Just Price for Intangibles

How much money should someone who produces no immediately tangible results get for his services? How wrong is it to accept more money than that as payment in order to do justice to, say, the kids by paying a possibly unjust amount of money for them to go to the places that would most benefit them (say, certain universities with certain pricetags)?

Yes, I know, society has struggled with this question for many years now. Still we have no answer, yet still the question should be up front: on this hinges the question of how much of a salary various clergymen and teachers and researchers ought to make, and even undergraduate students can no more avoid it than their parents can money.

Can the market determine the value of their services? Usually, perhaps, we can do some averaging and some more complicated number-crunching and see what actually comes out. But I ask, can we really say by means of the market mechanisms how much true knowledge or spiritual pastoring is worth? And who is the buyer? One might as well put an arbitrary value on parenting so as to determine how much obligation a child has to his parent.

Either you play ‘the game’, or you don’t. If you play, you may have to pay some unwarranted prices to stay in ‘the game’. If you don’t and instead choose to help create an alternative system, who knows what you’ll lose?

All this is to say that finding the true just price is very complex, if we accept that the thing isn’t amoral (i.e. morally neutral). Yet we’re expected to do the right thing, and in Christ, in the Spirit and not the flesh, we’re supposed to be given the power to do it. At this point, then, the choice is between hope that God faithful to both open a just way and lead us through it, and despair that God is either unable or unwilling to let a way even exist.

All I’m trying to do is stop dismissing the question; do you have proposals?

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2 responses to “Just Price for Intangibles

  1. Do you really care how much the market values those services?

    Your salary is only based on what your particular employer and other employers in the field values your skills as it pertains to their business. It’s not knowledge, not service to society, or future potential and less even education.

    I think all parents just want their kids to be able to lead a life that isn’t full of debt and be able to sustain their family long-term. Keep it mind, your future wife is likely to feel the same way.

    Being poor is only for the truly brave and those who do not mind being alone.

    For the poor in Christ, God promised the treasures in heaven. However, I think the important concern for Him is how you will serve in His kingdom.

    Thankfully for me, I don’t think His call for me is to fulfill significant monetary needs in His church. Yet, the church needs them, now more than ever. Who knows, maybe, it is for you. I know one thing, God’s value of us is never changing.

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    • First of all, sorry for a very late response.

      »Do you really care how much the market values those services?«

      I think the market can be wrong, and what the market thinks doesn’t directly factor into determining what I think is right. At the same time, however, as long as this country works on the basis of markets, it’s markets I’ll have to deal with.

      »Your salary is only based on what your particular employer and other employers in the field values your skills as it pertains to their business. It’s not knowledge, not service to society, or future potential and less even education.«

      If they were doing things God’s way, in my opinion, they would be able to see pertinence to more than the bottom line of their business, important as that is for a firm’s survival. Education yields skills and knowledge, and knowledge is itself a skill: of course employers will value these by their ability to contribute to the firm.

      My point was simply this: there are certain salaries that can’t justly be determined by the market, yet are pervasively connected to the market. These salaries in turn represent a critique of today’s market-determined system, though so far it seems they haven’t yielded a real alternative to the system as a whole.

      Of course, I’d have to at least talk about this with whoever it was with whom I was thinking of plighting my troth of holy wedlock.

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