Monday, January 11, 2010

Bonuses for the Few

“Francis, the true friend and imitator of Christ, utterly despised all things belonging to this world, and hated money above all else. He always urged his brethren both by word and example to avoid it as they would the devil. And he told the friars to have as little love and use for money as for dung.” (Chapter 14, Mirror of Perfection)

“Trusting in the Father, Christ chose for himself and his mother a poor and humble life, even though he valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.” (Art. 11a, Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order)

Driving home from a grocery run, I was listening to the American Public Media radio program “Marketplace.” There was an interview about the latest rounds of bonuses that are being bad out to Wall Street financial executives and the negative public reaction to them. The business journalist being interviewed said he could understand the anger, but the public should understand that to retain high class talent, the financial companies need to pay huge bonuses. It also came out that many of the executives really do not understand why people are so upset.

Thousands of people who are unemployed, living on the edge of financial ruin, or already in deep in the hole, struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their families’ heads. And we hear of people pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is no wonder that there is a lot of anger on Main Street!

Money is necessary for the functioning of our societies, but the desire to accumulate more and more of it is not. Everybody deserves fair compensation for their work, everybody deserves a living wage. The financial executives need to realize that they are part of a company, with co-workers who support they work; they need to realize that they “are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.”
Image from "Marketplace" website.

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