Century Marks

Century Marks

Billions upon billions

Scott Russell Sanders asks you to imagine how you'd spend a billion dollars if you kept it under your mattress and didn't earn any interest. If you lived 50 years, you could spend $1.7 million per month or $55,000 per day. If you invested that money instead in U.S. Treasury bonds, at current rates you could spend $110,000 every day without touching the principal. That daily amount is a little more than twice the median annual household income in the U.S. So why do some billionaires want even more? It isn't the money, says Sanders, it's the power they gain through the money (Orion, July/August).

Wages are sin

In the 1970s Kenneth J. Douglas was CEO of Dean Foods, a leading U.S. dairy company. He earned what would be $1 million a year in today's economy and lived well but not ostentatiously. Numerous times he turned down pay raises because he thought they were bad for the morale of the company's workers. Today his successor earns ten times as much in compensation and lives an opulent life. Meanwhile, workers' wages at the company have been sliding. Some analysts observe that the social norms that discouraged big executive wages in the 1970s have changed. Now greed is considered good, and the people at the top believe they deserve what they make. When it comes to wage inequality, the U.S. ranks alongside developing countries—ahead of Uganda and Jamaica but behind Cameroon and the Ivory Coast (Washington Post, June 18).

Peace of the city

Iraq's first new church since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion opened in a poor Christian neighborhood of the northern city of Kirkuk last month. The inauguration of Mar Bulos (Saint Paul's) Church in the multiethnic and multireligious city comes despite the sharp fall in the number of Christians in Iraq be­cause of attacks and threats by al-Qaeda. The new church serves a community of about 200 Christian families who fled to Kirkuk and nearby regions from other parts of the country. In a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the Christian community, the Muslim imam of Kirkuk recited a prayer before the congregation of about 300, asking God for peace and security for Kirkuk and the rest of Iraq (AFP).

Text or talk?

On average Americans spend 2.7 hours each day on their mobile phones. Nearly half that time is spent socializing. Women aged 35 to 54 are the most active socializers with mobile devices (National Catholic Register, July 10).

Back to the future

New Saint Andrews College, a conservative Christian college founded in 1994, follows the curriculum at Harvard—the one used at Harvard in the 17th century. Located in Moscow, Idaho, the college is part of a growing movement of new Christian colleges that follow a Great Books program taught from a Christian perspective. These colleges maintain their independence by not accepting federal funds or seeking regional accreditation. Some of them also do not have dormitories, placing their students in local homes instead. It is not unusual for them to have standards of conduct for their students that proscribe smoking, drinking and premarital sex, as well as requiring adherence to a faith statement that includes belief in a six-day view of creation (InsideHigherEd.com, July 12).