[Beowulf] a postdoc in Canada

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Thu Mar 27 11:22:14 PDT 2008

Joseph Mack NA3T wrote:
> On Tue, 25 Mar 2008, Glen Beane wrote:
>> These stipends are exempt from FICA tax.
> This is just a way of short changing the post-doc by not giving them the 
> same pension benefits that every other working person gets.

Hmmm.... deviating quite a bit from beowulfery ...  but ...

not "every other working person" gets pension benefits.  Last I checked 
here in the US, there isn't a national pension system (yeah we have 
social security ... anyone want to try to live off of that?).  Small 
companies, and most newer companies don't do pensions (for a very good 
reason), rather using 401k's and similar devices.

That is the sidebar to the OT.

When I started looking at postdoc (eek ... that long ago?) positions, it 
was not uncommon to see theoretical physics PhDs earning ~16-19k/year 
US.  No FICA exemptions.  For a family of 4, this put you under the 
poverty line.

Somehow, I am not quite convinced that the science departments offering 
these grasped how the invisible hand of the market would decimate their 
supply of new PhD's for these positions.  You can fight the market, or 
accept that there is a market and deal with it.  The former is not a 
wise course of action (though it had been standard practice when I was 
looking at postdocs).  The old Young Scientists Network had formed then 
to discuss some of the abuses of the market and attempts to manipulate 
the demand/supply curves to oversupply the market with talent, thus 
keeping the price of talent low.  There is a cost to every decision, and 
flooding the market (then) has had longer term effects that are being 
observed today.

Back to your regularly scheduled cluster ...

Joe (a free-market capitalist)


Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423
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