Economics and You - Athletes, Nurses, and why you need to shut up already.

11/10/2006
Javon Walker told the Packers where to stick it. The Packers told him to play. He soon became the poster boy for exactly why players should hold out after a career threatening injury.
If nothing else nurses earn their pay by having to wear this rediculous get up.
If Scrubs is a real representation of a hospital, and I'm sure it is, nurses hold the hospital together.
Of any Nutcan article I've ever meant to write this one has been on the back burner the longest. I think about writing it every time a high profile athlete holds out. I came pretty close to writing it during the Javon Walker hold out, but ultimately I didn't for whatever reason.

Any time an athlete wants more money it's always the same song and dance with the general public. "They make enough money," "they are getting paid to play a game," "they should remain loyal to their fans," and so on.

It is complete and utter bull-plop. I fail to understand how most of America doesn't grasp even the most basic principals of economics. I know they don't because I hear people discussing things like this all the time that wouldn't be a topic of discussion if they did.

No matter who you are in America there is someone that makes less than you somewhere in the world. "Starving" college kids are still in the top 5% of income worldwide. There is someone else in the world who would trade places with you in a heart beat if the opportunity presented itself. So next time you complain about your wage think of all those people who would scoff at those complaints. That doesn't mean you don't have a good argument for why you should make more. I shudder to think where the world would be at if everyone settled when they had "enough". Some greed is good, it keeps advancements coming. Imagine where the computing world would be if Intel, Microsoft, AMD, Apple, Nvidia, and ATI decided they had "plenty" of money in 1997.

I think the focus is especially harsh on the "greedy bastard" professional athlete for a few reasons. One, they are already in the limelight. Two, people think that the players on their favorite teams owe them something. Last, people see what they do as 'fake', a trivial game that means nothing in the grand scheme of things. So trivial that the fact that they get paid at all, let alone millions, irks people to the core.

It boils down to the simplest economic principal there is. Supply vs Demand. If demand is high and supply is low prices soar. Every year at Christmas there are one or two toys people practically kill each other for. There is always a "black market" for these items. A toy that retails for $30 can sell for $500. The PS3 is supposed to be expensive to begin with and Sony's first shipment is mind numbingly small. Don't be surprised to hear stories of PS3's selling for absolutely mind numbing amounts.

If demand is low and supply is high costs are low. This is what the clearance section at your local retailer is. They couldn't find enough buyers for the supply they had so they try to increase demand by lowing the price.

There are 32 professional NFL teams. There are 32 starting spots for a Quarterback. By my count there are only 14 of those teams that have a stable situation at the Quarterback position. There are 6.5 billion people on the planet Earth. There are 32 job openings. 14 of them are filled for the semi near future. I would say those 14 people are a premium commodity for the owners of those multi million dollar franchises, wouldn't you?

Since we're not on this subject
I want to address something that is somewhat unique to the sports world and is another reason I don't understand peoples hatred for athletes' financial potential. Sports is a multi-billion dollar a year entity. The NFL is raking in more money than they know what to do with. As a Minnesota Viking season ticket holder I can say this without question. We pay the price of admission to see the players. If my rough estimates are accurate the Vikings make roughly 64 million dollars in ticket sales alone. I also know that teams make a "vast majority" of their money on splitting merchandising and especially on splitting the TV contracts. I don't know what the total amount of money teams make is, but I know it's a lot. All that money is coming directly, or indirectly from people wanting to watch the players, not the owners. Why shouldn't they get a huge cut, if not a majority of it?
Conversely, a grocery store could pull someone off the street and have them being an effective employee in an hour or two.

An athlete can pull a stunt like holding out because they hold all the cards. They are one of a very tiny subset of people. Depending on who it is they could be literally irreplaceable. A cashier couldn't pull that stunt because they could be replaced with the person they are currently checking out in a few days.

I know it is easy to see the principle using extremes like NFL quarterbacks and grocery store clerks, but it works for any industry.

The harder you are to replace the more you probably make. "Harder to replace" can mean more than just education level/training. Garbage men make pretty good money for the "education level" that is probably required of a garbage man because it's an unglamorous job that is harder to get people to do. Franchise quarterbacks take years to replace. It would take about a year to replace me with someone for them to get to where I am "business knowledge" wise. (Not to mention a lifetime to catch up to my mad programming skills.) It would take a month or two to get someone trained into an entry level retail management position. It would take a day or two to get someone up to speed folding clothes at that same retail store. It wouldn't be too hard to sort our incomes into lowest to highest based only on that info, and in most cases its that simple.

There was something I heard a few times while in college, or just out and about. I heard people complaining about how Nurses don't "deserve" the wages they get. I don't know why it was just this one job I heard people complain about often. Perhaps it was because the news quite often talked about the "nursing boom" too. Perhaps it was because UWEC in particular has a popular nursing school with a very long waiting list. At any rate it bugged me for a few reasons. For one it was one of those situations where the person would have the attitude that "anyone could be a nurse" but it takes a special kind of person to major in the trumpet, or whatever worthless career path that person had chosen to go down. If "anyone" could be a nurse why aren't they? (Also, I'm not all that sure nurses even do make wages "outrageously" high for a 4 year degree, if even statistically high)

Nurses are in demand now, so the salaries go up. The real shame is that there are a lot of college students that just go where the money is. I doubt it's a coincidence that demand for nurses rose, so salaries rose, and suddenly the waiting lists for nursing programs are so long people are putting their unborn grandchildren on hoping there will be an opening by then.

I've had experience with this phenomenon first hand. In the year 2000 computer programmers were in short supply and high demand. People were graduating to find companies competing over them. Starting salaries were sky high. That year my first semester CS class was so big we had to move to a larger room after the first day. During my first lab we were set up into groups and I couldn't believe how many people we're completely computer illiterate. I'm supposed to do a complicated programming assignment with a group of people I just spent 5 minutes explaining how to open a file off a floppy disk to? It was clear most of the class was just there for the money. Luckily for us the CS professors knew this, made the class hard, and talked about how hard the major was constantly. Our class size dropped by an unbelievable rate every year. Alex was in that class so he can help me with these numbers. I want to guess there was 60 people in that class and we graduated with like 10. I could be way off though. It's hard to estimate because I think a large portion of the class dropped out after about a week or at least by mid that class. (Alex and I were lab partners after that first lab. We said about 3 words to each other all semester. I was just happy to have a partner that wasn't completely incompetent. Although, I'm pretty sure we had no idea what we were doing on any of the assignments.)

By the time we graduated the number of available programmers had skyrocketed and the number of jobs had bottomed out. Suddenly programmers couldn't find two nickels to rub together. It was a very good thing for me that I didn't go into it for the money. (That's somewhat sarcastic, obviously. It still pays well.)

The moral of my long winded tangent is this, do what you want to do and if there happens to be a lot of money in it then bully for you. Money isn't everything anyway.

If you were a programmer who went into it for the money you could survive. I don't think the same thing could be said about a nurse. I think it does take a special kind of person to be a nurse, or anything like that. It would be a shame if positions like that were starting to be filled with people there for the paycheck. At least as long as teachers made diddily poo we know their intentions are pure. (Or very, very, impure...but that's another article onto itself)

It's been complained about that nurses make too much for their level of training/education. Unfortunately, salary statistics are about worthless, so we don't know for sure. If it's true nurses do make more than the average 4 year college career person, and I don't know that it is, there are good reasons for it.

For starters nurses, like a few other majors, have a direct line into the job world. CS majors become programmers, Accounting majors become kickass accountants, and Nursing majors become nurses. People looking to fill a programming, accounting, or nursing position also know exactly who to look at. On the other hand you have many business majors, for example, that all end up applying for the same ambiguous positions that kind of deal a little with what they did in school. The pool of people to draw from is bigger so the need to entice people is lowered. Thus starting salaries go down, if you can find a job in the first place. If you want to be that certain major then good for you, but you knew what you were getting into, so don't complain later. 'Direct path' argument aside, there are are reasons somewhat unique to nursing.

On a really bad day I could accidentally kill someones website, momentarily. On a really bad day a nurse could accidentally kill someone in a less than momentary fashion. On an average day for a nurse you'd have to watch someone you spent time caring for die. That takes a special kind of mental conditioning I don't think I have. Doctors are often accused of "dehumanizing" their patients. I don't see how you couldn't. First off the more your doctor thinks of you like a broken machine and less like a person the better. Secondly, and more to the point, I don't see how you could survive in a situation like that if you didn't dehumanize for patients. The sad thing is that I don't think nurses even get that luxury. It's easy as a doctor who operates on a patient for a few hours to dehumanize the person. It's not so easy for the person who spends a good portion of the day with them.

I get to walk out the door at 5 and not give work a second thought until I roll on in the next day. A nurse could be haunted by his or her job. In fact NOT bringing something like that home with you would be next to impossible.

I get to sit quietly and solve problems on a piece of paper. I have an office with two windows, a desk full of enough junk food to gain 25 pounds, and a mini fridge full of mountain dew. I even go outside to design code and databases once in a while.

Hospitals are hectic places. People are coming and going, everyone has a different problem, and many situations are literally life or death. That and everything above is worth some extra scratch.

Besides, don't complain about something "you could do too". Just do it then. If you can't do it there's probably a reason that the person who is doing it is being paid a premium to do so. If you don't get it then just shut up already, because you never will.

-Jeremy Lindgren has nothing witty to say here
matt.jpgMatt - Washington Bureau Chief
11/10/2006 @ 07:19:02 PM
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Tune in next week when Jon and I write an article about computer programming.
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2887.gifAlex - Refactor Mercilessly
11/10/2006 @ 07:42:39 PM
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Weren't there 2 intro to CS classes to start with and like a total of 100 students on the first day? Whatever it was it was we lost about 1/4th in the first week and were down to half by the end of the semester. I think there really were only about 10 of us that graduated in 4 years (I'd guess maybe 5-10 more of our original class was due to graduate in a semester or two). And I second the not knowing what we were doing half of the time that semester.

Props for Scrubs references.

I though I'd expound upon the experiences of computer nerds in the workplace. I work for a 24/7 manufacturing company so I don't get to walk out the door and not think about work until the next day. Every 7th week I'm on fulltime pager support and even when it's not my turn I could very well get a phone call from whoever is on call asking for help. And although I can't do anything that could kill someone (as long as everyone else's stuff is working, we do have some automated equipment) I could at least partially and rather seriously shut down operations at all 10 of our plants. And I live in a cubefarm, not a windowed office. It's uncanny how much like Office Space it gets at times.
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jon.jpgJon - 1000000 posts (and counting!)
11/10/2006 @ 07:54:51 PM
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I once told my high school economics teacher that it was good that teachers don't get paid much (and probably even said the pay should be lowered) because, as Jeremy said, then people aren't in it for the money. I said it partially joking, and I'm not sure if she understood even and I think she thought I was either being stupid or mean or both. I think I felt free to make such comments half because I felt the license to be a smart alec and half because my parents are teachers. And that's part of why I thought of it anyway. My mom just always wanted to be a teacher and that's the kind of people who I would want filling the schools. I do believe they have one of the most important jobs around, but at the same time, if it was a moneymaker, I don't even want to imagine how much more the schools would be filled with people who were in it for that reason. I know it's not all cut and dry like that and I could personally poke holes in and criticize my own statements but anyway I thought I'd add some of those old thoughts of mine.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
11/10/2006 @ 10:14:10 PM
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Yeah I actually wanted to guess something like 100 people but I was afraid you or Bret would come and be like "It was 40 at the most, moron." So I thought I'd aim low and still make my point without being accused of exaggerating something to make a point.
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Jeremy edited this at 11/10/2006 10:21:14 pm
reign_of_fire_150.jpgMicah - Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land.
11/11/2006 @ 07:35:19 AM
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Is that professor from the CS class we took in high school still around?

Jon- I actually was just talking to someone about this the other day, and the phrase is actually "cut and dried." I thought it was "cut and dry" also.
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scott.jpgScott - On your mark...get set...Terrible!
11/11/2006 @ 07:59:14 AM
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When someone gets a pay raise, or when an entre industry has a salary increase, you expect to see a better product on the field? So, do we have a better product on the NFL field than we did 10 years ago? How about baseball? Basketball? I don't think football is any better now than it was 10 or 20 years ago as a whole. It's still entertaining, but is it better in proportion to the amount of salary increases? I'm not so sure.
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reign_of_fire.jpgMicah - 584 Posts
11/11/2006 @ 09:47:05 AM
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Thats not necessarily true, as evidenced by the increasing wage disparity in the country. The top earning CEO's of the country are not putting out a better product in comparison to the salary increases they are receiving.

A good article about this is "The Height of Inequality" by Clive Crook in September's Atlantic Monthly...I don't know if you can access it online or if you have to pay for it...but do a google search suckers.

Also, has anyone here ever been given an interview for a job they are incredibly underqualified for. I have one on Monday and am not sure how to approach it.
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reign_of_fire_150.jpgMicah - I'm flippin' burgers / you at Kinko's straight flippin' copies
11/11/2006 @ 09:48:38 AM
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http://uspolitics.tribe.net/thread/2e73a3cc-5f69-4781-b542-dde03adcdfb6

Here it is
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
11/11/2006 @ 10:16:18 AM
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Football rakes in more money than it did 10 years ago and the players have the clout to be able to go after it.
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scott.jpgScott - Ma'am, can you make sure your computer is turned on?
11/11/2006 @ 12:30:18 PM
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CEO are overpaid too. You have no argument from me on that one. The CEO of Yahoo! makes approximately $80,000 per hour.

And overall, if players want to go after high priced contracts, that's fine. It's when they say "Screw this team concept, I'm gonna get mine. I don't care about my teammates, I don't care about winning, I don't care about anything other than being able to have 3 hummers and a 20 bedroom mansion" that I have a problem with the system. If a player gets that kind of money I generally don't care. But if he tries to screw a team that has a considerable interest in having that player return, I have no respect for that. None. I don't dislike Javon Walker. He was the one who signed a 4 year contract, had one good year, and wanted the final 2 years of his contract thrown out. TO is another example of this, although he's just a wacko.

Players probably technically "deserve" their pay, but do it the right way. Play your contract out, or sign shorter contracts.

I don't think nurses are overpaid, and I've never really heard people say that they are. But I'm sure people do.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - As Seen On The Internet
11/11/2006 @ 04:46:03 PM
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It's not like I heard it a million times, I just found it odd I heard it more than once.
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jon.jpgJon - 2847 Posts
11/12/2006 @ 03:18:35 AM
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I don't like to do this, but allow me to comment completely on part of a previous comment about another previous comment. Then you all can go back to talking about the article. Here goes:

hey micah, good info on the "cut and dried" vs. "cut and dry"

Since I'm kind of a minor league language geek, I checked a site I found a few years ago and sure enough, it agrees you are right to correct me. Here's a link "cut and dry"

Also, if anyone cares about this language usage stuff, the site I'm talking about is called Common Errors in English.
(The author likes the links to go to that page because it answers FAQ's but if you want the real good stuff just click on the "go to list of errors" link once you get there.)
Be careful though. you could waste a day there.
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Jon edited this 15 times, last at 11/12/2006 3:33:05 am
scott.jpgScott - Get Up! Get outta here! Gone!
11/12/2006 @ 08:37:47 AM
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Wow. That was a waist of time.
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hoochpage.JPGSarah - So's your face
11/12/2006 @ 08:46:20 AM
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Jon - get over to our house right now :) it's go time or go pack go time
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - No one's gay for Moleman
11/12/2006 @ 08:24:16 PM
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Jon, who was your high school econ teacher?
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
12/08/2006 @ 04:20:48 PM
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I just noticed that not only did this thread quickly die, but there where a couple direct questions posed to people that weren't answered.

Micah - Our intro to C teacher (Leo Larson) retired while Alex, Bret, and I were in school. He wasn't teaching that class at that point though.
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2887.gifAlex - But let history remember, that as free men, we chose to make it so!
12/08/2006 @ 07:01:55 PM
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I think it would help keep threads alive if the newest content was just updated with the time of the last post and username for that thread. So instead of 7 of the last 10 being for the Classic Letterman blog, there would be one entry. Unless I'm just a moron and there is already a different way to see more "Recent Content".
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
12/08/2006 @ 07:35:17 PM
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Alex has a good idea. If it is possible.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
12/09/2006 @ 12:57:33 AM
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Jon brought that up already. It's mostly done
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
12/09/2006 @ 08:19:37 AM
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emoticonYou should also send out email reminders every time some posts a comment. I mean, we gotta know what's going on.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Super Chocolate Bear
12/11/2006 @ 08:39:58 AM
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There's an RSS feed and has been for a long time now :)
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scott.jpgScott - If you aren't enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.
12/11/2006 @ 10:00:19 AM
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Yeah, I probably knew about that. But I want a personal email from Jeremy everytime there is a comment, not just an automated mailer from a server. It's about service.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
12/11/2006 @ 10:16:54 AM
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Should I make it like Myspace where there is a 4 hour delay on those emails and you are notified of your own comments?
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
12/11/2006 @ 11:10:06 PM
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Let the email spamming begin!!
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jon.jpgJon - 1000000 posts (and counting!)
12/11/2006 @ 11:13:56 PM
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and I'm officially unsubscribed.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
12/11/2006 @ 11:19:51 PM
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You would.
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jon.jpgJon - 2847 Posts
12/11/2006 @ 11:25:09 PM
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Who wouldn't?
I like getting email, but why would I want 20 emails per day telling me something I would find out on my own.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
12/11/2006 @ 11:28:51 PM
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Scott wanted it! emoticon
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jon.jpgJon - many posts
12/11/2006 @ 11:31:56 PM
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No he wanted an email from you personally.

But I'm not against it as a feature, just as a feature for me.
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question_mark.gifSamantha (Guest)
09/15/2008 @ 03:20:03 AM
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Its been freaking ages since anyone posted anything on this but since this seems to be the only thing that I can understand especially when you guys go off on tangents :) But thanks for sticking up for the nurses! You made some good points for football and nursing.
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vignette.bmpCarlos44ec - 2078 Posts
09/15/2008 @ 07:35:23 AM
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Why is it that every time I see a nurse they want to stick a needle in my arm?
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avatar2345.jpgPackOne - 1528 Posts
09/17/2008 @ 11:05:42 PM
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This thread is two years old? I gave you five nuts for such a fancy looking and intricate post. Then I get to the end of the comments and find that actually you have declined in intricacy.

Did the article on computer programming ever come to be?
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