Pay and skill

I work at a major theme park. This theme park recently had a turnover problem- that is, a number of employees were leaving for other paramedic positions that paid more money. To solve the problem, they raised starting paramedic pay to $17.50 an hour- a raise of $3.75 an hour. The medics who had been there for more than a few years are livid. They are claiming that they ‘deserve’ more because they have been there longer.

The American public believes that public employees are overpaid. They complain about what the public employees ‘deserve’ and claim that, since the economy is bad, that public employees should be paid less.

Both positions show a complete lack of understanding of basic economics. The law of supply and demand dictates what an employee makes. The market sets the price of labor. If you, as an employer, pay too little, your employees will leave. The ones that are available to replace them will be of lower quality. That is, the employee is selling a product: his labor. The price of that product is set by the market. Wages are a balance between the supply of people that are capable of providing the labor, and the number of people who are needed to perform that labor.

Numerous things can lower wages. If just anyone can provide that product, then the price (pay) will be low. A good example of this is greeter at WalMart. This position requires a skill set that nearly anyone can master, so the wages for that position are low. The other factor that can have negative effects on wages is the demand for that particular skill. You may be a master of 14th century French poetry, but there is no market for 14th century French poetry, so you will likely become a greeter at WalMart, that being your only other marketable skill.

Conversely, wages can also be driven in the opposite direction. If you bring a skill set to the table that not many people have, you can “auction” off those skills to the highest bidder.

This is the point that many miss. If you think that you are more valuable simply because you have been at a job for a long time, you are wrong. You become more valuable with longevity because you have (presumably) become more adept at the job you are being tasked with as the years went by. Eventually, though, the job is mastered, and your value becomes capped at a certain level. In order to demand more pay, the employee must accomplish two things: he must gain more skill, and must ensure that the skill gained is one that the employer needs. Just like any other product. It is up to you as to whether or not it is worth the effort to improve your product (yourself) for the additional pay.

And to employers: remember that, as your wage scale falls below market value, the more valuable employees will sell their wares to the highest bidder, leaving you with a cheaper, sometimes less valuable product. It is up to you to determine if you are willing to accept the lower level of skill.

Back door gun bans

Let’s say that as a government, I want to make it illegal for citizens to carry guns, but a certain founding document and political expediency would prevent me from doing so. Instead I decide that I will create a legal climate that forces others to do so in my stead.

1 I make all property owners legally liable for any shooting that any guest or employee perpetrates against any other guest or employee. That means anyone who is on your property that shoots anyone else, the victim can sue the property owner.

2 You also make the law so that the property owner is exempt from the above situation, as long as the property owner prohibits weapons on the property.

This means that the property owner has been coerced into prohibiting weapons on the property, as there is a large reason to prohibit weapons, and no reason not to. In this case, it is not the property owner’s freely made decision to prohibit weapons, that decision was made under duress.

Furthermore, this decision and legal climate will do nothing to stop crime, while preventing the law abiding from defending themselves. The net result of this would actually increase violent crime, since criminals are now free from the threat of defensive force.

That is the reality of “no guns” policies in America today. Since a property owner would be sued by anyone who is shot, and legally insulated from liability if the shooter violated a property owner’s prohibition on weapons possession, no one can rightfully claim that a no weapons policy of a property owner is a choice that was made free from coercion.

This is why Pizza Hut prohibits its drivers from carrying weapons. They could be liable if an employee shoots a robber, but are held harmless if the driver is killed by an armed robber. There are those who say that the employee could always choose to work elsewhere, but since the law is the law everywhere, there is no real choice. Very, very few employers choose to take the chance of facing a multimillion dollar award just to save an employee that can be replaced with a simple want ad.


I teach classes. I teach CPR, ACLS, PALS, PHTLS, EMT, and Paramedic. I also teach the instructor courses. I had a woman call me today (from a daycare center) who wanted an adult and child CPR, AED, and first aid class for 10 of her staff. This class takes all day, and requires 2 instructors, as well as books and training materials. I quoted her a price of $400. That works out to $40 per student.

The books and materials cost me $20 per student. That leaves me with $200 to pay myself and another instructor, as well as all of my other overhead. She was angry over that, and says I am too expensive. She says my competition is less than half of what I charge. I pointed out that they charge extra for books and materials, so the end price is the same.

She wanted to pay $15 per student. I told her that I can’t do that, so she hung up in a huff.

Whatever, I can’t afford to GIVE my time away.