The moderate-level debate is raging over whether accumulating wealth can be an addiction.
If so, Ebenezer Scrooge would have been the poster child for a 12-step program.
A 2012 AFL-CIO study showed that chief executive officers at 300 companies -- some of the nation's largest -- earned an average of $12.9 million a year, 380 times more than a typical worker, according to CNNMoney.
The AFL-CIO said Bureau of Labor statistics show the average worker earned $34,053 in 2011.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase would skew those figures. Dimon was recently given a 74 percent increase in his compensation for performance in 2013.
Yes, 74 percent.
He will receive $20 million. (He previously earned $11.5 million)
Still pending is a decision from the bank's board of directors on whether Dimon can collect 2 million stock options that were negotiated in 2008. Those options are worth $34 million.
Remember the "Greed is Good" speech from the Gordon Gekko character in the 1987 film "Wall Street?"
That speech was inspired by Ivan Boesky's 1986 commencement address at the UC Berkeley School of Business. He said greed was healthy.
He should have said greed could lead to jail. Later that year, Boesky settled insider trading charges. He paid a $100 million fine and was sentenced to three years in jail.
Gekko became wealthy on the misery of others, Boesky became wealthy by cheating others. He was a precursor to Bernie Madoff, who was sent away for his massive Ponzi scheme.
Now this is not to say or imply that Dimon is a cheat or has done anything that was not above board to get paid.
One could easily argue that 2013 was not a banner year for the bank. It paid nearly $19 billion in fees for failing to properly oversee its trading practices. Tack on another $1 billion in attorney fees as well.
But his board agreed to give it to him, so be it.
This is more about an addiction to wealth. When is enough enough?
I could not imagine what that rarified air of personal shoppers, private jets and secret vacation islands must be like.
I could imagine what $20 million could do for a city like Stockton or San Bernardino or Mammoth Lakes or the effect on an organization such as Head Start, the United Way or the YMCA.
Greed is not about sharing the wealth. Public companies look to maximize shareholder value and in return top management at those companies are rewarded handsomely.
Sam Polk runs Groceryships, a nonprofit that supplies families with healthy food. He was once a hedge-fund manager and recently wrote a piece for the New York Times about how, while working on Wall Street, he became increasingly addicted to money. And he saw others with the same problem.
These are not people trying to support a family of four on $15,000 a year. These are people who complain because they view their $3.5 million bonus as being inadequate.
I could see losing a sense of proportion if you have $3 million in your pocket and the person next to you gets $4 million for doing the same job. That's a view of being treated unfairly. Just like a professional athlete, some would say.
But I have known people who earn a lot of money and are miserable on a number of levels. Their relationships don't work, something is not right in their life and they always seem to be worried about money although they seem to have more than enough.
Money is not the root of all evil -- poor character is -- but the love of money can certainly lead one down a bad road. One does not need to determine if wealth is an addiction or not to realize that.
Contact Donald W. Blount at email@example.com.