So if we were to look at our lives today, factor in all that we do on a professional level (whether for professional purposes or not), is it even possible to come up with a fair estimate of our worth???
Equity and fairness, like everything else, is relative to the context. But even when looking at context-relativity, individual perspective or positionality is a factor; social attitude is a factor; geography is a factor; gender is a factor; heck, even hair-color and height are apparent factors in how much or how little an individual is worth, according to recent studies. It would seem an impossible task. But like other impossible tasks set before humanity, "reality" is often not much more than a line in the proverbial sand, also known as the mean--or average.
With the example of monetizing motherhood down to an annual salary, statistically speaking, one would have to take into account (if looking at a large group of mothers) that not ALL mothers perform ALL fuctions of motherhood. From there, you essentially cut the impossible in half--and truly, that's where the approximated salary for motherhood at $100,000/year comes from.
Now imagine being asked to do that for not your whole life, just about 30 years. I liken the task to Sisyphus rolling the same boulder up the same hill each day for eternity. Simply put, it's an existential conundrum--something that has no "real" answer. But humans, we're a stubborn bunch. Someone out there will do it, some statistician or actuary, crunching numbers, then dividing them in half to come up with some artificial mean for an artificial problem: THAT'S the "real" problem (or answer, depending on how you look at it).
You can't measure the value of a life financially. There are always individuals out there who bring that mean up, or, who bring it down. Even if you were to not use statistical means and look at a given individual--the figures still can't equate to the innate value of that individual's life.
Ah, but now the rhetoricians out there have raised a collective eyebrow. Innate value? Who said anything about innate value? And how does THAT equate monetarily? Again, it's a conundrum--meaning, a logical loop that has no true answers. So yes, you can find answers, but they'll be false, artificial, untrue.
And ultimately, that's the REAL question: Are our lives built on nothing more than a collection of artificial "means," untruths that we try to equate to reality?
If 30 years of life can be valued at $100,000/year, statistically, that's $3-million. It's preposterous to even say. Both that a year of life can be valued at only $100,000 AND that 30 years is worth $3-million! Life insurance just took on a whole new meaning, didn't it?
By trying to define the undefinable, we devalue ourselves and our existence. The answer to the problem is counterintuitive in some ways as set forth by existentialists like Jean-Paul Sartre: Socialism. Well, theoretical socialism anyway. Take monetary values out of the equation and people can begin to better understand the true value in living. That doesn't quite work in a society based on capitalism, does it? But we're trying hard to make a square-peg fit in a round hole.
If I were to "add up" 30 yeas of my life, the statistical mean would be meaningless. I always beat the odds. No, really. How many 20-year survivors of not one but two (!) malignant brain tumors do you know??? How many pregnant teens grow up to become PhD's? How many single mothers manage to graduate with an undergraduate degree, let alone a graduate AND postgraduate degree? How many people publish even one book, let alone nine? I'm a stastician's nightmare. And it's not ego, it's individualism.
As an individual, I'm consistently the exception, not the rule. So how does that add up over 30 years? It doesn't. Not really. The best any of us can do is this: If $6-million dollars is the top of the mean scale and the mean is $3-million, a person like me would fall smack dab in the middle of those two numbers, about $4.5 million. Hey, I'll take it! Wouldn't you???
Kidding aside, to my younger friends just starting off--know your TRUE worth AND your PROFESSIONAL worth. We tend to undercut ourselves frequently because of artificial things like statistics. So if the average salary for a given position is say, $60,000/year to start but you're above average, know that YOUR worth, as an individual professional, is closer to $75,000/year...to start. Your true worth isn't something you can monetize but you are asked to do so with things like life insurance. If you are single with no children, multiply your income by five years and invest in WHOLE life insurance. It's an investment because at some point, you've put in that money and can cash it out if you need to. TERM life insurance seems like the "good" deal but what happens if you get sick before your term is up? What happens when you turn 65? You can pay $1,600 a year for 40 years--which is $64,000--and ultimately end up with no coverage and no return on those dollars. Unless you know you'll be healthy for the rest of your life, term life insurance is a bit of a scam...a band-aid, if you will.
If you have a spouse and plan to have children or already do, you need to take out a minimum of $1-million in life insurance. Your life is far more valuable than that, of course, but in today's world, if your spouse loses their job and you are gone and you add in several children, believe it or not, $1-million dollars won't even be sufficient. $2-million dollars would be more on par, especially if you're now in your late 20's or early-mid 30's. If something happened to you tomorrow, your family would have four to five decades of single-income struggles ahead. Even if you anticipate your spouse remarrying, you need to protect your children.
If you're like me, though, you may be "uninsurable." If that's the case, keep that in mind when you negotiate salary. Sometimes a spouse may be able to include you in their employer's supplemental life insurance. But again, if you're like me and your spouse is self-employed, developing a "just in case" cushion through shared-diligent saving is your best option (and I recognize, believe me, that saving in this economy isn't really an option anymore--more to think about).
Ah, the complexities of life--and as you traverse them, keep in mind that the value of your lifetime, even 30 years of it, is truly PRICELESS...as are you! However, if someone were to offer $4.5-million, don't hesitate too long.... ;)
Until next time, dearest readers....