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Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

Fuck UWM and all universities! UW-Milwaukee and their brethren are mediocre. Click banner ads on ClixSense instead; it's a better use of time than a college education in the UW System.

Monday, February 20, 2012

P*ss & Moan Hotline Operator at WI Dept. of Revenue

"Job Title: Lottery Customer Service Specialist (Telemarketer)

Job Announcement Code(s): 12-00492

Agency: Wisconsin Department of Revenue

County(ies): Dane

Classification Title: / JAC:


Lottery Customer Service Specialist - Telemarketer

Type of Employment: Full Time (40 hrs/week)

Salary: Pay will not be less than the minimum of the pay schedule/pay range 07-04, $16.902 per hour. A six month probationary period will be required.

Bargaining Unit: Non-Represented

Area of Competition: Open

Deadline to Apply: 2/29/2012 by 4:30 p.m.


This position is located in Madison, at the Department of Revenue, in the Division of Lottery.

Job Duties:

Under the general supervision of the Telemarketing Supervisor within the Retailer Management Section this position is responsible for providing services to assist over 3700 retailers and non-profit organizations throughout the state in the sale of instant, pull-tab and on-line tickets. Responsibilities include: providing personalized retailer information regarding individual retailer and area game sales, winning tickets sold by the retailer, new games, products and lottery services available, and the types of games that individual and area retailers have had success. Work is performed under general supervision and requires emphasis on increasing ticket sales, providing customer service and problem resolution.

Special Notes: A comprehensive background check and a tax non-filer check will be conducted on the most qualified candidates.

Job Knowledge, Skills and Abilities: Knowledge of business practices and customer service principles and techniques. Ability to: develop and maintain effective working relationships with staff with in the division, in other divisions, departments and the public, to communicate effectively both in person and over the phone with customers. Skills in: Microsoft Office products (excel, word-processing, e-mail), effective written and oral communication skills with both internal and external customers the use of Contact management Software (Goldmine, Microsoft Dynamics CRM,"

Policy analysts are in for a treat, as in this post I perform some policy analysis of my own while incorporating citations from extant program evaluations. One of the things I learned in college is that a university is one of the least effective ways to learn policy analysis. Rather, one should scour the public records to find data to crunch and then see what patterns you can find. Doing this on your own time is preferable because you not only save tuition and the opportunity cost of lost employment hours spent in class, but you also are free of research deadlines and hence can be as thorough as you have the patience to be. I enjoy true academic freedom to write original, practical research when I want on whatever subjects I want without some professor imposing deadlines or scope constraints.

The above job vacancy might not seem absurd until you see that the State of Wisconsin pays people almost $17 an hour as the starting wage to shill the lottery to retailers! The preview for the civil service exam reveals the applicant must describe his/her experience in sales, customer relations databases, and automatic dialers. While there are relatively few people who have experience in all three areas, the same may be said of applicants for similarly specialized positions in the private sector paying $8 to $10 per hour. The state is just encouraging a deluge of unqualified applicants to waste HR’s time sifting through by setting the starting wage that high.

The full-time schedule mandates benefits which are typically avoided by private-sector employers by capping weekly work hours below 35 to minimize the likelihood that weekly hours will total 40 or greater, in which overtime pay would be mandated by statute. Although neither statutes nor agency rules mandate the payment of time off or vacations, it is customary in Wisconsin to offer those benefits to employees who average over 35 hours of work weekly. State benefits alone, including unemployment insurance tax paid by the employer, are about a third of the wage, and so the minimum hourly cost for the position is around $22.50. To truly grasp the magnitude of the compensation for a single Department of Revenue telemarketer, we need to multiply the compensation by the number of hours worked annually:

40 hours/week X 52 weeks = 2,080 hours

2080 hours – (10 furloughs and state holidays occurring on weekdays X 8 hours/day) = 2,000 hours

2,000 hours X $22.50 = $45,000 paid to Department of Revenue telemarketer (w/out commission)

Let us compare this to the typical private-sector telemarketer compensation:

34.49 hours/week X 52 weeks = 1,793.48 hours, rounded down to 1,793 hours

Because time off is unpaid for part-time employees, let us presume the employee does not request vacation but may have to use several sick days (while being certain to get someone to cover the shift). Let us presume a base wage of $8 but with the employer paying an additional $2 per hour to the state for unemployment insurance tax:

1,793 hours – 3 unpaid sick days = 1,790 hours

1,790 hours X $10 = $17,900 paid to private-sector telemarketer (w/out commission)

It is thus clear that the Department of Revenue pays over 2.5 times as much for a telemarketer as the private sector does. Wisconsin could reduce compensation expenses by paying some of that wage in commission and by capping weekly hours to 34.49 weekly. I know the University of Wisconsin System does the latter to prevent student workers from being scheduled full-time for the very same reason of cost control, so it’s not like the state can claim some moral high ground as the reason for overpaying its non-student workers, at least not without coming across as very hypocritical.

A worker who has been doing that job for a decade will garner $27.50 or so in hourly compensation when calculated at an annual average raise of 50 cents with benefits remaining a third of total compensation. This would earn the state telemarketer $55,000 annually in total compensation, or more than three times the base pay of the typical private-sector telemarketer. This is in addition to the multimillion-dollar contracts which Wisconsin has with advertising agencies to promote the lottery, with the most recent being an unevaluated five-year contract with the Milwaukee firm “York Hoffman,” which in turn faced no penalties or other consequences for the lack of oversight:

If the high pay given to such a clerical worker (paid by the hour, not by sales volume) isn’t outrageous enough, then one need only consider that Wisconsin is paying someone to promote gambling. “But problem gamblers have themselves to blame.” So do problem drinkers, but Wisconsin does not sell alcohol. Whether this is due to stiff competition from private alcohol retailers rather than due to some moral objection, the fact is that Wisconsin and other states promote gambling despite it traditionally being considered a vice and even outlawed in some cities.

Besides exacerbating gambling problems, the telemarketer is paid to ultimately gather tax credits for homeowners but not for any renters, although both purchase tickets. The net proceeds after administrative costs go towards property tax relief. This means that gambling addicts may rationalize their destructive behavior if at least some of their purchases are from the Wisconsin lottery. Many of these gamblers are renters who never benefit from that property tax subsidy because they do not own real estate. While I’m certain that gamblers will purchase lottery tickets no matter whether the proceeds are used to support causes dear to them (such as paying a few hundred dollars less on their next property tax bill), Wisconsin’s active marketing of a program which panders to people’s weaknesses seems incongruous with the otherwise moralist, patronizing stance of Wisconsin (which has banned public smoking and attempted to ban the sale of unpasteurized goat milk, among other things).

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