Dentures v. Judges

Dentures v. Judges

Originally published in the May 1978 issue of Senior Edition newspaper


It is not difficult to see what kind of a society we are living in when we are faced with a choice between raising judges’ salaries and making dentures available to our fellow human beings who are so poor they are unable to afford them. (See “Denture Program Slashed,” page 1.)

Now I am not saying that teeth are more important than judges’ salaries. Or, for that matter, that judges’ salaries are more important than teeth.

Nor am I saying, judges are adequately paid, so let’s get on with the business of giving everyone teeth.

In fact, a very good case can be made that judges are grossly underpaid, in view of the fact that many of the attorneys appearing before the majesty of their benches are able to earn two, three, four, and five times as much money in private practice as their honors do sitting upon the fulcrum of justice.

It is in fact absurd to suggest that our judges should suffer the privations of impecunity merely because a few old people can’t afford to have teeth. I mean – why the judges? Why not, for instance, the lawyers – who make two, three, four, and five times as much as the judges. Or, if not the lawyers, why not our U.S. Senators and Representatives, whose princely reigns now cost us, per Representative and per Senator, over one million (1,000,000) dollars ($) per year.

Or why not David Thompson? Why not David Thompson?

[“Who is David Thompson?” you are probably saying to yourself. For all of you athletic illiterates out there, David Thompson is our own Denver Nuggets Superstar who recently negotiated a salary of $800,000 per year for five years. (No raises, mind you, just $800,000. No more. No less. All of you living on a fixed income can certainly empathize with the poor fellow.)

For all of you mathematical superstars out there, that computes to $9,756 per game, or $204 per minute per game, or $3.40 per second per minute per game, assuming he plays every second of every minute of every game of the entire 82-game season, which he does not. To put all of this into perspective, during a mere game-and-a-half (6 quarters at 12 minutes per quarter = 72 minutes = 4,320 seconds = $14,688) our Baron of the Ball Court makes more cold hard cash than the entire staff of Senior Edition, Inc., earned during the first quarter of 1978.]

And – a few old people can’t afford teeth. So what?

Now, according to my rough calculations, if David Thompson would agree to work for the paltry sum of only $2.38 per second, we could earmark approximately enough money out of the remainder of his salary, to restore the statewide denture program – slashed from $460,000 in 1977 to $221,000 this year by a Republican caucus of the state legislature – back to its 1977 level. If Thompson were willing to reduce his take to the even more paltry sum of $2.04 per second, we could earmark enough money out of the remainder to raise the denture program appropriation to the $537,000 figure sought for the program this year.

Now the reason the statewide denture program only got earmarked for $221,000 by the Republican caucus is because that’s all that was left to appropriate in the final hours of the Second Regular Session of the Fifty-First General Assembly. And our legislators, in their wisdom, had to decide whether to give it to the judges who wanted to make more money or to the old people who wanted to have new teeth.

Do you see how ludicrous all of this is? (If you don’t, maybe you ought to consider running for the state legislature.)

A legislature (or for that matter – a society) which is reduced to making a choice between paying adequate salaries to judges and providing teeth to fellow human beings who can’t afford them made a choice a long time ago about what it thinks old people who haven’t any teeth ought to do.

Keep their mouths shut.

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