How Tiger – and Other Confessors – Could Make Amends

From Tikkun Daily, February 2010.

Tiger Woods’ confession seems to have placated his public and perhaps his sponsors as well. He seemed so sincere. According to the reputable Golf Digest, Tiger Woods amassed approximately a billion dollars in his 13 years as a clean-cut, all American, star athlete. That billion was made from pitching products rather than hitting golf balls. Ten percent of his income was garnered from winnings. Ninety percent was from endorsements. Nike’s alone was worth about one hundred million dollars over five years. Gatorade – Pepsi co was negotiating a similar deal when the scandal erupted. At the same time Woods had endorsement deals with Gillette, ATT, Tag Heuer, and his own lucrative firm, Tiger Woods Design which gives its name to golf course developments from Dubai to North Carolina.

Like other wealthy confessors such as Elliot Spitzer, John Edwards and Senator Mark Sanford, statements of owing the public better behavior were like other political promises. There was no commitment to back them with payment. Similarly Obama has felt no obligation to the public to compensate us for his broken promises on ending war, providing single payer health care, opening credit and creating jobs. FDR’s administration came through and created eight million decently paid jobs for unemployed Americans. America’s population has since doubled. To honor his promise as FDR did, Obama would create sixteen million jobs with the 7 billion a week saved from just 2 of the 3 wars he continues. Every unmanned drone of the type that has killed more than 300 civilians costs us $750,000 dollars. How much would Obama save by stopping that murder? Perhaps he might use that blood money to put American children in quality childcare. Currently 85% of American babies and young children are in substandard childcare.

Similarly Tiger Woods might actually show his contrition for letting Americans down. New York City’s one million school children will lose their free subway fare on school days. The New York Subway system, the MTA needs one hundred and forty two million dollars to restore free rides to the children. That sum would be a drop in Woods’ overflowing bucket. (This point was contributed by a struggling part time New York City arts teacher). After all, Woods garnered about a billion dollars.

Similarly, Elliot Spitzer, John Edwards, and Mark Sanford could chip in to send all of Washington DC’s elementary school children from their dilapidated substandard public schools to superb, enriched schools like Sidwell Friends where Obama’s children go to the tune of thirty-thousand dollars a year each. Naturally, in that excellent school children learn to think rather than pass the tests foisted on public school children.

We are used to accepting that there will be no commitment behind people’s words. Advertisements constantly make false claims. No one holds them accountable. We are taught to look away from the glaring reality that we are deceived daily. It comes in increments from our media, our sports heroes who are paid corporate mouthpieces, and our public leaders who are also paid corporate mouthpieces. What would happen if none of the hollow statements articulated with such sincerity were accepted without a real financial commitment to their truth? What if we demanded that our leaders and heroes put their money where their mouths are?

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