A question, of worth.

Of a farm laborer, a nurse, and a doctor, who is intrinsically the most valuable?

Were we to make this judgment using remuneration, society’s current standard of value, the doctor would be the clear winner, the nurse would trail far behind in second place, and the farm laborer would literally be left in the dusts within which they labor.

However, when we to think about this in anything more than superficial depth, we reverse these values.


What better basis of value and worth is there than need? We need to eat on an almost daily basis. We need the aid of a nurse perhaps three or four times a year. And we need the aid of a doctor far less often than we need the assistance of a nurse.

I encourage you to question the above statements, but when you’re done you will inevitably come to the same inescapable conclusions I reach below.

Without food we die – that is a guaranteed certainty.

Without a nurse we might suffer through infrequent bouts of poor health, but would we die? Probably not.

Without a doctor to tend us through our most dire illnesses we might well die. But how often in a human lifetime do such dire illnesses come about?

The answer is extremely infrequently, as witnessed by the existence of primitive tribes, who manage to survive in perpetuity without ever seeing a doctor or a nurse – not even for the delivery of their newborn. Yet how long could any of those tribes survive without food? Before you dismiss the continued existence of primitive people as irrelevant in this modern age, remember that such small tribal units are the root of all of humanity, everywhere.

So why do doctors earn multiple times the pay of nurses, who earn multiple times the pay of farm laborers? How did society come to place such inappropriate, excessive value on such seldom used skills? And why has modern society so severely devalued the most crucial people within it – those who labor daily to keep humanity fed, clothed, and housed?

I have my own ideas on these questions, many of which you’ll find throughout this blog. I may even write further about them, so if you’re interested please subscribe. And if you choose to continue seeing another view of true, please support me by reading, and buying my book[s].

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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6 Responses to A question, of worth.

  1. Steve Morris says:

    You are missing the key point – supply and demand.

    It is true that if there were no farmers, then we would have no food. But how many farmers do we need? In a primitive subsistence society, nearly everyone must spend their time harvesting food. But with modern technology only a few percent of the population are needed to do this. Would one fewer agricultural worker cause anyone to starve? No.

    But a nurse or doctor can tend to many people. Doctors are highly educated and trained, and fewer people are able to do their job. That is why they are valued highly.

    Would you prefer to live in a primitive society where everyone is equal, there are no doctors and we all spend our days gathering food, with a life expectancy of around 20 – or live in a modern world with technology, differentiation of labour, high levels of education, health, material comforts and life expectancy, but where different people do different jobs and are paid according to supply and demand?

    To put it more bluntly, if you have food on the table, good health, education and a home to live in, why would it matter that some other person has more than you?

    • C.G.Ayling says:

      Farmers tend to many people. So do builders, carpenters, waiters and waitresses, service personal in any number of industries, and so on.

      Your projected lifespan of 20 is wildly inaccurate.

      The key point is that everyone, everywhere experiences the same number of hours in the day. Why then are some grossly undervalued, while others are grossly overvalued?

      Yes, it matters a great deal to me that so many are so poorly compensated, and so few are so grossly over-compensated.

    • Steve Morris says:

      Suppose you want to see a lawyer. You can choose between a junior lawyer who started work last week, and a senior partner with 20 years experience. They give you the same amount of time. Would you expect to pay the same fee?

    • C.G.Ayling says:

      Suppose you have a choice to talk to one of two people. The first is someone young and attractive, the second is an very old person whose features are worn by the ravages of time. Who will you choose?

      If you are honest, you’ll realize you will choose the first. Yet of the two, who is better equipped to give you sound, honest, and impartial advice? It is obvious that experience has great value, yet people often don’t do what is obvious.

      Lawyers… What a worthless profession. They produce nothing, feed off dissent, and profit from other peoples pain. In a moral, decent society they serve absolutely no purpose. I sincerely hope I never have to deal with one.

      To answer your question. I would expect to pay more for experience, however I would not expect to pay 100 times more for 3 times more experience.

    • Steve Morris says:

      You raise several points. I agree with some of them.

      1. Atrtractive vs ugly! Yes, in most cases I would choose an attractive person. This is why we have many attractive actors, singers, etc. They are not always the best at acting or singing, but people prefer to look at them. I am personally not very attractive, so I would prefer that this didn’t happen, but it does. People prefer not to look at me, and that’s not their fault or my fault, it’s just the way it is.

      2. But in other professions, experience is more important. I would choose an ugly, experienced lawyer over an attractive young lawyer. In different professions, different qualities are important.

      3. Yes, I agree that lawyers are parasites and we would be better off without them.

      4. You would not expect to pay 100 times as much for 3 times the experience. That is logical. But who is to determine how much better one person is over another? Is Bach better than Beethoven? Is Stephen King better than JK Rowling? There is no objective way of deciding, and so it is up to supply and demand. If others are willing to pay 100 times as much for a particular service, then that is what that service is going to cost. If nobody wants to buy your book, then it is not going to sell. If everyone else thinks that Bob Dylan is rubbish, you can probably buy Bob Dylan CDs quite cheaply.

      5. This is how economics works. There is nothing moral or immoral about it. It is just mathematics. Economics explains how the world works, nothing more.

    • C.G.Ayling says:

      Since my own blog won’t allow me to reply to a comment nested so deep, I’m replying here.

      Thank you for your comments, your perspective, and for being coherent and polite. In many way I disagree with you, but that is entirely acceptable. I don’t even want to imagine a world where everyone thinks so similar that they never disagree.

      I believe that there is, indeed, a great deal immoral about economics. In fact I feel so strongly about that subject I’ll devote an entire post to it. Economics does not explain how the world works. What element of economics details why the sun appears to rise, why the wind blows, or why rain falls? What economics does do, is affect humanity, and often adversely. But as I said, that is a subject for another post.

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