Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 29, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY....Which will make you happier: a pay raise or a boss you like? A pay raise or an interesting job? John Helliwell and Haifang Huang at the University of British Columbia claim to know the answer:

Say you get a new boss and your trust in management goes up a bit at your job (say, up one point on a 10-point scale). That's like getting a 36 percent pay raise, Helliwell and Huang calculate.

....Having a job that offers a lot of variety in projects, Helliwell and Huang found, is the equivalent of a 21 percent hike in pay.

Having a position that requires a high level of skill is the equivalent of a 19 percent raise.

And having enough time to finish your work is the equivalent of an 11 percent boost in pay.

Let's see. I like the management at the Washington Monthly; I get to write about lots of different things; my job requires a fair amount of skill; and I get to work at my own pace. Put this all together and it means that the Monthly gets to pay me about half of what they'd have to if this were a lousy job and I got treated badly. Not bad, eh?

Kevin Drum 10:03 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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There's no amount of money that can compensate for that horrible sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach as you face another horrible day with an abusive boss.

When I got out of law school I clerked for a judge who advised us to always keep 6 months' pay in the bank so that we'd be free to walk away from a job we hated. It was good advice.

Posted by: DBL on March 29, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Knowing Cap Weinberger is dead makes me pretty happy.

Posted by: Carl Manaster on March 29, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

But Cap was a hell of a news anchor when the San Francisco dailies went on strike back in the Pleistocene Era, which was where the jovial Weinberger got face time and the rep to be a Reagan appointee. The responsibility and the environment rotted him from the inside.

Posted by: David Ollier Weber on March 29, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: HRlaughed on March 29, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Wow...so if I'm making $15,000 a year picking oranges in California for a sadistic madman who beats me constantly through my 14-hour backbreaking shifts and constantly berates me for not picking enough oranges and generally earns a "1" on my scale of boss characteristics, and then instead they give me a sweet guy who lowers my orange quota so I can finish all my orange picking duties in my backbreaking 14 hour shifts and who promotes trust, caring, and a cooperative attitude, earning a "9" on my scale of boss characteristics - then it'll be like I'm making $45,000 a year!

Forget raising the minimum wage or letting farm workers organize! All we have to do is give the overseers some leadership training and anger management seminars.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 29, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

How much is it worth to declare that the Constitution doesn't apply to you? To every other American, but not to you?

We could definitely pay W much less than we do, and I'm sure he'd be just as happy.

Posted by: craigie on March 29, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

We could definitely pay W much less than we do, and I'm sure he'd be just as happy.

He's only doing this job to develop contacts so he make big bucks after he leaves government, as a lobbyist.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 29, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, that sounds about right. I'd pretty much need a 40% raise to stay at my current job and keep dealing with an incompetant superior. Love the organization, love the work, love the head boss, utterly, unfathomably, unbelievably detest dealing with my department head.

Posted by: BStu on March 29, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

I love my job because I kick ass.

Posted by: enozinho on March 29, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

I love my job because I kick ass.

hey, enozinho, even your great gig at abu ghraib will have to end someday.

Posted by: HRlaughed on March 29, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

You guys are fun-nee.

Posted by: shortstop on March 29, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

As I am sure you all know, Patrick Murphy is the Iraq vet running for PAs 8 th. He is an amazing candidate and deserves to win!!

The filing deadline is drawing near, and they really need a few more dollars to get over their target. This is a very important race, and the most important time of the year to give.

I have already contributed, and if you can give $15, $10, or even $5, that would be great!! I know they would really appreciate it. To do this, go to www.murphy06.com

Posted by: Gena on March 30, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Having a job that "REQUIRES a high level of skill" is the equivalent of a 19% raise?? So apparently I'm supposed to be so happy that they're underpaying me for my skill level that I'll let them underpay me even MORE?
That raises two questions:
First, just whom are they surveying here?
Second, when do they get around to calculating that a 100% jump in actual pay would be the equivalent of a 130% jump in pay, hmm?

Posted by: smartalek on March 30, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

A good boss is like getting a 36% raise? Is that like getting airline miles? Where can you spend that?

I'll take the actual pay raise thanks.

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on March 30, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Not one word about the value of getting to wear bunny slippers for the first three hours of the workday. Huh.

Posted by: shortstop on March 30, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

What about having a job that requires a high level of skill and you know deep down inside that you lack that level of skill? If you can run around the country spinning your failures as successes, priceless. But what about ordinary folks who aren't lucky enough to have SCOTUS give them a job above their skill level?

Posted by: Brian Boru on March 30, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, does your wife know that you would be making twice as much if you got a regular job?

Posted by: JS on March 30, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

Truth makes me Happy

]_|_[ (O) ]_|_[ !!

Check this out Y'all. I was reading thru this house transcript about secret 'holds' on Bills. This Senator Mr Sessions [alabama] had this to SAY about the Reality of Bills that Pass that indeed, like Michael Moores Movie, "Don't you Know we Don't read all those Bills?" Is absolutely true. This is copied from:

Transcript of Congressional Record "Eliminating Secret Holds"
And also Amendment 2944. Where we find thus; =)
I want the American people to know how bills are passed in this
Senate. We were talking about some sunshine here. Let's talk about it.
There is a system we have called a hotline. What is a hotline? In each
Senate office there are three telephones with hotline buttons on them.
Most evenings, sometimes after business hours, these phones begin to
ring. The calls are from the Republican and the Democratic leaders to
each of their Members, asking consent to pass this or that bill--not
consider the bill or have debate on the bill but to pass it. Those
calls will normally give a deadline. If the staff do not call back in
30 minutes, the bill passes. Boom. It can be 500 pages. In many
offices, when staffers do not know anything about the bill, they
usually ignore the hotline and let the bill pass without even informing
their Senators. If the staff miss the hotline, or do not know about it
or were not around, the Senator is deemed to have consented to the
passage of some bill which might be quite an important piece of

Well you won't read this stuff on your nightly news. But their you have it on Public Record.

Bills, apparently quite a few, don't even get looked at,Indeed they flow like Water as the Senate said, the Lobbyists get even more preferential treatment than ever expected or acknowledged simply because no one ever Bothers to read these Bills until after the Pork Has passed...Behind CLOSED DOORS no less!

And if someone doesn't want that to pass the Bill may get a secret 'Hold' which further stifles public debate.

Adding insult to this already blatant injury to the public debate President Bush comes along with His Legal Toadies [Addington Gonzales etc]and make "signing statements" that further undermine the public debate and knowledge or "sunshine"

Also this Record shows that it's possibly Kennedy and Kerry that are holding up the Intelligence. Mr Sessions goes on to say;
The Senator from Oregon [Mr Wyden]
has also stated that the intelligence authorization bill is being held
up based on a secret hold. In truth, it is not a secret. I will tell
the Senator who is holding that important intelligence bill: It is the
two Senators from Massachusetts. Senators Kennedy and Kerry have
objected to considering the bill because they want to offer amendments.
Some say they are poison-pill amendments, but they are amendments they
want to offer.

So there you have it Folks. Take that to the Bank because it has been certified as patently true that Senators DO NOT READ or LOOK at many Bills.

A Pork Barrel Pig Fest to be sure.

Posted by: Hamster Brain on March 30, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

Skill LEVELS??? WTF??
These Intellectuals Are Self Protectionists, SKILL? Who need skill when you have people like Michael Brown? Or Ashcroft? Or the Nutty Professors? just like the 'Cloture Club' Senators and other Corrupt Dirtbags we have this self-protectionist "Intellectualism" to Battle no less!!
On March 9, German philosopher Jrgen Habermas was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Prize for the advancement of human rights. In his acceptance speech printed by the Viennese paper Der Standard on March 10 and 11, Habermas speaks out for the first time on how the Internet has transformed public intellectual life, and takes a critical stance towards the world wide web:

"Use of the Internet has both broadened and fragmented the contexts of communication. This is why the Internet can have a subversive effect on intellectual life in authoritarian regimes. But at the same time, the less formal, horizontal cross-linking of communication channels weakens the achievements of traditional media. This focuses the attention of an anonymous and dispersed public on select topics and information, allowing citizens to concentrate on the same critically filtered issues and journalistic pieces at any given time. The price we pay for the growth in egalitarianism offered by the Internet is the decentralised access to unedited stories. In this medium, contributions by intellectuals lose their power to create a focus."

A large part of the speech is taken up with a dramatic appeal for concerted social and political action in Europe. signandsight.com thanks Jrgen Habermas for the permission to publish the end of his speech in its entirety.

Towards a United States of Europe
By Jrgen Habermas
Why should we get excited about such a lacklustre topic as the future of Europe? My answer is: if we are not able to hold a Europe-wide referendum before the next European elections in 2009 on the shape Europe should take, the future of the Union will be decided in favour of neo-liberal orthodoxy. Avoiding this touchy issue for the sake of a convenient peace and muddling along the well-trodden path of compromise will give free reign to the dynamic of unbridled market forces. This would force us to watch as the European Union's current political power is dismantled in favour of a diffuse European free-trade zone. For the first time in the process of European unification, we face the danger of regressing to a level of integration below what has already been achieved. What irks me is the paralytic numbness that has set in after the failure of the constitutional referenda in France and the Netherlands. Not taking a decision in this context amounts to a decision with major consequences.

Three pressing problems are bundled together in the single issue of Europe's inability to act:

(1) The international economic situation has changed in the wake of globalisation. Today's conditions deprive the national state of the tax resources it needs to satisfy its population's demands for collective goods and public services, or even to maintain the status quo. Further challenges, such as demographic developments and increased immigration, only aggravate the situation. Here the only defence is offence: winning back political clout on a supra-national level. Without convergent tax rates and medium-term harmonisation of economic and social-policies, we are in effect relinquishing our hold over the European social model.

(2) The return to ruthless hegemonic power politics, the clash of the West and the Islamic world, the decay of state structures in other parts of the world, the long-term social consequences of colonialism and the immediate political consequences of failed de-colonisation all of this points to a high-risk international situation. Only a European Union capable of acting on the world stage - and taking its place beside the USA, China, India and Japan - can press for an alternative to the ruling Washington consensus in the world's economic institutions. Only such a Europe can advance the long overdue reforms within the UN which are both blocked by and dependent on the USA.

(3) One cause for the rift in the West that has become apparent since the Iraq war is the clash of cultures that now divides America itself into two camps of almost equal size. This clash has also caused a shift in the hitherto valid normative standards of government policy. America's closest allies cannot remain indifferent here. It is precisely in critical cases of joint action that we must break free of our dependence on our superior partner. That is one more reason why the European Union needs its own armed forces. Until now Europeans have been subordinated to the dictates and regulations of the American high command in NATO deployments. The time has come for us to attain a position where even in a joint military deployment we still remain true to our own conceptions of human rights, the ban on torture and wartime criminal law.

For these reasons, I believe Europe must pluck up the courage to introduce reforms which will give it not only effective decision-making procedures, but also its own foreign minister, a directly-elected president and its own financial basis. These could be the subject of a referendum held concurrently with the next European parliamentary elections. The draft would be considered passed if it received the 'double majority' of votes of the states and the electorate. At the same time, the referendum would only bind the member states in which a majority had voted in favour. Europe would then move away from the convoy model where the tempo is set by the slowest member. Even in a Europe made up of core and periphery, countries preferring to remain on the periphery retain the option of rejoining the core at any time.

These ideas dovetail with those of the Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, who has recently published a manifesto for the "United States of Europe."

The full version of this speech originally appeared in German in Der Standard on March 10 and March 11, 2006.

Jrgen Habermas, born in 1929, is one of Germany's foremost intellectual figures. A philosopher and sociologist, he is professor emeritus at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt and the leading representative of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. His works include "Legitimation Crisis", "Knowledge and Human Interests", "Theory of Communicative Action" and "The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity"
Happy Happy Joy Joy Happy Happy Joy!

Posted by: Hamster Brain on March 30, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

Naw Your just a Bunch Of Humans to be Squeezed..
A few words must be said about Chapter VIII entitled: "The Parasitism and Decay of Capitalism." As already pointed out in the text, Hilferding, ex-"Marxist," and now a comrade-in-arms of Kautsky and one of the chief exponents of bourgeois, reformist policy in the Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany,[5] has taken a step backward on this question compared with the frankly pacifist and reformist Englishman, Hobson. The international split of the whole working-class movement is now quite evident (the Second and the Third Internationals). The fact that armed struggle and civil war is now raging between the two trends is also evident: the support given to Kolchak and Denikin in Russia by the Mensheviks and "Socialist-Revolutionaries" against the Bolsheviks; the fight the Scheidemanns, Noskes and Co. have conducted in conjunction with the bourgeoisie against the Spartacists [6] in Germany; the same thing in Finland, Poland, Hungary, etc. What is the economic basis of this world-historic phenomenon?

Precisely the parasitism and decay of capitalism which are characteristic of its highest historical stage of development, i.e., imperialism. As is proved in this pamphlet, capitalism has now singled out a handful (less than one-tenth of the inhabitants of the globe; less than one-fifth at a most "generous" and liberal calculation) of exceptionally rich and powerful states which plunder the whole world simply by "clipping coupons." Capital exports yield an income of eight to ten billion francs per annum, at prewar prices and according to prewar bourgeois statistics. Now, of course, they yield much more.

Obviously, out of such enormous superprofits (since they are obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their "own" country) it is possible to bribe the labor leaders and the upper stratum of the labor aristocracy. And the capitalists of the "advanced" countries are bribing them; they bribe them in a thousand different ways, direct and indirect, overt and covert.
Actually thats from Modern History Sourcebook:
Vladimir Illyich Lenin (1870-1924):
Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism, 1916

thought that was an intersting tangent to todays Unitary Executive dint

Posted by: Hamster Brain on March 30, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

I love studies that tell us what we already know. If you love your job so much you wake up whistling zippity-doo-dah out of your ass and your morning wood always points towards the office, of course you're going to take less money for it (or would be willing to). And If you hate your boss, your duties and the way they both conspire to assign deadlines only achievable by flying backwards around the earth until time reverses, you need a bit more money just to help pay for the booze and coke habit that fuels your worthless, miserable workday, not to mention financing that screenwriting course or real estate licensing exam or whatever sad little far-fetched dream you're pinning your only hope of escape on.

But here's the question: If what you really love doing is doing absolutely nothing, is being unemployed the psychological equivalent of a six-figure salary?

Posted by: Mark Kawakami on March 30, 2006 at 3:37 AM | PERMALINK

Happiness in your job is hardly an important considerationt when you have to put food on the table and pay the rent -- and support children.

It's only people who are born rich, have a huge financial cushion, whose income is almost all disposable, and never have to worry about money -- for example, DBL (the first commenter) and the judge he worked for -- who can afford to engage in the calculus of money and happiness.

Posted by: dan on March 30, 2006 at 4:51 AM | PERMALINK

But here's the question: If what you really love doing is doing absolutely nothing, is being unemployed the psychological equivalent of a six-figure salary? - Mark Kawakami

Yes and no. The part of me that loves working on animations that never get seen by anyone but me or illustrating childrens books that no sane publisher would ever green light loves all of the time off to create MY STUFF, but the panicky vestigial adult in me screams in terror as my savings disappear! It's like being the richest hobo on the train.

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on March 30, 2006 at 4:52 AM | PERMALINK

Intersting analysis, but if you ask me the glass is half empty. It's more like having a decent boss, having skilled work, variety in projects etc COSTS that much. That's how much LESS you get paid for not having an abusive boss, unskilled work etc.

Posted by: The Fool on March 30, 2006 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Try telling that to the folks working the drive-thru at McDonalds or cleaning bedpans at the hospital.

You could give me the most decent and friendly boss in the world in an endlessly interesting and challenging job that I love, and it still wouldn't change the fact that at my current salary I can't afford to get my car repaired, much less save any money to buy a home someday. I think this theory is only significant when applied to persons making a salary that covers all their non-professional needs and a good portion of their non-professional desires.

Posted by: Constance Reader on March 30, 2006 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Will you please ask the University of British Columbia to tell me what else is most important in my life. I am unsure how I have made it this far without this sage advice.

Thank God there are wise Ivory Tower liberals that know what's best for ordinary Americans. So instead of that higher paying job, I will just ask my current boss to be nicer to me. Whew, solved that one.

Posted by: Jay on March 30, 2006 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Do they calculate health costs of working yourself silly in a career you love but a job you despise? The amount of money needed to offset the disasterous health effects of being over-worked is enormous. Greed should not be the driving force in life. Happiness and stability are what's most important.

Posted by: imbroglio on March 30, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

DBLWhen I got out of law school I clerked for a judge who advised us to always keep 6 months' pay in the bank so that we'd be free to walk away from a job we hated. It was good advice.

so at my current rate of saving, and barring any unforeseen catastrophes, (such as breaking a leg) i'll get that saved in about 10 yrs. good thing i can't retire for 40 yrs.

Posted by: e1 on March 30, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Kevin, but you also have to read abusive comments, like this. That's got to be worth a slight raise.

Posted by: Jim Bartle on March 30, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Well look, did they interview Americans for this, or just Canadians? Because I know American workers prioritize these things slightly differently than Europeans, and I wonder if these differences exist with canadians too. I don't think it's enough to change the general thesis, but it might adjust it.

Also, if you work at a job you love but don't make enough money to get by... well then wouldn't you be happier to take more money?

Posted by: MNPundit on March 30, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

What a bunch of ... poo. It doesn't pass the laugh test. Take the worst boss you've had. Imagine your current salary almost doubled. Does this seem good to you? I'm good with it and I've had some pretty bad bosses in the past. In fact, it is a way better bet to make me happy than an "interesting" job, whatever that is. Color me skeptical.

Don N.

Posted by: Don N on March 30, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

I couldn't be happier. Giving Jay reach arounds ($20 a pop), coupled with drive-by trolling, pleases me to no end.

However, I'd love to ask conspiracy nut to go easy on the Rusy Trombone, but he is the dominant one, so I keep my mouth shut.

Posted by: Al on March 30, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

oops, I meant Rusty, not Rusy. Should always keep both hands on the keyboard and not down my pants.

Posted by: Al on March 30, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'd rather have a mean boss who was competent than the nice boss I have now. Who is not competent. You can work hard and please a mean boss, and if the mean boss is competent, as a team, you can succeed. With an incompetent boss, no amount of niceness will compensate you for constant failure, and the job insecurity that goes with it.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 30, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

I bet you could cut Kevin's pay even more if you dangled a shiny new USC jersey alongside the trimmed paycheck.

Posted by: ferd on March 30, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

So what are you paid, Mr. Drum, for your interesting and challenging job? I'd be willing to bet that it's a fair amount more than most really crappy jobs that require little skill. (Not that that was the point of the post, of course, but I'm just curious.)

Posted by: ambivalentmaybe on March 30, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

I believe every word of that. I used to work for lawyers because it paid better. I much preferred places where the pay was lower but the bosses were nicer.

Posted by: Avedon on March 30, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK



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