Bankers make money. Nurses save lives.
Which do you think we value more? Our money or our lives?
It’s the old highwayman’s ultimatum, and it’s generally expected that most people will choose their life.
That doesn’t seem to be the case any more.
Perhaps just because it’s not a direct swap. It’s not the same people earning the money as keeping their lives. The question exists on a macro scale that only occasionally seems to effect you (depending on who you are; if you are a banker or a nurse, or a rich person or a dying person, it probably becomes more relevant).
It is, pretty much, utterly obscene.
The banking system is the mass halucination of our world. An economic network of promises tied together across the world as a web that keeps society functioning. Except it doesn’t. By representing anything, it represents everything, and suddenly becomes more important than the things it is supposed to make easier and better.
As I understand it, this country is protecting the myth of the banking system at a huge cost to the country (the bailouts exceed actual income generated by the banking sector in the preceeding six years of boom, so it’s not to save money, its to keep the system afloat, and nothing else). It is now taking out that cost, that expense on the systems that keep us alive. Not the ones that keep us busy and money generating, the things that stop us from dying.
I’ve only once met a nurse I didn’t like (he spent a long time at a party complaining about pay and targets, it wasn’t his fault he was so immensely boring, I blame the government), and I should probably tell you that half of my extended family (approximately) are nurses. I have a hell of a lot of respect for people who take jobs that don’t make them money because they know they are right.
I’ve never met a banker, at least not the type we’re talking about. Maybe a few desk clerks, but something tells me they aren’t particularly well paid.
Anyway, that’s a distraction. The point is that our system is built to generate money, and that’s become the only thing we value.
Money doesn’t build happiness. I’d in fact tend to argue that remembering not to just chase money gives you a much bigger shot at it.
Nurses aren’t valued highly partly for the precise reason that they should be. It is a vocation, far too hard and stressful for most people to do. It involves sacrificing a certain amount of psychological strength to look after other people. People who are nurses, are made to be nurses (to some extent). They wouldn’t do anything else, because it’s the job they know they can have an impact in.
So we pay them shit, because they’ll do it anyway.
Bankers want money, and don’t care about anything else. So we give them money, in the hope their greed will make us fly.
Illustration by Henry
Addendum: I read this recently and it made me think the money system as we know it could be salvagable. It might already be too late. It may also be the wrong system to save. But, y’know. Worth a read.