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If You Love Your Job, Does It Mean You're Overpaid?

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Robert Baratheon

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On your blog, your responses to one of the commenters seem to be emphasizing pay outside of a market context. If that truly is the context, such as work between relatives, or out in the boonies between the only two neighbors (neighbor's kids, whatever) within 25 miles, enjoyment in the job might play a larger role in an employment arrangement. "Yeah, Bill don't mind, pay him $10 he'll do it." Or, "Hell no. Cheryl gets hives in your barn. You better pay her more for it or she ain't doin it."

But in the vast number of employment arrangements, the amount of people bidding on both sides of the labor market -- and their many personal motives and tolerances for some particular work-- make enjoyment more or less already baked into the wage price by the time you find the job. And since the employer is usually setting the wage for you to accept or decline, you can just pass or accept based on your own personal preference. The employer just uses the market prices. In some situations, you get the benefit of working for more than you would had there not been all of the other employee bidders interested in the same job, creating an average higher than if it had just been you.

Edited by JASKN
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I'm talking about normal salaried full-time positions in a competitive market.

I negotiated a salary for my job that is high enough so I'm not out looking for other jobs. But I don't love my job. I was thinking if I advertised how much I loved the job, my employer might feel stupid for agreeing to pay me what they did.

Edited by Robert Baratheon
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Rational employers pay you for the value you provide (what THEY get out of the arrangement), not for the sacrifices you make to work for them.


They also know that people who love their jobs are likely to improve faster, and be more valuable to their business. So the only thing loving your job (or at least acting like you love it) will get you is rewards and faster promotions. 


And advertising that you don't love your job will either get you fired or stuck in your current position indefinitely. 

Edited by Nicky
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There is good evidence that of two workers A and B, if A loves the job, they will do better and hence provide greater value to an employer.


If worker A knows he is just as good as worker B, or realizes he is better, (IF he is also rational) he will know the value of his work, and that he can demand as much payment as B if not more.


(incidentally a rational worker is always more valuable in the long term than an irrational one)


If A knows B "hates" the job, but that he himself "loves" the job, that should not change his assessment of the value of either person's work, in fact an objective "market value" of the work.  Loving the work will not affect his rational recognition of its value to others.


Furthermore, if A is objective, he will not assign some phantom value to "suffering", as if B's hating his job is "currency" his employers will desire and/or respect.  Suffering is not a value in anyone's possession it is and ever was a disvalue.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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What if the employer knows A is extremely happy - wouldn't this make the employer less like to give A a retention raise? Threatening to leave can often result in a raise or a promotion because it's leverage for the employee.

I don't agree a rational employee is always better. What if an employee irrationally doesn't ask for a raise he deserves out of a misguided belief it will get him fired? His irrationality will provide the employer with extra productivity that the employer did not have to pay for.

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The points about a good worker liking his work and being rational are good ones. This is the most ideal employee for a business. Even if you can concoct some scenarios in your head where the employer is paying "too much" because his employee might accept less, consider the context of business and employing people.

A business is an organization with many moving parts and long term goals. An employer who is worrying about nickel and diming his best, brightest, most willing employees has a problem of focus (he should be worrying about real problems) and a soon a problem of losing his best employees. When he replaces these excellent employees with cheaper ones who are less rational or like the job less, very expensive turnover rate becomes an issue, productivity drops because the employees are less motivated, other employees hate working with the cheaper, worse replacement employees, creating a rapid cascading effect of declining productivity, and so on.

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Nicky - True, but as I pointed out to Kacy when he made the same argument, this only considers the demand side of the equation. Supply forces interact with demand to set prices. So it's not just the value you provide - it is also the price at which you are willing to provide the value.

Supply and demand is a microeconomic concept, about the way market prices are set. You're misrepresenting it. There's no law of Economics that states that individual employees will be screwed over if their employer suspects that they're willing to work for less than market price. 

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Supply and demand is a microeconomic concept, about the way market prices are set.





You're misrepresenting it.



No, I'm not.


There's no law of Economics that states that individual employees will be screwed over if their employer suspects that they're willing to work for less than market price.



I didn't say there was.

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