Take heart, Nation! Your faith in humanity is not misplaced. Consider the case of Gil Meche.
Meche is a mediocre Major League pitcher. Some years back, the Kansas City Royals inexplicably decided to lavish a major portion of their extremely limited payroll (the Yankees they ain't) to sign Meche as a free agent. They signed him to a guaranteed five-year, $55 million contract before the 2007 season, despite his frankly unspectacular record with the Seattle Mariners. After some injury-plagued seasons, Meche announced the other day that he would retire, rather than collect the $12 million due him this season. Because realistically he could not pitch at anywhere close to peak performance, Meche felt it would be wrong to accept the exorbitant salary that the Royals would have been obligated to pay him--particularly since the team had already paid him more than $40 million over the last four years.
Mr. Meche, your self-respect is exemplary. This act of civility and, frankly, generosity takes our breath away, and we can think of only one appropriate response:
What are you, a moron?!?
It must be nice to have the luxury to walk away from $12 million, but, still, IT'S TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS!!! When the Royals offered you this contract, they showed the kind of sound business judgment we've come to associate with Lehman Brothers, but that's hardly your fault. They were prepared to pay you; they were obligated to pay you. If you would have felt bad about accepting "undeserved" money, you could have donated your paychecks to charity.
All you've done is let a baseball team--a big business even if it is the Royals--off the hook for what turned out to be a calamitous financial decision. It's one thing for the government to bail out spendthrift corporations. Why should the employees have to bear the brunt?