Great place to live and work which is why the pay's terrible

It’s entirely true that not everyone can know about everything. I myself am lamentably short in understanding why Simon Cowell for example. But there are still some things which all should grasp, even if not all all. One of those things being why fun jobs pay so little money.

Knowing that would save this lady from perplexity:

I’m not advocating communism but I have never understood why some jobs are worth 10 times more than others. I feel I should be earning more. I’d like a bigger house with an extra bedroom so we can have friends to stay and space for the hundreds of books I have in storage. And I’d love more land so we could start a smallholding.

She is something akin to a churchwarden at St Magnus on Orkney. And Adam Smith could – indeed did – tell her why her salary is so lamentably low. The job’s great fun.

Smith did actually point out that all jobs pay the same. These days we’d mutter about skill levels and so on – we do not mean that collecting supermarket trolleys and running the country pay the same. Nor even that they should – the first is far more valuable a service. But that when you add up the job satisfaction, deduct the bad bits like stink and boredom, throw in the monetary consideration, then all jobs requiring the same sort of skill levels pay about the same.

In more modern terms we’d start to talk about utility. That’s the thing that people maximise so what you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts. Something that’s really fun to do doesn’t pay much cash. Lousy jobs require people to be bribed with more moolah to get them to do them.

So, the explanation of why this jobs pays so badly?

Having said that, our quality of life is very high if you love ancient monuments, fantastic scenery and wildlife, and a rich social and cultural life. I’m happier here than I’ve ever been anywhere.

That’s why, as Adam Smith did indeed say.

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  1. ‘I’m not advocating communism but I have never understood why some jobs are worth 10 times more than others. I feel I should be earning more.’

    Simple solution Fran, go and do one of those jobs ‘worth’ 10 times more. What do you mean you don’t have the skills and experience?

  2. After enduring the American unions’ “Fight For $15” movement, it is tedious to have someone new write that the basis for her salary level should be what she wants/needs, as opposed to what she can produce. She elected to move to an island, for God’s sake.

    She now works for government, hauling in more than she was earning in Edinburgh, and three times what she is worth in the free(lance) market. And the aesthetic rewards match those she sought, except that she needs everyone to read about her, and about her struggles with “fuel poverty” and short winter days up North. “I’m not advocating communism but….I wish I understood more about money and how it works.” But you don’t, and that is why you are in the Guardian.

  3. I’m not convinced that the best paying jobs are no fun. I’ve largely enjoyed my work and have done fine financially. I suppose that “utility” is not necessarily synonymous with cash.

    Best advice I suppose a young person could get is to learn a useful skill and then learn to enjoy doing it.

  4. I don’t personally know anyone on Orkney, but I do know a few on Mull and they mostly have two or three jobs to make ends meet. One will usually be tourism related and only operate during the summer months. Perhaps the writer of the original article should try this.