Feeling entitled

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Feeling entitled

Post by Phil Blampied on Sun Dec 28, 2008 7:05 pm

I am watching the distress of Maine Public Broadcasting, which is having to trim its sails in the current economic climate. The head honcho has made the concession of cutting his salary 20 percent to only $130,000. We are supposed to be moved to send in our last few dollars quickly to them after hearing of this brave sacrifice.

This now is only $60,000 a year more than the Governor makes.

I think that one of the drivers of our economic catastrophe is the mentality that says everyone with a college degree deserves a grand a week, and everyone over the age of 40 with a college degree deserves at least a hundred grand a year. Here's the cycle: college professors decided they deserve a quarter mill a year, leading students to have to pay $200,000 in tuition over four years, leading everybody popping out of East Kentucky Agricultural College needing a grand a week just to pay off their indebtedness.

It's not just a college-driven thing either. Why does my plumbing company charge $50 an hour for labor (while paying his workers, I found out, $10 an hour?) Why did a local heating contractor tell me that replacing a few pieces of duct work would cost $1500?

What is a living wage, really? The government says moderate income in Oxford County is about $29k for one person, up to $45k for a six person household. If you have to feed six people, I could see needing a grand a week, but the government doesn't even think so, and of course they know best.

I guess this is my hobby horse and it does come back to town issues. The town of South Berwick recently canned its troublesome town manager, who was making $100,000 a year. (Why? Are the paper clips he shuffles THAT heavy?) Places like Sanford, Maine and Dover, NH have lower echelon functionaries (fire department lieutenants, high school vice principals) nudging the $100 grand mark. The Economic Development Director in Sanford, who does a great job of coming to work most days as far as I know but that's about it, gets about $75 k. This is craziness. These jobs don't spin off that much value to the greater world. It had to collapse, and it has. We need to be careful not to adopt the grand a week mentality for our own town government.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Dave on Sun Dec 28, 2008 7:17 pm

Phil - get your facts straight. College professors don't make $250,000 a year. Most make around $60,000. In fact, there has been a major shift towards hiring adjunct instructors instead of having full-time tenured positions. Adjuncts get paid between $1600-2000 a course. Hardly an "entitlement", given most have a minimum of a Masters Degree and many a Doctorate.

Let me guess Phil, you don't have a degree?

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by xmashen on Sun Dec 28, 2008 7:59 pm

one of the "drivers" as you so well put it, just thinks SHE is worth more than anyone in their right mind would pay her.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by 911Dispatcher on Sun Dec 28, 2008 9:04 pm

How about this, I did some research this week. I currently make around $18.34 an hour as a dispatcher. If I moved to Maine I would be lucky to make $10-$12 an hour as a dispatcher. Guaranteed I can do this job without a degree (and make more once I finish mine), but I still provide a vital service to the community. I can make more working at the Walmart distribution center in Lewiston. Does that make sense?

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by KevinNSaisi on Sun Dec 28, 2008 9:48 pm

Okay, somebody justify professional sports salaries. Smile

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Phil Blampied on Sun Dec 28, 2008 9:59 pm

Yes, colleges are trying to get around the professorial salary inflation by depending increasingly on grad students to teach and non-tenured staff. But the professional standard is set by the major colleges and institutions and there the logic is that, instead of teaching at Brown, Prof X could go work on Wall Street. Thus they have to give him/her a Wall Street salary to retain him/her.

The fact remains that a college education is now running about $20 to $40k a year and any student who has to borrow the $100k plus to pay for that will have to make a very large salary in order to pay off the college loan. And I'm sorry, but very few 22 year olds with no work experience can generate the $40 to $60k in value they need in salary to pay for their college educations.

Things are out of whack. Part of what will happen in this current economic retrenchment is that the value of labor in the white collar and unionized blue collar sectors will have to be adjusted down to the actual value added by the work they provide.

In Rumford, we need to avoid the thinking that we have to pay a town manager $100k, or give a town manager a $60k severance package, or hire an economic developer for $50k ... or pay a teacher or firefighter with only a few years' experience $1000 a week. These positions just don't generate that much value for the society.

Before you start yelling that firefighters save lives and you can't put a value on that, consider that you are not driving a $100,000 totally safety-equipped Saab, but probably a somewhat more dangerous and much cheaper Ford or Chevy. We do assign value to risk, even when the risk is to life and limb. If we tax people out of their homes to cover all contingencies, we do more harm than good.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Phil Blampied on Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:01 pm

KevinNSaisi wrote:Okay, somebody justify professional sports salaries. Smile

Sports salaries do reflect the value that the specific athlete generates. A team of only a couple of dozen people is able to command payments from millions of fans in the form of ticket sales and advertising revenues. You get 24 people anywhere who can pull $50 to $100 from each of ten million people,then you do need to compensate that two dozen appropriately, and in the millions of dollars.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Dave on Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:26 pm

Phil

I don't believe UMaine is at 20k a year. They provide a quality education.

You're full of crap about white collar salaries. They pay what the market will bear. You want to hire inexperience? Then offer $40k to be Town Manager of Rumford. You get what you pay for.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:16 am

Dave is right. Phil is obviously setting the stage to retain Len Greaney as town manager. He is inexperienced and as time goes on, that shows more. If that's what Rumford wants, so be it.

As for the segue about college professors, that's all it is, a segue. Phil does not value education. We get that. It's too bad. It seems to me that feeling entitled are the ones who haven't sweated their way through the education process but want the cookies anyway. Hey, it's a new world Phil.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Phil Blampied on Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:27 am

I don't think salary is linked that closely to excellence. You don't get a more competent person simply by paying more money. In the case of the Rumford town manager, I think the challenge is the learning curve. If the town hires another person from away, they will waste a number of months in the office just learning how things work no matter how much they're paid. If they're from out of state, the learning curve is lengthened as they acquaint themselves with the unique laws and governmental structures and programs in the state of Maine. We need to focus on that problem and not think it can be solved by throwing money at the job.

White collar salaries in our society are not based on value-driven market forces. You get managers in corporations who empire build and hire high-paid underlings as they pad their department. You get rich dads who hire their sons for high sums. You get government agencies who overpay relative to the private market, in part to guarantee that they can get the same share of the agency budget in the upcoming year. Also, a lot of salary negotiations involve ego and posturing on both sides. It flatters both to agree to a high salary, especially when the manager is not exposed directly to market forces. In each case, you see incentives other than market-measured value coming into play. Our society has become so centralized that the huge organizations for which most professionals work can stumble along for quite a while with this kind of behavior before market forces catch up.

But it has now caught up with them.

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The working poor

Post by Phil Blampied on Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:41 am

Timeout wrote:Dave is right. Phil is obviously setting the stage to retain Len Greaney as town manager. He is inexperienced and as time goes on, that shows more. If that's what Rumford wants, so be it.

Of course you think this is a plot. Don't you always? After all, I am still working to try to hand the economic development money to the casino people and I act only when I get my coded instructions from Ron Theriault and Seth Carey. They send them by passenger pigeon.

You wouldn't care to discuss the idea instead of attacking me for posting it would you?

Our society has some decadent characteristics, mostly having to do with increasing centralization and control. The college/professional nexus is part of that. Decadent in this case means that the society is functioning less effectively, starting to show some of the same dysfunction as highly controlled and centralized societies such as the Soviet Union was.

Where the market still works with fierce efficiency is in its treatment of the wages of the working poor. Yes, the salaries at Wal Mart and Hannaford are based completely on the value each worker provides, even paying less than the value of each employee.

So the market-free world of white collar, college-educated salaries increasing floats up, up and away from the market-disciplined work of the wages of the working poor.

In Rumford, you could have a microcosm of that by taxing the working poor who own homes here to pay a $100,000 salary of a town manager, who then could pad his empire by hiring a human relations director ($60k), a Planning Director ($62.3K) an economic developer ($52.543K) and maybe a chauffeur. Only the chauffeur's salary would be based on the value he/she provided.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:49 am

Phil Blampied wrote:Of course you think this is a plot. Don't you always? After all, I am still working to try to hand the economic development money to the casino people and I act only when I get my coded instructions from Ron Theriault and Seth Carey. They send them by passenger pigeon.

No, I wouldn't care to discuss it with you. I had no idea about your handing the economic development money to the casino people or that you were operating under coded instructions from Ron Theriault and Seth Carey. Good to know.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:50 am

You base most of your argument on popular emotional rhetoric...not interested.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Phil Blampied on Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:02 am

Timeout wrote:You base most of your argument on popular emotional rhetoric...not interested.

Excuse me, your majesty, for my failed and trivial attempts at cogency.

By the way, I meant carrier pigeon. Passenger pigeons are extinct. You missed a chance for a cheap shot to show how uneducated I seem to be.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:35 am

Phil Blampied wrote:
Excuse me, your majesty, for my failed and trivial attempts at cogency.

Phil, no need to grovel, you simply didn't convince me at all. Lots of people base their decisions on unsubstantiated discussion and emotion. Don't let me stop you. If you believe in yourself you probably will find an audience somewhere.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Chris Brennick on Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:43 pm

"In Rumford, we need to avoid the thinking that we have to pay a town
manager $100k, or give a town manager a $60k severance package, or hire
an economic developer for $50k ... or pay a teacher or firefighter with
only a few years' experience $1000 a week. These positions just don't
generate that much value for the society."

Your right Phil they just don't generate that much value for society....I think what we really need to do is lay off all the firefighters and teachers and close the schools and fire station. Then lets see how society is in 25 years. It is clear from your post that you do not value education for some reason or another, but let me tell you until you have been in a degree program for four years you cannot judge weather people who go through it are overpaid. You get paid more for having a degree because having that degree shows that you passed class and passing those classes means you have acquired skills and knowledge in that field. We DO NOT pay people based on the value they add to society as you point out above. If that were true we would garbage men more then pro athletes. think about it what is more important to all of society getting garbage picked up or watching a pro sports game. We pay people based on the skills and knowledge needed for a job and how many people possess those skills. Their are not many skills and knowledge needed to be a greeter at Wally World and almost everyone has those skills so the pay for that is very low, however their are many many skills and knowledge needed to be a town manger and not many people have those skills so the par for that is much higher.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by KevinNSaisi on Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:23 pm

Phil Blampied wrote:
KevinNSaisi wrote:Okay, somebody justify professional sports salaries. Smile

Sports salaries do reflect the value that the specific athlete generates. A team of only a couple of dozen people is able to command payments from millions of fans in the form of ticket sales and advertising revenues. You get 24 people anywhere who can pull $50 to $100 from each of ten million people,then you do need to compensate that two dozen appropriately, and in the millions of dollars.

Let's talk about the greater good. Even without a college education, these athletes "earn" absurd salaries for playing a "game". Aside from their million dollar salaries, the profits from the advertising, retail sales, media rights, and ticket sales contribute to massive profits for team owners. Most of that income comes from the little guy who has to scrape to earn the money to pqay for the tickets and other items. The marketing department causes a frenzy through rivalries and loyalty schemes to assure that they get as much of the cash as they can from the average fan. This marketing encourages some people to be so dedicated to their team that they spend lots of money that they cannot afford on merchendise and tickets. To some, the game is so important that they take sick days from work and neglect other responsibilities to attend and watch games. I will not even get into the gambling, as that is an addiction of another type.

When we look at what greed and addiction has done to our society, how can we complain that college professors are paid too much at ivy league colleges? Education is not an addiction, it is not a choice, it is a necessity. Unfortunately, Billy won't be able to get one without going into debt because daddy spent his college money on a mint condition baseball card collection and decking the family vehicle out to look like the Green Monster. Daddy is a sick man, but there is no clinic for sports addiction.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:53 pm

Lol...good points Kevin.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:16 pm

In case anyone thinks Len Greaney is a great guy doing the town a favor out of the goodness of his heart, he is earning $1,350 per week, sans benefits. More than Jim Doar received.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by KevinNSaisi on Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:00 pm

He has more management experience. Smile

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:04 pm

Not in town management...different ballgame.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by KevinNSaisi on Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:13 pm

Please explain how a year or two of intern experience is superior to decades of managemnet experience. No, Len doesn't have the background as a town manager, but neither did Jim. Both had to rely upon others for assistance in that area, but Len didn't have to learn his management skills on the job. Jim did well considering his background. Unfortunately, being town manager of Rumford is not an entry level administrative position.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Phil Blampied on Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:18 pm

The comments here show a tendency to consider economic matters in moralistic terms. A garbage collector should get more money than a star athlete. If you don't want to pay $50k a year to a teacher, you must want to close all schools. Thinking that a bachelor's degree often has nothing to do with qualifying for a job means I am opposed to education.

Very black and white thinking. Is this kind of simplistic world view what you took away from whatever higher education you received?

Trying to impose morality on economics is usually disasterous and leads to the kind of socialistic failures we saw throughout the 20th century, not only the totalitarian ones, but the democratic ones as well.

A couple of thoughts: It is almost child like to think that pouring a lot of money into some position in town government will guarantee us a good performance. Our problems in Rumford are not in how much we pay, but how the job is structured and what kind of hiring process we use, PLUS the questionable state of the town manager industry, in which there are a lot of bad apples, some quite rotten, who would love to trot their degrees in front of a bunch of starry-eyed locals and waltz into an overpaid position.

Another thought is that the edginess with which my suggestion that there is a problem with middle class professionals feeling entitled shows just how deeply engrained that entitlement is. You don't deserve a king's ransom in salary unless you are producing a king's ransom in value for the society. Passing tests and writing term papers does not entitle anyone to an excessive salary paid by the taxpayer and I don't care how many hard questions were on the test. Good for you if you worked hard to get your degree, but please keep your fingers out of my wallet.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Timeout on Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:22 pm

You're right Kevin, it's not an entry-level position. But it does require a detached dedication to the whole truth. He has to tell the truth, not what people want to hear. Give people the facts and take the course of action if it's his call to make, or present the selectmen with courses of action and take their direction if it's their call to make. He has to a much better job with this. He doesn't fully understand the role. He gets it kind of but not quite.

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Re: Feeling entitled

Post by Phil Blampied on Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:24 pm

"... my suggestion was received ..." sorry.

If we don't want to continue the revolving door of town managers, we might want to think about how to acquire the next one without falling into the kinds of problems we've had.

As I said, there's a learning curve that's expensive for the town. Perhaps some kind of training program, apprenticeship, training manual or something of that kind could be provided for whoever shows up next to try to do the job.

Apprenticeship. I think that might work well.

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Re: Feeling entitled

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