Friday, September 25, 2009

Getting What You Deserve

Some years ago, McDonalds ran an ad campaign to entice people to take a night off from cooking dinner and drive on over for burgers and fries. "You deserve a break today," was the clever catch-phrase and it played quite well, especially as more and more families had both mom and dad working outside the home.

The definition of the verb "deserve" is "merit" or "earn" and plenty of people felt that, after working all day long, they had earned the right to skip cooking once in awhile. And while you can certainly argue that choosing to eat dinner at Mickey D's might not be the most healthy option, doing so was not going to make a big dent in the family's budget.

Recently, I saw an automobile ad on TV that proclaimed that everyone "deserved" the luxury car we wanted. And for a "low" monthly lease payment of $395 (or $495 or whatever -- I was ignoring it by this point), we could have that car. What too many people seem to have lost sight of is whether or not they earned it... as in, bring in enough income to actually pay for it. After all, a monthly $395 is going to take a much bigger hit out of the family budget than $20 at McDonalds. (In fact, you could eat dinner every weeknight of the month at McD's for the cost of the car. Not that that would be advisable, but you get the point.)

Unfortunately, too many people buy into the concept that they "deserve" a fancy car or a huge house or a humongous television or whatever. I certainly will not dispute the fact that many people work hard; the lawn service guy cutting my neighbor's grass for minimum wage is putting as much effort into his job as my neighbors the nurses put into theirs and my friend the banker puts into his. But some skills are more valuable than others and, for the most part, what various professions earn reflects that. So the banker may well be earning a salary that allows him to easily pay for the luxury car, but if the guy cutting grass wants to be driving one, he had better find a profession that will pay him enough to do so.

Perhaps one of the best/worst examples of all this is to be found among college students. Many of the students have incurred enormous debt in order to attend and more than a few don't buy the textbooks necessary for their classes because they don't have the money for them. Yet those same students will be distracted in class by messages, updates, and the like that they are receiving on their brand-new iPhones. When asked why she had to have the latest (and quite expensive) version, one student replied, "I deserve it."

The question, then, is, will she and her like-minded fellow students ever earn enough to pay for what they "deserve"?

No comments:

Post a Comment