You guys, I’m no economist or anything, but I’ve got a pretty airtight plan to get us out of this recession. Not airtight in the sense that it has no holes, but airtight in the sense that I have not thought long enough about it to notice those holes. So…airtightish.
Anyway, you know how everyone’s always going on about how we pay entertainers, reality stars and athletes way too much money? Like when Snooki got paid more than Toni Morrison to speak at Rutgers? Or when Snooki gets paid to do anything?
Yes, it’s unfortunate that our culture values entertainment over teachers, but until they start selling ad space in text books* or people devote hours every week to adjusting their Fantasy Physics lineups, that’s probably not going to change. In the mean time, though, I think we should consider whether paying Real Housewives and auto-tuned singers millions of dollars to continue being their terrible selves might not be just the thing to turn this economy around.
Let’s consider the facts.
Quasi-celebrities buy a lot of stuff.
If a well-educated, deserving person earned a lot of money through hard work and sacrifice, they would probably do something boring with it, like put it in a savings account or pay their rent. Smart move, but it’s not going to do any good for toy dog breeders or the makers of SKYY vodka. If you give thousands of dollars to someone who not only has done nothing to earn it, but also doesn’t really understand how money is even earned, they will put that money right back into the economy.
How she earned her money: Staring vacantly, flipping tables and yelling memorable catchphrases like, “Prostitution whore!”
How she proves my point: After filing for bankruptcy for $11 million, she spent a $60,000 book advance on furniture and decorations, including $8,800 on curtains.
They don’t look for bargains.
In a sluggish economy, rational people who work for a living tend to try and save money on major purchases. But for celebrities and people who desperately want to be celebrities, spending money is even more of a status symbol than the stuff they buy. Paying not just full retail price, but more than anyone in their right minds would pay for, let’s say, curtains, let’s people know that they must have so much money they don’t even understand how much stuff should cost. And good thing they don’t, because if no one was willing to overpay for stuff others get for free, we’d have a lot of unemployed tanning salon receptionists on our hands.
How he earns his money: By causing hundreds of uncomfortable conversations at weddings when every grandmother asks, “Superman that…what? What is he saying?” with his only hit single “Crank That.”
How he proves my point: Despite having all the makings of a one-hit wonder, Soulja Boy celebrated his 21st birthday by buying himself a $55 million private jet. Actually, it’s a $35 million jet, but he added $20 million in upgrades. Those upgrades included leather seats and flat screen TVs, all of which he could have gotten at a Levitz clearance sale for $2,400 – and he could’ve saved an extra 15% if he signed up for the store credit card.
They employ people.
Entourages aren’t free. If you’re an unlikable person, you have to pay for friends. And the wealthier and more unlikable you become, the more you’re going to have to pay these people to put up with your bullshit. While jobs in an entourage may not be stable or come with a 401(k) plan, they do offer the option of quietly stealing from your BFF/employer who doesn’t understand enough about money to know better.
How she earns her money: She continues to release albums with self-aggrandizing titles, like “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” and people continue to buy them, apparently.
How she proves my point: Mariah Carey’s large entourage includes two people to help lower her onto couches so she doesn’t wrinkle her clothes, people to accompany her to television appearances to watch her in the monitors and make sure she looks perfect and an additional, sub-entourage for her dogs.
They’re bad at avoiding taxes.
While the truly wealthy understand tax loopholes and deductions, many celebrities think that they can just avoid taxes all together. With the U.S. government desperately needing revenue right now, you would think this would be a bad thing. But since reality stars are so bad at hiding assets, or think that not wanting to pay taxes is a legal reason to avoid it, they actually generate more revenue for the government in the form of interest and penalties once they’re easily found and prosecuted. And no matter how much the Tea Party may be against black people taxes, I doubt any of them will get that upset about Wesley Snipes having to pay a little extra.
How he earned his money: By out-manipulating his competitors to win the first season of Survivor.
How he proves my point: Despite the fact that 51 million people tuned in to watch Richard Hatch win one million dollars, he failed to report the prize on his taxes that year, probably thinking no one would notice. He was arrested in 2005 for tax evasion and served time. He now owes the IRS $2 million, as opposed to the $286,000 he would have paid them originally if he understood how taxes work.
Their repossessed goods become our deals.
Eventually, quasi-celebrities’ spending catches up with them, and usually in a pretty big way. Once America tires of their one hit song or a younger, tanner, bitchier woman steals the spotlight with a well-timed nip slip, the world will forget about them. The phone will stop ringing, the bills will pile up and people will come to take back all of the ridiculous crap they bought. But then that crap will be sold at auction, where the people who would never pay full retail price for their very own dinosaur skull can finally find some great bargains.
How he earns his money: By appearing in literally every movie that will let him.
How he proves my point: Nic Cage has had multiple homes go into foreclosure in the past few years, which have led to some real bargains if you’re in the market for a “frat house bordello” at about $25 million below the original asking price. Hopefully an up-and-coming actor with weird taste in movies and a penchant for overacting will buy it and fill it with overpriced furniture and exotic pets – and the economic cycle continues.
*Note to self: Start company that sells ad space in text books.