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Soto, Trump, Ego, Greed: America

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Juan Soto, reaching for the moon?
Juan Soto, reaching for the moon?
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By Bob Gaydos

Greed. Power. Ego.

The fuel for the engine of America today. Some might say, with justification, thus has it always been. Perhaps. But in the here and now of 2022, it seems to be more prevalent, more inescapable, more baffling and depressing.

I offer two recent examples, one a major sports story, the other a story for the history books.

"- Juan Soto, a 23-year-old outfielder for the Washington Nationals, turned down a contract extension offer from the team of $430 million for 15 years. Now, that is enough money to guarantee that, even with a minimum of financial prudence, young Soto's future children, grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, etc. will have a comfortable start in life. "That's generational money," as a friend of mine put it.

So why did Soto reject the offer? Well, obviously he thinks he's worth more. He's already won a batting championship, after all. He's a home run-hitting machine. Fans love him.

Still, $430 million is not chump change. Even over 15 years. It's more than any other ballplayer has ever been offered. But it's a little less than $30 million a year and there are reports that this fact irks the young superstar. For those who don't follow the inflated world of baseball salaries, there are superstars on other teams with contracts that do not total as much as the one offered to Soto, but whose average annual salary is more than $30 million.

What an insult! The nerve of the owners of the Nationals. Don't they recognize his worth? Let's see what other teams will offer.

Ego. Greed. Power.

Apparently the Nationals' owners know that Soto, who has two years left on his current contract, is worth a ton of money to put fans in the seats, but they also know they have to pay other people they employ as well. Fans always want teams to pay their favorite stars what they want. Owners always want to, you know, make a profit and win games without giving away the store. After all, if $450 million isn't enough for today's superstar, maybe a half trillion won't be enough for the next hot shot.

And really, when is enough enough? I don't begrudge special recognition for special talent in any field, including sports, but it's not as if the Nationals went cheap on Soto. He's doing what he loves to do and is being rewarded handsomely for doing it well. In many societies, this would be a reason for some humility. Gratitude even.

I know. I'm out of touch. Greed. Power. Ego.

"- The other example has been in our faces for months. The Jan. 6 congressional hearings have demonstrated beyond any doubt that there was an attempted coup, by force and other extralegal means, planned and promoted by Donald Trump and his cadre of fascist Republicans. Greed, power and ego at their worst.

Ignore high gasoline prices. The fact that millions are still OK with what Trump et al attempted and that other millions agree with Soto's line of thinking are proof that greed, power and ego are what really keep the engine of America running today. We need to find a new formula, and soon.

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Bob Gaydos is a veteran of 40-plus years in daily newspapers. He began as police reporter with The (Binghamton, N.Y.) Sun-Bulletin, eventually covering government and politics as well as serving as city editor, features editor, sports editor and (more...)
 

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