[thechat] outburst

deacon web at master.gen.in.us
Fri Jan 21 23:59:50 CST 2005

On 21 Jan 2005 at 12:26, Judah McAuley wrote:

> You can't even justify your conclusions when you use a false premise. And
> your premise is quite flawed. If you ask a random person on the street
> what are the professions that make the most money, you'll probably hear
> "Doctor, Lawyer, CEO", etc. Are these physically dangerous, heavy exertion
> professions? I think not. Specialized knowledge and experience is what
> draws big salaries, not degree of nastiness. Society values lawyers and
> pays them quite a bit because they have very specialized, esoteric
> knowledge.

No argument about that. 

You pay someone else to do the jobs you can't do, and the jobs you 
don't want to do. If you want to earn high wages, you have to fall in one 
of those categories, and preferably into both. 

Medical doctors fall into that "jobs you can't do" category, and some of 
the specialties, like surgery, fall even deeper into the "jobs you can't 
do" category. An internist averages $158,000. A general surgeon 
makes $238,000 and a orthopedic surgeon makes $323,000. But it's a 
lot more pleasant playing with little kids than to be an interist, so 
pediatricians earn $138,000 and it's less fun to be a urologist so he 
makes $245,000. 

Or compare the occupations of tax preparer and travel agent. They are 
*extremely* comparable jobs. You sit in an air conditioned office, 
interview clients, and use specialized knowledge to complete forms. 

If anything, the travel agent has a harder job. Tax laws change once a 
year. The rules for travel change constantly. A tax preparer needs to 
know the core laws of the federal government, and of his own state. If 
he needs to know whether a tree nursery can depreciate land, he's 
expected to need to look it up. (The answer: land can't be depreciated, 
but since the nursery sells a ball of dirt with every tree, they can 
*deplete* their land.)  The travel agent, though, needs to have a pretty 
good idea of where dozens of airlines go, and what places are good 
places to stay in hundreds of cities. 

But the average one-man tax preparation firm will make more money 
before April 15 than the average one-man travel agency will make all 
year. Why? Because he doesn't have nearly the competition that the 
travel agent has. 

Nobody likes income taxes, and everybody likes vacations in fun 
destinations, so many more people try to start travel agencies each 
year than try to start up tax prep businesses. 

And the basic law of supply and demand is in control. If there are a lot 
of people able and eager to do a job, the pay is lousy. 

For instance, the Dallas Cowgirls get paid $50 per home game, and 
they get paid *nothing* for rehearsals. And if you want to become a 
Cowgirl, you pay $18 to apply, and they recommend you take 10 prep 
classes which cost $25 each. But each spring, something like 600 
women compete for 12 jobs. 

If you could hire either of two plumbers, equally good in all respects, to 
fix your plumbing, and one of them charged $50/hour and the other 
charged $35/hour, wouldn't you hire the $35/hour plumber? Me, too.

No business wants to pay someone what they are worth; if there is no 
profit to be made by hiring someone, there's no reason to hire them. 
Let's suppose that Acme can earn $50 an hour by hiring a dingus-
doers, and $70 per manhour by hiring flange-flingers.  If they can get 
satisfactory satisfactory flange-flingers for $8 an hour, but they have to 
pay $12 an hour to get satisfactory dingus-doers, they'll pay dingus-
doers $12 an hour, and flange-flingers $8 an hour, even though flange-
flingers are more valuable to them. It doesn't mean they like dingus-
doers more than flange-flingers; it just means they like money.

Tara decided that the working conditions for engineering were not to 
her tastes, so she went into another field. I'm not criticizing her for her 
decision; in fact, I wish I'd made the same decision. But one reason 
why engineers make so much money is because companies compete 
for the relatively few new engineering graduates every year. 

There was a lawsuit filed this week against Marubeni America, in 
which they are being sued for racial and sexual discrimination. Among 
other things, the company's vice-president emailed the human 
resources division saying that he wanted to hire an Asian salesman, 
because Americans, "once reach high income, all of a sudden stop 
working". Of the top 121 officers and managers, there are no African-
Americans, no females, and only one hispanic, and of all there 
employees, only three are black. 

I have mixed feelings about lawsuits like this. When Lester Maddox 
was swinging his axe handle, it was pretty obvious who was the bigot 
and who wasn't. Moreover, when bigots restrict the pool of potential 
employees, they end up paying more and getting less qualified people. 
I kinda *like* the idea of the market punishing bigotry by limiting their 
sales and driving up their costs. 

The gross sexual imposition part of employment practices smells too 
much like rape to suit me, though. Or maybe it's prostitution. George 
Carlin argues, if sex is legal and selling is legal, shouldn't selling sex 
be legal, and I have no logical reply to that. I'm simply very ill at ease 
with it. 


Lots of space. 
Lots of bandwidth. 
Lots of speed. 
Lots of reliability. 
Lots of support. 
Lots of preinstalled scripts.
Not a lot of money.

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