Monthly Archives: July 2015

Why dentists are so darn rich

By Max Ehrenfreund

Dentist.

Dentist.

At $54,000, the reported price of the trip that an American dentist took to Zimbabwe is nearly as shocking as the death of Cecil, the widely known and universally beloved lion he killed while he was there.

The neighborhood dentist seems far removed from the upper echelons of medicine, someone who comes in for a few minutes at the end of a cleaning to check your teeth and ask about your kids, occasionally doing a filling or root canal. No doubt these services are critical to patients and our overall health, but some might be surprised to learn that a dentist could afford to spend $50,000 on a hunting expedition.

It turns out, however, that dentists are quite well paid. According to official government statistics, the median dentist in the U.S. in 2012 earned $149,310 per year. But that median figure obscures variation around the country, or among dentists with different specialties. In some high priced cities, dentists make a lot of money with non-medical, cosmetic procedures from teeth whitening to botox. And according to the American Dental Association, the average dental specialist earned $283,900 in 2013.

Dentists in some places are so well compensated that they earn more than the average doctor. According to a 2012 report by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average hourly wage of a dentist in America is $69.60 vs. $67.30 for a physician. As recently as 1996, dentists were making less than doctors. Meanwhile, according to WebMD Medscape’s annual compensation report, the average general dental practitioner took in $181,000 in 2013, compared to $175,000 for a family doctor, according to the dental association.

Behind the high salaries

Behind the high wages is a debate over whether Americans ought to be spending so much on dental …read more

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Danger, excitement and maid service: How safari outfitters sell lion hunts to rich Americans

By Christopher Ingraham

Safari outfitters sell American hunter-tourists an experience that's half Ernest Hemingway and half Martha Stewart (Diana Robinson / Flickr)

Safari outfitters sell American hunter-tourists an experience that’s half Ernest Hemingway and half Martha Stewart (Diana Robinson / Flickr)

American tourists kill hundreds of lions for sport each year. And it’s not cheap — the cost of a lion-hunting safari can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Walter Palmer, the dentist who allegedly killed Cecil the lion illegally in Zimbabwe, is said to have paid $54,000 for his hunting trip.

The number of African lion trophies taken by American hunters has doubled in recent years, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Given the rising popularity and the amount of money at stake, African safari outfitters have begun aggressively marketing their packages in an attempt to stand out from the crowd.

Most outfitters advertise their prices in U.S. dollars. They promise danger and excitement, but also luxurious accommodations, including spas, well-stocked wine bars, and maid service. Most allow family members or other “observers” to tag along — for a price. Some companies guarantee a trophy animal. Others promise discounted rates. Still others provide frills like the opportunity to hunt rare white lions, or to hunt from a vehicle if a hike is too much. Here’s how a handful of them are selling their wares to would-be hunter-tourists online.

African Sky Hunting

7-day lion and plains game hunting package: $29,130. Additional $1,350 per observer.

“This package offers an exceptional hunting experience at a very reasonable price,” the website promises. “In all cases, the camps and lodges we use are luxurious with en-suite bathrooms, electricity, stylish decor and sumptuous food – places where a lady would feel at home and comfortable… The option of hunting from one of our well-equipped vehicles is also available should you have any medical …read more

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