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Reason Foundation

Salary shmalery

Ted Balaker
April 26, 2007, 1:51pm

The LA Times has an interesting piece on school drop outs. Nope, it's not about students dropping out: Just throw some more greenbacks at them and they'll stay, right? Maybe not: The study lists the top reasons why California teachers quit teaching: "Poor compensation" comes in at number 6, cited by 41 percent of respondents. Focus just on LA teachers and the story is quite similar: "L.A. Unified's data lists salary as the No. 9 reason why new hires leave." In the TierneyLab, John Tierney touches on a similar theme. He cites a new study that finds that smart people aren't necessarily rich people: Why not? Zagorksy suggests smart people aren't saving enough. Tierney offers other thoughts, including: In the past, I've pointed to other signs that more people are placing less importance on dollars and cents: In this overview of telecommuting trends (pdf), I point to other surveys where workers say they prefer perks like flexible schedules to more pay. I think this is a fairly common pattern in America: An immigrant trades a desperately poor nation for America and takes whatever job's available, probably something like factory work since he doesn't have much formal education. The immigrant's son gets a high school degree, maybe a college degree, and, still fueled by the immigrant experience, takes the highest-paying job available. The grandson gets a college degree, maybe even an advanced degree. The grandson grows up in the land of plenty, not terribly worried about being destitute. Since he has the luxury of doing so, when he thinks about his career path he considers additional factors besides money (intellectual stimulation, personal fulfillment, work environment, schedule flexibility). He may even choose a less lucrative career than his father, because it makes him happier. So simply crunching salary numbers will understate the progress made (the first generation to do worse than the one before it?!), because such calculations don't account for trade offs job seekers make. Lou Dobbs, White House wannabes, and others will get plenty of attention telling viewers with callus-free hands watching on flat-screen TVs that they're getting screwed. Let's hope Granddad is still around to tell them how good they have it. Related: If things are so great, why do I feel so lousy? Part V Related: Why I'll take today's LA

Ted Balaker is Producer


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