First of all, there is no justifying paying an athlete, entertainer or politician some of the exorbitant salaries we read and hear about.
I'm all about capitalism, free market, etc., but the idea that because someone can throw a curveball better than anyone else on the planet does not justify a $25 million-a-year paycheck.
That said, it's the world we live in and it's not changing anytime soon, so let's look at four of the top-paid individuals in different walks of life and see if they are worth all the dollar signs attached to their names -- in a relative sense, of course.
º Jim Parsons: Highest paid actor on television. Age: 43.
Reported net worth: $70 million, paid $1 million per episode of "Big Bang Theory."
Comment: Without Parsons, "Big Bang Theory" would have been canceled years ago. With apologies to Reggie Jackson, Parsons is the straw that stirs this drink.
Verdict: Underrated. For the Nielsen ratings the show has always commanded and the advertising revenue it has produced for CBS, Parsons, as the face of the program, is probably underpaid.
º LeBron James: Highest-paid player in the NBA, plays for the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Age: 32.
Reported net worth: $340 million, earns more than $80 million a year in salary and endorsements.
Comment: Not only is James is the best basketball player in the world, he also understands he is a role model. He has given away millions to people in need, and his foundation is putting 41 kids through college, with more to come.
Verdict: Underrated. In addition to his on-court accomplishments, James has never run afoul of the law or been attached to any sort of scandal. He is married to his high school sweetheart and has a permanent locker at Ohio State University, even though he never attended. Some day, there will be a movie made about his life.
º Vladimir Putin: The president of Russia is the richest politician in the world. Age: 64.
Reported net worth: $70 billion, even though his annual salary is just $187,000.
Comment: Putin has reportedly strong-armed his way to numerous industrial acquisitions tied to energy production in Russia. He's also linked to numerous human rights violations.
Verdict: Obviously, overrated.
º Paul McCartney: The richest musician in the world. Age: 74.
Reported net worth: The former Beatle is worth an estimated $1.2 billion, and that figure is probably low. Very low.
Comment: McCartney's contributions to the world of music and the world in general have made him a treasure for the ages. McCartney's and the Beatles' impact on the arts, pop culture and other entities can never be adequately measured.
Verdict: Underrated, and very much so.
Relatively speaking, at least some of those dollar signs now seem to be a little more justified.