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Editor's Letter: “What is your dream job?”

The danger in reading polls is that you discover things about your neighbors you’d prefer not to know. Take, for example, the recent Marist poll that asked our fellow Americans, “What is your dream job?”

The danger in reading polls is that you discover things about your neighbors you’d prefer not to know. Take, for example, the recent Marist poll that asked our fellow Americans, “What is your dream job?” A third of our countrymen and women volunteered that they wanted to be an actor or actress—i.e., movie star. Another 29 percent wish they were professional athletes. And 13 percent responded, “rock star.” So that’s 75 percent of the population who’d choose, above all, to be famous and rich (in that order). In a country where celebrity is the highest coin of the realm, it would be naïve to hope for more inspiring responses, like “artist,’’ “great teacher,’’ or “successful entrepreneur.’’ Still ...  can’t we come up with something more imaginative than movie star?

Had the pollsters come knocking at my door, I would have instantly replied “Cult leader.” As a young newspaper reporter, I got to dig around in the lives of several of these frauds, including one fellow who (unironically) called himself “Zen Master Rama.” I can report, unequivocally, that it’s the best gig of all. A cult leader, once established, works hardly at all, and has excellent job security. Your followers give you all the money you could ever spend, and if you are so inclined, the groupie action would put Mick Jagger to shame. Best of all, you never have to admit you’re wrong, no matter how foolish and self-serving your pronouncements become. You are, after all, a fully enlightened being, serving as a messenger from God. What other job offers wealth, infallibility, and semi-divine status among your “followers”? None that I can think of, except, perhaps, hosting your own, bitterly partisan radio or TV talk show.

William Falk

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