Mayfield: Man, can you spare a million? |

Mayfield: Man, can you spare a million?

Rich Mayfield
Vail CO, Colorado

John Paulson earned $3,700,000,000 last year. That is 3.7 billion dollars. Mr. Paulson is the founder of the hedge fund Paulson and Company and, presumably, a very happy man. Now it just may be my own distorted sense of reality but earning something around $10,136,986.30 a day seems like a really, really lot of money for one guy to be making. It is probably fair to assume that a fellow who makes this kind of dough is working long hours, let’s say 12 hours most days, so he’s pulling in just about $844,748.86 every 60 minutes he’s in the office. That is $844,742.31 more than the hourly minimum wage.

Want another way of looking at it? If Paulson’s respiratory rate is anywhere near normal, every time he took a breath in 2007 he was $586.63 richer. Think about that. OK, you can breathe again.

We, of course, rejoice over Mr. Paulson’s extraordinary ability to build a nice little nest egg for his retirement years but we are also concerned by the fact that generating that kind of capital every single day can become a burden for any well-intentioned advocate of the free-market system. After all, just how does one lone capitalist manage to put back into the economy even a small portion of his daily cash allotment? OK, so you build another 50,000-square-foot mansion in the mountains on Monday and buy an island or two for the kids on Tuesday but even then you’ve still got to unload some 50 mil come the weekend. Even with the price of gasoline nowadays it’s still got to be a tough job. And then on Monday it all starts again!

Now we are all aware that the government lays fair claim to a hunk of Paulson’s pot of gold but unless he’s planning to run for public office and publicly disclose his 2007 1040EZ, Mr. P probably knows enough tax loop holes to drive a few thousand Brinks’ trucks through.

Still, the effort involved in reinvesting the kind of dough Mr. Paulson is making is surely exhausting. So in a spirit of compassion, we offer some ways to ease his ever accumulating burden.

First, as everyone who has ever watched a late-late-night infomercial can tell you, you pay yourself. Put a little something aside with every paycheck and soon, the gurus tell us, we will never have to worry about money again. So, Mr. P., let’s pop, say, a cool million in savings each day. Now, what to do with the other 9?

Mr. Paulson may have noticed en route to the bank that this great democratic country of ours has sunk some $500 billion into a war that most experts agree has no chance of achieving any kind of victory once foolishly envisioned by our war-hungry president. The cost of this fiasco has meant many worthy American projects have suffered. A neat $9 million properly placed each day would go far in making up for the lack of interest this administration has had over some serious problems here at home.

Education, for instance. While we whittle away our national treasures, both in money and man and womanpower, in Iraq, our literacy rate here in the U.S. continues to shrink. The statistics are daunting. According to the Dec. 5, 2007 edition of the Washington Post: “The scores from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment showed that U.S. 15-year-olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries. The average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries … The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries.” Nine million dollars carefully parceled out to deserving school districts each day for a few weeks might bring some of our kids back into competition.

How do you feel about space travel, Mr. Paulson? In just 61 short days, you could fund the entire shortfall in NASA’s budget for the coming year. Think of it! Two months without some walking around money down here could allow for some real walking around up there.

Then there are the poor. You probably don’t get too many opportunities to spend time among them, Mr. P, but you should know that according to former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart in his book “Restoration of the Republic,” “The U.S. child poverty rate is the highest in the developed world, 50 percent higher than the next country.” Now no one expects you to bear the full burden of resolving this one, Mr. Paulson, but just imagine what some efficiently placed daily doses of cash could accomplish among the most vulnerable in our society.

And if you’d like to spread your largess beyond our nation’s borders, then please know that the entire budget for the UN’s World Food Program is $2.9 billion this year. With that not insignificant amount, the WFP manages to feed 73 million people in 78 countries, although it is less than one-tenth of the total number of the world’s undernourished. Sobering statistics to be sure and even more so when one considers that with rising commodity and fuel prices, the WFP’s effectiveness will be drastically reduced. Forgive the presumption, but feeding the world’s hungry might bring a pretty big bang for your buck, Mr. Paulson, and even if you funded the entire project, you’d still have some $800 million left over which, according to the statistics I have, would provide for an officially upper-class American lifestyle for you and 1,499 of your closest friends.

Rich Mayfield is the author of “Reconstructing Christianity: Notes from the New Reformation.” E-mail comments about this column to

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