Bit Depth 11 - Sample Rate 1 - Who We Value in Society

Hello, and, again, welcome to Bit Depth. I'm Santiago Ramones.

This is a very short podcast, a sample, really, on a train of thought I had that I wanted to elaborate on: Who do we value in society? As promised in the audio, this is the text of the podcast, not quite word for word, but what I read from.

This is a separate, non-interview, non-conversation podcast where I talk about a thing I thought of. I call it Sample Rate. I’ll do these every once in awhile when I’ve thought of something that is too long to be an intro to another podcast, and too specific to my train of thought to have a conversation. So here goes, the first Sample Rate:

I was out with Sable the other day when both of us caught the last glimpse of a motorcycle wreck. She had seen more than I had, I just saw the bike itself hit a lamp post. We ran up and many people had come around to see what they could do to help, like Sable and myself. One man had already called 911, and another man grabbed a sleeping bag from his truck to cover the injured man, who was lying on the road, unconscious. It wasn’t long before two police cars had pulled up, and not much longer after that before two firetrucks arrived, then an ambulance. I felt like there wasn’t much I could do, and Sable was still concerned, so we stuck around for a few more minutes, mostly out of curiosity rather than to help.

This situation made me fall into a train of thought that I wanted to illustrate more clearly, which I talked to Sable about in the car. The basic idea was this: Who do we value in society, and how is that reflected in their payment? We live in a society that values two things that seem to be on the opposite spectrum, both conflicting with one another: money, and good behavior. Good behavior not being like getting out of trouble, but good behavior like doing good things, helping others, protecting others, and so on. As a society, we pass laws that discourage bad behavior, and encourage good behavior (supposedly). One of my teachers mentioned this in a class: the way we keep score in the world is with money. If you make more money, you’re winning. If our values as a society were to line up, then the people who have the most good will towards others should make the most money. We would encourage those who seek to make the world a better place to continue to do so by reflecting that in the amount of money they make, and those who put themselves at more risk should be compensated for their risk. That’s what a consistent society would do, anyways. Of course, that’s not how it works. Let’s see how it works:

I googled the average salaries of certain professions that quickly came to mind as “good behavior” professions. Most of these come from because they have a cool interactive graph for each profession. Keep in mind that these numbers may be skewed slightly because average doesn’t show the median salary or the range of the salary, so I’ll say those as well. I’m also occasionally going to make certain numbers round off for the sake of brevity. Also, let me know if my data or perception of these jobs is mistaken or inaccurate. I’m not a statistician or an economist, I’m just a dude googling what people make.

The first one I thought of was a nurse. A friend of mine is in school to be a nurse, and I can only imagine the amount of crap (pun intended) that she has to go through to become a nurse and be a nurse. Nurses, as far as I know, take care of the nitty gritty of hospitals. They deal with the patients firsthand. They clean them up, hold them down, change their pillows, get yelled at, and everything else that I may be forgetting. They don’t have to deal with this crap, but they want to, because they’re good people. According to my googling, a registered nurse, or RN, makes an average salary of about $62,000 in the US. The median is $58,000, the range is from $39,000 to $81,000. This is an hourly rate between $20.82 and $38.52, with a median of $27. Keep in mind, minimum wage right now is $7.25. I can’t really make more conclusions about nurses because I have yet to compare other jobs.

The next job I thought of was police officers, seeing that they were the first to arrive at our bike wreck. It sounds kinda silly, but, as a brown person, I have a strange fear of cops. I’ve never personally had a bad experience with a police officer, I just have a weird fear of authority. Regardless of that, I understand that the police is first in the line of danger in society. They hand out speeding tickets, but they’re also ready to take a bullet for anyone that needs protection. They’re a profession that has to be ready to jump headfirst into danger. And for that, on average, their salary is $52,810. The median is $48,815, and the range is from $31,900 to $82,000. That reflects an hourly rate ranging from $13.24 to $34.16, with the median being $20 per hour. Looks like police officers make a little bit less than nurses. I’m not sure if there’s any reason for that, but that’s what the information says.

The next one I thought of was firefighters. Firemen and women are willing to literally jump into burning buildings to save people from them. They also have emergency medical training. Like cops, they’re willing to jump headfirst into danger because society asks them to, and risk their lives for people they’ve never met. Their average salary is around $44,000, with a median of $44,078 and a range from $28,937 to $76,000. Their hourly rate is between $9.95 to $27.49, with a median of $15 per hour. Looks like firefighters make less than nurses and police officers.

With the last of the emergency responders, here’s paramedics. Paramedics show up with a miniature hospital room and deal with whatever medical emergency you’re having while also driving crazy fast towards the nearest hospital. At least that’s my layman’s understanding of a paramedic. Their median salary is $43,766 (because I couldn’t find the average), ranging between $30,419 and $68,000. Their hourly rate is a median of $16 and ranges between $12.06 and $22.78. Paramedics are paid similarly to firefighters, and make less than nurses and police officers.

With less emergency situations, another occupation of great value to society is the teacher. Teachers babysit your kids for free and also cram information into their brains. They shape the minds of our future generation. They observe how the future generation is filled with potentially great minds and help to propel them in the right direction, hopefully. They make your children aware of math, science, literature, music, art, and the planet they’re on, among other things. Depending on the age group and what they’re teaching, educators are paid differently. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just go with elementary school teachers because they’re the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a teacher stereotype. An elementary school teacher makes a median salary of $41,700 per year, ranging between $29,754 and $65,189. Their hourly rate has a median of $15 per hour, ranging from $9.86 to $31.06. I seem to be descending in pay compensation order here. Out of our nurses, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and elementary school teachers, teachers make the least.

Social workers are mental health professionals that use social theories to understand and improve people’s lives, according to These people help children and adults alike to improve society one step at a time. As far as jobs go with society’s interests at heart, social workers are the most concerned with societal well being. I’m going a little loose with what a social worker does, mostly because it’s a little vague depending where they are and what specifically they do. Regardless, here’s what they make: Average salary is around $42,000. A median of $42,003, ranging from $30,000 to $61,459. Their hourly rate ranges between $12.80 and $29.81, with a median of $19. Social workers seem to make a similar living to that of elementary school teachers.

Let’s go a little faster here:

  • Park rangers - they protect our beautiful landscapes and parks: Median salary of $35,229, ranging from $23,635 to $54,768. Hourly rate ranging from $9.78 to $23.30 with a median of $15 per hour. Less than social workers and teachers.

  • Farm workers - they make our freakin’ food: Median salary of $30,520, ranging between $16,123 and $48,068. Hourly rate median being $10 an hour ranging between $8 and $16.82. Almost the least on this list.

  • Army Private - ready to die for their country, whatever that means. They all make the same according to, which is $18,840 a year. Um.. Yeah, I don’t really know what to say about that one.

  • Opposite side of the spectrum here: Congressperson. They make laws for the people they represent. Or at least they’re supposed to. According to Wikipedia, they make around $174,000 a year. Compare that to the other stuff we have here. Not to mention the fact that these people can accept contributions from private citizens as an exercise of free speech. Um.. write to your representative?

  • Game audio salaried employee. Hey, that’s what I wanna do! They make sounds and/or music for video games. According to the GameSoundCon 2015 Survey, the mean yearly salary of a salaried employee is $80,546. The median is $65,000. The range is between $10,000 and $200,000. Not to talk bad about the stuff I want to do, but Game audio seems to make more than nurses sometimes, without having to save anyone’s life.

    Ok, last but certainly not least by a long shot, is CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Chief Executive Officers set the strategy and direction of a company, models and sets the company’s culture, builds and leads the executive team, and allocates capital to the company’s priorities, according to Stever Robbins’ website. Quote from google: “Forbes magazine reported that the average total compensation for a Fortune 500 CEO as of the 2012 Fortune survey was $10.5 million. This broke down as $3.5 million in salary and bonus, $3.8 million in other compensation such as personal perk packages and $3.2 million from exercising vested stock options and awards.” (end quote) The company currently at the top of the Fortune 500 list is Walmart. Now, I may be misunderstanding here, but I don’t think that CEOs have to save people’s lives first hand, or take a bullet for a stranger, or shape the young minds of the next generation. I don’t remember that from the job description. I don’t value that job over all the rest. I don’t understand why these people are compensated much more than the other people on this list. But, if we’re keeping score, CEOs are winning. But if we value good behavior more than we value money, like so many religions say we should, or like so many people agree is supposedly right. Instead, our society is structured almost backwards, with the good behavior being compensated the least, and the money-seeking behavior being compensated the most. I don’t know what we can do about it. I could point in a direction, like the Venus Project. But I can’t shape that many minds myself. It’s your decision as a member of society to spread the knowledge and values important to you. I’m a messenger, too. My message is this: Love never fails. It’s going to be ok. I might be wrong.

    A quick PS, I suppose: There are other jobs that I may have forgotten or couldn’t go into because it gets really specific. People like scientists, innovators, engineers, doctors, researchers, inventors, and whatever else may be redundant or forgotten. I didn’t forget those. I just couldn’t think of them at the time I wrote this, and for the sake of brevity, left them out.

    Thanks for listening.

Santiago RamonesComment