in a booth at one of our favorite eating spots—we call it "the sports bar" because from every booth, one has a clear view of no less than five television screens, each tuned to the sport du jour—when the husband began to wax encyclopedic about the latest big story. Seems there is a young man who plays baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals. A very talented young man, who has been with the team for the first ten years of his career. That's nice. Nowadays, the players tend to sell their services to the highest bidder, and never play for more than a couple of years for any one team.
Well, it seems this young man (Albert Pujols) is up for a new contract at the end of this year. And the negotiations, apparently, are no less complex than a trade treaty between international giants. Pujols sets a deadline. Deadline goes by—no contract. Rumors fly, but neither side will tip its hand. The team is said to have offered $200 million over eight years. Cardinals manager theorizes that Pujols is being pressured to "set the bar"—by demanding something exceeding the current fattest contract: Alex Rodriguez's $275 million over ten years. They think $300 million over ten years might properly set that bar.
Three hundred million dollars. Thirty million a year. To play a kids' game.
This young man would earn—well, not earn, exactly…let's say he would be paid—the equivalent of twenty-five years of my husband's current salary in slightly less than a month. We could live comfortably well into our retirement (husband will be 80 in twenty-five years) on what this kid will put in the bank in thirty days.
And the thought occurred to me: there's no shortage of money in this country.
It's simply that more and more of it is going to those who already have more than they could possibly need or use.
How much filet mignon and caviar can the guy eat? How many south sea islands can he own? How many designer drugs can he put up his nose?
Meanwhile, the price of meat and fish has us increasingly dining on…pasta. The price of gas has us vacationing in…our back yard. The price of health care and pharmaceuticals has us…taking aspirin for a heart attack.
And WE are the "middle" class. God help those below US on the food chain.