What job pays you $400K a year?
I once had a journalism professor who said: “A story is always about the money. Money is important. And when someone tells you it is not about the money, and the money doesn’t matter, they are lying and the story is more than likely really all about the money.”
He would add that famous line from the movie “All the President’s Men,” which had Deep Throat telling Woodward, “Follow the money.”
My professor, of course, was teaching a class on investigative journalism. But, what he said translates to many other types of newspaper stories, and generally to life itself.
People care about money, whether they have any or not. So, I have tried to teach my young reporters to always include the money, because our readers want to know.
A city council is going to repair streets how much is it going to cost? A school superintendent is being hired how much are they being paid? A storm hits the county how many dollars of damage did it cause? How much will a proposed new housing development cost?
Our local governments are spending millions of taxpayer dollars each year, and people are curious as to how that money is being spent.
To be honest, I have a tough time understanding money these days. Maybe it is because everything is now “big money.” The old saying used to be “a million here, a million there, and suddenly you are talking about real money.” These days it is “a billion here, a billion there.” And soon it could be “a trillion here, a trillion there.”
To illustrate my point, Bill Gates of Microsoft could soon become the world’s first trillionaire. He has a net worth now of about $85 billion. That is billion with a ‘B.’
I have written in this column before about how ridiculously outrageous some things cost or how much money people are paid.
What got me started thinking once again about all this “big money” out there in the world was the Super Bowl.
A 30-second television commercial in the first Super Bowl in 1967 (which wasn’t called the Super Bowl) cost a measly $42,000. It topped $1 million for the first time in 1995, was at $4.5 million in 2015 and went to $5 million this year. Can that possibly be worth it?
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s salary has been $14 million per year, but it goes to $22 million per year this coming season and the next. And not because he won the Super Bowl it already was in his contract. Throw in the fact that Brady’s wife, model Gisele Bundchen, makes more money than her husband $30.5 million last year and you can see the couple is doing alright.
The Minnesota Vikings needed a new stadium and they got one. It sure is nice. So is the $1.2 billion (with a ‘B’) price tag. But the new stadium did get the NFL to choose Minnesota for the next Super Bowl. Maybe that makes it worth it.
Big money is not just in sports, of course.
There is also the entertainment biz.
Topping the list for celebrity entertainers is Taylor Swift, who comes in at $170 million last year. Highest paid movie star is Dwayne Johnson at $64.5 million. Yeah, Dwayne Johnson, really. Who would have guessed?
A business exec named Patrick Soon-Shiong tops the CEO salary list at $147.6 million last year. Nope, I never heard of him, either.
I already mentioned Bill Gates as the leader of the richest of the rich, the top of the billionaire list. The list I saw had about 200 names on it.
Which brings us to our president, Donald Trump.
President Trump is listed as a billionaire. He says his net worth is $8.7 billion. Some others put it at “just” $3.7 billion. Either way, he makes the billionaire club. And as I already wrote at the start of this piece, “a billion here, a billion there, and suddenly we are talking about real money.”
Just for comparison purposes, Bill and Hillary Clinton are listed as having a net worth of $111 million, most of it made in book and speaking deals after Bill Clinton was president.
It sort of makes me wonder why either Trump or Clinton would want to try and get a job that pays a “paltry” $400,000 per year.
That is what the president’s salary is. Of course, to be fair, there is also a $50,000 expense account, a $100,000 travel allowance and $19,000 for “entertainment.” And use of a big jet.
Not to mention free housing in that big white mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue.
I think Donald Trump is the exception to my journalism professor’s rule I listed at the start of this column.
When Trump says being president is not about the money, I don’t think he is lying. He already has plenty of it.
It is about something else altogether. I will leave it up to you to decide what that something else is.