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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press How Many Reporters Would Work for the Washington Post for $10.25 an Hour?

How Many Reporters Would Work for the Washington Post for $10.25 an Hour?

Sunday, 10 October 2010 07:33

According to the Washington Post, if the answer is not many, then we need to bring in immigrant reporters. That is exactly the logic it used in a discussion of the fact that most native born American citizens are unwilling to do farmwork for this wage.

Economists would ordinarily say that the lack of a labor supply at a given price suggests that the wage is too low. However, the Post only considers this fundamental economic principle in passing. It is likely that if farmworkers received $60,000 a year, with health care benefits, there would be no shortage of U.S. citizens willing to do this work.

Of course this would raise the price of farm products, but it would be much cheaper to advertise in the Washington Post if its reporters worked for $10.25 an hour. The lower cost of advertising would be passed on in lower prices for groceries, cars and other items advertised in the paper. At least this is what people who believe in economics would say.

Comments (9)Add Comment
written by izzatzo, October 10, 2010 9:36
Hello, WaPo Classifieds? Yes, I would like to place an ad under the Willingness to Work section.

What?! Ten dollars a word per day. Because reporters have to be paid a living wage.

Ok, then change "Drug dealer will work for $10.25 per hour" to "Big Pharma dealer will work for $102.50 per hour".
A quote from the article;
written by diesel, October 10, 2010 1:19
"Colbert told a House congressional committee last month that spending a day picking beans in Upstate New York for an episode was "really, really hard.""

And there you have it. In general, hard work that requires strength, stamina, dexterity and agility is least rewarded. The longer your job requires that you sit on your ass, the more you will be paid. Every good boy learns what his Mother tells him, "Don't be like so and so. Be smart. Get a job where you blah blah blah." And the dutiful little boys comply. You see them riding the commuter train every day, into and out of the city. The risk-free life. Internalizing their Mom's wishes till the day they die. Seldom the locus of their own sphere of activity or organized energy. They don't build a house with their own hands, plant an orchard, write a book, build a boat, put on a one-man art exhibit, play an instrument in the orchestra, act in the community theater, restore a muscle car, or do much of anything constructive in the physical sense. Their lives are as intangible as the pixels on the screens they stare at. Like the cave dwellers in Plato's allegory, they spend their days trying to fathom the meaning and predict the future from the sequence of shadowy images projected on a screen whose pattern they believe they have discerned. And the more adept they are at finding meaning in the phantasm of reality that is depicted in the square-inch-sized constellation hovering eighteen inches from their eyes, the more they earn. In Reality, they don't know beans.
written by melissa Belvadi, October 11, 2010 8:22
There is an essential difference between the product of agriculture and the product made by the WPost, and that is that the product of agriculture is critical to the entire populace of the country. So the society has a deep interest in keeping its production costs low, because hugely more people benefit from low food prices than the numbers who suffer from being deprived of higher income opportunities in that particular sector. No one starves if the WPost charges more than it could economically for its advertising rates. Personally I think that a solution involving direct gov payroll subsidies would be a better solution to the "hard work=expensive labor, but food needs to be cheap so people don't starve" problem than importing workers, but it really is specious to equate the product-cost-labor tradeoffs in agriculture to that of the advertising/newspaper industry.
written by jm, October 11, 2010 5:26
Forty-five years ago in my upstate NY hometown many of my high school classmates were quite happy to get jobs harvesting at a large local melon farm. They were decently paid. The melons were somewhat expensive, but not prohibitively so.
written by azimir, October 12, 2010 10:01
i am glad you are addressing "overpaid journalist" issue. my favorite example is chris farell from mpr. when it comes to macro economics he mostly parrots the "mainstream" talking points. he's better when it comes to common sense personal finance.

but hey is that worth 200k or whatever a year? i am sure that there are many people offshore and ONSHORE who could do the job for lot less.
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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.