A Bit Rich: Calculating the real value to society of different professions

to what extent does what we get paid confer ???worth???? Beyond a narrow notion of productivity, what impact does our work have on the rest of society, and do the financial rewards we receive correspond to this? Do those that get more contribute more to society?

Our report tells the story of six different jobs. We have chosen jobs from across the private and public sectors and deliberately chosen ones that illustrate the problem. Three are low paid ??? a hospital cleaner, a recycling plant worker and a childcare worker. The others are highly paid ??? a City banker, an advertising executive and a tax accountant. We examined the contributions they make to society, and found that, in this case, it was the lower paid jobs which involved more valuable work.

The report goes on to challenge ten of the most enduring myths surrounding pay and work. People who earn more don’t necessarily work harder than those who earn less. The private sector is not necessarily more efficient than the public sector. And high salaries don’t necessarily reflect talent.

in my experience, the NEF report tells us nothing we didn’t intuitively suss out before, only the probability of realizing their result appears to be directly proportional to one’s real talent and engagement, and inversely proportional to one’s occupational remuneration.

Put another way, could it be people are in fact proportionally paid specifically to overlook this reality?


About mrG

I am a musician but I am a different sort of musician
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2 Responses to A Bit Rich: Calculating the real value to society of different professions

  1. Mark says:

    What strikes me about this (and has struck me for quite some time) is that the generally promulgated myths about relative salaries are generally promulgated by those on top of the heap who have salaries they particularly want to maintain.I’ve never bought the idea that highly paid so-called leaders deserve their often obscene salaries because they bring some esoteric, unique talent and make extraordinary contributions far and away beyond those possible by mere (low-paid) mortals. Of course, there will be challenges to the NEF’s methodology. However they actually create their calculations of contribution to society, I think that framing is useful: truly, we should pay people what they’re REALLY worth to our collective sustainability and success.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Indeed, salaries are set by the very people who get the top-most, but what they are recommending is sane <i>ratios</i> between the top and bottom tier, citing military and Japanese corporate ratios as around the 1:8 mark. To be fair, of course, we have to admit that many of these obscene payouts are in the form of perks that turn out, when they decide to leave or are ousted, belong not to them but to the company, and then there’s the whole other question of shareholder returns, such as when Bucky Fuller sponsored economists to look into the cost of utopia and discovered we could make everyone extremely comfortable for only 3% of the dividends paid <i>each year</i> by Insurance companies.Speaking of Buckminster Fuller, he also proposed a new accounting system, one based on <i>energy accounting</i> wherein the costs of goods and the value of services are measured in terms of the energy they require, save or produce, all based on the yardstick of common hydro-electric rates. Using that yardstick, Bucky’s economists priced gasoline at a hefty $1,000,000/gallon prompting Bucky to predict that someday (soon) business leaders would realize it would be cheaper to leave people at home than to require them to commute, and this break on our dependence on personal transport would revolutionize our way of life.


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