Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Does he really deserve that salary?" - Faulty concept of "deserving"

"Do you really deserve to live?"

-- How is it my business to decide, right?
Anyone who would ponder about this question seriously, as if what they had to say on the subject was to justly be executed in reality would be considered a despicable freak in our society.
Yet we don't seem to have the same approach to money. "Do you really deserve the money that you have?" "Do you really deserve such a nice apartment?"

Now if I were Santa Claus considering how many gifts to bring you this year, this question might have made sense. But as a human being that has no involvement in your life - it does not.

So what is the error in these sort of questions? why do they seem plausible on one hand, yet non-sensible on the other?

The answer is a mis-generalization of the concept of "deserving".

Let's get down to the root of what it means to "deserve".

Let us observe the following: to "deserve" means an interaction between at least 2 people. If one man deserves something, he always deserves it from someone else. Mother nature cannot consider if someone "deserves" something, it does not decide to give you things. You cannot "deserve" an apple from an apple tree. So "deserve" only makes sense as an interaction between two or more people.

One cannot "deserve" something from no other man, but simply to "deserve" it. I cannot "deserve" a new computer, healthcare or a car from no entity, but just to "deserve" it. What would such thing even mean?
When you tell your boss you deserve a raise, it has the practical use of having more money in your bank account.
When you say that you "deserve" a car to thin air, it has no practical meaning or consequence.
One might say, as a joke, "Damn it, I deserve to have this machine working" after hours of time and effort trying to fix it - but all it is, is a joke. The machine, the air, cannot grant you anything. An apple tree is not just or generous by growing apples for you to eat - it is simply an apple tree doing what apple trees do.

Next observe that the two (or more) people must indeed interact for 'deserving' to make sense. I cannot possibly deserve the meal an Eskimo from Antarctica is cooking at the moment, half way across the world. I might deserve it if I were the one catching the fish he is cooking.

Sometimes a man deserves to serve time in prison - it appears to be a one man situation, but in fact it is not. What is hidden behind the scenes is the society in which this man lives. This man deserves the retribution he is given from other people in his society for whatever it is he has done. They may not be the ones to physically give it to him, but the ones they have delegated to do it do so in their name.

To summarize: "deserve" implies deserving from someone, and someone with which you interact over the product in question.

"Deserve" also implies that you did something to earn whatever you "deserve", and that whatever you did benefited someone else from whom you deserve something.
(Unless you deserve to be punished by them, in which case you still acted to earn a negative payback).

But in any case You either "do the crime and pay the time", or "pay the bill and get to chill".

When you hear someone saying that they deserve healthcare, or deserve a house, simply by being born, they are using a wrong concept of what it means to "deserve".
they want to deserve from no one in particular, deserve without being involved with anyone else, and deserve without "paying the bill".

What makes the difference between deserving healthcare from your insurance company, vs. "deserving" it from society (AKA "the government"):
In the insurance company, you do something to earn it from them, benefiting them by paying for your policy. You deserve medical treatment to the extent that you paid for what was agreed in your contract. "Deserving" is a trade.

"Deserving" medical treatment "from society", however, involves no trade. One is paying no price, there is no need to earn and no benefit in exchange for the service. It involves no agreement. In fact it involves only a single person, which was born into reality butt naked, "deserving" something from "the world" ("a god given right").

Notice in how many ways this concept of "deserve" is breaking the actual meaning of what it is to "deserve".

What about people who question whether some people deserve their high salaries?
Those people mis-use the concept "deserve" as well. How do they go about judging what salary those people deserve?
To the company owner, the standard is clear: The contribution the worker has for the success of the company (leaving aside other factors like the budget). But how can someone outside the company decide if an employee deserves his money?

One might, as a hypothetical, put oneself in the shoes of the company owner and consider the contribution of the worker vs. his salary - but realizing that this is only possible as an opinion on what should the worker deserve from the company owner (not from them, because it's not their money to give).

What they actually try to judge, however, is what the worker deserves from them, or from society, or from reality. "How much does a human being deserve to have?".
As you can see, they are using an empty concept. Its only appearance of a meaning is stolen from the legitimate concept of "deserving".
But they try to judge what a man deserves without specifying anyone in particular, without taking under account any interaction between that man and anyone else, without asking who is earning from his work.

They take the company owner out of the equation and then try to decide how his money should be spent.

THAT, is the fallacy in their thinking. That they think of "deserve" in fuzzy terms. It is a relationship between god and the worker when it comes to taking his salary away, but becomes a relationship between that man and society when they decide society deserves it better.

So next time you hear someone using a fuzzy concept of "deserve", make sure they stand corrected.
The future of our society leans on whether or not people are left free to live their life, and is destroyed by people who try to decide with their fuzzy concept who "deserves" to make money, own property, or live.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Do not post links which are not relevant to the subject. Such links will be deleted.

Do trees know that they are in an urban area?

When I see trees decorating the streets and sides of the road I usually have this peculiar feeling or thought. I know that this tree I'm...