Talking Turkey

I’m Not in it for My Health

Folks, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make a good income at your chosen profession or with trying to get the best salary you possibly can on the basis of your skills. And I don’t really care if the door greeter at Wal-Mart thinks it’s unfair that a physician makes twenty times his salary.

Your typical Wal-Mart employee didn’t just spend the whole day changing dressings on the rotting feet of diabetic vascular surgery patients, nor does he get up at zero-dark thirty to write notes on patients to have ready for rounds at a time in the morning when most working people are hitting the snooze button.

The correct phrase is “investment in human capital.” By the time we finish our training we will have been at it for little or no pay for between seven and twelve years depending on specialty. If you don’t think there should be some salary distinction between that kind of commitment and a fast-food worker then, with respect, you place very little value on your time.

I don’t mean to bust down on regular working folks. Still, my neighbor comes home at five and generally sits out in his back yard drinking beer and listening to the radio except when he goes hunting or fishing. I sometimes say hello to him early in the morning as he backs his bass-boat into the street. He is a decent, stand-up guy but hunting, fishing, and a few “irregular pleasures” are the extent of his ambition and I’m not going to cry “crocadile tears” if, with luck, I make more in a month then he will make in a year.

On the same note, I don’t envy those people who either make or have more money then I could earn in fifty lifetimes. Their wealth has no effect on me in the same way that my salary has no effect on my neighbor.

The moral here is not to count other people’s chips. A hard lesson to internalize especially since it is so easy to be envious of others.