STEPHEN KING. The man who brought us cult classics like The Shining and Shawshank Redemption. (Yes, they were books before they were adapted for the big screen.) The ‘King of Horror’ has published over 50 novels and sold over 350 million copies of his books worldwide.
But did you know King also has a philanthropic side? In 1985, he first explored the comic medium and contributed to a charity X-Men comic book, Heroes of Hope, alongside top comic writers like Stan Lee and Alan Moore. The proceeds from its sales were donated to assist famine relief that had devastated Ethiopia. So you’re thinking: Everyone jumped onto the ‘Save Africa’ bandwagon in the ’80s. Surely that doesn’t make King a philanthropist? Well, there’s more.
King: Patron Of The Arts
He and his wife set up the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation in the 1980s to give back to their local Maine community, with a focus on education. Then in 1999, after an accident that put him out of work for months, King began The Haven Foundation to help freelance artists who found it hard to work because of illness or accident. (As if struggling as an artist isn’t hard enough in the first place!)
The author also owns three radio stations and created the talk feature ‘The Pulse Morning Show.’ The show, featuring activists, politicians, professors, authors, doctors, et al, aims to be provocative and amuse people, while becoming a positive community force. In 2011, King’s radio channels began raising funds for the homeless and those in need during the winter. The campaign went better than planned, raising $241,800 – a cool 140K more than their goal of $100,000.
Community Action Heroes
King’s spirit of giving doesn’t just end there. The STK Foundation also gives grants for projects in municipal public safety, oral health outreach, hospitals, disaster relief and more.
As someone who loves books and the written word, it’s not surprising that the author donates sizeable amounts to libraries in and around his hometown, Maine. He also supports local fire departments with funds and obliges their requests for new equipment. (Let’s face it — if the library is on fire, who you gonna call?)
‘The Super Rich Must Pay’
King often chastises the government and the super rich in his writing. His article “Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!” for The Daily Beast is a scathing diatribe against the lax official attitudes towards the immense tax breaks for America’s wealthy. He quotes the example of tycoon Warren Buffet’s observation that he pays less taxes than his personal secretary in spite of being a billionaire.
How is this possible? America has one of the most stark divides between the poor and the rich in the world. This works by taxing the middle class higher, assuming that the super rich are ‘job creators.’ In 2014, The Atlantic reported that the median net worth of upper-class families in America was almost seven times larger than middle-class families – a figure that is predicted to increase.
In India too, we need to address the growing divide between the rich and the poor. Here’s hoping Stephen King inspires more artists, writers and givers to raise the uncomfortable questions that both challenge and support the government to create better policies and protocols.