Jim Calhoun, the coach of the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team, got asked the other day how he justified being the highest paid state employee in Connecticut; a state with a projected $944 million deficit this year. He irrationally flipped his shit. Of course the guys from PTI defended Calhoun for yelling at the reporter who posed this question because they like Jim Calhoun and God forbid anyone from ESPN, located in Connecticut, says anything bad about the University of Connecticut even though both their men’s and women’s basketball coaches are complete assholes.
But this is on the society page because I think this is a subject that goes beyond sports. I read on Tyler Durden that Madonna went to some Oscar party or something wearing millions of dollars worth of jewelry. And I didn’t watch the Oscars (because I’m neither a woman nor gay), but I assume they were all wearing dresses that exceed the salary of many normal people.
Furthermore, I don’t know if this is true, but I remember hearing at some point that President Obama was not going to take a salary during his time as President. I think he committed to this when he was running for President, before the financial shit fully hit the fan. He wouldn’t be the first President to do this as President Kennedy did it for his three years in office. And I don’t know if President Bush or President Clinton also donated their salaries to charity so I’d be willing to have anyone tell me what they know on the subject. All I do know that JFK didn’t take a salary; he just donated all of it to charity.
My point is this: should public figures who receive huge salaries take a pay cut because of the current economic situation?
‘Public figures’ I think includes people like high school football coaches. For instance, the Spartan High football coach make upwards of $80,000 and doesn’t teach a single class. That money comes from tax payers and comes out of the school’s budget. Obviously, that money could be spent on any number of other things.
Of course the counter argument, being put forth frenetically by everyone at ESPN in defense of Calhoun, is that these highly paid public personas have earned that money. Mike and Mike pointed out that no one put a gun to UConn’s head and made them sign Calhoun to a high salary. Plus, it is constantly argued that people like Calhoun or other coaches or even politicians and celebrities make money for other people and business. Their argument, then, is that not only do they deserve that money for the work they do, but also for the boost to other people and businesses and the general economy that they create.
I’d question the actual value of these people. Agents and the idea that money can be created in the future inflate the value of these people. This is exactly the problem banks and businesses had, which led to the financial collapse. If you bank on the assumption of future profit, the current value of something is inflated. And if the future value turns out to be lower than what you initially assumed, you create the situation we’re in now.
So here’s what I’d ask you to answer in the comment section: 1) if you were a famous public persona, a sports coach, an actor, a politician, would YOU voluntarily take a pay cut? 2) Should, in the normative sense, famous public personas voluntarily take a pay cut?