Oh, am I going to make some enemies today.
Last week I did a very well-received article on the 10 most underpaid jobs. Today I tackle the other, more controversial, side of the coin – the 10 most overpaid jobs.
First I want to apologize in advance. I am quite certain this list will offend more than a few of you. I’m sure many of you believe this list is nothing more than a bunch of sour grapes (or worse). Call it what you will. Just remember, in the end, it’s just one man’s opinion.
So, after reading this list, if you think I’ve overlooked a particular job (like mine or your neighbor’s) or if I have managed to list your job, feel free to leave a comment and let me have it with both barrels.
Just keep the profanity and ad hominems to a minimum.
10. Television Weatherman
Oh Yeah? Give Me One Good Example: KNBC weatherman Fritz Coleman has earned an inflation adjusted salary of over $1,000,000 since 1997
Annual Income If It Were Up to Me: $35,000
Public Outrage Meter: Not a cloud in sight and the five-day forecast shows nothing significant on the horizon.
Why They’re Overpaid: Talk about a no-stress job - collect the daily weather data and weekly forecast from the National Weather Service and then parrot the information into a camera. The best part is television weathermen are never held accountable when they’re wrong – not that anybody is tracking their borrowed prognostications anyway.
9. High-End Real Estate Agent
Oh Yeah? Give Me One Good Example: Just one? Here are 859 examples…
Annual Income If It Were Up to Me: $60,000 (the equivalent of the average real estate agent)
Public Outrage Meter: Over NINE-THOUSAAAAND!
Why They’re Overpaid: Real estate agents lucky enough to be representing high end properties make up to $30,000 for every million transacted, as opposed to the $3000 an agent of lower end properties will make for every $100,000 transacted. Why the disparity in pay when the work is essentially the same, regardless of the price of the house? “Len, you dummy, that’s because real estate agents work on commission.” Okay, but the pay scale model is a bit twisted, in my opinion.
Oh Yeah? Give Me One Good Example: I’d have better luck trying to find conclusive documentation that UFOs crashed at Roswell. (But after an exhaustive search I did find this old article showing a plaintiff lawyer named Gerald Hosier earned $40 million one year back in the late 1990s.)
Annual Income If It Were Up to Me: How much does the average doctor make? Divide that by two.
Public Outrage Meter: Worse than a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce.
Why They’re Overpaid: First off, there really are just too many of them. Because of that, many lawyers are driven to pursue frivolous and excessive litigation in order to simply earn a living and we all pay for it because the cost of that litigation artificially ends up raising the prices of most everything we buy. Why be rewarded for that?
7. Voice Actor
Oh Yeah? Give Me One Good Example: Dan Castellena of The Simpsons makes $400,000 per episode
Annual Income If It Were Up to Me: How much does the average carpenter make? Divide that by two.
Public Outrage Meter: Everybody is too busy laughing at Family Guy to notice.
Why They’re Overpaid: Getting paid to read a script into a microphone is about as good as it gets. No need to shave, brush your teeth, or maintain any other semblance of personal hygiene. Many voice actors have their own studios, so they don’t even have to get out of their pajamas. This is acting’s version of baseball’s designated hitter. Unlike real actors there’s no need for three-hour make-up sessions and, best of all, there is absolutely no need to memorize the lines.
6. Hedge or Mutual Fund Manager
Oh Yeah? Give Me One Good Example: James Simons earned $2.5 billion last year
Annual Income If It Were Up to Me: $0 to $150,000
Public Outrage Meter: The gallows have been built in the town square and the People are ready for their first victim.
Why They’re Overpaid: While the example cited above is an extreme case, portfolio managers typically earn millions, usually a performance bonus, and a percentage of the assets they manage. The job is not trivial and requires lots of schooling and experience. But managers that fail to beat the market often make exorbitant salaries and earn multi-million dollar bonuses nevertheless. Why? These guys should get nothing if they fail to beat the market.
5. Public School Administrator
Oh Yeah? Give Me One Good Example: Long Island’s Syosset’s public school superintendent receives $366,266 a year in salary plus $61,222 in benefits.
Annual Income If It Were Up to Me: For top administrators, a maximum of 20% more than the average salary of a school principal in the same district.
Public Outrage Meter: Steadily rising at a pace directly proportional to the rate at which teachers are being laid off.
Why They’re Overpaid: There are lots of problems with the public education system, and if I were recruited to fix it I would start with the bloated bureaucracies within each district. The amount of money siphoned out of local school district budgets to support these administrators and their monstrous temples of waste is absolutely incredible. Is a school administrator really worth four to five times the value of a teacher in the classroom? Hardly.
4. College Football Coach
Oh Yeah? Give Me One Good Example: USC’s Pete Carroll earns $4.4 million per year
Annual Income If It Were Up to Me: $35,000
Public Outrage Meter: Off the radar until college football implements a real playoff system.
Why They’re Overpaid: The absurdity of college football coach salaries becomes apparent after you put things in perspective. With an annual salary of almost $3 million, Texas University football coach Mack Brown earns over four times as much as the chancellor of the entire Texas University system. Meanwhile, Coach Carroll is the highest-paid private university employee in the United States. Talk about our society having its priorities out of whack…
3. Television, Movie or Music Star
Oh Yeah? Give Me One Good Example: Will Smith earned $80 million last year
Annual Income If It Were Up to Me: Seven figures – two of them to the right of the decimal point.
Public Outrage Meter: Quiet on the set.
Why They’re Overpaid: I’m sure Will Smith and other megastar entertainers are great people. But nobody can tell me that memorizing a few lines in front of a camera, or strumming a guitar on stage and warbling a tune, is 1000 times more valuable than the job of a registered nurse. Sorry.
2. Professional Athlete
Oh Yeah? Give Me One Good Example: Kobe Bryant earns a salary of $21 million for the LA Lakers
Annual Income If It Were Up to Me: $100,000 for Kobe. Everybody else: $25,000.
Public Outrage Meter: Only when their stats are down.
Why They’re Overpaid: Tell me again why somebody that can dunk a basketball, or throw a football 60 yards, or toss a baseball 60 feet 6 inches over the plate for a strike is worth millions of dollars a year? “But, Len, their respective leagues generate billions of dollars a year.” Okay, then why do we continue to pay hundreds of dollars a pop to take our families out to the stadium to see a bunch of grown men playing a kid’s game, when we can do the same thing for free at our local parks? I just don’t get it.
1. Government Servants
Oh Yeah? Give Me One Good Example: Ronald F. Deaton, a Los Angeles City Dept. of Water and Power retiree, receives an annual pension of $317,876 (I can only imagine what his salary was)
Annual Income If It Were Up to Me: Equivalent to similar positions in the private sector
Public Outrage Meter: Unable to muster a quorum.
Why They’re Overpaid: The government is supposed to serve the people, not the other way around. For years now, government jobs, which for the most part are notoriously inefficient, have paid more than the private sector. Even more astounding is that private sector workers are being forced to pay higher and higher taxes so that many government servants can continue to maintain their obscene pensions, which are guaranteed by law. How crazy is it? Here are 800 jaw-dropping examples of pensions from just the City of Los Angeles that really goes beyond the pale, including that of the previously-mentioned Mr. Deaton who receives almost one-third of a million taxpayer-funded bucks a year to do nothing at all. Where is the outrage, people? Try and remember this the next time your local politician asks you to approve yet another tax increase.
So there you have it: the 10 most overpaid jobs. If you are interested, here is my take on the 10 most underpaid jobs – I’m sure yours is on the list.
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