General Question

girlofscience's avatar

Whom does society respect more: the person who makes more money or the person who has a more meaningful career?

Asked by girlofscience (7532points) July 21st, 2008

In general, do you feel society has more respect for a person who has a meaningful and intelligent profession that pays $75K or a person who got lucky in sales/business, doesn’t really need much brain power to complete his/her profession, and makes $250K?

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15 Answers

mirza's avatar

The person who makes more money. Take history for example, all the great robber barons in America are remembered as visionaries. Vanderbilt has an elite school named after him. Most new yorkers believe that a Rockefeller was a huge philanthropist and a really nice person. And yet no one knows the names of the brave union leaders who sought to fight the monopoly.

nisheedhi's avatar

When we talk about the society we possibly mean the people around us-our family ,our friends ,our colleagues,our peer level people etc.If that is the case ,the person who has more moolah gets more respect than a person who has more gray matter.But if we mean by society ,the mankind as a whole including the shared conscious of the people who have come and gone before us and the people who will form part of the human society of future generations,then those who have bigger and better brains are more respected than the people who have successfully collected wealth.Obviously Einstein is more respected than Rockefeller or Ford.

jcs007's avatar

If the monetary value of an object reflects its overall value with consumers, then the monetary value of a person’s salary reflects the overall respect that humanity holds for him/her.

I personally respect the hard worker more. Respect should be measured in terms of effort, not money.

ebenezer's avatar

The word respect seems like the word patriotism. It has been too misused to actually use it with any accuracy of meaning. It says nothing about the virtues of the person it is used in relation to.

wildflower's avatar

I don’t know about the rest of society, but the people I respect the most are not because of their job or earnings. It’s because of their person; how they view things, how they handle situations, respond to crisis, treat people around them…....and so on. Whether they work as a paramedic or used car salesman, doesn’t matter. Whether they earn 1 or 1000000 dollars a year, also doesn’t matter.

aaronou's avatar

First, it may be somewhat debatable as to what exactly defines “a meaningful career”. Business is not always about luck, though I’m sure good fortune has a certain amount of say in many cases. Yet, it is not the fortune or even the career that makes a man/woman. The Rockafellers might carve their names on a brick or a building with money, but the Ghandi’s carve their names on the hearts and souls of individuals with their valor and virtue. Society may become enamored with someone such as Bill Gates, but not in the same way they are moved by someone such as Martin Luther King Jr. So, to answer the question, I’d like to believe that society seems naturally inclined to see a person more for the content of their character as opposed to what job they choose and how many figures is in their salary.

jrpowell's avatar

My friend Wes will give his last dollar to anyone that looks like they need it.

My friend Bill is wealthy and treats everyone like shit.

They are both my friends but it isn’t hard to decide who is the better person.

Spargett's avatar

I guess that depends on what the person you’re asking aspires to be?

Right now, that aspiration will prob be rich and famous.

delirium's avatar

It doesn’t matter who ‘society’ respects more. It matters which person I could be and still respect myself.

syz's avatar

Money. It’s not just society – my mother thinks I’m a fool for not seeking out a high paying (but unrewarding) job.

marinelife's avatar

I think there are a lot of faulty premises in your question and details.

First, money is one thing that “society” values, but not everything.

Second, what makes you think that a profession requires more brains than owning a business or doing sales? You have a simplistic view, at best, when you talk about luck being what makes the difference there. To assume it is luck is ignoranance.

Finally, I think only someone who is shallow or has poor self-esteem cares what “society” thinks about their life choices.

marinelife's avatar

@girlofscience While, my views as expressed above are, in fact, the way I feel about these issues, I want to apologize for expressing them with a lack of finesse and quite so sharply. I must explain, but not excuse, my rudeness by saying that I have had a very stressful morning. When that is the case, I probably should not be Fluthering (but I find FLuthering takes my mind off other things).

I especially would not want you to take my impatience personally. I admire your answers and questions generally. Specifically, a question about whether society values money or prestige more is a good and thought-provoking one.

lifeflame's avatar

I freelance in small theatre, so I get what I love to do but it sure doesn’t make a lot of $$.

What I’ve discovered is that people are both envious (“You are so lucky to be doing what you love”), respectful + encouraging (“Kudos to you for pursuing this”), but when I say, “Well, why don’t you go after what you really want?” they hemm and haw.

So I find that people (broadly speaking) tend to respect people who have the guts to go after what they love regardless of $$, but this respect also comes with some distance: i.e., “this is not a choice I would make”

Bizarre, eh?

scamp's avatar

I don’t know about society in general, but I respect a person more for what he has accomplished. Dollar signs mean nothing to me.

girlofscience's avatar

@everyone: Thanks for the opinions.
@Marina: Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I agree with your disagreement of my wording – I expressed my question quite poorly and undervalued the smarts needed for business/sales jobs. And I appreciate the views you added to the discussion.

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