Thoughts From The Tenth Floor

For the past two summers I have spent my time between school years working with a construction company that is building a ten-story office building in our community. I work on the clean-up crew, sweeping floors, moving material, and occasionally, doing some light construction work.

The building is a pretty impressive structure. It is covered with granite from top to bottom. Even the loading dock is ringed with black and pink granite. There are several tremendous chandeliers hanging in the building and there will be expensive, ornate “stone” throughout the interior.

The tenth floor of the building will house the offices of the corporation that is building the building, as well as all of the corporation’s subsidiary companies. The lower floors will be leased out space.

The other day I learned two things about the building that stunned me and gave me pause to think about priorities. The first thing is that the electronically controlled blinds and curtains in all of the offices on the tenth floor will cost $275,000. The second thing is that the tenth floor mahogany floors, walls, doors, and trim, and the labor to install all of the “wood”, will cost a total of $4 million.

The man who owns the corporation is a self-made billionaire, having made his fortune primarily through banking and property development. He has every right to do with his money as he pleases, spending it on whatever he wants, and building the building as extravagantly as he chooses.

But, I couldn’t help wondering: “Isn’t this a bit self-indulgent?” Sure, it’s nice to be comfortable and to have nice, even very nice, offices, but in a world that has such devastating needs … really!

What could $4 million, the total cost of the “wood”, be spent on that would benefit people with great needs – education, health-care, housing, just to name a few – rather than on satisfying the wants and comfort of a reputable corporate executive?

Yes, it’s his money, but I’m just saying.

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