The dignity of delivering pizzas

If you haven’t caught this on the Web, here’s the story of Ken Karpman, a one-time CEO and stock trader, with annual earnings as high as $750,000, now delivering pizzas for $7.29/hour.  To some, it’s a horrific tale about the trap door of today’s economy.  For others, it’s about just desserts for someone who blew through the megabucks he made during an age of excess.  But if you read and watch this ABC News item about Karpman, you also may get a sense of a guy who finds more dignity and purpose in earning a little over the minimum wage than in sitting at home bemoaning his mistakes and his fate: http://a.abcnews.com/Business/story?id=7111098&page=1.

I don’t know if there’s a profound lesson in all of this, but it does reinforce my wish that we will emerge from this recession with a better sense of what our economy, work, and underlying values should be all about.

2 responses

  1. Scrolling through the comments link on that ABC site there doesn’t appear to be a lot of sympathy for Ken Karpman. I too find it a little hard to shed a lot of tears for someone who intentionally put himself in that situation. But he does represent what a lot of people around the world think about America — we had a really sizable budget surplus built up back in 2000 and when the economy started to go through a typical cyclical downturn we should have had a lot to fall back on, which should have made this recession a relatively mild one. Instead, a combination of public indifference, media manipulation, bad policies and Team Bush of course have made this a real mess. And we didn’t just screw up our own economy, we’ve help trigger a global downturn.

    FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) has a weekly online broadcast called CounterSpin. This week touched on the AIG debacle and one of the points they discussed is how the mainstream media focuses much more on presenting ‘human interest’ pieces about people like the Karpman family, while neglecting the much more prevalent lower class segment of America. They think it’s just sexier to show these isolated incidents of the affluent getting caught in this economic downturn, I guess the rest of us are just too boring.
    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3736

  2. Jeff, you’re absolutely right about stories like these capturing the media focus. On the other hand, a lot of folks must be paying attention, or else they wouldn’t be running these stories! I just checked the WordPress “hits” report for this blog, which identifies common searches (but thankfully not individual identities), and a couple of dozen or so people have found their way here because they did searches on this news report.

    I’m working on a commentary that pulls together some of these items…hopefully I can post it later in the week.

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