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We Should Be Giving the Highest Pay to Nurses, Teachers and Others Who Really Help Society

June 05, 1988

Regarding "Who Are the Most Overpaid People in America?" (Viewpoints, May 22):

Our society has an extremely distorted sense of priorities. We are willing to pay athletes, rock singers, movie stars and executives who manufacture toys millions of dollars a year, even though they are only involved in leisure or recreational activities. Yet we won't pay teachers or nurses, who perform critical functions, even a fraction of what they deserve.

I am a sports fan and I enjoy watching movies. But if the sports and entertainment industries collapsed tomorrow, I'd survive. It may be a little boring, but I'd somehow manage.

On the other hand, without nurses or teachers, a person's life or future might be in serious jeopardy. I wouldn't want to have an operation during a nurses strike. And I wouldn't want my child to attend a school where the pupil-to-teacher ratio is 100 to 1.

Nurses are the backbone of our health-care system and play a critical role in keeping our aging population in good health. Teachers are the bedrock of our educational-social-industrial-political system, and without a sufficient number of good teachers, there would be a paucity of scientists, engineers, lawyers, doctors, accountants, managers, business and political leaders and countless other professionals.

If it were up to me, I'd pay teachers and nurses a $100,000 a year. Preposterous? Well, it's no more outrageous than paying actor Sly Stallone millions of dollars every year for flexing his muscles or paying a baseball player $2 million a year for throwing a little ball. And it would not only give teachers and nurses the compensation they deserve for their difficult and highly critical jobs, but would help attract the best minds to these fields.

And for the athletes and rock stars, send them on permanent tours to foreign countries to help alleviate our glaring trade deficit.



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