Making (Most of) the People Happy

Dan Price is my hero of the day. CEOs around the world are probably cursing his name because he has done something that all of them could do, but few, if any, will. 

The 30-year-old Seattle man founded a company called Gravity Payments. His salary is about a million dollars a year and the chasm between his pay and that of his employees, started to eat away at him. He overheard a couple of employees talking about their rent going up and read about a study that showed people with a significant income boost are happier, and decided to act.

He cut his own salary by 90% and reduced company profits in order to bring all employees up to a minimum salary of $70,000. Some had their pay double in one day. It’s not going to change his life one iota. He has everything he could want and millions in the bank.

Capitalism is good, but greed galls me. Western University President Amit Chakma is getting barbecued over taking double his salary last year by declining a sabbatical while tuitions get more expensive and he didn’t even think about how greedy it was until it became public. He has apologized. Hospital CEOs make incredible amounts of money. In the private sector, bank CEOs rape and pillage and even if they get fired they leave with a sack full of cash.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says he plans to leave his fortune to charity. Simpson co-creator Sam Simon, who recently died, left his $100-million fortune to charities that care for and feed children and animals. Multi-billionaire Warren Buffett has pledged 83% of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that does terrific work to save children and improve the health of people around the world. Buffett, Michael Bloomberg and even Gene Simmons have all promised they would do something worthwhile with their money and not just leave it all to their kids. But why not do more when they’re alive?

I guess I would make a terrible CEO. It would bother me that I made a squillion dollars while my hard-working serfs could barely get by. I’m not a communist – I have earned more so I should make more. But I would hope I’d be more like Dan Price than many others out there.

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