"It is what it is." Except when it's something else.
The problem with studies and numbers like these is they don't seem to account for the self-selecting population that goes to college. Let's say that college doesn't exist. Take those same people that decided to go to college: on the whole, due to various motivations and socio-economic positions, that group would very likely still make more over the course of their career than those who would otherwise not go to college. I don't know that we can accurately adjust for this since it's unique to the education world, but it's clear to me that such things are published and funded by the parties that these numbers indirectly support - colleges and associated graduate programs.
"...nobody cares how many hours you work—they just want to see some results" This is spot-on, and many with 0-5 years of experience would do well to understand that. As long as you do in fact show results, that is.
Can you share what you're doing in this new office, at all?
Re: the out of network med bill thing.. that's a very common way for offices to deal with out of network payments. I know of a number of places, including physical therapy, orthopedic people, that purposefully decided to go out-of-network for everyone, taking just a copay from their customers and accepting the OON reimbursements for the rest of their payment. It is pretty rare from what I've seen that doctor offices actually get paid 100% of what they bill.
I'm in the reverse of this situation - making low to mid six figures in an industry I enjoy (and with growth potential) in NYC while supporting my freelancer wife in the media world. The key to success with this, and not driving yourself (or your partner) nuts is to be fully invested in the two of you as a team. If there is any real selfishness, it would be too easy for bitterness to creep in and from there, the slippery slope downhill. It by no means is possible for everyone to manage but it absolutely is possible with open communication and trust in one another.
Have low expectations - any CD or other note you put it in for a year or two won't get your more than a couple percent at best right now, and that's $40 / year per percent. Not exactly killing it. If you're willing and able, throw it in the index fund, but also remember taxes will apply on any earnings, and you'll have the risk of it dropping.
Sounds like the plan of an angry and uninformed libertarian.
@Beaks Necessity is relative. If you want to keep you job and your firm wants to keep a client, then situations like this are certainly a necessity. Nobody said this is life or death here.
"... the $15 haircuts they get in some basement downtown." As in, barbers? Was $15 at the place I used to go on 84th/3rd in Manhattan, there's one by my office on 45th / Lex for $14 a pop, and the one I go to in Astoria now is also $14. You even get the straight razor treatment to finish it off and clean things up. You may not get a full shampoo - but really, is that worth another $35+? Not so much.