Dan Ariely is an Israeli-American teacher at Duke University in North Carolina. I think he’s smart and very well educated. Based on his weekly column in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal he is often insightful and entertaining. However, his recent answer to the question of whether people’s salaries accurately reflect the value they provide to society, lacked wisdom.
He lamented the fact that many people create a lot of value and don’t get paid much, citing teachers as the best example. I am going to leave aside the obvious fact that most rabbis probably feel that rabbis are underpaid and a liberal arts graduate with a bad choice of majors probably feels intuitively that specialists in Byzantine frescoes are underpaid. I am leaving those aside as I leave aside the fact that Dan is a teacher because I am not that interested in the feelings of rabbis, liberal arts graduates or teachers. I am much more interested in their thoughts than I am in their feelings.
It was Dan’s closing sentence that revealed a lack of wisdom. Here it is:
“Maybe one day we will evolve as a society and base people’s salaries on their actual contribution to the common good.”