As I write this, shortstop Manny Machado has reportedly agreed to a ten-year, $300 million dollar contract to play for the San Diego Padres. I’m no mathematical genius, but, if my calculations are correct, he is slated to make thirty million dollars per annum for the next ten years. Chump change it ain’t.
He is, by no means, the richest man in the world, but I wouldn’t mind being in his position—at least, money-wise. Machado is 26 years old (far less than half my age). I’ve never even bothered to dream of making that kind of money. I guess it pays to be talented—literally.
To take it one step further, speculation has it that outfielder Bryce Harper will probably sign a contract worth $326 million making him the highest paid player ever. Harper, also, is a mere 26 years old. I remember when it was a huge deal for a major league baseball player to make $100,000 a year (and every contract was for only one year at a time).
Of course, if you think that’s a lot, check out the top actors of our era. Last year, George Clooney grossed $239 million while not even starring in a movie since 2016. The top ten actors collectively made almost $750 million for the year. I won’t even touch the subject of the business people who’ve been able to amass billions—I can’t even imagine. It’s no wonder the up-and-coming socialists in this country are talking about a 70% income tax rate.
The rising economic tide in this nation has provoked a cultural divide between the so-called haves and have-nots. Whether it’s jealousy or simple greed, a lot of folks are beginning to buy into the idea that the top one percent ought to be paying their “fair share.” Translation: We don’t think it’s right that you have all that money—we want it.
God Had it Right
Apparently, it’s not enough that the top one percent of Americans (who have an average income of more than $2.1 million) pay 43.6% of all the federal individual income tax. In addition to that little fact, MarketWatch reports that 45% of Americans pay no income tax whatsoever. For some, that’s not equitable enough.
I think the Lord had it right. The Old Testament Jews were required to give a tithe (ten percent) of their yearly harvest. There was no graduated income tax—no sliding scale. Everyone was at the same rate. Of course, the idea was not to be legalistic about it. It merely seemed to be God’s way of saying, “Here’s the standard. Be generous to each other.” On top of that, there was no Heavenly IRS or police presence to force the Israelites into giving up their hard-earned, capital grains.
Of course, comparing modern USA with an ancient, agrarian society is an apples and oranges scenario. The principle remains, however. “From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Still, it’s God who should be doing the asking.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]