That's what readers of Uwe Reinhardt's blog post on doctor's pay are probably asking. Reinhart shows the pay for doctors by specialty, which makes everyone look pretty well paid in my book. The median in several of the higher paying specialties is over $500,000 a year. Even the median family care physician pockets almost 14 times as much as a minimum wage worker at $208,700 a year.
Reinhardt then tells us that the situation is more ambiguous if we look at the dispersion. I must be looking at different numbers. (Actually, I am looking at different numbers. The medians shown in the chart giving dispersion are somewhat higher than in the chart that just shows the medians. The median family care physician earned $219,400 in this chart.) Anyhow, the dispersion is less than I might have naively expected. Reinhardt's chart shows that 80 percent of family practitioners make more than $174,900 a year (@12 minimum wage workers). It shows us that 80 percent of orthopedic surgeons make more than $400,000 a year.
Reinhardt tells us that doctors' return on their investment in education is not especially high when we compare it to pay on Wall Street. Why isn't Wall Street pay on the table when it comes to talking about the pay of public sector workers or domestic care workers? The fact that we have a grossly bloated and inefficient financial sector should not be an excuse for excessive pay to high end workers elsewhere.
There are hundreds of thousands, or more likely millions, of workers in the developing world who would be delighted to train to U.S. standards and work for half of U.S. wages. We don't let them in because doctors have much more power than the STEM workers fighting against Microsoft and Google over the number of H1B equivalent visas.
If economists were honest, the question on doctors would be a no-brainer. Open the doors, everyone will gain but the doctors. But honest economists, oh well.