Hauling in big bucks

President Clinton is hauling in big bucks from speaking these days. Last year he made $13,400,000 by giving 54 speeches. That is quarter-of-a-million per speech. Some of his fatter gigs over the last few years have brought in $750,000.

Consider that Hilary can probably make just as much when she retires.

Imagine living like that. Imagine sending out your bill: One speech, 2000 words, 12 cliches, rousing ending. Payment due - $750,000.

The figures were in the news this week and they prompted a few thoughts.

One is that we often see business leaders lambasted for collecting mega-millions. For running huge enterprises that employ many thousands of workers. For supervising countless factories in countries around the globe. The lambasters claim these tycoons donít deserve so many millions. Even though they may have steered their companies into billions in profits.

Sure they work hard, the criticism goes. But so do their factory workers. And those slaves take home a mere pittance by comparison.

True. But the same is true in this speech industry. You might slave for weeks over an address to your local Rotarians. Just try squeezing $750,000 out of them. Youíre lucky to get a good meal.

There is something about this celebrity biz. We resent J. T. Tycoon making the big bucks and living large. But how about the guy who takes dope and swats baseballs into the upper deck? We donít mind that he makes fifty grand every time he comes to the plate.

And years later, when he is fat and foggy, we will be happy that he hauls in big bucks to make appearances. People shell out $75 bucks for Pete Rose to scribble his name on a baseball. And they reckon they get a bargain.

We resent Mr. Tycoon for selling his flash apartment in the Big Apple for 10 million bucks. We donít seem to mind that the buyer is a movie star. The star collects $20 million per flick. That is all right with most of us.

And we never resent the stars of our favorite TV news shows. Some of them can read a news script and that is about all. Ask them to spell the word ďjournalistĒ and they are out of their depth.

In other words, we are selective with our criticism. Which, of course, is human nature writ large.

Pick a politician from your favorite party. When you learn he or she owns three or four mansions and a yacht here or there, why you stand in awe. But when this wealthy bird is in the party you donít like, that can be a different story. He or she morphs into a fat cat.

That selective criticism goes with scandalous behavior too. If the guy is in our favorite party he can seduce and cavort and deceive and generally mess around. We will cover for him. Ahh, but if he is in the other party, why he is a major rat.

I guess we should be happy our big politicians can haul in so much money with books and public appearances. In some countries they get the money by butchering people. We definitely have the better deal.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tomís radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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