The Wednesday Rant

May 3, 2017 | Posted in General

“For What It’s Worth Edition.”

Greetings.

99.9% of what I write about is a game of connect-a-dots- or perhaps “connect-a-thoughts” as in the fact that all it takes is one utterance by some elected official (or even non-elected unofficial person) an event or occurrence and suddenly I am off to the laptop making notes, looking for clues, digging for information and a healthy way to release the buildup of energy that surrounds whatever it is that tripped my trigger.

This past week was tough to sort out which rubbed my rhubarb the most.

A) #45 revising history with regard to “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson our 7th president, the man who created “The Trail of Tears” with the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that resulted in the deaths of between 2,000 and 5,000 Native Americans and was a slave owner who supported the idea of owning other humans and somehow would have been able to prevent the Civil War that would begin 16 years after he died. #45 sees himself as a modern day “King Mob” (one of Jackson’s nicknames) and I found this quote by Andy J interesting.

“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes.”

I’ll leave that right there for ya.

B) Madonna showing up at the Met Gala wearing a “shocking” gown made out of camo material, bursting at the seams along with sporting what appeared to be “silver teeth.”

Ugh…right?

C) #44 getting paid $400,000.00 by “Wall Street” to speak for an hour, thus upsetting millions of former “Obamaites” that feel like he sold out for the cash, and totally went against everything the stood for in “The Oval Orifice.”

Other irritants not warranting a designated spot but still enough to cause a rash, drug commercials with actor portrays of real people, the epidemic of broken turn signals on the expressway, the EPA website being scrubbed away, “storm team fill in the blank guy,” baseball announcers yakking during every second of air time with inane and obvious statements “the tying run is at the plate” and…the former First Lady who ran for POTUS claiming that if the election of 2016 had been held a week earlier…she would be Madam President.

I will get to all of that stuff some other rant.

But today I am going with C) #44 getting paid $400K for an hour of this time. A) has already been dissected more than a frog in freshman year biology so that’s enough of that.

The question that came up for me after “WATCHING THE INTERNET BLOW UP!” over the “BREAKING STORY OF OBAMA SELLING OUT!” was this…

Who decides what something or someone is worth?

This morning it was announced that football coach Nick Saban will be paid $65 million dollars for the term of his new contract at Alabama that runs through the year 2025. He also got a $4 million dollar signing bonus.

The average teacher’s salary in Alabama is $36,000 per year.

Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a 671 percent increase. During the same period, the company raised EpiPen prices, with the average wholesale price going from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461 percent increase, according to data provided by Connecture. Of course, that was over time, from 2007 until 2016. With no generic alternatives to the EpiPen-Mylan sets the price and profit. Side note- After Mylan acquired EpiPen the company also amped up its lobbying efforts.

In 2008, Mylan’s reported spending on lobbying congress went from $270,000 to $1.2 million.

Theo Epstein has a five-year contract worth $18.5 million and got the Cubs to the World Series. The Chicago School System asks teachers to take unpaid days off and deeper cuts that will affect students because of a $215 million-dollar hole in their budget.

Just about the same amount of money Cub ace Jake Arietta is looking for in free agency after this season-to throw a baseball every five days for on average six innings.

Average teacher salary in Chicago is $71,000 per year (oh yea-the average ticket price at Wrigley has gone up 19.7 % since they broke “the curse of the goat.” $55 bucks for a seat or the same amount of money I have to pay to attend my 40th high school reunion which includes a buffet and music but I gotta pay for the booze.)

Ripoff.

Last night on “Antiques Roadshow” a guy brought a painting in for appraisal that his great grandparents bought 80 years ago for less than $1,000 dollars. It’s now worth $800,000 to $1 million clams…painted by some guy named Diego Rivera in 1904. That segment reminded me of my gal pal Candace Jordan, popular columnist of the “Candid Candace” column in the Chicago Tribune and Miss December 1979 along with being featured on eight covers of “Playboy.” Her collection of “Bunny Stuff” including the coveted “Bunny Ears” and…uh…tail along with silver cuffs. CJ was shocked to find out that her collection (in pristine condition along with the “Bunny of The Year” trophy and few other items that have all been sitting in storage) was worth $11,000.00.

Or what it costs for one season ticket to watch the Boston Red Sox.

But back to #44 at that $400,000 “sell out” to Wall Street which turns out to be a health care conference sponsored by Cantor-Fitzgerald, which is also the same firm that took the biggest hit on 9/11, losing 658 of its 960 employees when The Towers were reduced to rubble.

Perhaps the only reason Cantor Fitzgerald’s chief executive Howard W. Lutnick didn’t die during the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center is thanks to his young son. That Tuesday morning happened to be the day his five-year-old son Kyle started kindergarten.

Because the attacks had devastated Cantor Fitzgerald so badly, the firm was not expected to survive. Remarkably, within a week the firm managed to get its trading back online. Lutnick made a commitment to keep Cantor Fitzgerald going, despite the odds and the difficult choices that had to be made.

He also made the controversial decision to cut off the paychecks to employees who were killed.

Instead he gave the victim’s families 25% of the firm’s profits for five years, and 10 years of health insurance.

That is who is writing #44 a check for $400,000-which is about $260,000 after taxes.

Not everyone on Wall Street is bad, not everyone on Main Street is good.

Before he was #45 DJT was paid $1.5 million for an hour of his time to speak at a series of real estate conferences in 2006-2007.

#40 Ronald Reagan was paid $2 million to speak in Japan in 1989.

For $100K you can bring in Al Gore, Richard Branson or Sarah Palin to speak to your troops (How great would that panel be?) For $50K you can secure Ian Bremmer, Marcus Buckingham or Lisa Bodell. No disrespect, but I don’t know who any of those folks are, but apparently enough people do and an hour of their time is just about the same amount a really good Mobile Crane Operator earns in a year.

In full disclosure, when I was basking in the rainbow glow of “The Oprah Effect” and with two successful books on the shelves along with a TED talk on my resume, I have been paid more for an hour of my time than my dad earned in six months when I was a kid (plus expenses of course.)

I have also given “low fee-no fee” talks to more organizations, schools and small groups than I can remember in the past 25 years.

So, for me, being on this side of the platform so to speak (pun intended) it’s not about where I deliver the message or even who is paying for it, it’s about creating a ripple effect of value that last long after the check and the auditorium has cleared.

It’s all perceived value then. What the market will bear, what someone will pay.

Just a it is for winning in Alabama, the stockholders of Mylan, Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein, the Schurz Class of 1977 Reunion Committee, Candace Jordan’s “Bunny Ears”, The Learning Annex that paid Trump to speak, the Japanese company that wrote checks to Reagan, the insurance company that brought me to Trinidad not once, but twice to speak and same holds true for Howard Lutnick that gave 658 families 25% of Cantor Fitzgerald profits and paid for a decade of health insurance and is hosting a health conference that a former president is speaking at.

And finally today…just an hour ago it was announced that #44 has donated $2 million to Chicago summer programs for underprivileged kids.

BTW…I just threw Madonna (who earns $1 million every concert performance) in the mix to even things out. I don’t care about her teeth and I do know who Diego Rivera is.

Be well
JSA

PS…Here’s CJ and her $11k ears.

Bunny-of-Year-pic-cropped-scan0055

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