Oh hey! Welcome to another installment of “What if Wednesday!” Let’s let our imaginations run wild….
Imagine that everyone made the same amount and switched jobs every 3 years!
The rules are:
- You cannot opt out.
- Everyone between ages 15-65 who is able to work, must do so.
- Work assignments last 3 years, and not a day longer.
- At the end of a 3 year assignment, each person is re-assigned to a completely new position.
- You have no choice in what your next assignment will be.
- Reassignments must be completely different from your current position. For example, if you are a bus driver, your next job cannot be driving-related. If you work in an office, your next job cannot be in an office.
- You will not be reassigned to the same job twice.
- Everyone receives the exact same salary. It doesn’t matter what your job is, or your rank. You get the same salary as everyone else. This means the president earns the same amount as the bus driver.
- There is no option to acquire additional money in any way. No working multiple jobs or stealing/laundering money, etc. Your salary is all you get!
- Everyone will be able to live comfortably on their salary.
Eeeenteresting. Ok, so this is a fictional scenario, and I realize I have to suspend my disbelief. After all, this would never actually “fly” in today’s world. Especially since many professions require more than 3 years of training to become full-fledged (eg, surgery, scientists, lawyers, etc). But let’s just pretend this could actually happen, for the sake of imagination…
One of the things I find interesting about this setup is the “all salaries are equal” thing. From government officials to factory workers. Just think of it. If we all made the same amount of money, there would be no 1%. There would be no poverty. There would be no hunger. And no filthy filthy rich people. Also, there would be no need to worry about the pay gap for women or minorities. We would ALL bring home the same dollar.
If all salaries were equal, would it be a relief? If everyone is able to live comfortably, then yes, I’d imagine that many among us would be relieved. Think about how wonderful this may sound to the many who make minimum wage or less. Removing that stress of where the next meal will come from would be a God-send to many out there. Rather than focusing on mere survival, you’d be able to do things like read books, have new experiences, maybe even travel.
Doesn’t sound half bad, right?
But what about this — there would be no chance to get a raise or increase your pay in any way. If you are a CEO, you’d be making the exact same amount as the janitor. While this is great for the janitor, I’m sure the CEO might have reason for side-eye. Would people in positions of authority feel that they are not being fairly compensated? Would resentment begin to rise in the upper ranks?
No matter how hard you work, you would never get a pay-raise, unless of course everyone got the exact same pay-raise too. Would this eventually result in reduced motivation? I mean, why work hard at all? I wonder how many people would only do the bare minimum at their jobs, knowing that they will still get to take home the same paycheck.
Have you ever gotten a promotion and/or raise? Remember how rewarding and good it feels to finally get that recognition for your hard work? Would you have put in all that effort if you knew that your pay would never go up? What about if you knew that the biggest slacker was getting the same salary as you? Would you still put in the hard work?
And then there is the other part of the setup…
The part about having to switch jobs every 3 years. Hmm… let me tell you why this is intriguing to me.
One of my good friends, Gina (not her real name) was a nurse for 11 years, and recently switched careers to go into real estate. What a drastic change! Gina’s perfectly-executed career pivot got me to thinking… what would it be like to do something totally new? Maybe it would be refreshing. Maybe it would be scary.
What if it were mandatory to switch jobs/careers every so often? And not just any minor change, but a major change that involved doing something completely new…
Would this prevent things from getting “stale”? Possibly. I have worked a few jobs that were insanely mundane, weird, or gross. It didn’t take long for them to get stale lol! For example, one of my college jobs was cleaning rat cages in the biology department. This was a super icky job. After I found a decaying rat (smelled it first!!) I knew I had to #gitouttathrr. I would have jumped at a “mandated reassignment” at that point.
Would it be an disruptive to be forced to change jobs? Probably yes. Especially for people who enjoy their current jobs. Case in point, Joel has been an engineer for 12 years, and loves his work — he has never remotely entertained thoughts of doing anything else.
I wonder how many of us would find a change refreshing… versus disruptive. Maybe it would depend on what the next job assignment is.
If right now, I were reassigned to be a chef, it would be a major change from my current desk-job. But I wouldn’t hate that! I enjoy cooking, and I could learn plenty of cool new dishes and techniques in 3 years.
But say, I were to be reassigned to a construction worker, I’d be mildly terrified… I am terrible with handy tasks and would probably break more things than I built. But I’d probably catch on eventually and manage to do something productive. And hey, I’d still get paid equally no matter WHAT. And it would only be 3 years, not forever!
In any case, it’s all some good food for thought! I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions!
What job assignments would you want? Which would you NOT want? How would you feel about everyone making the same salary?