Here’s a Rorschach test for you: in yesterday’s New York Times, Tyler Kepner has a story on how Gil Meche of the Kansas City Royals decided not to collect $12 million in salary because he felt he wasn’t earning his keep.
“When I signed my contract, my main goal was to earn it,” Meche said this week by phone from Lafayette, La. “Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad. I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I didn’t want to have those feelings again.”
After his injury, Meche was expected to go through the motions of physical therapy, various surgeries, etc., and collected the $12 million to which he was entitled. Indeed, he could have done this and given the money to charity. But he couldn’t do it. Why? Perhaps it goes back to those “threshold earners.” The psychic cost of collecting the money actually outweighed the income, perhaps because the $43 million he’s received in salary from the Royals so far was enough to sate him. He could live comfortably off of the interest for the rest of his life, particularly if he chooses to lead a low-key life in small-town Louisiana.