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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15766/delayed-adulthood-rent-seeking-and-the-state/

Delayed adulthood, rent-seeking and the state

February 21, 2011 by

Or why computer folks tend toward liberty

I’ve reached the age where my children are deciding on careers. My oldest daughter is considering physical therapy, a field that certainly sounds like an interesting and exciting choice for her. And, initially, at least, I was her strong supporter.

Being in the computer field with a degree in mathematics, surrounded by peers, degreed or otherwise, I was shocked to learn that physical therapy schools now require four years of post bachelors education. Eight years in total.

That means my daughter will be 26 before she is able to work in her sought-after profession. Add on the debt and I see little reason for her to pursue a career that averages only $74,480 per year. Amazing.

Now, in my field, personal performance trumps degrees, which is why the computer field is continually innovating and improving. The stifling state bureaucracy and its rent-seeking sycophants have not destroyed creativity and creative destruction. Not yet, anyway.

Small wonder that computer folks tend to liberty while many in other fields tend to collectivism. We (computer folks) see the benefit of a free labor force and its accompanying ingenuity. We thrive on it. And we benefit, as well.

I fear that, should my daughter pursue physical therapy, she will join her peers and look to the state to protect her career to the detriment of her patients and those desiring to pursue the field, but unable or unwilling to waste years and money. What other reaction is there when you are 26, over $100,000 in debt and facing a midlevel salary?

I desire the new and improved. I find amazing products coming from my sector, a sector that is relatively free. I desire the fruits of liberty. But as sectors of our economy embrace the individual advantages of an interventionist state, we all lose as the market is choked by regulations and licensure requirements that provide nothing other than benefits to an ever-growing group of rent-seekers.

{ 29 comments }

Frank February 21, 2011 at 11:37 pm

“What other reaction is there when you are 26, over $100,000 in debt and facing a midlevel salary? ”

That’s close to my situation, although I’m pushing 40 and have the same debt and making 50k. Totally delayed my adulthood, and for what? I warn others of my mistake. Hope some will listen.

Ben Ranson February 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I really, really doubt that people in the tech sector are more inclined towards libertarianism than average. If I were looking for libertarians and all I had to go by was job titles, I would bet my dollar on pawn-brokers, head-shop owners and people in the gold business.

Interestingly, none of these career paths requires a degree.

SirThinkALot February 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I’m surprised how many comic writers/artists I know have a libertarain outlook on things. I think thats for several reasons

- Its an area where the quality of work trums any other qualifications. Those who write/draw the best are the ones who get the most recognition.

-Theres very few state-granted protections on comics. In fact, most indvidual artists and writers dont even directly benefit from copywrite laws, since copywrites are ‘owned’ by the companies, not the indvidual artists/writers. There are, of corse, indirect benefits in that theres a limit to how many people are writing a particular story/character at a time, but comic writers cant just do a handful of books and live off the proceeds from that forever.

And finally, the largest selling ‘genre’ of comics remains the Super-hero. Characters who(with a few exceptions) decide not to trust the government to fight super villians, but take it upon themselves.

cody February 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm

learn how to spell copyright before leaving your unthoughtful remarks.

Random black dude June 7, 2011 at 9:51 am

Enough this internet “typo” nitpicking. Can you actually address what the guy actually typed?

nate-m February 22, 2011 at 12:29 am

Neither does the tech field. The only reason you would want a 4 year degree is either because you have no experience and need to wiggle past H.R. on your application or your already successful and feel a education will ’round them out’. As it they are getting a degree for personal improvement rather then looking good on paper.

It’s slowly changing, but there was a time when it was far more impressive to people that you were able to teach yourself Unix or teach yourself how to program rather then having to go to school for it. People that went to school just to get a job were people that couldn’t manage it on their own.

It’s part of the old hacker ethos. Computers are there to be your playground. Technology is your toy. You make them do what you want to do and people are willing to pay you a lot of money to work for them because of that. Employers not only pay your wages they pay for your playground and as such you are devoted to them, unless they piss you off then you’ll just quit and get a raise to work for somebody else. Limitations are technical challenges, rewards are given for rules successfully broken.

This is going away, of course. Been going away for a long time. Like the wild west in the early 1900′s. People who enjoy technology purely for the personal challenge and satisfaction AND have the drive to push themselves to success are rare and extremely expensive. And eccentric. They are usually fairly weird, have strong opinions, care far more about being correct then being agreeable, and make other people generally feel uncomfortable.

It’s much better for companies to invest in pre-built technologies that can be ran by people with minimal knowledge and skill. You only need a few ‘genius’ people developing nitch technologies and the rest of it can be worked on with the just the regular old young idiots who sense of self-worth is provided mostly by their expensive degrees. Lazy, poor work ethic, with a strong sense of entitlement and a “us vs you” attitude. The normal fodder being cranked out by government schools. They’ll learn eventually, but it takes a unfortunately long amount of time before they become very useful.

But always there will be people that care about quality technology and freedom…
Example:
http://www.openbsd.org/

There is a lot of stuff like that. It’s difficult to convince new people the value of sharing knowledge and software when they see companies like Microsoft (IBM, Adobe, Oracle, etc) pulling in billions and billions of dollars because of copyrights and are able to successfully limit competition from smaller companies and organizations through patents.

bobo newton February 22, 2011 at 2:47 am

“What other reaction is there when you are 26, over $100,000 in debt and facing a midlevel salary?”

That she’s not really thinking about being 36 and still in this career paying down this note? That she’ll marry her way out of it? I’ve been rather shocked recently at how many of my otherwise-enlightened, competent, and seemingly ambitious female co-workers have that as the extent of their financial planning.

HL February 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Whoa, that’s my wife you are talking about. lol

Anonymous February 22, 2011 at 3:45 am

I wouldn’t recommend going into a career with the idea that you will marry your way out of it. The marriage rate is steadily declining due to the state’s decision to pass laws that make marriages increasingly unattractive to men. If that is a woman’s goal, she is best off not going to college at all and instead try to get married in her early 20s when her attractiveness to men is at its peak (a woman in her early 20s who works at McDonald’s is more attractive to most men than a physical therapist in her early 30s, all other things being equal).

Going into any field that requires 8 years worth of degrees and doesn’t pay very well is foolish. Being unemployed and sitting around the house until you turn 26 (increasingly common in the present depression) is probably a better career path than going into debt for a piece of paper.

Loki February 22, 2011 at 4:25 am

i think the breakdown of the it population is definitely representative of the general population. i just think that maybe what the author of the article is missing is that it’s not that there’s more liberty focussed people in IT, but rather, that we have more power. i know and i believe that google, for example, and many other big IT companies, pinnacle of this of course being IBM, who ran the database for hitler, are government linked/manipulated. but the simple fact of the existence of linux. richard stallman. the GNU foundation. the tor project… hashcash. boingboing.net… there is definitely a hard core of liberty lovers in the IT business, i think the importance is simply that they have the biggest weapons in their hands. a computer :). as a song from jello biafra, i think from the band ‘lard’, ‘which would you prefer, a computer or a gun, the sharks outlived the dinosaurs you know’ from the song ‘the power of lard’.

Robert February 22, 2011 at 8:33 am

“The stifling state bureaucracy and its rent-seeking sycophants have not destroyed creativity and creative destruction.”

A bad piece of code will not rupture a tendon or miss an impending heart attack. Healthcare requires extensive, standardized education to be performed safely. Medical science and technology are advancing smartly with no shortage of creativity. “Creative destruction” is fine when you are destroying a hardware paradigm, not when what is being destroyed is human health and human lives.

Horst Muhlmann February 22, 2011 at 11:03 am

Well it’s a good thing pacemakers don’t have software then.

iawai February 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

Research and Development Stages are vastly different than implementation stages. Bad pieces of medical technology are usually weeded out before a human life depends on them.

And even then, who gets to decide how desirable a technology is? Someone that is on their deathbed might wish to try a device with a 80% failure rate.

Health Services is just applied technology. There is no reason to give power to govern this technology to a state, and every reason to object to a state trying to centralize this important service.

J. Murray February 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Computer professionals have a much, much lower failure rate than state bureaucrats.

soahc February 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I would trust a doctor that spent four years in residency, focused on their specialty (they used to call that an apprenticeship) over one that spent four years as an undergraduate, four years in medical school, and a year in residency, as is the norm today.

Add to that the state of our health care system. Hospitals are a mess. Only the most wealthy or those willing and able to be debt ridden get decent medical care. People die from doctor malpractice constantly. It’s a total mess.

The technologies (developed by ingenuous engineers and computer ‘geeks’) is fine. It’s the damn humans (all with extensive degrees) that are the problem.

Dick Fox February 22, 2011 at 9:06 am

Everyone here who believes that a physical therapist with 4 years of post graduate work will be better at setting the dials on a machine to strengthen your leg raise your hand.

I didn’t think so.

xavier February 22, 2011 at 11:40 am

My aunt and uncle are both physical therapists, and my part-time my job is as an aide in the clinic my aunt owns. Physical Therapy is a great career because the people certainly love what they do and while the pay may be “mid-level” the key is to start your own business, as it has always been to become successful. My uncle works for a hospital and makes ~$100,000 (the average considering his experience) my aunt owns her clinic, employees about 15 workers, and making close to $250,000 while being her own boss, all after having opened it 6 years ago and it continues to grow. So I feel that for the truly hard working there is always a chance to succeed and make money.

What I find worse is that Physical Therapists make a majority of their paycheck from government healthcare. The army patients with tricare insurance or the kids on medicaide are authorized for months and months of therapy while private insurances limit and monitor their patients closely. The real money comes from uncle sam for most of these medical fields… (same with my mom who is a nurse) I feel like government run healthcare wont stop anytime soon so it seems like a solid field if you don’t mind making money from what most on this site would call state sponsored theft.

(btw i know salaries are relative so the $250 may not be much in NYC but I live in Texas and that is easily upper middle class in my city)

augusto February 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Wasted a third of my life to become a PhD in social giraffe theory, and now being unemployed for the past 8 months – with no perspective of change – I can tell you this much: diplomas are overrated. Way overrated.

HL February 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I was touched by the scene in “The King’s Speech” where the highly effective therapist is revealed to be a “fraud” because he is not certified, pedigreed or PhD’d. A good King would have moved to immediately undo the massive over-regulation of professions in Britain and its possession. Of course, he did not. The seed of British Royalty went rotten long before his blood thirsty papa needlessly provoked Germany into war.

Tell your daughter to run an underground rehab center. Buy a used RV, keep moving at all times and, as necessary, pay off bureaucrats. This way, she can both indulge her true passion in life, physical therapy, and live the ultra-cool life of a pirate or rebel. Viva la Revolution!

RTB February 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Haven’t seen it yet, thanks for the spoiler.

J. Murray February 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm

The biggest problem is that humans tend to lack numeracy. Numbers, math, and all the fancy things that go behind finance are not naturally occurring concepts that our brains evolved to handle. Numbers involve a great deal of abstract thought. Abstract thinking wasn’t required to fight off wolves or pick berries and is a relatively new field in human thought, or maybe at most 4,000 years in a species that dates back 250,000 years.

Outside of extreme cases, a person has to specifically train to understand numbers. Simple math courses in school don’t help this, even “back in the day” from those e-mail forwards talking about math problems from the 1930s that involve bales of hay. The reason we don’t understand those is because we don’t deal in hay, the “greatest generation” is just as mathematically illiterate as the latest (hence why they thought Social Security was a good idea). Most people simply never go through the training necessary to understand numbers. Even in fields like financing, economics, and accounting, innumeracy is a common theme. The main reason I even found my way to Austrian economics was a first year economics professor that I got into an in-class discussion with. This professor just finished telling us that taxes and redistribution leads to a large scale dead weight loss, yet turned around and promoted social welfare programs. I asked why she thought how a loss can be a good thing and decided that Keynesian economics was ridiculous after she used all kinds of General Theory terminology but never actually answered the question. I remember stopping the conversation cold when I said it would be more efficient to just force a company to give away 1/5 of its products for free because it would save them on having to hire an accounting and legal staff to track all the transactions to pay the taxes. Stumbling over yourself to say that government doesn’t have the authority to force a company to give away free product yet can take away earnings sealed the deal.

Present values, opportunity costs, and other abstract notions don’t have a real-world counterpart to touch and feel, which is why so many smart people can be so stupid when it comes to numbers.

Jim P. February 22, 2011 at 1:49 pm

It seems pretty obvious that the medical field is about to undergo massive changes. People looking to medicine as a career should seriously rethink whether being a CNA, RN, PAC, therapist, or doctor is a ticket to prosperity anymore.

The medical profession has expensive barriers to entry (including the currently bursting state-connected education bubble). It has countless connections to state funding and regulations. And the medical industry is extremely dependent on an insurance and financial industry just salivating at the thought of nationalization. The future of the medical industry in the US and Europe seems incredibly bleak. I’d say being a PT just out of school is *exactly* where you don’t want to be in 8-10 years.

ActualAnarchy February 22, 2011 at 6:09 pm
Robert T February 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm

“What other reaction is there when you are 26, over $100,000 in debt and facing a mid level salary? ”

Present and accounted for!

Rick February 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm

…averages only $74,480 per year. I think that’s a “mid level” salary a lot of people would like to have these days, but without the debt of course.

Wendell Fitzgerald February 24, 2011 at 1:29 am

The most interesting part of this post to me was the last sentence where the author mentions “the market is choked by regulations and licensure requirements that provide nothing other than benefits to an ever-growing group of rent-seekers”. The success of rent seeking which amounts to the getting of something for nothing at the expense of everyone not able to seek and collect rents (Google “rent seeking” or “economic rent” or “rentier” to begin to get the proper definition in economics-it does not merely mean the price you pay for your apartment although part of the rent for your apartment is the kind of rent meant here because part of the rent is in payment for access to the land/location under the apartment which is entirely unearned in the hands of the land “owner”.) is the fundamental flaw in free market theory. I saw no mention of this issue in any of the comments and I doubt that one person in many thousands has ever even heard of the term or knows what it really means such is the state of economics education. The solution to rent seeking which is the root cause of the disparity of wealth and the blight of life chances for people like the author’s daughter is to tax such income away as close to 100% as possible while at the same time untaxing all the earned incomes from productive labor and real capital investment in the real economy. I intend to open up a discussion of this and related issues on Amplify. Thanks for mentioning “rent seeking”.

cody February 24, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I really don’t want anyone in any medical field working on my body without a degree….the higher the degree the better……I don’t want to live in an uneducated society. Education is the gateway for a civilized world.

The Anti-Gnostic February 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Logical thought and knowledge enrich society. They are not coterminous with “education.”

Currently, our highly edumacated scientists chase chimeras like global warming and HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile, we are not even close to understanding cancer metastasis and have all the credentialed doctors you could want running hospitals that are infectious disease-time bombs.

Tomás February 25, 2011 at 12:12 am

I’ve actually experienced the opposite. Most of them I know are leftists because they’re smart, but frustrated they’re not “appreciated” more and take it out via politics by wanting to manage everyone else because they’re so darn smart. It’s classic engineer behavior; definitely not libertarian by any stretch of the imagination.

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