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george hancockstefanThis Sunday, the USA soccer team played against Turkey at the Red Bulls Stadium in Harrison, NJ.  Since I was the only one home this weekend, I decided that I should go and see a soccer game, especially since this friendly game was being held as the teams prepared to travel to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, held in Brazil from June 12 to July 13. 

I looked on the Internet and saw that the tickets start around $125-130. Since I rarely go to sport games, I was a little surprised at how expensive the seats were.  If I travel by train or car and get some food and drinks while I am there, I figured that I will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $200.  I was also surprised that most of the tickets with the best views were already sold.  Some people must really love soccer games -- and some people must have enough money to buy the more expensively-priced tickets.

After a long conference with myself, I decided that the game was too expensive and I could watch it on TV.

However, this event made me think of one conversation that I had a while ago with one of my children about my income. In addition to my regular teaching course load, I was teaching a summer course for which I was paid the adjunct professor wage. It seems to be the same all over the United States ($3,000).  My kid, being good at math, recognized that the semester has about 36 hours of class time and, based on her calculation, I was paid about $75 per hour. She thought that the professorial profession was pretty good!

The glow diminished when I explained that for roughly each hour that one lectures, one spends between 5-15 hours preparing.  Now, if one took the average (10 hours) the professorial fee was reduced to minimum wage.  That is one of the reasons that there are so many protests against colleges overloading their courses with adjuncts professors, as well as why it is so hard to get a full-time position at colleges and universities. Keeping so many adjuncts on staff eases the financial burden of the college, while getting a full-time teaching position helps the professor.

Jesus, in one of his conversations with his disciples, said: The laborer is worth his hire.  Without sounding Marxist, the question of how much the laborer is worth has been a question throughout ages. We are still debating if the minimum should be $7, $10, or - as some states have proposed - $15. Last year, the Hartford Courant published an article saying the CEO of Aetna’s pay had nearly tripled to compensation exceeding 36 million. At the same time, I have good friends in the medical field who have watched their patients with Aetna receive a drastic reduction in their coverage. We must ask ourselves: At what point do high CEO salaries become unjust, if not to say immoral?

Instead of going to see the soccer game, I paid $40 for the Eats and Art Festival of Atlantic Highlands.  This fortunate turn of events gave me the opportunity to visit with local artists and sample food from eight of our different restaurants.  This also gave me the opportunity to chat with many people in town while appreciating local cuisine and local artists.

I still had time left to see the second half of the soccer game. From my couch I missed the excitement and the patriotism that was exhibited in the stands.  It was great to see that the stadium was almost full.  Because the game was a friendly game, not a qualifying game, it was good for the coach and for the players. Though in my estimation, it was not worth the $200 ticket, I do not know if the people in the stadium thought the same.  I do not know how many hours they had to work in order to get that ticket. Have they worked the NJ minimum wage? Have they worked in the middle class echelon where they are compensated at 30-60? Or, have they worked the high-level jobs where they are compensated between 300 to 1,000 per hour? It is interesting to recognize that our income controls our entertainment intake. The 2014 FIFA World Cup, while held in Brazil, one of the best soccer countries in the world, has been beset by workers’ strikes. They feel that Brazil is spending too much money on soccer stadiums, which could be used instead to help millions of people in need.