Toga party (cost: five million pounds)

In his latest article, Jonathan Freedland takes corporations to task for their miserly donations to the tsunami relief initiative. At first I thought it was a little tasteless to criticize what are, after all, good deeds in a crisis, but then I did the maths. According to Freedland,

Vodafone announced it would be giving £1m and matching all staff donations. A million pounds is a lot of money to you and me, but not to Vodafone, to which it is pocket change. The company’s annual profit, registered last May, was £10bn. […] Put another way, Vodafone has given a mere one tenthousandth of its annual profit. (Not its total revenue, mind, which would be a larger figure, just its profit.) Think of your own annual income, after you’ve paid off all your expenses.

Just basing the calculation on my take-home pay, without deducting my living expenses, would result in a few cents/pence. It really puts into perspective the stinginess of Vodafone and other corporations.

As if that wasn’t enough, Freedland mentions Philip Green’s 50th birthday party, which cost five million pounds. Five million pounds?! I thought Roman Emperors were excessive, but then they did rule a third of the globe. Philip Green is head of British Home Stores, for God’s sake (that’s like Wal-mart without style). I imagined Green as Nero, an exemplar in excess, when by googleous serendipity I came across more details of the party:

Three days of partying, costing £5m, reached a climax with a toga party where Mr Green dressed as Nero and Tom Jones and Rod Stewart provided live entertainment.

Now that’s real class, eh? Like Onassis’ bar stool coverings made from whales’ foreskins.