Why are teachers paid so little when athletes make so much?

Teachers see us, sometimes, more than our own parents when we’re growing up. Day in, and day out, they get up at the crack of dawn, and begin arranging their classrooms, preparing for standardized testing, and writing lesson plans. This also includes administrative and teachers’ meetings. Then they teach for 8 hours or more. This is the part we see. But their work doesn’t end there. In the afternoons, some teachers work to help with extracurricular activities. Then stay late into the evening working too, returning emails, doing administrative tasks, and dealing with sometimes difficult children, and sometimes even more difficult parents. And their nights at home and weekends are consumed with grading papers, and preparing for the next day’s lesson.

I’ve never met a teacher who wasn’t completely overworked.

So why do we pay teachers so poorly, but athletes make so much?

Well, let’s dive into some data.

How much do teachers really make compared to athletes?


Teachers make a median salary of (except special education) of $51,640. All occupations in the US economy make a median income of $36,200. But what does “all occupations” mean? Does that include part time workers or only full time workers? I couldn’t find that information anywhere, but I assume it means part time as well as full time because when I looked up the median income in the US, meaning, (how much the largest amount of people are making), working full time median income in the US is $51,939. (Source)

How can that be? If this were the case, teachers would be making pretty close to the US median. Well, they are. Myth busted. In the US, that’s a solid middle class salary. BUT the BLS statistics don’t include real numbers of hours worked versus actual salary received.

Maybe we can find the answer if we look to the actual number of hours teachers put into the job per week.

In a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation survey, teachers were polled on the number of hours they work daily. The average was 10 hours and 40 minutes a day. That’s 53 hours a week. If that’s the case, that means teachers’ real wages are $18.74/hour or, approximately $39,000/year. Because teachers are only paid for the times they are at school, not hourly, the salary appears higher than it actually is. The number of hours worked lowers the salary.

Some might say this measure is cheating the system. I actually find it to be more accurate. If you work more hours for the same salary, it makes sense to me that that should be included data in what your real salary is.

Job growth for teachers is approximately 6%. The median amount of job growth across all occupations in the country is 6.5%. This means that the job growth is just keeping up with the growing population. (Source)

And now we have our second answer, possibly the bigger answer.

Supply and demand. There are more teachers in the economy than are needed in the workforce. Sorry, but this is what the data says.



How does that work? 

Using the graph above for reference, allow me to use an example. Say I’m a receptionist. In this make believe economy, there are 215 available labor hours for receptionists in the economy needed by employers. Some employers are willing to pay a little more for better workers, some employers are willing to pay a little less, maybe they can only afford that, or maybe they think that’s what receptionists should be paid and they don’t really care about attracting the best workers, they just want the job done. After a while, an equilibrium will be reached. The average wage settles around $15/hour because that’s as little as receptionists are willing to work for, and employers are willing to pay. If employers offered $14/hour, I wouldn’t go work for them when I know other employers are going to pay $15/hour. That $14/hour employer has less of a good labor pool to choose from. This employer has a labor shortage. But say there’s an employer willing to pay $16/hour. There are more applications coming in for that job, and that employer gets to have his pick of the litter. This employer has a labor surplus.

The average, the standard for receptionists, settles to $15/hour per 215 billion labor hours available. This equilibrium, in this perfect, theoretical economy, means all the employers who want receptionists have them, and all the people wanting to be receptionists have jobs. The job growth keeps up with the population and economic growth.

On a macro level, if we generalize this to teachers, if teachers were overpaid, there would be more demand to become a teacher and less jobs to go around for the number of people who want to be teachers. This would cause the wage to go down for teachers until it reaches the equilibrium. Schools could pay their teachers less, the more teachers are knocking down their doors to becoming teachers.

The opposite would be a labor shortage. If there were too many seats available to become teachers, and not enough teachers applying or going to school to become teachers, schools would raise their offered salaries. This is because it causes a greater likelihood that people will apply to become teachers or go to school to become teachers, knowing there’s more money in it. Wouldn’t you rather take a job that paid more than a job that paid less?

I do have some good news, though. I have a hypothesis that teachers will get paid more in the future. I predict a teacher shortage as more and more baby boomers retire. This is because the majority of teachers, 39.4% have worked over 15 years, on average. This, combined with fertility rates stabilizing in the US, will most likely create a lot of open seats as far as opportunities for teachers looking to enter the workforce, causing the wage to go up in order to attract more workers.

The baby boomers retiring is going to change the population in the US that are contributing to social security, taking social security, and the availability of jobs. Especially in 2025, when the height of the baby boom will reach the age of 65. In 2010, we saw our first spike in the number of retirees, who turned 65 that year since the first spike in population during WWII.



What about athletes? Why do they make so much more than teachers?

Well, they actually don’t. In fact, they make less.


Compare this with the median salary a teacher makes of $51,640. It is about $6,000 less than teachers make. Another busted myth.

However, athletes see the same job growth rate as teachers, 6%. (Source) Also, only 1 in 3,000 high school athletes make it into the professional industry.

What about star athletes?

This combined with the physical demands of the job, cause the highest paid workers, major league professionals to be paid higher. They have a unique, highly specialized skills that allows them to be more in demand, and higher paid as a result.

Careers are also cut short, the average athlete only being in commission for a few years before injury takes them out of the industry, or retirement.

The number of jobs in athletics was only 13,700 versus 1,517,400 for teachers.

Another reason teachers are paid more than athletes on average, is because being an athlete doesn’t require a degree at all, while teachers require at least a bachelor’s degree in order to get a job in teaching.

Cool general information.

Fastest growing occupations



Fastest declining jobs


Highest paid occupations


Lowest paid occupations


If you notice, the lowest paid jobs require the least education, and the highest paid occupations require much more education and have the most highly specialized work.

Top paid occupations

  1. Physicians
  2. Surgeons
  3. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons
  4. Internists
  5. Obstetricians and gynecologists

Lowest paid occupations

  1. Food preparation and serving workers
  2. Shampooers
  3. Cooks in fast food
  4. Dishwashers
  5. Dining room and cafeteria attendants, and bartender helpers

Should the physicians make less than food preparation and serving workers? Both are certainly hard work. But this is more of a moral question than a scientific one.

Is the world population growing and are we doomed?

Here’s the graph we’re used to seeing:


This one shows our historical population since 1750 and future projected population


Wait a minute. 

This graph shows a DECLINE in population growth AND a decreased projection of population growth.

What even is this.

And here’s another one:


Again with the population decline data and projected population decline.


Well, here comes the problem with data.

You might remember a post I made a while back, extolling the virtues of graphs zoomed way out to show as much historical data as possible, to get the big picture.

Well, in this instance, we seem to have zoomed out a little too far and missed the trees from the forest!

Here’s the first graph again:


It’s zoomed so far out, we can’t tell if the population is declining even a small amount after a while.

Notice the second and third graphs though, and they’re zoomed quite a bit in, and we can see that in fact, global populations are declining, and are even predicted by our very own UN to keep declining. It seems we reached peak population growth around 1963.



UN world population 1950


UN world population present


UN world population projection 2100


Now, let’s not say there are enough resources to go around even with the population decline. I’ll look that up in another post. But we can breathe a small sigh of relief that overpopulation doesn’t seem to be the doom and gloom catastrophe we’ve been brainwashed into believing.

Lastly, I want to leave you with cool facts I found:

  1. There are an estimate 100 billion humans who have ever lived. Right now we have 7 billion. Right now we are experiencing 7% of the world’s population that has ever lived.
  2. Asia accounts for 60% of the world population. Oceania is the smallest with 0.5%. (Source)
  3. There was once a bottleneck of human populations possibly down to 1,000-10,000 people, at around 70,000 BC, due to a volcanic winter that killed off massive amounts of plants. We could have gone extinct! Also, what that means is human genetic differences are not millions of years old, but only 70,000 years old. Crazy!
  4. Genetic analysis has lead to evidence than there was another population bottleneck 1.2 million years ago when the population dwindled down to 26,000. This has lead some researchers to believe humans have experienced several population bottlenecks over human history.
  5. When Europeans made contact with indigenous people in the Americas, 90% of their populations were killed by European endemics such as influenza, smallpox, and measles. This is because Europeans developed an immunity to these diseases that the first nations did not have.
  6. 75% of children didn’t make it to 5 years old who were born in London, in 1730. In 1810, it dropped to 33%.
  7. 40% of those who have ever lived did not survive beyond their first birthday.
  8. “life expectancy at birth probably averaged only about ten years for most of human history” (Source)

The fucking economy

This is how you get more government social programs and safety nets:

1. Raise taxes, which will reduce growth in the economy because people  won’t have enough hours, which leads to not enough wages to go spend and create more jobs and it would reduce the number of jobs because people will have less money to pay them.

Here is a diagram showing how tax is dispersed and deadweight loss of efficiency arises.


2. Cut spending on important programs, especially social security, medicaid, and/or medicare because they by far take up the vast majority of the budget and we already can’t pay for it without loans from china and japan AND taxes.

Here’s a goddamn graph. We’re completely reliant now on government spending.


Largest federal spending we can’t afford anymore:



And tax revenue that’s not enough to pay the bills


Income taxes and taxes on businesses make up the majority of the revenue. Corporate taxes may seem low but the U.S. corporate tax is the highest out of all the developed nations.


3. Inflating the currency by printing more so there’s more money in the marketplace, which pays the bills, and makes us look like we can pay our bills, but it really just makes the money less valuable, which really hurts poor people the most, because they go to buy food, and $1 can buy a loaf of bread instead of a loaf of bread and milk like they could have before the printing of the money.

With inflation, we can go into debt FOREVER!!!


Consumer Price Index broken down


But the world banks and the people who make the biggest investments are firm believers always having moderate amounts of inflation and I’m more middle of the road.

I’m not for or against inflation and/or deflation. I think it’s best when it’s balanced. When $1 = $1 instead of $1 being able to buy $2 worth of food or $1 being able to buy .25 cents of food.

The 1960’s. The golden age of wealth, the closest to not to much inflation, not too little, and the baby boomers having it pretty sweet.


3. But the economy will save us! GDP growth will go up forever!!!




Hey wait a minute… 

If GDP growth has become smaller since 1960, and the average these days seems to be 4%… and the average inflation rate is 3.22%… that means… 4%-3.22% = .88%… THE ECONOMY IS ONLY REALLY GROWING AT .88% PER YEAR OH MY GOD SOMEBODY TELL THE PRESIDENT!

GDP growth WOULD increase tax revenue due to an increase of income. Too bad our inflation rate is too high for that to happen.

Trade offs

So you see, this is why I think there are trade offs and pros and cons to both inflation and deflation.

I don’t know of a time in history that it was ever popular to have a balanced rate of inflation.

What’s so bad about deflation, Federal Reserve, World Bank and IMF?

With deflation, the currency is more valuable and can buy more things and it encourages savings which people do because their money will be more valuable tomorrow than it is today, so it’s a good idea to keep it in a bank account earning even more valuable with interest. People produce higher quality things, not plastic made in China, though they’re working on it.

Have you ever seen a coat that was made in the 60s? They would last forever. People would go to get alterations to tailor them to their bodies, and they knew how to sew when holes eventually did get in them, because it was more cost effective to learn to sew at home and repair things, than just throw it away and get a new one, because it’s so cheap and then when THAT gets a hole in it, throw that away because it’s essentially worthless.

I think capital is best when it comes from BOTH savings and credit and a little of both. Savings shrinks the growth of the economy though. People spend less money because they’re saving their money so they can do things like earn interest and start a business or have retirement money for their future.

Interest rates and real GDP growth looks a whole lot like supply and demand. (IS stands for Investment-Savings and LM stands for Liquidity Preference-Money Supply) In my ideal economic fantasy world, these things meet at equilibrium.


So wages do get lower because people are hoarding their money and there are less jobs to go around because the money isn’t being spent on hiring new people. But prices go down so poor people can afford more food. And in a contraction of credit, jobs in inefficient sectors are going to more efficient sectors. (Horse and buggy, anyone?)

It’s like inflation is giving people a sugar cube when they have cancer and telling them it will help. Sure, sugar tastes good, but the bitter medicine (deflation), actually helps cure the disease. The governments of the world like to feed us sugar cubes and tell us it’s medicine, when really we need the bitter medicine.

Imagine I got a loan to have a horse and buggy business. They didn’t sell well because of an auto saturated economy. Now, there’s a bust in the natural business cycle, and the credit is drying up. People are becoming wiser that horse and buggy is the wave of the past. So people stop buying and they save their pennies for a more expensive but more practical car. The horse and buggy operation either chooses to foreclose, or they go into the automobile industry to stay afloat.

Pros and cons

There are pros and cons to inflation AND deflation and anyone who tells you there’s not is drinking the kool-aid (which is most people probably).

With inflation, the currency is less valuable, poor people’s wages do go up, but it just looks like they’re getting wealthier because the money is worth less and you have to spend it fast because it’s not going to be as valuable tomorrow. So it looks like the economy is growing and everybody’s happy.

But poor people can buy less “stuff” like food, and their bills are higher, and wages are worth less.


The above shows how the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve have decreased the value of the dollar down to pennies. That’s from decades of inflation.

But inflation does encourage people to invest because they have a larger quantity of money so they spend it on opening a business and lenders are more willing to lend to people with lower credit scores because they are making a shit ton off the interest of people’s credit cards and loans and shit. It does encourage debt though, which is why we live in a debt-based economy.

4. Borrow and get in debt.

Here’s who owns all our debt



Basically we live on inflation, debt, and ponzi schemes like medicaid, medicare, social security, banks, and the financial industry in general and we’re all fucked and there’s nothing the 3 of us reading this can do about it. I love you.

Insurance companies don’t really make that much profit but real estate developers do OR: who should I be mad at more?

Insurance companies don’t really have that high of profit margins. It’s important to look at profit margins because if you look at revenue alone, it can look like they make a lot more than they do. But after paying their employees, the lease, the costs of sales, taxes, etc., they’re left with the net: the profit margin. In the insurance industry their profit margins are about 3.3%.

To put it in perspective, for small businesses, which make up 99.7% of the U.S. economy, 10-15% is considered financially vulnerable. 15% is stable. However, pharmaceutical companies make a net profit margin of 17%. Much higher than the insurance industry, but still vulnerable. The highest is the real estate development profit margins with 38% profit. That’s insane. I’m not mad at them for being profitable; I just think with profit margins that much higher than the average, it’s a market signal that it’s too good to be true.



My thoughts are that housing developments are probably over-valued and going to crash again. Businesses in the market will probably default or foreclose on these developments when it makes more sense to close them than keep building them, because they are losing more money than they are making.

Just an idea.

There is no better solution to fixing the American economy. Sorry.

Sure, we have safety nets like social security, welfare, medicaid, medicare, and unemployment programs. The U.S. is middle of the road to the lighter end of tax rates compared to other industrialized nations.

tax rates world ranking 300k


Here are the real numbers on how taxed we really are:

We have a 35% corporate tax rate, 0-12% corporate tax rate for state-local taxes. The global corporate tax rate, for comparison, is 24%. (Source)

We have a 0% to 55.6% income tax rate that includes federal, state and local taxes. (Source)

Payroll tax pays 15%-19% for social security and 2.9%-3.8% for medicaid/medicare. (Source)

25% of the GDP goes to taxes. (Source)

I’m not saying the country should have higher tax rates. But I do think that having moderate tax rates and fewer safety nets than other industrialized countries shows a lack of efficiency in how the money is being spent.

This is which taxes make up the government’s tax revenue:

2010 Federal Revenues Pie


Your income tax and your employer’s payroll tax bill make up the majority of the pie. Even though we have the highest corporate income tax among the OECD countries, it still makes up a small percentage of the revenue. Corporations are already taxed 39% of their revenue/profit. Making it higher, in fact, does causes businesses to move their operations elsewhere, where costs are cheaper, so they don’t have to decide to raise their prices, and lose customers who come across a cheaper product made overseas.

Here’s how our taxes are spent:


This sucks.

It really fucking sucks. Because what are we going to cut? The biggest pieces of the pie are health, social security, and defense. It might be nice to have less of an imperialist boot in the face of every country on earth, but even if we cut half of that, it’s still only 8%, and that money would probably need to be swallowed up to pay for social security and healthcare for people who really need it.

I also find it sad that 16% is spent on military but only 4% on veterans. I’ve never been in the military. I don’t know what that’s like. But I imagine watching your friends die in front of you for some rich politician’s political aim deserves more than 4% of the entire budget. Especially when 16% is being spent on starting or maintaining more intervention. I think if you work any job where your risk of dying or being injured is high, you should probably have more benefits than someone working a cushy white collar office job where they sit at a computer all day like me.



It makes sense to me more now why we are so in debt. Because who wants to deliver the bad news? So we keep borrowing, printing, and inflating.

What about raising taxes on the rich? (There’s a graph for that too.)


The rich actually do pay the majority of the taxes.

Let’s go over the list of why all the great solutions are not great solutions at all:

  1. The U.S. doesn’t pay income taxes that are too high OR too low. It’s more moderate to light, compared to the rest of the world.
  2. Income and business taxes already pay 40% of what they earn.
  3. Corporate taxes make up only 8% of the government revenue but they are already taxed 39% on what they make. Too much and they could move overseas, resulting in higher unemployment, meaning even less tax revenue, and people needing to collect on government programs even more. Detroit is an example of this.
  4. Wasteful spending is not the culprit. The majority of taxes are being spent on healthcare, social security, and to a lesser degree, defense.
  5. The rich already pay the vast majority of the taxes. 97% if the tax revenue comes from the richer, top 50%.

I thought when I started this, after I dug into the research, I would be able to find the most common sense solution. Now, I don’t.

But what I have gotten out of the research, is that any politician giving you any of these solutions is full of shit and just trying to get votes to stay in power OR they’re uneducated on the real research on the topic.

Another thing I understand more now is why we borrow so much money from China and Japan. It buys time until someone smarter than us comes up with a better solution.

The myth that babies should cry it out

“Let the baby cry it out.”
– some parent somewhere probably

The idea of “cry it out” is that if you picked up a baby every time it cried, it would create a dependency on the parents and grow up to be clingy and have attachment problems as an adult.

But in fact, letting a baby cry it out, i.e. leaving it alone and not picking it up, is what actually causes insecure attachment, leading to the adult behaviors of fear of abandonment and separation anxiety.

The second form of attachment is called avoidant attachment, which is also caused by not picking up babies when they cry. This is shown in children who seem detached and uninterested in their caregiver.

Picking up a baby when it cries actually promotes secure (i.e. healthy) attachment, leading them as adults to choose secure partners and understand how to have a healthy relationship.

You cannot spoil a child by loving it too much.

What causes SIDS?

This value begins to screw us up the very first day we are born. When I was taking lifespan developmental psychology in college, I came to the realization that collectivist cultures, with all the problems that come with it too, seems to me, in my personal, worthless opinion, to have it more together than the US.

Hear me out before screaming.

One example, is that the Western world likes to have their babies sleep in cribs in another room, probably because of the cultural value of privacy. But most populations around the world sleep in the same bed as their children, on a hard surface, with the baby lying on its back, which some researchers think partially contributes to their lower cases of SIDS. Japan has the lowest rates of SIDS out of all the industrialized nations, New Zealand being the first.

“Adoption of bed-sharing and room-sharing practices appears to be saving Pacific infants’ lives, even though the New Zealand Cot Death Association has discouraged bed-sharing and not actively promoted room sharing.” – Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health