I find it very bizarre that during a time of economic upheaval the Globe and Mail is running a series on “Giving.” Is Charity the answer to our economic woes? Some seem to suggest that it might be. For example, Ed Clark, CEO of TD bank (whose salary rose by 9% last year, while inflation is at 3% according to the consumer price index) said:
“We live in a market economy,” which means that paying executives less than the market rate will make it hard to attract the cream of the crop, he [Clark] said.
“Personally what I’ve always said is… what you do with your pay matters. You can solve this problem on how you behave personally in terms of charitable donations and things like that, and try to reconcile that dilemma.” (Source).
Clark believes the problem of CEO pay would be difficult to address directly (by lowering or limiting it), or we would not be able to attract “the cream.” So the solution is for CEOs to act charitably. Again, a similar refrain to the Globe section, I linked to above.
This suggestion seems problematic to me. There is a moral difference between equality achieved through rights (as a matter of what we are owed as persons) and equality achieved through charity (as a matter of the beneficence of others). Immanuel Kant discusses the danger that charity poses to the self-respect and dignity of the recipient in The Metaphysics of Morals. Although I have some quibbles with Kant’s discussion in these sections, I think it is right in the broad outlines.