Economic Analysis of Wages and Value
Athletes (especially players of nationally recognized teams) make more money than workers of the helping profession, such as teachers. Some star players make more than $7 million, while most teachers in the United States can have a salary below $50 thousand (Schweiger 14). This discrepancy between wages is not unique to one country and can be seen in most corners of the world. Nonetheless, it is also widely recognized that teachers’ impact on each generation of children is essential to their development and success. Athletes, on the other hand, are a source of entertainment – they work at significant intervals, participating in a small number of games or tournaments throughout the year. One can aim to explain this dilemma using economic principles, although they do not align with ethical thinking.
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The inequality in wages between athletes and teachers is based on people’s perception of marginal value. There are many teachers in the world, and each performs similar tasks of helping children to learn. Most children and adults in the world have interacted with a teacher, and this profession is one of the essential parts of society. Star athletes, in contrast, are viewed as a rarity – a limited number of players comprise a team.
Here, the value of a star player appears higher since this person is considered a scarce resource of entertainment (Henderson). The comparison between water and diamonds is similar to this issue – although water is essential for one’s survival, its plentiful existence lowers the marginal value (Rhoads; von Mises 77). Diamonds and athletes are much less prevalent in the world, and their perceived rarity and status lead to increased marginal value and, therefore, cost and pay, respectively.
Wage Inequality from an Ethical Standpoint
While economics can explain how people’s perception of scarcity leads to the discrepancy between people’s wages, it ignores the ethical side of the question. People’s wages cannot be adequately compared to the cost of water and diamonds because people are living beings who depend on their income for survival and comfort. Assigning a value to one’s life means viewing them as a commodity rather than a person. Therefore, the theory of marginalism exposes economics’ lack of understanding that wages based on the idea of scarcity neglect the inherent importance of human life (Terrell). An ethical analysis of this dilemma should not rely on the same philosophy and focus on people’s essential values.
The removal of differentiating characteristics such as one’s profession leads to them being perceived as equal. In Christianity, these traits are not a reason for inequality, for “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (English Standard Version, Gal. 3.28). Therefore, one of the fundamental beliefs is the equality of people in regard to their existence.
Moreover, hard work and value to society are important in following the Christian tenets. Teachers, firefighters, and other workers who spend many hours helping others should receive enough compensation that acknowledges their input. This, however, does not mean that athletes should not be paid, because they provide entertainment and allow people to strengthen their relationship through similar interests and healthy competition. There needs to be a balance that offers all people wages that would enable them to continue pursuing their professions with dignity and respect for other workers’ contributions.
The English Standard Version Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.
Henderson, David R. “TANSTAAFL, There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.” The Library of Economics and Liberty. 2014. Web.
Rhoads, Steven E. “Marginalism.” The Library of Economics and Liberty. Web.
Schweiger, Gottfried. “Achieving Income Justice in Professional Sports: Limitation, Taxation, or Donation.” Physical Culture and Sport. Studies and Research, vol. 56, no. 1, 2012, pp. 12-22.
Terrell, Timothy. D. “The Ethics of Free Pricing (Part 3).” Chalcedon. 2003. Web.
von Mises, Ludwig. Economic Policy: Thoughts for Today and Tomorrow. 3rd ed., Mises Institute, 2006.