Imagine with me a soft, sparkly world where everyone, no matter what job they did, got paid somewhere between $100,000 and $500,000. Migrant workers, college lecturers, investment bankers, pastry bakers, bloggers, full-time mothers, everyone made between $100,000 and $500,000. It’s still a pretty big disparity, but enough that everyone can buy a house and send their children to college and very few people will buy diamonds for their toy dogs.
What job would you pick?
I ask because in the current system, I think people are too swayed by the idea of a great big salary to pursue a job they think they’ll really like. I’ve met people who have never considered what kind of job they might really like, because it’s not an option, for multiple reasons (some of them very good ones).
I ask because Peter Orszag, formerly Obama’s director of the Office of Budget and Management, the guy who was supposed to figure out how to stop our economy from digging itself into an even bigger pit, has joined CitiBank in some very important, reportedly multi-million dollar position. He’s not alone in terms of supposedly public servants who go on to make huge salaries and huge corporations. Is the pattern as simple as people using low-paying public sector jobs as a stepping stone to success?
If you’re confused as to why I’m drawing these connections, read James Fallow’s article from the Atlantic. It’s less than a page and it gets to the point. I promise.