Money and self-esteem

Sabine Dippel sabine at
Thu Sep 18 09:03:35 EST 1997

In article <Judy-1809970932210001 at>, 
Judy at (Judy Stone) writes:
<snip>... lots of stuff deleted
|> This talk about "society" valuing science makes me uncomfortable.  What I
|> do does not directly benefit humans, and I feel blessed to be able to do
|> it at all.  I think we, as academic researchers, are responsible for
|> demonstrating how we benefit society.  Is my salary really more valuable
|> than food supplements for poor children, medicare, or Amtrack?
|> Only my second time posting to a newsgroup.  Hope my technique/etiquette is ok.
|> Judy

Actually, that was what I'm driving at. There are two ways to see this. You 
can either take the route of "A lot of basic science eventually translates
into something useful", with the typical (harmless) example of the transistor, 
or the typical (controversial) example of nuclear energy (I am not giving 
a statement on the usefulness of that here). (Sorry about the choice of
examples, but I'm a physicist - I guess some bio/medicine examples would 
be more appropriate here, but I don't know any.) In these cases, people 
had no application in mind, but very applied things emerged. 

The other way to see it (which I am closer to right now) is that if it is 
not so useful, and if I essentially have to be grateful that someone gives
me at least a little money to "play", then I have to ask myself if I am 
having enough fun to be content with the money/work ratio. If I am not having
enough fun, maybe I should get a job which I still find interesting, which 
pays me enough money to even indirectly pay for things like medicare or 
whatever via my higher taxes, and which gives me enough spare time to 
devote to my hobbies, my (so far non-existent) children or family in general,
or even do volunteer work. 

So I guess that was one point I was trying to make - if we feel that our 
work is really valuable to "society", we should try to convince "society" to pay 
us a reasonable salary. If it is not this valuable to "society", each of us
has to decide how valuable it is to ourselves as far as personal sacrifices go.


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