Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Root of all Evil, Charity

A question I have been asking and discussing a lot lately is how should I contribute to society with my career? I have recently come across an interesting answer: follow the money. Price signals will tell you where you can be most valuable. The higher paying a job (and by pay I also mean benefits, perks, and ease), the more that position needs to be filled. The wage you are paid is directly correlated with how much you produce. Despite popular belief, doctors do not get paid a lot because they have a lot of education (if that was true philosophy professors would get paid more). Instead, they earn a great deal because they contribute a great deal to the general welfare of society. They are also harder to replace and in short supply. This is not to say money should be your only deciding factor, but I do think that it is a valuable one.


  1. You're trying to bait me with these blog titles, aren't you?

    I think there may be some holes in this theory. There are a lot of highly-paid evil people. Lawyers for big corporations who wreck the environment and their employees, for example. "Harder to replace and in short supply" is definitely what drives how much you make, to which education is a factor. But people don't just "earn a great deal because they contribute to the general welfare of society." If this were true, teachers would make millions. What is in short supply and hard to replace is not necessarily always what is good for society.

    Thus, I'm not sure "following the money" is the always the way to go in pursuing a career that benefits society. Although I see your point that using the education, wealth, and opportunities you have should be contributing factors.

    Also, are you saying charity is evil?

  2. You are surely right, there are plenty of highly paid people who don't do very much good. Drug dealers, weapons distributors, pornography creators, but "good" is all in the eye the beholder. Of course you should not work somewhere you don't think is a beneficial service, but I think most people would do that automatically. I assume most of the people who do the jobs I mentioned above don't see a moral problem with it. You would, so don't do it.

    Being harder to replace and in short supply will only be a problem in the short run. Once the labor force figures out there is a shortage, more people will train to do that job in response to the high wage signal.

    By "follow the money" I simply meant it is ok to respond to the price signal of a high wage. If there is a shortage of farmers, they will get paid a lot, people will go into farming, and the pay will go down to equilibrium. The market can only do what it does best, provide consumers with what they want, if the producers respond to price and wage changes.

  3. Oh and no I don't think charity is evil. The thesis of my post was follow the money and I just thought that title was relevant and funny. I was trying to say that people commonly misquote and say that money is the root of all evil, when in fact the love of money is the root of all evil. It is also true that money is the root of most donations to charity. It would be quite difficult for people to be charitable if all they had to give was what they produced. I don't think very many impoverished poor need a Sealevel Systems Optically Isolated Input Justin.

  4. Since when are teachers in short supply? Let's compare two of the aforementioned professions - teachers and doctors.

    Let's think of the intelligence needed to practice medicine versus that of being able to teach grade or high school, and it is obvious that a much, much larger percentage of the general population could do well in the latter profession.

    It also doesn't take as much intelligence to teach fifth grade math as it does to be an evil corporate lawyer. The evil corporation, in looking for their evil lawyers, to keep their evil schemes afloat, need very smart people, much smarter than fifth grade math teachers, so they have a much smaller percentage of the population from which to hire, so they have to pay more than fifth grade math teachers make.

  5. Great point Kyle. The fewer the amount of people that are able to do a job, the higher the pay. This helps explain why Tiger Woods gets so much money.

    But that doesn't change my original point. You can benefit the world by taking the highest paying job possible. Clearly I don't have the skills to be a corporate lawyer (evil or not), but I do have some skills and I should use them wisely.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.