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Friday, April 26, 2013
I love the free enterprise system, ... but wait a minute.
Justin Bieber is 19. If you haven’t heard of him, ask your granddaughter. The heartthrob singer made $55 million last year. Phil Mickelson is 42, and he made $65 million.
You might be a bit more accepting of Mickelson’s income because he is a professional golfer who has arthritis. But $65 million? For you TV folks, Mark Harmon is the star of “NCIS”; he gets a half-million per episode.
What is wrong with that? For one thing, it creates a Blade Runner-style super strata of hyper wealthy. Every year, Parade magazine puts out an issue about who gets paid what, and it always gives me heartburn.
My granddaughter is just getting to the age where I can talk to her about careers and money. If you have had these conversations with kids you know that you should not slam them when they talk about playing golf or singing or being actors.
There is some good income stuff on the Internet.
Who are the highest paid people in America? If you said physicians, you’d be correct. Surgeons ranked No. 1 among the highest-paid professions in the United States, with an average salary of $190,280, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Anesthesiologists were second with pay of $184,880 per year. Obstetricians and gynecologists were third with an average of $180,660. General internists came in fourth with $160,130, and general pediatricians were in the fifth spot with annual pay of $143,300.
So yes, you should encourage the grandkids to go to medical school. But maybe yours aren’t cut out for all that schooling.
Brad Pitt, ladies, you might be surprised to learn, only made $33.5 million. I know, guys, I know, he is also married to Angelina Jolie. So I doubt he envies Justin Bieber.
And for those of you who have trouble dieting, you should know that Anne Hathaway, the delightfully pathetic creature in “Les Miserables,” lost 25 pounds for her role. She was rewarded with an income from the movie of $160,000 per pound lost. No way Dan Marino or Terry Bradshaw will be able to make anything close to that from their diet plans.
You might be surprised to learn that law enforcement can be lucrative, albeit dangerous. You probably heard about the deputy sheriff from Arlington, Texas, who made more than $100,000. An occasional free donut and a very good pension often are part of the package, as well. I knew of a bailiff who, in retirement, was a triple dipper — D.C., police and two sheriff’s departments.
Perhaps the saddest observation from both BLS statistics and the Parade story is that there does not seem to be any correlation between the importance to our society of a particular job and how much those who work it make, except perhaps for the medical folks. They do good work and make good money. But why would Seth Simas, a substitute teacher, have to teach for 2,090 years to make what Tom Brady made last year throwing a football?
The next time you answer the call and donate money to the Red Cross, remember that Suzanne Lutz, in Staten Island, N.Y., got $75,000 of that money for collecting donations while the gal who reads your cholesterol panels and identifies patients at risk for heart attacks in Birmingham, Ala., gets less than $40,000. Boy, do we want her distracted by bill collectors when our panels roll by?
Economist Paul Samuelson said “the market determines levels by value.” Raul Prebisch, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, said “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”
In school, we used to joke that Samuelson had a new volume of his book each time he had a child. We never knew if that was true, but now I figure since each incoming class had to have the latest edition, this was part of his income strategy. Prebisch got the Nobel Prize and did not have to share it with anyone.
So much for free enterprise. I think the guys who make Tom & Ted’s bacon in Jacksonville, Fla., deserve twice what they make, whatever that is.
But my cardiologist thinks they should have to register their bacon.
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