The Morality of Making Money on Religion, Education, and Health
One of our socialist readers from Across the Pond posted an interesting comment yesterday. He concluded:
Three things should be eternally free from commercial interests - religion, education and health. Making money from any of those is morally contemptible.
-- Har Noah Neemus
I would like to address these seriatim.
Here, we might assume that our friend Har is obviously correct. But let us look a little deeper. Should a rector of a church with 100 members and one weekly service be paid the same as a rector of a 10,000-member church with four weekly services? The rector of the larger church has many more visitations to perform, more burials, baptisms, and weddings to perform, and he has more outreach ministries to oversee.
Although not it's primary mission, one of the missions of a church is ministering to the poor. If one televangelist raises $10M for the poor in Africa, while another raises $100M, should the second not be paid more? One might think he is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons (his own income), but would you rather have that second televangelist go into another business, and that that money not go to the poor at all?
I need not go into detail about the declining quality of our public schools. Private schools, in general, do a better job for less money. The teachers are paid less in private schools, not more. Capitalism wins hands down.
If one teacher gets 80% of his students to the next level, and another get 95% there, should the second teacher not be paid more? If one high school gets 50% of it's students into college, and another gets 80% into college, should not the faculty of the second be paid more (assuming comparable student bodies)?
By not paying teachers according to their ability to teach, we lose the best teachers to other professions. When we pay Math and Science teachers, of which there are too few, the same as we pay History and English teachers, of which there are many, we lose our best Math and Science teachers to professions that will pay them what they are worth.
This socialist, egalitarian morality is destroying our children's education.
The analogy with the above cases is clear. Certainly a doctor with a 90% survival rate should be paid more than one with a 50% survival rate.
If there is no reward for developing new drugs, they will not be developed. Much of the income from a successful drug goes into the development of newer, better drugs. MRI technology has improved dramatically because of commercialization. People are developing alternatives to the CPAP machine, not for altruistic reasons, but for money. Their lust for money, their base greed, could save many lives that would be lost to sleep apnea.
There are a few altruistic people that will work on such things for the love of their fellow man. Some might do it for fame. But families have to be fed. (Food is even more necessary than health care -- should no-one make money from growing food?) If there is no monetary incentive, then someone with a good idea, an idea that could save many lives, might just say, "I can't afford to pursue this -- it would cost too much to develop, and I wouldn't be able to make any money on it. I've got a family to feed."
I doubt that our friend Har refuses all medications, vaccines, and technologies developed by morally contemptible companies such as Merck. Yet most of those medications and vaccines simply would not exist without the profit motive. Aspirin, Tylenol, and Advil would not exist, either. So he'd just have to suffer through the headache this post is giving him.
The profit motive is a strong incentive for people to do better in all fields of endeavor. Take away that motive, and we all suffer.
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