Lottery of Life

From the advertising campaign “Lottery of Life” by the charity “Save the Children”:

If you think that your wealth, your health, your education and your prospects in life are something that you have earned yourself, think again.

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About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Economics, Life, Philosophy, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Lottery of Life

  1. John Erickson says:

    And if you think what you have today is what you’ll have tomorrow, think again. I can bear personal witness to events slamming me from a middle-class white-collar suburban-Chicago comfortable lifestyle to a lower-class blue-collar rural-Ohio barely-making-it living. Be thankful you started with a leg up in a modern Western civilisation with (in most cases – not mine) excellent medical care and a solid educational system (which I did get good value from). And be thankful your health or your job (or both) don’t unexpectedly fail – and be glad there is a certain safety net (both governmental and charitable) to cushion you when things DO fail.

  2. Fatima says:

    It breaks me down to watch their dreams fall apart listen to their voice, hear their vision. ..
    We can plan better life for people who dont have health care and a safer economy.. etc
    those previleges make it easier for families, but how is good system the value of life to those who are troubled and cannot earn it, help the economy live a better life positively . .

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  4. Tracy W says:

    What this analysis doesn’t mention is that in the societies on the right-hand side of your billboards much of the value of what people create doesn’t show up as their own earnings. To take an example, when I was 11 years old I was saved from an agonising death by bacterial infection by a short course of antibiotics. This required the cooperation of a large number of people – most visibly the doctor who prescribed the antibiotics, but also the doctor’s recepitionist who made the appointment, the pharmacist who stocked the antibiotics, the people involved in transporting the antibiotics, the workers at the factory who made the antibiotics, the managers who hired the workers and made sure they were paid, the workers at the factories that made the equipment that the pharmaceutical company used to make the antibiotics, and etc, etc.

    And what did they get out of this? $100-$200 to be split between them? Compared with the value I gained, that’s trivial. And they probably paid taxes on that $100-$200 too.

    Equally farmers, and everyone who works in the farming support sector, get a very small share of the value they create from food. Same for those who provide clean drinking water and remove our sewage.

    Now not everything is as extremely lopsided as those examples of life-saving antibiotics and food, one could easily spend $100 on a concert ticket and even the best concert I’ve ever attended was not as valuable as those antibiotics then. Indeed, I’ve bought products and services that had turned out to be a total waste of time, or space in even the very short-term. Some services and products can turn out to be even worse than doing nothing, this has happened with medical care numerous times. And there are things with unpleasant side effects on others – to take a non-controversial example, I suspect we have all had times when we’ve hated a song that is suddenly being played *everywhere*. To shift from the market sector to government, I am rather inclined to think that the marginal benefit of many enforcement actions against drugs is negative, that the police officers and prison guards and etc engaged in them are often destroying value – in other words we’d be better off to pay them to sit around and do nothing.

    But, on the whole, the reason that the right-hand side of the billboard does nicely is that a lot of people in their society are paid far less than the value they create, even before considering the taxes they pay.

    I’ll also note that you say “if you think that your wealth, … your education are something that you have earned yourself, think again.”. Well, I don’t know about you, but I acquired my education without cheating, and by dint of a chunk of study. I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a society where education is widely available, and to have the brains to take advantage of what I did, but it did take some effort on my part. Similarily, while I was lucky in being able to earn wealth, to be born into a society where, amongst other things, life-saving antibiotics were widely available, I’ve acquired my wealth by working and by keeping my outgoings lower than my incomings overall. If you don’t want to use the word “earned” to describe how I got my education, and my wealth (such as it is), what word do you use to distinguish between someone like me who acquired them along my lines, as opposed to someone who say, inherited their wealth, or someone from my society with equal ability to learn who chose to get a boring job and play computer games rather than study? Because the distinction is important.

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