Money For Nothin' And The Checks Are Free

I want Mariah Carey's job. True I can't sing like her, don't look as good when I bare my stomach, and can't shake my hips like her--hey, I'm a white male for Christ's sake!--but I can act better than she can. Of course that's not saying much. But none of this has any bearing on my ability to perform her new job at least as well as she does. That's because her new gig is to do nothing. Now this is a career I was born to have.

It's true. Her record company, EMI/Virgin, is giving her $28 million to buy out her contract so they don't have to release another one of her albums. That's on top of the $21 million they've already paid her since last April. During this time she released one album, "Glitter," which sold 501,000 copies. This means the record company paid her $97.80 for every album she sold. If you figure people paid $16 for each one, Virgin lost about $86.80 per CD. No wonder they want out, you can't find an investment that bad this side of Enron stock.

Getting paid for doing nothing is perfect for me. After all, I've been doing nothing for years, and I do it rather well if I do say so myself. The problem is that until now it hasn't paid much. Not for me, anyway. Others have done better at it. Like farmers, for instance. They have a long tradition of being paid to do nothing. By the government, no less! They're paid not to plant crops, not to milk cows, and not to fulfill their one job description--to farm. It's a hell of a concept. Especially since I haven't been planting crops or raising cows all my life and I have yet to receive the first penny for my lack of work.

EMI/Virgin isn't the first corporation to come up with this "Pay Not to Play" concept. A couple of years ago Abbott Laboratories started giving Zenith Goldline Pharmaceuticals $2 million a month not to produce a generic version of their best selling high blood pressure drug, Hytrin. Then they paid Geneva Pharmaceuticals $4.5 million not to do the same thing. I like this concept. That's why I sent a letter to Abbott telling them that for $2,000 a month I won't make a generic copy of Hytrin either. Okay, so I'm easy. And cheap too. As if that's not enough, I'm available to start immediately, promise to do an excellent job of not making Hytrin, and have a slew of references who can vouch that I haven't done things for them. What more could Abbott Labs want?

What we're seeing here is the dawning of the Dire Straits Business Model: "Money for nothin' and the checks for free." It's a great concept. Think about it, Adam Sandler could be paid not to make any more movies. Those Chicken Soup For The Soul people could be paid not to write any more insipid books. And Martha Stewart could be paid not to sponge paint the bathroom ceiling, make another dazzling Thanksgiving centerpiece out of pine cones and shoe laces, or subject us to another recipe that starts with "First, create the universe."

Politicians could be paid not to do anything, which I know wouldn't be much of a change but what the hell, at least they wouldn't have to consider any more stupid laws like they did in Maryland where they thought about making it illegal to breastfeed someone else's baby without permission. Or New Jersey where it's now illegal to sell clothing made from dog or cat fur. Right, like anyone actually wants a Rotweiler Robe or a Siamese Stole.

If this "Don't work, don't tell" subsidy program had been in place a year ago, the Kentwood Museum in Louisiana could have been paid not to open the Britney Spears Collection, meaning we wouldn't have to decide between going there and say, Cancun. As long we're handing out the money, why not pay Britney not to sing "Baby One More Time" one more time. Hell, why not really sweeten the pot and give her a little extra to make sure she doesn't act in another movie, pretend she's actually singing in concert, or have another breast implant. Unless, of course, it's to create a third one.

TV networks could be paid not to make any more reality programming--as if people doing anything with a camera crew standing three feet in front of their face is a slice of reality. I don't know about you, but I'll personally chip in money so they don't air "The Chair", "The Chamber", or any quiz show where the torture is more important than the questions. And no, I don't mean the torture of watching Regis try to act at ease.

But enough about everyone else, how about me? Very simply, I want to be paid not to write. The best part about this is that if they do it, it won't matter whether all these other people are paid not to work or not. After all, what will I care? I'll be so busy doing nothing I won't have time to notice them anyway.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: His compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It's Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email:


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