WUOMFM

Auchter's Art: Billionaire Types

Feb 17, 2017

After last week's multi-panel, text-filled cartoon, I wanted to do something simple and quick (for your sake and for mine). And while I like it, and I think it makes its point, I will cop to the fact that it is not necessarily 100% accurate.

Mike Ilitch died this past week. He was a Michigan icon, born in Detroit to working-class immigrant parents. He and his wife Marian founded Little Caesars Pizza and grew it into a business empire. He was longtime owner and fierce supporter of our beloved Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers. 

His charitable life ran the gamut from youth sports programs and education to community economic assistance and veteran affairs.

But the truth is, Ilitch was not all "give." He was a businessperson who created a great deal of wealth by looking after his own interests. The new Little Caesar's Arena in Detroit is a pretty good example of that. It was certainly within Ilitch's ability to pay for the entire facility himself, but instead he managed to get $350 million in taxpayer money to share the cost.

Some people resent this and hold it against Ilitch. I tend to take a broader view. First, billionaires get to be billionaires by taking money people are willing to give them. Second, Detroit could have done a whole lot worse with a sports franchise owner. (Donald Trump famously not only sunk his New Jersey Generals football team in the 1980s but pretty much drove the whole United States Football League out of business.)

Nevertheless, the truth may also be that Trump is not all "take." (If he'd just release his tax returns, we'd be better able to qualify that. And whether he is in fact a billionaire.) But the point is that cartoons (and memes) exaggerate to be funny or provoke a response, but real life is much more nuanced. Ideally, simple and quick start conversations, not end them.