Music lovers paid a small fortune to a rock singer Ted Nugent NOT to sing at their local festival the other day. Officials booked the screaming rocker but Texas residents paid $16,200 for him to shut up and stay away.
Perhaps if everyone in the world chips in, we can get Mr. Nugent to spend the rest of his days in monkish silence on the new dwarf planet found recently beyond Pluto?
Being paid to not do stuff is the hot new thing.
A Washington Post survey in 2006 showed US farmers were paid $1.3 billion for not farming. The TV station NBC paid Conan O’Brien $30 million and Jay Leno $15 million to not to host the Tonight Show.
In parts of India, thousands of people signed up for a scheme offering them cash to not have babies. But officials warned authorities trying to replicate the scheme that you need a lot of terms and conditions, since everyone in the world spends most of their time not having babies, if you think about it (women in the Philippines excepted).
Applicants: “I am Ajit and this is my friend Nirmala. We’ve never had children and demand a huge chunk of taxpayers’ money as a reward.” Official: “But you’re kids/gay people/cross-dressers/household pets.” Applicants: “Discrimination!”
The actress Hillary Duff was reportedly paid $100,000 not to be in a movie. They could have saved $10,000: I would have not been in it for $90,000. Indeed, since the movie has now been made and neither you nor I are in it, dear reader, let’s just all send in our invoices.
And let’s also write to fashion retailer Abercrombie and Fitch, which offered cash to the badly behaved cast of TV show “Jersey Shore” to not wear its clothes. Just write this: “Dear Mr. A.A. Fitch, I am planning to behave extremely badly this year and will do it wearing none of your clothes for a small fee. I will wear the clothing of your rivals for a larger one.”
In India’s Tamil Nadu in 2010, officials paid people to go to the toilet, creating a useful supply of fresh fertilizer while gently training residents to stop pooping in unsuitable places such as the queue at McDonald’s, the hospital lobby and the like.
This writer has only once been paid a huge salary for not working, by a censorship-mad newspaper editor who was too scared to sack me because everyone would know that he was a censorship-mad newspaper editor. I took the money for three months and then resigned, which was verbally tricky: “I’m outta here! I can’t not work for you any longer!” My colleagues wished me luck: “Bye! We hope you find a new job not to do!”
Feeling left out? No need. There are at least 10 “careers” which sound like real jobs but have been scientifically proved to involve no actual recognisable work. 10) Movie critic. 9) Timpani player. 8) Tenured university professor. 7) Film extra. 6) Food critic. 5) Pool lifeguard for the Olympics. 4) Orchestral conductor. 3) Police station security guard. 2) Triangle player. 1) Newspaper columnist.
Regarding the last one, hands off, I got here first.