Straight Up with Sherri

Saturday, February 19, 2005

RWNJ Makes Economics Un-Bee-lievably (B)Ee-sy

After Laura shared her piece on Income Redistribution, some of you were prompted, or inspired to put your own thoughts down in writing. Right Wing Nut Job was one. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do.

Your Pay and Your Worth are Not Related to Your Value

Have you ever wondered how your pay is determined? Do you believe in the concept of supply and demand? Do you think the system we use is capitalism? Is your time and talent valuable to your employer?
Well, I am going to do my best to dispel these myths and a few others, too. Because I don’t want to appeal only to the intellectuals among us, I am going to rely mostly on good old-fashioned anecdote and common sense.

Let’s start by constructing an imaginary company. It’s just like yours; so feel free to substitute the names and titles of those with whom you are familiar. In this company, we have Worker bees, Drone bees, and a Queen bee.

The pay scale: Queen bee - $ 10,000,000 per year.
Drone bees - $ 250,000. per year
Worker bees – (Fill in your own salaries)
Forager – perform the basic function of the company.
Wax – generate the company business
Guard – protect the company
Nurse – take care of the other bees
House – take care of housekeeping

Now, let’s consider what happens when things go wrong. The Queen bee last year was caught up in an insider trading scam. It drove down the value of the hive stock and demoralized the worker bees. The Queen bee was evicted from the hive forever. Since that time, the various Drone bees have all been actively competing to become the new Queen; stinging one another in the back, forming secret pacts in coup attempts, but to no avail. During that year, the hive has functioned just tremendously. The Drones do nothing but suck honey off each other’s abdomen. The other bees know their jobs, and perform them in an admirable way for their weekly dollop of honey. And so, everyone is happy in this efficient hive.

But one morning this week, Ralph Forager Bee calls in sick. He is not a happy hunter. So he stays home under the nurturing of Nurse Bee. But guess what. His cell does not get filled in with honey today. Now you may think, “That’s too bad”. But it is much worse than “too bad”. It is horrifying. The day lost by Ralph is a day lost by the entire hive forever. The whole hive, including all of its costs goes to produce a finite number of “cells of honey”. When one Forager does not do his job, the entire output of the hive is decreased and the profits lost, forever. They can never be recovered. In terms of the cost of Ralph, this usually amounts to hundreds or thousands of times his daily pay. Compare that to the loss of the old Queen. Net cost to the hive in income = zero.

The function of the other worker bees is to be certain that Ralph Forager is efficient and effective. Their own efficiency does not matter. If they are more efficient, it makes no difference. It is only when they cause Ralph to be unable to do his best that the hive suffers.

So now I ask you: What is your job? What are you paid and how valuable is your contribution to the hive. If you are Ralph, are you being adequately compensated? If you support Ralph, are you making certain that Ralph is successful? If you are a Drone, do you stay out of Ralph’s way so he can generate the honey that you like to eat?


  • I am thrilled that you wrote this and allowed me to post it.

    Such a great way to illustrate the way jobs, businesses, work load, and employees each are connected....etc.

    The last paragraph reminded me of a philosophy I apply to my work situations.

    Always make your boss look good and train well behind you.Thanks RWNJ

    By Blogger Straight Up with Sherri, at 12:22 PM  

  • i live in new hampshire and we don't pay sales or state income tax...

    that's why there are so many millionaires here

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:55 PM  

  • RWNJ,
    This is wonderful. So many layers!
    Thank you for sharing, and stimulating thought regarding the workforce hierarchy...bzz, bzzz..
    Gotta fly...:)

    By Blogger la6868, at 11:37 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home