Money and Outrage

Tuesday, September 3, AD 2013

 

FollowTheMoney1

 “Peter can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.'” Dominic turned and looked straight at the Pope, and said, “No, and neither can he any longer say, ‘Rise and walk.'”

Supposed comment by Saint Dominic during a tour of the papal treasury conducted by Pope Innocent III.

 

Michael Voris, who I personally have little use for, has touched off a hurricane in the Catholic blogosphere by revealing the large salaries purportedly received by some of the biggest secular names in Catholic apologetics.  Go here to Catholic Family News to read all about it.

My reaction?

1.  Voris better have been telling the truth that he is earning 40k a year because his finances are now going to be under a microscope.

2.  I am shocked at the size of the purported salaries.  The main sources of these salaries are often donations from people of very limited means and it rubs me the wrong way to see people making a very good living off what is very frequently a poor widow’s mite.

3.  I am always suspicious of secular people who are engaged in apologetics and who make their living from this work.  That smacks to me of being a professional Catholic rather than a Catholic simply writing or speaking in defense of the Church and neither seeking nor expecting monetary gain.

4.  My salary at The American Catholic since it was founded in 2008 has been $0.00.  I have not earned  a cent from my blogging.

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39 Responses to Money and Outrage

  • I, too, hope that Michael Voris is being completely transparent about his compensation from ChurchMilitant.TV and not being coy about it. I will give him the benefit of the doubt. If he isn’t he will be savaged.
    The salaries of these so-called professional Catholics have been something that I have thought a lot about and have wrestled with, but I do believe that they have filled a great need and have done great things for the Church. The salaries do seem to be high … I just don’t know. I understand your shock and suspicion. It will be interesting to see how this works itself out.
    I find it curious that you say that you have little use for Michael Voris. I wonder why. It seems to me that he speaks the truth and says a lot of things that really, really need to be said and that most Catholics, even and especially some faithful, obedient, orthodox Catholics, simply will not say. I can see that his “style” may offend some, but maybe it is time for more straight forward talk that doesn’t tiptoe around issues. I think he, too, provides a critical service.

  • “I find it curious that you say that you have little use for Michael Voris. I wonder why.”

    He strikes me as a conspiratorial blowhard who has a thing about Jews and who has all the subtlety and wit of a dead possum. However, I do not want to get into a back and forth about Voris, who interests me little, but rather focus on the issue he raises which I think is important.

  • I guess I don’t find these salaries to be completely outrageous. I think all these people would make significantly more in secular media and perhaps in protestant media ventures. Joel Osteen makes millions. If we could have all of our apologetics done by religious or dedicated volunteers, that would be great. However, I think someone dedicated to full time professional work from a layman’s perspective is highly valuable. I know Raymond Arroyo lives here in the DC area. 100K is not Chateau in the South of France money here in DC, especially if his wife is not working, and he has kids. Now I do have some issues with the recent pleas for help from Catholic Answers in light of some of these numbers. I think they need to explain that they’re sacrificing too.

  • I agree with Mrs Zummo: the amount these guys are donating from their salaries needs to be produced. If these apologists are earning $100K+ but donating a large chunk (on the order of 30%) to various charities & local parishes, is it really that big a deal? But if they’re donating down at the 10% margin, we might need to discuss the issue further.

  • I understand why the professional Catholics have to make such high salaries: look where they are! Washington, DC, San Diego! There is nothing significant for Cathoics in DC. Ewtn could produce that show in iron dale at little to no loss. Having a show out of DC is making peace with Sodom. San Diego…who wouldn’t want to live there? But if you have an apostolate, it should be on a shoe string budget. Move Catholic Answers to El Centro, and now Keating could live on 40-50K instead of over 120k (or whatever it is).

    But salaries are the secondary issue. The primary issue is that these dudes have made their living by being cheerleaders for a team that really needs an exterminator. Let me tell you a little something about “conservatives”. I went to an allegedly conservative seminary at the height of the sex scandal. One of my professors was the husband of another priest who played wife. He was named one of the Vatican investigators. And all of us students knew that we had better not say anything bad about our seminary,classmates, or professors or else we’d be kicked out and never get into another seminary again. So what did we do? We either led or fudged it. My response: “Well, if there are any problematic men here, I trust my superiors to solve the problem.” that saved my bacon.
    In an argument with a “conservative” I said that the Church ought to expose everything, even the wrongs no one knows about. Nothing clears the rot like freash air and sunlight. Tis was met with horror and derision. No, the conservatives said, that would make the church look bad. Our job is to keep the church looking good so people will trust it. I said that o one trusts it precisely because “conservatives” are busy trying to keep the church “looking good” while the liberals destroy it. Who is to blame for the Church being a wreck? The alleged conservatives. That is what Voris is trying to point out. The libs may have done some crazy horrible things, but who enabled them? Who ran the damage control? Who kept things under wraps and silenced well-meaning critics who really wanted the church to solve our wayward clergy problem? It’s always the conservatives…Keating, Weigel, Novak, etc.

    Voris is just calling a space a spade. As for the real conservatives in the Church, we’re getting murdered, not by the liberals, but by the “conservatives” who want to keep the image up. I’ll take a real liberal like Matthew Clark over a fake conservative like Tim Dolan any day. At least Clark is honestly wrong. He’s no snake like “conservative” clergy and professional Catholics.

  • CA did mention that staff members were taking a pay cut as a part of this appeal for funds. Up to 26% for some.

  • If Arroyo were on a secular news network doing what he does, he would be making, minimally, ten times what he makes now. I would wager that all of these individuals would be making significantly more in any other context considering what they produce.

    I just can’t muster up the outrage to be bothered by what any of these gents are making, including Voris.

  • It may not be outrageous to some, but to granny donating a precious $20, it might be the difference between donating and not donating to know that the solicitor is making six figures.

  • Tend to agree with Matt (no relation, btw). The salaries don’t really bother me that much (given the cost of living where these guys are, they don’t seem that out of line). But these groups, while providing valuable information on RC apologetics in general, do seem to have a “circle the wagons” mentality whenever a criticism is levelled against certain things – e.g., that VII documents are not exactly the model of clarity, that perhaps some of the prudential choices of certain pontiffs may have not been the greatest ideas, etc. Rather than actually address some serious issues the Church has experienced, they tend to pull the “authority” card, and if anyone even hints that “The Council” and/or restructuring of the Mass may not be a complete unqualified blessing ushering in a new springtime of complete joy, they are immediately labelled a sedevacantist.

    MV does tend to provide a bit of corrective to this, even if his style may not be agreeable to everyone.

  • Stay on topic please. I have deleted several comments where people have wandered off topic.

  • As for individuals being able to make far more in the for profit sector, I would love to see them do it rather than depending on donations from people who are usually earning far less than they do.

  • Voris is needed in the Church today, because so many in the Church today don’t want to fully face the crisis in the Church. I don’t have a problem with people being paid for their work. I have a problem with people ignoring crises and the causes of those crises or not taking those responsible for the crises to task. Maybe their afraid of losing their jobs, maybe their afraid they’ll loose invites to big shindigs and such. But there is indeed a major problem with so-called ‘professional’ Catholics who ignore the causes of the crises in the Church and the causes. There is also a major problem with them attacking and marginalizing those like Voris, who do try and warn and inform people of the dangers facing the Church. There is much need for Voris and those brave and faithful like him.

  • I do not see any scandal with regard to the EWTN salaries. I would wager those are in line with what you would see at a local public television station.

    Karl Keating’s salary (given the characteristics of his work and the current state of his organization) is an unpleasant surprise.

    I assume there is more authoritative data than this, but food for thought.

    http://www.whatsmypercent.com/

    You can see here

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=studies.ceo#.UiYlbT-KD_E

    Some of these salaries are not remarkable for the chief executives of small philanthropies.

  • To put these scandals in perspective, recall that over the PTL Ministries in 1987. Jim Bakker’s deputy Richard Dortch was compensated annually to the tune of a sum that would amount to around $630,000 in today’s currency. There’s prosperity gospel and then there’s prosperity gospel.

  • As for individuals being able to make far more in the for profit sector, I would love to see them do it rather than depending on donations from people who are usually earning far less than they do.

    Would you say the same for non-profits like the Heritage Foundation? They solicit donations from people all across the income spectrum, from the very rich to those who earn far less. I know because I have donated to them. Same for Hillsdale College. I’m sure Dr. Larry Ayrn makes more than Keating. Perhaps he makes more than Keating, Akin, and Staples combined. This is really much ado about nothing. However, I do think think given the state that Catholic Answers is in, it would be reasonable for those like Keating, Akin, and Staples to state what their salaries are and justify them to their donors and let them decide whether or not they want to donate. Then nobody has anything to kick about.

    I actually think all of this should be a for profit venture. I think with the right business acumen, they could do even better. The only problem I see is that profit motive has been so unjustly stigmatized in Catholic circles, although nothing in Catholic social teaching justifies such stigma.

  • I’m more surprised that some of these operations can pull in that kind of money. Do they have budgets equal to that of local tv stations in general? Do they have that size audience? Joel Osteen has an audience probably comparable to the Archdiocese of New York. Am I underestimating the wealth and reach of the conservative Catholic alternative media?

  • “Would you say the same for non-profits like the Heritage Foundation?”

    No, because that is an apples to rock salt comparison. People should be very cautious about attempting to make cash from religion. I prefer the attitude of Saint Paul who worked for his keep as a tentmaker while he spread the Gospel gratis. In any case any enterprise that purports to be about the Faith should disclose frequently the salaries or any other form of income people involved with the enterprise are deriving from its operation.

  • I think it was either Fr. Paul Shaughnessy who wrote on this subject with regard to ordained clergy: ‘Poverty issues’ are the most contentious in rectory discussions.

    I was once upon a time a member of an Anglican parish that had a rector, a sexton, a choirmaster (3/4 time), a secretary (1/2 time), and a curate (a good old octogenarian priest, worked occasionally and paid sofa change); the choirmaster was given also a small slush fund for a selection of his voices. The rector, in conjunction with the schoolteacher claque on the vestry, had a talent for financial mismanagement. The parish was bleeding profusely and had largely liquidated its general endowment. It came to the point where there were hushed conversations about what there was left to cut: the rector’s compensation. This ailing parish was forking over for the services this sad (but manipulative) middle aged bachelor a sum equivalent to $71,000 in today’s currency.

  • People should be very cautious about attempting to make cash from religion.

    Agreed, that’s a danger. However, not many people are doing it without the sacrifice of family life (though they may be in danger – recall the blogger employed by the Diocese of Dallas who defected to the 7th day Adventists).

    Someone has to run EWTN and there is not a great deal of spare talent among the diocesan clergy and the census of the religious orders is a catastrophe. Annual cash compensation per worker in this country is around $58,000; fringes add to that. I think the EWTN crew would have compensation around the 90th percentile. The company has somewhere north of 200 employees.

  • Financial management is counterintuitive in organizations whose primary product is unrelated to their primary source of income. If you make pencils, you have to keep the cost of pencil production down, and sell as many pencils as possible. If you provide religious guidance for people online, it’s doubtful that your income is in any way proportionate to the amount of guidance you provide. It’s tough to create a business model for such a thing.

  • It’s tough to create a business model for such a thing.

    That’s nice. The rector did not realize that nominal values and real values of capital assets diverge over time – or, when answering questions from me in a public forum professed think that nominal and real values were equivalent. You actually do not need a business model to understand that the purchasing power of a dollar in 1982 was greater than it was in 1994, or that your investment is not doing all that well if its nominal value increases by 67% in the context of a trebling of equity prices. (It’s also somewhat strange, when all you’ve got in your seminary endowment is $60,000, to put the entire kit and kaboodle in the issues of one company).

  • If you want to criticize people who revealed the salaries, don’t blame Mike Voris. He only repeated some information posted on a blog. The point was about organizations begging for money when people are making six figures. We need more people like him who aren’t afraid to speak the truth. He’s going to reveal much more in his Wednesday evening online radio show.

  • I used to be a “professional Catholic” employed full time by a diocesan newspaper. The rule of thumb it followed for salaries (in the late 80s-early 90s; don’t know whether they still follow it today) was that they paid “a percentage” of what the local secular daily paper would pay a full-time reporter. I never asked exactly what that percentage was but I would guess it was about 60-70% since my salary was only in the low $30K range when I left.

    As for Michael Voris’ claim that “professional Catholics” can’t tell the truth about the Church because they depend on it for their livelihood, I don’t know what to make of that. What does he propose as an alternative, particularly for observant Catholics who are married and “open to life”? Should all coverage of the Church be left to people who 1) hold full time jobs elsewhere and do it in their spare time, 2) have spouses who can support them, or 3) live off donations? Increasingly, it seems to me that this is where the secular media is headed as well — you can sometimes get better news coverage from part time bloggers than from the local TV or newspaper reporters.

    That said, I think we need both the professionals and the amateurs (“amateur” means literally “one who does it for love”; it shouldn’t imply lack of talent or competence), since one group will see things that the other does not have time, inclination, or resources to cover properly.

    Also, income alone doesn’t tell you whether someone is living high off the hog or not. You can make what appears to be a very good salary yet be struggling to get by due to high living expenses (housing, transportation) or debts (student loans, medical bills). And as others have pointed out, $100K doesn’t go nearly as far in California or D.C. as it would in central Illinois — especially if you have more than 2.1 children and are trying to live on one income or send the kids to Catholic schools.

  • I should add that the secular daily which my former employer used as its salary benchmark had a six-figure circulation and was unionized (Newspaper Guild). Other newspapers in the general area paid far less.

  • I’ve deleted several comments taking up the cudgels for Voris in reference to my comments about Voris which I made in response to a comment. Folks, this thread is not going to become a thread about Voris. Stay on topic or do not comment.

  • The issue is . . . are these “big” salaries causing the Catholic personalities to coddle the Bishops about their general lack of action against heterodox attacks. If they were to mention addressing any liturgical abuses or activities would the Bishop’s access be truncated – you bet it would, and that is why the salaries are injurious (it’s not the dollars, it’s the influence).

  • Let’s not forget that many of the professional Catholics make tons of money off of book deals and speaking engagements. So in my humble opinion they could be paid lower salaries, especially because they rely on donations. I feel John 2:16 does apply here, Don’t make my fathers house a marketplace.

  • Margretto, I hate to break the illusion that Catholic authors make tons of money. I have signed a couple of book contracts so here are the facts. A major player is someone who can sell over 5,000 books. If you can do that you get a $2,000 advance and about $1.00 a book. In other words if you write a book a year and sell 10,000 copies, you will make about $12,000. The shelf life for book sales is a couple of years. If you are a big star and can get an agent to sign you to the New York publishing houses, you still will get $1.00 a book but you might get a $10,000 advance. However, your agent gets a percentage and you might sell 25,000 books.

    Some folks like Michael Brown at Spirit Daily publishes his own books so he might sell 10,000 a year off each new book he writes. He might make $5.00 a book. Michael certainly takes on bishops, so he can’t be considered a coddling professional Catholic. Even big Catholic names like Dr. Hahn and Pat Madrid have other jobs. Dr. Hahn is a Professor of Theology at Steubenville and Pat Madrid runs Envoy Magazine.

    I have a family and there is no way I could support them even if I wrote a blockbuster book every year. I have a job and like Don have never made any money off my website (Catholic Report website,) even when I updated the site daily and had a rather large readership at the time. I also never asked for money to keep it going, I am sure I lost money on the site but felt it was part of my ministry.

    Catholic rock star writers and speakers are dwarfed by the “mega church” stars of the non-denominational world. I bet Joel Osteen’s gardener makes more money than any of the “Professional Catholics.”

  • I’ve seen this high salaries for religious work before. Back in my foolish youth, I was a member of Herbert W Armstrong’s Worldwide Church Of God cult. I left for several reasons, one of them was the life of luxury the cult leaders were leading one the backs of it’s membership. Guess what happened to the cult? After Herbie kicked the bucket, the group imploded. They had to close down their college, sell their headquarters, take most of their ministers off salary, and move to a cheaper location. They also lost most of their members because of some very stupid decisions involving the changing of church doctrine and culture. Yep, all that moolah they lusted after went poof! into thin air. If I was Keating or the head of any other of these other organizations, I would contact Michael Voris and find out how he’s able to run CMTV without paying idiotically high salaries. A temporary salary cut isn’t going to do the job, only a change of heart about money is going to solve the problem.

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  • The BBC once rang a certain British author to invite him to appear in a TV programme. They explained how anxious they were that he, our greatest living Catholic novelist, should take part in it.

    “And, of course,” said the producer, as if reluctant to mention such mundane trifles, “there will be fee of fifty guineas.” [About $1,500 in today’s money.]

    “I see. As much as that? Oh, well, I shall put a cheque in the post to you,” replied the great man.

    He was, no doubt, pleasantly surprised to learn that the BBC would be paying him.

  • Sorry. I’m rather late in this exchange, but just wanted to say, I love your point no. 3. Also I cannot stand conspiracy theories either. But that’s another topic….!

  • Somehow I missed this post. So my comment is very late. I do not have a problem with the salaries that some of these apologists receive. The Bible says that the workman is worthy of his hire, and these folks spend their time doing all the research and studying that frankly a person like me doesn’t have the time to do. Furthermore, many of them have families and do live in high cost of living areas where a $120K per annum salary would equate to Voris’ purported $40K per year. I don’t think that the majority of them are getting rich (though I could be wrong), but rather are managing to stay middle class. Besides, as a engineer in a nuclear firm, I have a good salary (though not as high as some of these folks), therefore, I can’t begrudge what they earn. And not everyone is like Saint Paul – single, no kids and itinerate, able to make a living off “tent making” and still spread the Gospel. Also, I hate the “gospel of envy”. I am not suggesting anyone here is so afflicted, but some people can’t stand anyone earning more than they earn – might that not be a certain 40K per annum wage earner who started his own internet TV show on Catholic apologetics?

    PS, Donald, your blogging work is certainly worth far, far more than what you get paid her at TAC! 😉

  • I see nothing wrong with the salaries except for Keating’s 250k. But he is CEO and makes that business run successfully. The apologists do a valuable service for the Chuech and deserve to be well compensated. They were instrumental in my conversion 5 years ago.
    I also hope Voris is being honest about his salary. The guy speaks the truth, but then again, so did Corapi. So excuse me for not caring for him.

  • Furthermore, many of them have families and do live in high cost of living areas where a $120K per annum salary would equate to Voris’ purported $40K per year.

    Living costs do not vary that much, but if you are in a high rent district like Washington, you ought to add around $5,000 per family member per year to cover increased housing costs.

    The thing is, locatable personal income per year in this country is around $37,000 per capita. If the chief executive of EWTN has the compensation package alleged and no other income, three dependents would put his household is right at the national mean (though, of course, notably above the median). Add a couple more dependents and he’s right around the median. I tend to doubt this fellow is a sterling example of self-indulgence.

  • 3. I am always suspicious of secular people who are engaged in Politics, and who make their living from this work. That smacks to me of being a professional Politician, rather than a Citizen simply writing or speaking in defense of the Country and neither seeking nor expecting monetary gain.

    5. People are always uber sensitive about their incomes, but anyone who is making their living from tax payer dollars should always be pro-active about disclosing their incomes each year.

    7. The love of money truly is the root of all evil.
    Campaigns, PAC’s, profiteers of death dealing industries, and those with access to funny money budgets are where my outrage is spent. A presidential vacation expense could keep a lot of the above mentioned apologists floating and productive.

    Outrageous are the salaries of citizens elected to be public servants, who ever strive to remove from the scene what good apologists are representing.

  • In regard to most politicians I think rather than expecting to be paid when they have gulled enough people to elect them, I would prefer that they be concerned with angry constituents placing bounties on their heads!

  • You give your pearls away for free? Good for you. Not all of us can afford it.

    Why does this sound familiar? Oh yeah, it’s an awful lot like the rationale of people who think artists should give their stuff away because the value is intangible and because it’s not all toil and drudgery, but occasionally we dare to actually enjoy it…

    Look, I generally believe that company admins should bear as much as they can before passing the pain on to the rank and file, and that there is such a thing as “within reason” although we might not necessarily agree where that line is. But am I shocked? Why would I be? These are not particularly high in the six figures considering the stature of the individuals. Having worked for a non-profit, we do our very best to be trustworthy stewards, but I can see *exactly* why we do not make this information public…because everybody has an opinion but not everybody has the whole story.

  • I’m just curious: Why were the people of EWTN, Catholic Answers, and Ave Maria Radio singled out in his show, and others excluded in that discussion. Does anyone know how much Judie Brown makes (not that I care, but just as a thought provoker since he speaks about her in the same piece).

    I’ve thought about this and I believe each of the people cited, are making a fraction of the cost doing what they are in the Catholic market as they could in the secular market. Many people who went to places like EWTN gave up opportunities for higher salary. The cost of living is different, as well, depending on where one lives.

    Here is one more thing to consider: Even if Mr. Voris is making just the 40k in cash he says he is, what other perks is he getting, or things that many of us would consider compensation. He travels an awful lot and many of the things he does while traveling could be done from his home base. How many times has he gone to Rome? When he goes to do a speaking engagement in another country, is that time there limited to the speaking engagement or does he remain there for a few days?

    I just think pandora’s box has been opened with this and what goes around comes around. If you told me that all those guys were making a half-million or something, yeah, I too would raise an eyebrow. But not at the 100 – 120k range.

    As to Keatings purported 250k, I don’t know whether that is his income as a small business owner where other expenditures or overhead are paid with it or not.

    At the end of the day, God will judge each of these people for the proverbial raiding of the widow’s mite, if God feels that is what they are doing. I have more important concerns and this is nothing more than one big distraction. This is 15 minutes I’ll never get back.

Celebrity Pay

Wednesday, May 26, AD 2010

People often demand to know why it is that we as a society consent to pay movie stars and professional athletes such obscene sums of money, while teachers and other people clearly providing greater benefit to society are paid so very little.

There are a great many economic and social explanations one can go into, but one basic point that probably bears pointing out is that society does not in fact spend more on Hollywood or on professional sports than it does on teachers. Nationally, the US spends an average of $10,000 per year on each student in public schools, and average college tuition (blending public and private) is roughly the same. Thus, a person with a four year college degree has had roughly $170,000 spent on his education — almost certainly more money than he will spend over his lifetime on movies or watching sports.

The reason why teachers make so much less than movie stars or professional athletes is that the total amount of money collected by these entertainment celebrities is spread over a much smaller number of people. There are under 500 players in the NBA, around 1700 in the NFL. The number of actors who make truly large amounts of money (especially when averaged over a career which often has long dry periods) is at most a couple thousand. By comparison, there are over six million teachers and three hundred thousand college and university professors.

Entertainers make so much money because modern means of communication allow large numbers of people to enjoy the performances of a comparatively small number of people.

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6 Responses to Celebrity Pay

  • That is a good point. Also, athletes and other celebrities make a lot of their money off of endorsements. We do not directly spend our money on the celebrity in that case. Teachers/professors could certainly get in on that gig if they want to, and with some medical/health care products, some have.

  • It’s also due to the monopolization trends in entertainment. 100 years ago, there were thousands of baseball organizations, for example. They ranged from 16 major league teams to semi-pro outfits barnstorming and playing minor (nor development) leagues. Not so today. 30 MLB farm systems, and a few co-ops calling themselves independent leagues.

    Music, too. More people made a decent living performing and many more enjoyed music as an avocation. American culture has largely abandoned entertainment as a participatory activity. More adults watch sports, including their kids’, than play it, and many more people watch or listen to music instead of learning an instrument and doing it themselves.

  • While certainly I’m not one to defend actors, I will make a few points in their favor.

    TALENT.

    Having worked in advertising, let me tell you— its incredibly important to find performers that get your script, can add qualities to it that you didn’t originally see and can perform when they’re asked to.

    I once worked on a tv campaign that was a complete casting disaster. We hired exactly who the client wanted, against the recommendations of the ad agency and the director combined. This guy made about 100K to film 5 tv spots and he was TERRIBLE. When we edited, we found that the spots were dry, lifeless and totally boring.

    We worked overtime to find a solution that allowed us to edit most of the poor performance out and replace it with a new voice over. But who would do the voice over? Against the clients wishes, the agency quietly spent 50K to get a very well known “Hollywood” actor to come in and record at TEST voice over. The agreement was that if we used it on television, he would get an additional 150K.

    Let me tell you. This guy came in, he was a bit of a jerk: but in under an hour he NAILED the performance we needed and saved our campaign. As far as I’m concerned, he was worth every penny. We would have saved thousands of dollars had we been focusing on the right talent, versus believing we could find substitutes.

    I’d also put forward some other reasons why they are paid as much as they are:

    — few people do what they do well, and do it on-demand

    — many of the best paid actors also play roles in story development and production

    —yes, as has been mentioned, they “play” to a larger audience than your average 5th grade teacher

    —and of course, a single large salary for an actor might have to stretched over months or even years between major acting jobs. Only the most in-demand actors find themselves with regular work.

    Certainly I think exorbitant figures do get passed along, but considering how much money is taken in, and that a movie can make money for a studio for YEARS from licensing, dvd sales, advertising, etc. It makes more sense.

    Lets put it this way: Iron Man would have been NOTHING without Robert Downey Jr. He made that film work and overcame a fairly by-the-numbers story and a comic character that was not as well-known as Batman or Spider-man. So, I would argue that yes, he is worth every penny.

  • Anthony,

    Agreed on pretty much all points.

    Though one thing I’d flesh out a little further: While I agree that the talen to be a top actor (or a top professional athlete) is pretty rare, it’s rarity still wouldn’t be worth nearly as much if we didn’t have the technology to take that one good performer and put him or her in front of hundreds of millions of people nearly instantly. If we lacked that ability to mass broadcast the few top performers, there would be a much bigger niche for mediocre actors and atheletes making mediocre incomes.

    By the same principle, if there was a way for the true top 500 teachers in the country to educate nearly everyone at once through some mass medium, and if people recognized their work as far superior to most other teachers, we’d probably have teacher superstars making tens of millions a year for doing their stuff.

  • Darwin Catholic,

    Thank you for addressing this subject in this manner. I’ve long been frustrated by the bumper sticker arguments about compensation for teachers. This is always a touchie subject. Many teachers are fantastic educators and earn every cent they are paid. However, it is ridiculous to lump them all together and compare their salary to the absolute best ball player. Reality is most teachers get paid more than most ball players. I’m a baseball player and I get paid nothing. Most don’t. A very tiny percentage of ball players get to play in the minors for a year or two. Out of that tiny minority an even smaller percentage get to visit the majors for a week or two. An extremely tiny percentage (one in ten million) are good enough to last long enough to have a lucrative career. Reality is they are incomparable. A good teacher and a below average teacher are equally capable of having a long career and will likely be compensated (paid) equally. That is the problem.

  • While I agree that the talen to be a top actor (or a top professional athlete) is pretty rare, it’s rarity still wouldn’t be worth nearly as much if we didn’t have the technology to take that one good performer and put him or her in front of hundreds of millions of people nearly instantly.

    I’m not sure about that. The top actors of the 19th century – Bernhardt, Henry Irving, Edwin Booth, etc – made fortunes. All of them spent a lot of time touring and to live in the sticks and see Booth perform was the thrill of a lifetime for many people. How their fortunes compare to the ones made by movie stars today, I wouldn’t know, but certainly they made far far more than the average worker (including the average actor) of their time. Star quality mattered as much then as now.