There was some healthy discussion across my dash today regarding taxation, work, fairness and compensation. For all none of you looking for my opinion here it is.
I started working in an official paid capacity when I was 10 years old. My dad would wake me up, throw me in the truck and haul me off to the ranch where I would herd cattle, wash water troughs, chop weeds and complete any other task he could find for me to do that I was capable of. For my labor I received $1.50 an hour. I was required to know how to wave my arms and yell, walk without falling, drain water, move a brush in a manner that would dislodge filth, push a broom and swing a hoe. My earnings were illeagal for the time and I was happy with what I was given.
A year later I was given a raise to California Minimum Wage. In that year I had increased my skill set. I could now operate a cutting torch, weld, operate a tractor, prepare inoculations, complete basic data entry and occasionally work without specific direction.
I worked at minimum wage until I was 18. In that time I completed numerous different jobs all of varying degrees of physical difficulty. Most of the work I completed required very little mental engagement. My level of responsibility was low. If there were to be an issue or failure in what I was doing I would not be held accountable to the error or failure unless I was the direct cause of said error or failure.
After high school I obtained work as a foreman for a trucking company. This was the first job I had where my primary responsibilities were not physical but mental. It was the first time that I was responsible also for the actions of others and, should an issue arise, I was the one responsible for fixing it. For this work I was paid $12 an hour. I worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week from June until September. I kept this job each year for four years.
As I began my second year of college I was hired at the bottom level of the company I currently work for. It was an extremely physical job. Requiring minor mental engagement. Over the course of two years I became bored with the physical work and also had some ambition and desire for greater compensation so I pursued positions of increasing responsibility.
I completed my education will working part time in a position of responsibility at my company and began teaching high school as well. The pay for being a teacher was basically double what I was making part time at my company. As for personal responsibility for outcomes my corporate job held much more than my educational job. I loved teaching. I loved being with students and I loved seeing students gain confidence and understand concepts as they were educated. However, at the end of the day their success or failure was entirely optional. They could choose to do the work or they could choose not to. If I had a class of kids in which only 30% passed I would still have a job the next year and that year I could quite probably teach the same way with the same passion and the same love and have a class where 90% of the students passed. I would still have a job. In this situation I suppose I could have been upset that I wouldn’t get a raise for have a class of high achievers but I also wouldn’t have been punished for my previous years failures. For that freedom I would be offered a modest salary.
Shortly after the beginning of my teaching career I was offered a full time position with the corporation. There was a high level of responsibility. I would be directly responsible for performance results, for the health and wellbeing of 30-50 people and ensuring that regulatory compliance was maintained. For this position I was offered a salary signifcantly higher than what I would make as a teacher as well as the opportunity for large performance bonuses.
I choose to work for the corporation.
I miss teaching but not as much as I miss having my wife be able to raise our children instead of having to work.
I’ve read that argument that people that do physical labor are under paid. I disagree with that. With most physical labor you show up to work. You pick your grapes or you assemble your dohicky and after your eight or ten or even twelve hours you stop working and go home. The only thought about work being that you have to report back the next day.
In my current line of work I arrive at 5:30 and leave twelve to fourteen hours later. I stew on the issues of the day, ponder the possible issues for the next day and plan solutions for short-, mid- and long-term solutions for those issues. I think about the personalities and problems of 70+ people each day; how best to meet their work life needs so that they will be happy and productive employees. I think about the 2500-3100 customers we serve each day and how to ensure they have a positive experience with my people and my company.
For this I am compensated quite well. Also, if you believe that I don’t often wonder how I could meet the needs of myself and my family on a quarter of what I make now in exchange for some physical labor and the ability to shut off work at a specific time each day, then you need to reassess your beliefs.