Friday, September 27, 2013

C.R.E.A.M. (Part 1)

I want to talk today about dolla, dolla bills.


Two things I was recently exposed to on the World* Wide Web, both concerning wealth.  The first, is this article from Forbes.  The second is this video from John Green:

And, BTW, if you aren't regularly watching vlogbrothers then, please, donate your internet connection to someone that will put it to better use.  In any case, these two pieces of "information" got me thinking about one of my favorite topics "The Fallacy of the American Dream" (to juxtapose with my previous entry that propagated that Dream through a fat plumber with a psilocybin addiction.)  More economic disenchantment after the jump.

*North Korea, China, Iran and most of the Middle East Notwithstanding

Now, when it comes to the whole economics... thing, I can rant for hours on every aspect of it.  Also, when it comes to this concept of the "American Dream" I can rant for several hours more.  Though, let's face it, I can pretty much rant for hours about anything (Kale? What the fuck is THAT about?)  And rant I will, I promise dear reader, in time.  That's not the part of this article and this video that I'm interested in right now.  The part I'm interested in is what I'm going to call the "Emotional/Economic Utility Dichotomy."  Or EEUD for short.

Which only SOUNDS like IUD.  Though, there is a clear EUD to the IUD, but that's a whole other entry.

Basically, in short, let's take for granted that a rational human won't generally engage in a career path unless the utility, that is to say the benefit of it, justifies what they put into it.  Now, utility is entirely an emotional concept; it's the amount of happiness/satisfaction/whatever something generates.  But, practically, that happiness can come from two sources: the emotional response to the conduct itself, or the money you get for it.  For example, if I decide to volunteer to build cat condos for blind kittens, then I get no money, but I feel good about helping out those poor, crippled cats.  Or else I can spend my time euthanizing blind kittens for money.  I get no joy from the task, but if you pay me enough, it will shut out the nightmares of the light fading from their little kitten eyes (that had so little light to begin with.)  Man.  That hypothetical got out of hand quick.  Here's a sad/happy video to offset it.

In any case, which option I take depends on how much I love cats (for the record, the answer is TOO GODDAMN MUCH) and how much money is on the line.  A cat hater gets very little utility building them carpeted palaces and, in turn, would kill them for minimum wage.  A kitty lover, however, wuvs their widdle faces so much that no amount of money might make the latter option palatable.  Whatever action you take, either the money or the raw sense of emotional enjoyment derived from it has to make it worthwhile.  Make sense?

Now, let's look at a new hypothetical.  There are three people:  We have Aurora the teacher, Betty the public sector attorney (like meeeeeee) and Klaus the corporate executive.  Now, all are college educated and, for the sake of argument, let's assume they all had the same cost of attendance of $10k a year.  Aurora had to go to college for four years, so she spent $40k on that.  Betty had to go for 7, so she spend $70k and Klaus, let's assume, has a bullshit MBA so he went for 5 and spent $50k.  They also all had a certain opportunity cost for school, let's say the $30k a year they would've all made as high school graduates.  So, now, the total cost for Aurora to become a teacher is $160k, for Betty, it's $280k and for Klaus it's $200k.  Follow me so far?  If not, here is more Oskar:

So, now, let's look at what each of them actually earn on a per-hour basis.  Let's say Aurora makes $40k a year.  Granted, she only works 9 months, but she also works an average of 50 hours a week because, you know, being a teacher ain't easy.  So 37 weeks, times 50 hours a week, divided by $40k means she's getting roughly $21.62 per hour.  With Betty, let's say she works a little less per week because I know I sure as heck do.  So a 45 hour week, times 50 weeks a year, divide by $65k (because: government) and she makes $28.89 per hour.  Alight, now, let's look at how much each had to pay to get here as a ratio to that hourly earning power.  So, for Aurora, she paid $160k to make $21.62 per hour so for every penny she currently makes per hour, it cost her $74 in education (that sounds like a shitty investment but remember we're partitioning a total cost over an hourly one so it's sort of a meaningless number by itself; don't worry about it.)  For Betty, she ended up spending $97 per penny she makes per hour ("don't go to law school" is the sub-moral here.)

In both cases, the numbers are, you know, in the same ballpark.  But now, let's look at Klaus.  Let's say Klaus makes a cool $250k a year as a junior executive.  Now, he does work hard, and logs 55 hours a week.  So, his hourly wage comes to $90.91.  For every penny he makes per hour, he spent $22 to get there.  TWENTY-TWO.  His cost per penny was a third of the teacher's and a quarter of the attorney's.  So, why then, did Aurora and Betty start and stay on their career paths?  Emotional utility.  The joy of a job well done.  It offsets the horrible return on investment that they get for their career choices.  Meanwhile, Klaus needs almost no emotional utility because, you know, he's making a metric shit ton of money.  Of course Klaus's counter argument will be the emotional utility he loses for the stress he endures and the lack of time has to spend with his trophy wife, etc. etc.

Listen, unless Klaus spends every day in his office TRYING to kill himself and failing, he is not anywhere near negative enough in emotional utility to offset the VAULT OF GOLD AND JEWELS I ASSUME HE HAS.

Because we all belong to a generation that uses Scrooge McDuck as our go-to visual for wealth.  Oooh-oooh.
Now.  Let's put ourselves in Klaus's shoes.  First, we know that there is only so much money to go around.  We also know that if everyone started trying to do what we're doing, they would get more of that money which, in turn, means we would get less of it.  And, since we are Klaus and we want ALL THE MONIES, we have to figure out how to keep people in jobs with terrible economic utility.  How do we go about that?

Simple: we have to keep their emotional utility high enough that they won't change profession.  So, first, we can write an article for Forbes using fancy words like: "Each particular individual in the community who contributed to a man’s rise to wealth was paid at the time–either materially or, as in the case of parents and friends, spiritually. There is no debt to discharge. There is nothing to give back, because there was nothing taken away."  That reaffirms to everyone that the emotional benefit they get from their career choice offsets how little they make.  Sure, you have to feed your kids beans three times a week but you are SPIRITUALLY SATISFIED.

Second, we can find non-economic ways to keep that emotional utility high.  Like constantly praising teachers and public attorneys!  Good job everyone!  Keep fighting the good fight!  You're making the world better!  Notice how great politicians are with showering middle class people with platitudes?  It's not because they care, it's so those people don't stop to ask "why don't you shower me with money instead?"

This article is emblematic of the greater social control, the pseudo-brain-washing, that the haves engage in to make sure the have nots... don't... you know, "have."  It's nonsense, through and through and we need a wholesale rejection of it.  We need to stop praising teachers and public workers for the sacrifices they make and STOP REQUIRING THEY SACRIFICE.  Pay them what they are worth.  Period.

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