"As a programmer, I treat contracts that pay me $200/hr differently from jobs/contracts that pay me $65/hr [...]." (emphasis mine)
FWIIW, I work as an employee and I do a huge amount of self-education nor do I charge every hour I work (if I punched a timeclock, I would find many days I work more than 8 hours, but some days I don't). As a full time employee, I expect a level of employment stability and, more importantly, I expect others in the company to do stuff I don't particularly care to do (benefits / insurance shopping, billing, accounting, payroll including all the rules and tax crap, marketing, etc.). I'm happy to trade off a sizable per-hour amount for someone else to remove those hassles from my life.
As a salaried worker, I am making enough money for my family to live comfortably. Where I am in life, I could be making more money, but my quality of life would be worse. For me, for now, the answer is salary at a competitive market rate.