Carpe Diem professes to be astonished that piano movers at Carnegie Hall make $540,000 a year while a pianist gets only $20,000 a concert. I'm astonished too, but not at the piano mover; rather, I'm surprised they pay the pianist anything at all, seeing as how he would almost certainly do it for free (on artists who do do it for free, or more or less so, cf., link). Or to turn it around: this appears to be one of those remarkable cases where the person who does the mindless, unglamorous heavy-lifting job actually earns more than the person who assignment is the more exciting, satisfying, fulfilling and, yes, glamorous. Generalizing, it is pretty close to a universal that the dirty and disagreeable jobs--the ones you and I wouldn't touch with a dung fork--almost always pay less than the fun stuff.
Or we can bring it closer to home. I've never met Professor Diem, but I'll bet a cigar that if not he, then at least most of his colleagues up and down the hall, spend a fair amount of the day complaining about how underappreciated they are, and what sacrificies they make to give their souls to the young when they could be making so much more in the private sector.
Horse hockey. Recall that most of these self-sacrificing whiners had to rip the faces off whole battalions of competitors to get to the top of the heap--not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars they poured into the latchkey requirement, their education. Indeed I sometime wonder how much academic life would change if we simply waived the degree requirement and put these job up for auction.
I'd be willing to concede that $540k does sound a tad high for a guy who pushes a hunk of wood and wire--though I am sure the piano movers' union could give me a lecture on how essential piano movers are to the functioning of a market economy, how if we don't treat out own piano movers right they may flee to other major piano-moving centers like London or Frankfurt or Tokyo. Still, I don't suppose this bothers me much more than, e.g., Disney making gazillions off the work of some anonymous African, or,e.g., if it turned out that some rentier reaped the rewards of Carnegie Hall because her umpteenth great grandfather bought a piece of serendipidously positioned dirt. Capitalism is complicated business, Professor Diem, full of surprises.