Back in 1974, I was first alerted to the water crises facing Spaceship Earth. "Chinatown," Roman Polanski's masterpiece starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston, was a wake-up call. These days, the drought in California is a catastrophe.
When I saw that the 2008 rate for a speech by Larry Summers was $45,000 to $135,000, I got to thinking.
Out of curiosity, I started prowling the various Web sites of speakers' bureaus and came to six conclusions:
- It seems everybody in the world is available for speeches. Included are political and show business stars, second and third bananas, and hundreds upon hundreds of people I never heard of.
- All of these people—luminaries and nobodies—get fees from $1,000 to $1 million, plus expenses.
- I used to make a lot of speeches, and all I ever got was expenses and a plaque with my name engraved on it.
- I was a damned fool. I was as much a nobody as anybody else and could've picked up some dough if I'd just asked.
- If someone invites you to make a speech, think about asking for an honorarium at the very least, if not a fat fee, plus expenses. For Colin Powell, expenses include a private jet along with his $100,000 fee.
- The worst that can happen is that no money in the budget exists for fees or expenses. If you refuse, someone will replace you.
Questions for Prosecutors and Judges Cory Kemp, the African-American city treasurer of Philadelphia, was convicted earlier this month of mail fraud, wire fraud, extortion, making false statements to a bank, money laundering and filing a false tax return. The trial had been highly contentious and the outcome questionable. A 57-year-old woman--after two months of jury service and 10 days of deliberations--was removed by the judge. "I find that she is biased against the government," the judge said. "She is biased against FBI agents." An alternate juror was substituted, and the jury was ordered to begin again from square one. Defense attorneys believe that