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Of all the people I know, leaving the Bible out of this, I think Mark Twain was the greatest. His sense of humor was so extraordinary that many think of him as a humorist. That was just part of him. And his ability to write was beautiful. That was just part of him. The greatest part of him was his insight into members of the human race. Stories by him, “The War Prayer,” “My First Lie and How I Got Out of It,” “What Is Man?” and others, have great depth and importance—and I recommend them to you.
There was a time when some black people thought that Mark Twain was prejudiced against them, and suggested barring his books. I’m glad this is in the past because he was anything but prejudiced against black people. In fact he was an outstanding supporter. A quote from “My First Lie” makes that clear:
“It would not be possible for a humane and intelligent person to invent a rational excuse for slavery.”
Many years ago, when I read that Mark Twain said, “Government is organized imbecility,” I thought he was being humorous. I don’t think so anymore. For twenty-five years I’ve been trying to give the United States Government a great present. (I explain this in A Remarkable Medicine Has Been Overlooked.) But I’ve found that there’s no place in government to receive presents. There are plenty of places to receive problems. However, I don’t think we should pick on the politicians about this. I think we should pick on ourselves.
Congress and the President are supposed to have the most important jobs in the United States—they run our country. And we should pay them top salaries, but we don’t even come close. Our Senators get $135,000, plus perks. Let’s call it $150,000. The same for Congressmen. Our President gets $200,000, plus perks. For easy figuring, let’s call it $300,000.
During the baseball strike in 1994 you read that the average major league baseball player (there are 700 of them) received $1.2 million a year. In other words, the average baseball player earns eight times as much as a Member of Congress, and four times as much as our Chief Executive Officer, the President of the United States.
Here are some annual earnings of recent date:
Top CEOs (in millions): $25.9, 23.8, 16.6, 15.8, 14.7, 14.6, 13.7, 12.4, 12.3, 12.1—Business Week
Top Athletes (in millions): $30.0, 16.7, 14.8, 13.6, 13.5, 13.5, 12.1, 12.0, 11.4, 11.3—Forbes
I won’t give you any more figures, you’ll find them in the sports pages every day.
Suggestion—Let’s pay our Senators $4 million, Members of the House $3 million, the President $7.5 million. If you say they’re not worth it, that may be so. But that’s just the point. If we pay outstanding salaries in government maybe we’ll get outstanding people.
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