The Distance Between Worth and Wealth

One of the more disgusting parts of our society is the hero worship of the wealthy. Why is there so much focus on income in the United States? Nowhere else is it such a cultural aspect of daily life. Sure money and wealth play a role in other cultures but nowhere else is it considered a direct indicator of personal value that I’m aware of. The “American Dream” for example is largely a tale of wealth acquisition. The Horatio Alger mythology of a market which rewards one for merit, is destroying the compassion of our society. This may be hard to get ones head around but it’s a perfectly natural chain of reasoning. We see a wealthy person, we assume they had to work hard to get there, we laud them for their ‘success’, as if that is synonymous with wealth. Gandhi would disagree, but then again, India is now one of the worst human rights violators, maybe they would have been better off with the British in charge, maybe we all would have. Anyway… Take a doctor for example. Many people see it as justified that a doctor gets so much money. Kind of like a watered down divine right… The arguments being that medical school is hard to get into and complete, that it takes a good measure of skill and years of training to do it well, and that they save lives, along with -allegedly- preventing illness. And thus the market has placed their value at X, where X is the 7$ aspirin. Hospitals and insurance don’t pay 200K for a surgery, you do. There are a number of problems with the idea of these arguments in favor of a doctor’s extraordinary wage. First of all, many persons save lives via their occupation. Any factory worker which builds any device with safety as an objective, such as a safety tab, a fuse, a seat belt, etc. saves lives. Then there are the people that provide us with the things we cannot live without, such as drinkable water, food, roofing material, clothing, etc. And then there are the persons who provide logistical support for those doctors, how valuable is a doctor alone? Ask any nurse. Now ask yourself, If it were free to get into medical school how many doctors would make over 200K a year? The value of a doctor is a scam. It’s a classic example of social price fixing. After all, medical schools want to charge the highest amount they can for tuition, like any business, so it is in their best interest that doctors produced there be well trained, so they spend a good deal of money on faculties to project the image of good training, also the doctors themselves must live up to it, else it reflects badly on the school to a degree, so they screen them heavily, these are somewhat legitimate but there is more than that going into the scarcity of doctors.

For example it is also in their best interests to limit the number of doctors produced, no matter how cheaply and easily they could be trained. Because ultimately a school is in the business of selling diplomas and ensuring that those diplomas have value to society. Consider that once a medical school is built, and once a given skill is thoroughly explored in terms of teaching it -for example how to perform a triple bypass-, it’s cost must go down with time, as the procedure is documented and more people know how to instruct it. Do we see a complimentary drop in the cost of medical school attendance? No. Can this be explained away by ongoing research costs? Partly, but I think any realistic observation of these systems in play will conclude that there is a measure of conspiratorial self interest at work to keep people sick, keep doctors scarce, keep certain afflictions around, keep certain innovations from reaching the market, and in short keep the money flowing in. I see American society as a collusion between various groups that have power, for the purposes of maintaining that power, mainly the prime evils, government, corporations, and religion. When there is this sort of power maintenance, you by definition must have an effort to prevent innovation since innovation is change and change can disrupt existing systems. This is in part the answer to the question why don’t we have floating cars and fusion yet. I once asked a question in an essay about the likelihood of our congress passing a law which would abolish itself, that same sort of question can be applied to any field which suffers from greed inspired stagnation. And remarkably this question is a derivative of a question developed by the Romans for solving crimes. “Cue bono?” or “Who benefits?”. -Cue bono, was nearly the title of this book.For the sake of argument, what would the NCI, do if handed an herbal cure for cancer that could be made by mixing grass, water, and salt? I’d wager the answer is basically somewhere between two extremes, on one end they would post it on the web, and CNN, on the other they would bury it, kill anyone who knew about it and go on collecting research grants. The sad fact all reasonable people can agree on is that the reality would indeed be somewhere in the middle of these extremes, not the free release an ethical detached mind would recommend. This grey area, this not quite monstrous behavior, is typical of our culture, which has to precariously balance between doing for others and doing for the individual. We struggle to build a society where everyone works, and I submit to you that this is not a good idea, as it makes the system as a whole very fragile. I’ve heard one economics student speak of the impact a cure for cancer would cause. In short I’m told it was predicted that a sudden cure for cancer would destroy the economy. If true that indicates the size of our fiscal commitment to the treatment of this plague. But are they really interested in a cure? The industries

which profit from cancer number in the thousands, from drug makers, to research interests, to training specialists, to plastics manufacturers. I find it hard to believe that in their heart of hearts they wish to be unemployed, especially in a society which considers poverty a personal flaw, and makes no provision what so ever for those who innovate themselves out of a job, should that innovation not lead directly to a marketing niche. I’d like a more in depth study done on this, but really if they didn’t like the answer I’d never hear about it anyway. And there’s the real problem. We’re unwilling to risk joblessness for the good of mankind. As a society, we blame the homeless for being that way, we blame the poor everywhere for being poor. We callously instruct them to get a job or cynically suggest that they’ll spend their money on drugs or booze. Some people don’t even realize they’re taking this position. Every time someone talks about a rich person anywhere in America getting there with hard work and determination, call “Bravo Sierra” on them. Because the fact is, there are hard working, intelligent, sober, kind, and poor people everywhere! The rich are so, primarily because of corrupt systems, inheritance, or blind luck. Deserving it and working for it is quite optional. As any amateur inventor knows, having the idea isn’t remotely enough. Horatio Alger’s work was labeled fiction for a reason.