By ETHAN SMITH
I’m not a communist. I would not identify myself as a socialist, nor an egalitarian. However, I would like to spoon out a little food for thought with an observation that has left a rather bitter taste in my mouth. I’m not sure exactly what the appropriate solution should be, but I do feel there is a problem that my generation ought to think about. The problem I have in mind is that of justice and deserts (or that which is owed). Essentially, money is not going where it should go. When we think about it, there are a lot of people in the world doing praiseworthy and dangerous work for what amounts to chicken-scratch in terms of monetary wages. Members of this group include teachers, reghters, soldiers, rescue workers, police ofcers, EMTs and social workers. The starting salary for a private in the US army is $17, 892. Cops make around $33,000, and NYC reghters earn about $39,000. One can certainly live off these wages, but they are not particularly generous considering the risks and sacrices demanded by their professions. In contrast, there are also people out there earning hundreds of times more money for work that is not nearly as dangerous or praiseworthy. Members of this group include professional athletes, celebrities, movie stars, politicians and CEOs. Lebron James rakes in 15-16 million dollars per year with his NBA contract. Paris Hilton’s net-worth approaches 100 million dollars. According to the Hufngton Post, the highest paid CEO’s annual salary is equivalent to 3,498 years pay for the “typical” worker. I am not trying to downplay the value of people in the second category. We need movie stars and professional athletes for entertainment. CEOs of large corporations help us develop powerful and complex economics. Their work is neither easy nor irrelevant. But think for a minute; does Kobe Bryant work 833 times harder than a US private in Afghanistan? Is a CEO’s occupation 50 times more dangerous than reghters’? No? Then why do NFL players make more money in a few months than any cop will see in his lifetime? Yes, athletes and CEOs work hard, and their products benet people and society (sometimes), but the risks are nowhere near similar. I never heard of a businessman who was scared of burning to death under a ceiling rafter. Tom Cruise doesn’t have to worry about getting stabbed when he gets his hair done before his next take. Lebron James doesn’t have to fear getting kidnapped and being beheaded. How do we x this disparity between the fabulously wealthy and our heroes? For the most part, the people listed in the group that I claim is underpaid mostly receive their wages from the state or federal government. The government gets its money from the people. So, perhaps the people ought to give more. However, I’ve found that people get rather aggressive when the “tax” word is thrown about. Nonetheless, that is how our heroes are paid, and if we agree to pay them more it will come from taxes. It is an unpleasant fact e cannot escape; nothing is free. In spite of this, the majority can ease this pain by placing the brunt of the tax burden on the people with the most to give, such as CEOs and movie stars. They have the most to lose and have gleaned the most from this country; why should they not pay more? Even if Lebron James paid half his salaries to taxes, he would still be making more money than my parents will see in their lifetimes every single year. If you do hard, risky, honorable work your wages should reect that. In our society that does not seem to be the case. We call soldiers and police ofcers heroes, but we certainly don’t treat them like heroes. The quality of life for the people who serve our society is ridiculously low for the sacrices they make. They should earn more, and the people who can make that happen are the people who make obscenely greater sums of money for considerably less dangerous work. I’m not an egalitarian, and I don’t think that everyone should make the exact same level of income. However, if a man or woman is willing to lay everything on the line for their country and cities, they should not have to worry about getting their car xed. Cops shouldn’t fret about medication, and reghters should be able to send their kids to college without losing sleep at night. It just seems a little unfair that the only people who don’t have to worry about these things are people who never have to run through burning buildings or gunre to preserve human life. I write this because I know that some of the people reading will one day hold positions of leadership and power. I hope this makes them think about our society in a different light.