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They don't deserve it - or do they? - Shannon Jenkins

When it comes to money, people will say the darnedest things.

A list of the highest-paid celebrities was recently published by Forbes. Among the wealthy actors, chefs and athletes, were media mogul Oprah Winfrey earning $225 million a year and "Star Wars" creator George Lucas making $290 million a year. Mel Gibson and Tiger Woods also made the list with $185 million and $87 million respectively.

An online Yahoo poll asked Internet surfers the following question: Do the highest-paid celebrities deserve such large paychecks? A whopping 77 percent said no, "it's simply too much money." Only 23 percent said yes, "they're talented and work hard."

It's my guess that if those 77 percent were making that much money and doing what these people do, they'd have a change of heart. They'd say, "You just don't know what I have to go through."

Celebrities have to deal with public breakups, drug abuse and the Betty Ford Clinic, just to name a few. And if they don't deserve it, maybe those 77 percent should stop watching those high-paid celebrities' television shows and movies. Stop buying their products and the products of their sponsors. That's how they got all that money they apparently don't deserve.

I'll admit those salaries seem quite high, but although the wealth is very much eye-popping, I just can't bring myself to say they don't deserve it.

After all, who am I to say what someone deserves? I'd make a terrible member of a jury. Despite all the evidence, I'll never really know what happened, and therefore, I'd be hard-pressed to tell the defendant he deserves death or jail time.

When it comes to dishing out what others don't deserve, I'd clearly be in the minority, according to the Yahoo poll. It appears the masses are quite proficient in determining what's best for others - or at least they think they do.

Conservatives have said gays aren't worthy of marriage. A jury of 12 men and women have said Michael Jackson deserves his freedom. But what if they're all wrong? What if a straight man had to walk in a gay man's shoes? What if a jury member could read the prince of pop's mind? Would things be different?

Life isn't about what you deserve. It's about what you get, how you get it and how you deal with it. It's not at all about if others think you deserve it.

But when it comes to what one deserves, people will say the darnedest things.

Shannon Jenkins is the education reporter for The Daily Herald. He can be reached at sjenkins@henryherald.com or (770) 957-9161.