Career, Economy, Lifestyle

What Are You Worth?

January 2, 2009

When looking for a job, one of the biggest determinants in the job search is pay. While it is important to have a job you like and environment that is conducive to work, it seems that pay is the one factor that most would rank high on their job search importance. In a sense, the value of the job can be seen as having a monetary value.

Except for very extreme situations, most job’s will be taken by anyone if the pay is right. For most of us, pay is balanced out by our satisfaction with the work environment, company culture, and several other factors. It is no surprise that salary and how much you make a year is one of the biggest factors by which society judges individuals. Even as a small child we are taught in school that we need to study hard so that we can get a good job in the future.

So what is a ‘good job?’ Their can be many different definitions to what a ‘good job’ actually is, but the consensus response will almost always include making money. Their is nothing wrong with wanting to make a lot of money. I would be a liar to say that making money wasn’t important. The truth is that whether you hold money to be important or not, it is. Money drives our economy, culture, and society. Money has become a way for us to measure the value of things.

Among the many things that we put monetary value on, humans are one of them. Some may feel that putting value on a human is like putting a value on their life. Still, insurance companies do it all the time. They even have a human life value calculator. Factors such as if you smoke, what your occupation is, and how much you make are all part of the valuation of humans.

In a sense, everything that we do can be used as a determinant in our value. Similar to how employers determine your salary based on your experience and the value created by the work you do, humans can be valued in the same way based on their life experiences and value added to society. While it may sound like a bad to say that one individuals life is more important than another because they didn’t smoke and the other did, taking a closer look around us you can find examples where we are already doing it.

A classic example is what goes on in hospitals. The function of the hospital to save human life. While this is the goal of the hospital, the hospital also must be able to generate revenue. This means that the hospital must make decisions that they feel will be both cost effective as well as effective in saving and treating patients.

In some situations, expensive treatment is needed. This is where the valuation of human life can be seen. Imagine we have two patients, patient A and B. Both patients need to be treated for a life threatening condition which is very expensive. Treatment will successfully treat the patient and make them better. Patient A has health insurance, a white-collar worker, and it is his first time in the hospital. Patient B has no health insurance, a blue-collar worker, and his fourth time in the hospital. While it is ideal for the hospital to treat both the same, reality is that they don’t. What will happen is patient A would receive treatment at the hospital, and patient B would be stabilized and discharged to the county hospital where they would receive little treatment. While it is wrong to do so, it is reality. So goes the saying, ‘money doesn’t grow on trees.’ As long as it doesn’t we will continue to put a monetary value on human life.

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