If we all had different jobs and the same salary

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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:

  1. You cannot opt out.
  2. Everyone between ages 15-65 who is able to work, must do so.
  3. Work assignments last 3 years, and not a day longer.
  4. At the end of a 3 year assignment, each person is re-assigned to a completely new position.
  5. You have no choice in what your next assignment will be.
  6. 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.
  7. You will not be reassigned to the same job twice.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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!

Oh and PS, have you checked out the last “What if Wednesday” on time travel? What about this one on coworker conflict?

What job assignments would you want? Which would you NOT want? How would you feel about everyone making the same salary? 

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121 thoughts on “If we all had different jobs and the same salary

  1. I love the idea of everyone receiving the exact same salary and changes jobs every 3 years. It would be very educational constantly learn new things. Plus that’s like treating everyone equal. It’s an excellent thought!

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  2. This idea is fun to imagine, but in reality, it won’t work because different people have different skills sets and level of intelligence. Can’t have a high school dropout do a rocket scientist’s work.

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    1. Very true Leo, i completely agree! And yes, it sure does make for an intriguing thought experiment! Thanks for stopping by, i hope you have an amazing week!

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  3. I struggled to get through my undergrad classes because I had no real support from my family–nobody in my family had done it before, but I did it. My parents wanted me to do it, so I wouldn’t have to struggle like they did. Then, I did it better getting a graduate degree. Why would I bother wasting those six years when I could start making the same money out of high school…Why would I even finish high school? How would you regulate the quality of work everyone did? We would all become mechanical? Who decides what job you get? You know what? I’ll take the same salary with a graduate degree as a kid who works at a fast food joint if he/she works 40 hrs/wk and I work 8 hrs/wk. The problem in our society is not wage disparity, it’s corruption. Nobody wants to participate in civil service, so it’s been left to the few who did participate and learn that nobody was paying attention, so they (those we now call politicians) did as they pleased with no accountability and now, others have caught on and want a piece of the pie. Politics was born but never meant to be a career. It’s our civic duty. Who’s done jury duty without trying to get out of it? Who does their own research before voting?

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    1. You raise a good point Farrah, some occupations require many years of education and training, and often have higher salaries compared to jobs that don’t require as much experience. I also agree that corruption is such a critical issue in our society. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate hearing your perspective. I hope you have an amazing day Farrah!

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  4. What an intriguing post! Hmmm, I would imagine on the one hand, some people would appreciate the opportunity to change jobs completely. But on the other, if you truly enjoy the job and have already worked hard to attain the education and experience to expand your skills and advancement opportunities … not so much! Definitely thought-provoking, however, to ponder removing any stigma about certain jobs or inequality of pay based on gender.

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    1. I agree – it could be great if you are up for a career change, but terrible if you don’t want to switch jobs. Thanks for dropping by, I appreciate your thoughts on this! I hope you have an amazing day! 🙂

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  5. its an interesting to way to look at things and I will say that if it was the case I probably wouldn’t be doing what I am right now & that has really made me question whether I have a real passion for my day job. Who has a passion for their day job though? We can’t all live our dreams. Bills need to be paid huh..

    http://www.nmdiaries.com

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    1. Very true! Those bills just keep right on coming, don’t they. I appreciate your taking the time to stop by. I hope you have an amazing day!

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  6. I got an appendectomy about a year ago and the nurse who attended to me at the ER just recently graduated an accelerated nursery program. Her original career was actually a kindergarten teacher! I was in shock and awe that she did such a drastic change. When I questioned her and she told me she woke up one morning and told herself it was time to change, and she did. Very few are the people that are willing to go after what makes them truly happy. I think more beautiful should pursue that in life!

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    1. how cool is that! i really admire that your nurse felt so sure about the change…and WENT for it! it’s wonderful when we follow our hearts and do what we’re passionate about. thanks for stopping by jessica, i hope you have an amazing day!

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  7. Reminds me of Finland’s ‘universal basic income’–albeit you’re allowed to work if you want more than what you’re getting from the government. But I like the idea–it provides the basics and leaves no one in a life of squalor.

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    1. That sounds truly amazing! It seems we can all learn a thing or two from Finland. Thanks for taking the time to stop by, I hope your day is amazing!

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