Brad Anderson, retired CEO of Best Buy, made the news last week over a contribution he made some time back to an organization with right-wing political connections. The contribution was for $25,000, as reported by Minnesota Public Radio on April 6. (In the Star Tribune: “Ex-CEOs ‘shocked’ to fund hate ads,” April 7.)
I think of myself as mildly generous, but I can safely hold that Anderson’s single contribution is more than 100 times larger than any contribution I have made to any organization in a single year in my 75 years. That $25,000 is more than the IRS says is poverty level for a family in the U.S.
Had Anderson given that amount to fix the teeth of some of Minnesota’s working (or not) poor, would he have made the news?
Anderson was not happy that his contribution was made public. He argued that he’d given money to MPR and didn’t agree with all that MPR “stood for,” so why should he be expected to scrutinize a right-leaning organization for all its endeavors before he forks over such largesse?
Anderson was reported to have been on the board of directors of several major organizations in Minnesota, including Minnesota Public Radio. Most of the companies mentioned whose boards he sits on pay people like him very liberally for the status their names give to the company. The average compensation to members of boards is $61,000. Big-time companies reward in multiples. Of course, Anderson also gets a few bucks from his retirement package at Best Buy.
What do people who sit on boards talk about with each other? Do they commiserate over the lot of the really destitute? The children who go hungry too often? The children who go to school hungry and are fed by tax dollars in school cafeterias? The vets who suffer from PTSD? The non-vets who suffer from the same thing? The people who work three jobs to feed their kids? Palestinians who have been bludgeoned by Israel since that state’s creation (with the help of the U.S.)?
Or do people who sit on boards of directors eat catered lunches in fancy hotels and disparage the people who struggle to get by?
It’s not Brad Anderson. It’s all those people who have so much that they begin to think of themselves as deserving of more than the least of us.
David B. Murphy lives in Falcon Heights.