Friday, April 20, 2007

What's A Job Worth? (A Primer in Economics -- and Reality)

Once people have obtained the median income (making as much as most other people do), the biggest difference in “quality of life,” is not more money than everybody else is getting, but the amount of satisfaction they get from their work -- which is widely variable and unlimited. “Job satisfaction” is the greatest compensation one gets from work -- all other things being equal.

Therefore, one would expect to have to compensate those who don’t have as satisfying jobs, more -- to do it, and that’s how the unpleasant and unglamorous (unprestigious) work of society gets done.

That’s why very intelligent people realize that the most important undertaking in their lives, is to find the work/job they best love to do -- because that is the fulfillment of their lives, and defines their baseline experience of everything else they do.

It’s mostly the unions that convince their members that society doesn’t value them for what they’re worth (even though they’re getting paid significantly more than the median income already), and so these people come to regard the amount they’re paid, which is usually more than fair as government employees, as the ONLY compensation they get from their jobs.

One of the reasons people get higher pay is because of the uncertainty that comes along with such propositions -- which are not guaranteed lifetime security independent of performance and accountability. So while rare individuals may receive higher compensation, it is usually because they fill one-of-a-kind positions that are hard to duplicate.

I know the teacher lobbyists insist that as teachers, they should all be paid more than the top center in the NBA because the work they do educating children is more valuable to society than playing basketball. But there is nothing stopping them from openly competing for that same pay -- against the best, day after day.

But if one can do a job that a lot of others can also, your compensation will be understandably less. But just like the NBA player, it makes sense to discover what one does best in the world -- which is likely to be that which they enjoy most, and who they are. They are “lucky” in life to be doing what they enjoy doing. That is what one makes money, to do.

So let’s not gratuitously repeat the mind-rot the propagandists want us to -- unthinkingly, as though it is some profound insight.

You figure if these people are truly intelligent, with the same income as everybody else (the median), they will find a way to maximize it to a much greater extent than those less intelligent and deserving. But to complain endlessly about not getting enough because one isn’t getting MORE than everybody else, is the unintelligence is that is the cause of all society’s problems.


At April 28, 2007 11:39 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The best thing the unions need to do is provide worker enhancement programs to teach quality of life issues to their members directly -- instead of spending all of it on politicians and political activity.

It doesn't look good when they produce all these bloated workers with bad attitudes as "the best and the brightest."

At April 29, 2007 11:23 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

That's particularly true in teaching: if one isn't an exemplary role model, the kids (students) will be unmerciful in their taunts and obstinance -- so one is driven from the classroom and has to become an "educational administrator" for as long as one lives, because one no longer has any confidence to appear in front of anybody else but the board of education (peers).

You can't "teach" and not be a living example of the value of what one has to teach -- or obviously, one will have no credibility and teaching will be the hardest job in the world.

At April 29, 2007 3:34 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The Joy Of Economics

Politicians are looking to the dismal science for ways to make us happier—but is the well-being state a bad idea?

Undismal Science: Only in the last decade have economists, psychologists, biologists and philosophers begun cross-pollinating in such a way to arrive at 'happiness studies'

By Rana Foroohar
Newsweek International

April 5, 2007 issue - Quick: think about what would make you really, really happy. More money? Wrong. 2.5 smiling, well-adjusted kids? Wrong again. Now think about what would make you most unhappy: losing your sight or a bad back? No, the bad back. The fact is, we are terrible at predicting the source of joy. (Sex is the big exception, but you get the point.) And whatever choices we do make, we likely later decide it was all for the best.

These are insights from happiness economics, perhaps the hottest field in what used to be called the dismal science. Happiness is everywhere—on the best-seller lists, in the minds of policymakers, and front and center for economists—yet it remains elusive. The golden rule of economics has always been that well-being is a simple function of income. That's why nations and people alike strive for higher incomes—money gives us choice and a measure of freedom. But a growing body of studies show that wealth alone isn't necessarily what makes us happy. After a certain income cap, we simply don't get any happier. And it isn't what we have, but whether we have more than our neighbor, that really matters. So the news last week that in 2006 top hedge-fund managers took home $240 million, minimum, probably didn't make them any happier, it just made the rest of us less so.

Now policymakers are racing to figure out what makes people happy, and just how they should deliver it. Countries as diverse as Bhutan, Australia, China, Thailand and the U.K. are coming up with "happiness indexes," to be used alongside GDP as a guide to society's progress. In Britain, a labor economist specializing in happiness—David (Danny) Blanchflower—was recently appointed to the Bank of England advisory board, and the "politics of happiness" will likely figure prominently in next year's elections. Ministers are beginning to consider issues like poverty, health care and transport in relation to "gross national well-being."

Never mind that the world's top happiness researchers recently gathered at a conference in Rome to debate whether joy is even measurable. The momentum toward a "well-being state" seems unstoppable. This summer, VIPs including the prime minister of Turkey, the chief economist of the World Bank, and the head of, will meet to discuss ways move beyond GDP as the measure of human progress.

Why is this all happening now? Only in the last decade have economists, psychologists, biologists and philosophers begun cross-pollinating in such a way to arrive at "happiness studies." Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert humorously sums up much of the new wisdom in his book "Stumbling on Happiness." He says 24-hour television and the Internet have allowed us all to see more seemingly happy people than ever before. "We're surrounded by the lifestyles of the rich and famous," says Gilbert, "rubbing our noses in the fact that others have more."



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