Labor · Saul

General and Specific Human Capital for a Paralegal

Jimmy and Kim are looking for a paralegal for their new firm, but they both have very different needs. Jimmy is in a rush to get through the interview because he has a commercial airing later and the phones will be busy. During the interview, they ask some different screening questions to see if the applicant is qualified. During the interview, Kim asks why the candidate wants to leave her government job with good benefits for a paralegal job. She notes a variety of unpleasant conditions of working with the DMV, notably the bureaucracy.

People are willing to accept lower levels of compensation if the working conditions are more pleasant. This scene is a good example to use when discussing compensating differentials. Workers are not only income maximizers but instead care about the non-pecuniary aspects of employment. Another component of the interview was the identify particular skills she may possess, either general or specific. While the candidate isn’t familiar with specific training associated with being a paralegal, she highlights some of the general human capital that she believes would aid her in her new role. These include patient and attention to detail, as well as interacting with elderly clients. She also notes that she has experience with Microsoft Word and Excel.

See more: Better Call Saul, compensating differential, general human capital, human capital, interviewing, labor, skill transferability, specific human capital

Costs & Production · Growth · Jesse · Macroeconomics · Mike · Walter

Owners, Not Employees

Walter, Jesse, and Mike and splitting the proceeds from a new, methamphetamine-production business. The scene demonstrates how businesses incur various expenses while providing instructors and students with a lively example about the different cost types. Once Mike divided the revenue into three equal stacks, he goes on to do an accounting of all the costs they have incurred while producing their latest batch. One can observe that some the costs such as the ongoing expense with keeping former collaborators quiet are fixed, while others, such as the cut to the dealers or the fee for the drug mules (i.e., those who transport the methamphetamine from its production to distribution location) are variable. Actually seeing each pile of cash shrinks, as they account for the costs of the business, provides a visceral example about costs, profit, and the relationship between the two.

This clip may also serve as a catalyst for discussing, once again, the role of institutions in shaping the behavior of economic agents and the consequences brought about by their lack of reach into black markets such as that for methamphetamine. Walter is surprised to find out that the cost with the mules is 20% of the revenue. However, Mike adds that transporting the methamphetamine involves risks (i.e., of being robbed by a rival gang or being caught by the police and sent to jail) and the cost is justified – in economics jargon, such costs represent the compensating differential for hazardous work conditions. Outside black markets, a robbery is solved by simply reaching out to the police or other specialized authorities. In other words, property rights may be enforced through the judicial system. However, in the case of methamphetamine this is not possible. This way, those who move the drug must also guard it and enforce the property rights over it through violence. Hence, the steep cost of transportation that characterizes the methamphetamine-producing business.

This clip also provides a detailed account of various activities that form the underground economy and underpin the $1,392,800, methamphetamine business. For example, dealers receive $13,240, mules (the ones who transport the methamphetamine for distribution purposes) get a flat 20% (after the dealers have been paid) or about $278,560, miscellaneous production-related expenses total $120,000, expenses with concealing the laboratory add up to $165,000, while the lawyer/money-laundering fees are $54,000. As part of the methamphetamine production, all these activities are illegal, thus not recorded officially, and hence part of the underground economy. The figures associated with such activities may find their way into official data, however, as fictional activities/services conjured by money launderers. This illustrates once more the difficulty that arises from accurately measuring the volume of the economy be it as the gross domestic or gross national product.

This description comes from Duncan, Muchiri, and Paraschiv (Forthcoming)

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