Work and Worth

What someone is paid has little or no relationship to what their work is worth to society. 

Does anyone seriously believe hedge-fund mogul Steven A. Cohen is worth the $2.3 billion he raked in last year, despite being slapped with a $1.8 billion fine after his firm pleaded guilty to insider trading?

On the other hand, what’s the worth to society of social workers who put in long and difficult hours dealing with patients suffering from mental illness or substance abuse? Probably higher than their average pay of $18.14 an hour, which translates into less than $38,000 a year.

How much does society gain from personal-care aides who assist the elderly, convalescents, and persons with disabilities? Likely more than their average pay of $9.67 an hour, or just over $20,000 a year.

What’s the social worth of hospital orderlies who feed, bathe, dress, and move patients, and empty their ben pans? Surely higher than their median wage of $11.63 an hour, or $24,190 a year.

Or of child care workers, who get $10.33 an hour, $21.490 a year? And preschool teachers, who earn $13.26 an hour, $27,570 a year?

Yet what would the rest of us do without these dedicated people?

Or consider kindergarten teachers, who make an average of $53,590 a year.

Before you conclude that’s generous, consider that a good kindergarten teacher is worth his or her weight in gold, almost.

One study found that children with outstanding kindergarten teachers are more likely to go to college and less likely to become single parents than a random set of children similar to them in every way other than being assigned a superb teacher.

And what of writers, actors, painters, and poets? Only a tiny fraction ever become rich and famous. Most barely make enough to live on (many don’t, and are forced to take paying jobs to pursue their art). But society is surely all the richer for their efforts.

At the other extreme are hedge-fund and private-equity managers, investment bankers, corporate lawyers, management consultants, high-frequency traders, and top Washington lobbyists.

They’re getting paid vast sums for their labors. Yet it seems doubtful that society is really that much better off because of what they do.

I don’t mean to sound unduly harsh, but I’ve never heard of a hedge-fund manager whose jobs entails attending to basic human needs (unless you consider having more money as basic human need) or enriching our culture (except through the myriad novels, exposes, and movies made about greedy hedge-fund managers and investment bankers).

They don’t even build the economy. 

Most financiers, corporate lawyers, lobbyists, and management consultants are competing with other financiers, lawyers, lobbyists, and management consultants in zero-sum games that take money out of one set of pockets and put it into another.

They’re paid gigantic amounts because winning these games can generate far bigger sums, while losing them can be extremely costly.

It’s said that by moving money to where it can make more money, these games make the economy more efficient.

In fact, the games amount to a mammoth waste of societal resources.

They demand ever more cunning innovations but they create no social value. High-frequency traders who win by a thousandth of a second can reap a fortune, but society as a whole is no better off.

Meanwhile, the games consume the energies of loads of talented people who might otherwise be making real contributions to society – if not by tending to human needs or enriching our culture then by curing diseases or devising new technological breakthroughs, or helping solve some of our most intractable social problems.  

Graduates of Ivy League universities are more likely to enter finance and consulting than any other career. 

For example, in 2010 (the most recent date for which we have data) close to 36 percent of Princeton graduates went into finance (down from the pre-financial crisis high of 46 percent in 2006). Add in management consulting, and it was close to 60 percent.

The hefty endowments of such elite institutions are swollen with tax-subsidized donations from wealthy alumni, many of whom are seeking to guarantee their own kids’ admissions so they too can become enormously rich financiers and management consultants.

But I can think of a better way for taxpayers to subsidize occupations with more social merit: Forgive the student debts of graduates who choose social work, child care, elder care, nursing, and teaching.  

An Amazing Village Designed Just For People With Dementia

Hogeweyk, from a certain perspective, seems like a fortress: A solid podium of apartments and buildings, closed to the outside world with gates and security fences. But, inside, it is its own self-contained world: Restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, gardens, a pedestrian boulevard, and more.

The idea, explains Hogeweyk’s creators, is to design a world that maintains as much a resemblance to normal life as possible—without endangering the patients.

Each apartment hosts six to eight people, including caretakers—who wear street clothes—and the relationship between the two is unique. Residents help with everything from cooking to cleaning. They can buy whatever they want from the grocery. They can get their hair done or go to a restaurant. It’s those basic routines and rituals that can help residents maintain a better quality of living.

The woman in Room 609, Storme DeLarverie, has dementia. She is but one anonymous elderly New Yorker in a city with thousands upon thousands of them. And many of those who marched down Fifth Avenue on Sunday would be hard pressed to realize that this little old lady — once the cross-dressing M.C. of a group of drag-queen performers, once a fiercely protective (and pistol-packing) bouncer in the city’s lesbian bars — was one of the reasons they were marching.

A Stonewall Veteran, 89, Misses the Parade

regardless of whether they’ve made history, our LGBTQ elders need and deserve safe, culturally-appropriate elder care.

edited to add that Storme DeLarverie recently passed away, may she rest in peace.

NEWSHOUR: Has overmedicating seniors become ‘America’s other drug problem’?

An increasing number of elderly patients nationwide are on multiple medications to treat chronic diseases, raising their chances of dangerous drug interactions and serious side effects. Often the drugs are prescribed by different specialists who don’t communicate with each other. 

Read more


(I’ve updated this post to clean up quick spelling errors and add info, I’m very touched by how much tumblr and twitter have taken to getting the word out!  PLEASE do send in those emails in comments, we can not fail in showing our support for the last living silent film star and a stand up woman!)

URGENT Please help Baby Peggy!

MPTF Feels The Last Living Silent Film Star doesn’t deserve care from them!   Great Niece of Doug and Mary released this statement: “As a member of the Fairbanks & Pickford families, I urge you to support Baby Peggy (Diana Serra Cary). Being old should be an honored position, especially for one who spent their childhood entertaining millions. Join me in doing a Good Deed for Baby Peggy!”


Baby Peggy (Diana Serra Cary), beloved star of silent films, received over a million fan letters for her 150 shorts and features. Her highly-praised autobiography, Whatever Happened to Baby Peggy?, spawned a feature-length documentary. Now 97 and healthy but alarmingly frail, she has attempted for months to find financial support for modest in-home, non-medical care from the Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF), founded by her screen contemporaries Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin with one stated mission: “Taking Care of Our Own."Instead of honoring this, MPTF management has refused Baby Peggy any support whatsoever, claiming her limited time in the motion picture industry and modest pension (which covers only bare living expenses) prevents this. In other words, her childhood should have been longer – and now she is effectively not poor enough.

Such shameful treatment of our oldest surviving silent star is particularly indefensible given the MPTF CEO, Bob Beitcher, reportedly earns over $700,000 per year, while his top ten employees take home a total of $4 million. This outrageous situation needs high visibility to hopefully change the MPTF’s mistreatment of a movie pioneer. I ask everyone to join forces and make the MPTF take immediate, compassionate action. Here’s how:

1) Email MPTF CEO and President Bob Beitcher at bbeitcher@mptf.com and tell him he needs to quickly reverse his organization’s appalling refusal to provide assistance to Ms. Cary, and fund her need for in-home, non-medical support. Copy your email to info@MPTF.com

2) Re-post this right now on your own page, and any others you feel are appropriate. We need to get the word out fast! Baby Peggy’s situation is urgent!

3) “Like” the MPTF’s Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/mptf/?fref=ts then post a comment about its disgraceful refusal of support to Baby Peggy despite its mission statement to do so (fyi you may not need to ‘like’ to comment, I was able to).

4) (Added by me) Post this tumblr link or our site link (http://bit.ly/1SokI6k) and include @mptf (twitter and tumblr) #babypeggy #wetakecareofourown Try and get anyone and everyone to listen (but without spamming of course.)

(You can learn about the MPTF mission at http://www.mptf.com/about and see how they are ignoring their own charter.)

Taking the above actions will cost you nothing, and will mean the world to a frantic senior citizen who spent her childhood making movies that have entertained the world ever since. Diana Serra Cary is aware of this post, and saddened it has come to this juncture. Ever since the MPTF’s founding, she had always assumed it would be there in time of need; after all, that was always its entire purpose.Please help spread the word and make the MPTF abide by its mission!

***Added by Me (I don’t want to take away from Ron’s great piece, he is a great guy!): I protested to Save Pickfair, and I wrote and fought against @mptf trying to kick out its last needy residents in 2010. They didn’t and well that was good.  But I’m disgusted we’re here again.  A woman who gave up her childhood (through no choice of her own) to film and now is the last living silent film star.  Did we learn nothing from Mickey Rooney?  A film worker from Marilyn Monroe’s days deserves as much respect and care as THE LAST LIVING SILENT FILM STAR EVER.  DO THEY NOT REALIZE WHEN SHE IS GONE WE’LL HAVE LOST OUR LAST LEAF TO THAT ERA?

I get very angry about healthcare in America in general, but to sit and tell a 97 year old woman who has been to hell and back that she isn’t poor or important enough to get care well…these guys better watch out.  Mary Pickford is probably so outraged she’ll go on a zombie rampage.  We have no respect or human decency anymore, its disgusting.

We’ve been trying to get Diana a star on the Walk of Fame (hence the name) since 2012.  I’d rather she never get a star and get decent healthcare and human dignity in whatever time she has left.  But most importantly I want her to know she is loved, appreciated, care for, admired and respected.  If you love film at all, you will raise almighty hell til we get our girl her rightful care!!!

@miss-flapper @maudelynn (thanks guys your reposts help a lot!)

UPDATE: @mptf​ Head Bob Beitcher responds…so we do too.  I think its disgusting he brings up Diana’s personal life, then claims he can’t defend himself anymore because he can’t ‘intrude in her privacy’.  He also lies saying she denied a home visit, but she didn’t. I hope everyone who reads this will understand the situation and let him know we know he is not telling the truth: http://astarforbabypeggy.com/mptf-snubbed-baby-peggy-help-our-girl/mptf-responds-so-we-do-too/
I urge everyone to respectfully reply to him and let him know we will not rest until Baby Peggy is given the basic human dignity she deserves.

Contact: (818) 876-4155 f: (818) 876-1371 Bob.Beitcher@mptf.com www.MPTF.com

Water, Vol. 8, Pages 405: The Political Ecology of Chinese Large Dams in Cambodia: Implications, Challenges and Lessons Learnt from the Kamchay Dam

Given the opportunities offered by foreign investment in energy infrastructure mostly by Chinese firms, the Government of Cambodia is giving high priority to developing hydropower resources for reducing energy poverty and powering economic growth. Using a “Political ecology of the Asian drivers” framework, this paper assesses China’s involvement in the development of large dams’ in Cambodia and its impacts on the access of natural resources such as water and energy by dam builders, local communities and the government. This analysis is based on 61 interviews and 10 focus group discussions with affected communities, institutional actors, Chinese dam builders and financiers in relation to the first large Chinese dam built in Cambodia: the Kamchay dam. Based on the results of the analysis this paper makes recommendations on how to improve the planning, implementation and governance of future large dams in Cambodia.

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Sustainability, Vol. 8, Pages 944: Financial Risk Factor Analysis for Facility Gas Leakages of H2 and NG

Fuel cells may be the key to a more environmentally-friendly future because they emit low carbon dioxide per unit of energy supplied. However, little work has investigated the potential financial risks pertaining to fuel cell systems. Often used in the analysis of the safety of systems involving flammable or hazardous materials, risk factor analysis has recently been used to analyze the potential financial losses that may occur from industrial hazards. Therefore, this work undertakes a financial risk factor analysis to determine the costs of leakages of hydrogen and natural gas, which are used in fuel cell systems. Total leakage was calculated from an analysis of several leakage rates and modes. The impact of applying appropriate detection and prevention systems was also investigated. The findings were then used to analyze the consequences for various sections of the system and to calculate the overall cost based on facility outage or damage, and the cost of taking safety precautions. This provides a basis for comparison among proposed potential reactionary measures.

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Sensors, Vol. 16, Pages 1521: Mechanical Enhancement of Sensitivity in Natural Rubber Using Electrolytic Polymerization Aided by a Magnetic Field and MCF for Application in Haptic Sensors

Sensors are essential to the fulfillment of every condition of haptic technology, and they need simultaneously to sense shear stress as well as normal force, and temperature. They also must have a strong and simple structure, softness, and large extension. To achieve these conditions simultaneously, we enhanced the sensitivity of sensors utilizing natural rubber (NR)-latex through the application of electrolytic polymerization focused on the isoprene C=C bonds in natural rubbers such as NR-latex, and then applied a magnetic field and magnetic compound fluid (MCF) as magnetically responsive fluid. When an electric field alone was used in the rubber, the effect of electrolytic polymerization was very small compared to the effect in well-known conductive polymer solution such as plastic. The MCF developed by Shimada in 2001 involved magnetite and metal particles, and acts as a filler in NR-latex. By utilizing the magnetic, electric fields and the MCF, we aligned the electrolytically polymerized C=C along the magnetic field line with the magnetic clusters formed by the aggregation of magnetite and metal particles so as to enhance the effect of electrolytic polymerization. We then demonstrated the effectiveness of the new method of rubber vulcanization on the sensitivity of the rubber by experimentally investigating its electric and dynamic characteristics.

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Nanomaterials, Vol. 6, Pages 172: Effect of Particle Size on the Magnetic Properties of Ni Nanoparticles Synthesized with Trioctylphosphine as the Capping Agent

Magnetic cores of passive components are required to have low hysteresis loss, which is dependent on the coercive force. Since it is well known that the coercive force becomes zero at the superparamagnetic regime below a certain critical size, we attempted to synthesize Ni nanoparticles in a size-controlled fashion and investigated the effect of particle size on the magnetic properties. Ni nanoparticles were synthesized by the reduction of Ni acetylacetonate in oleylamine at 220 °C with trioctylphosphine (TOP) as the capping agent. An increase in the TOP/Ni ratio resulted in the size decrease. We succeeded in synthesizing superparamagnetic Ni nanoparticles with almost zero coercive force at particle size below 20 nm by the TOP/Ni ratio of 0.8. However, the saturation magnetization values became smaller with decrease in the size. The saturation magnetizations of the Ni nanoparticles without capping layers were calculated based on the assumption that the interior atoms of the nanoparticles were magnetic, whereas the surface-oxidized atoms were non-magnetic. The measured and calculated saturation magnetization values decreased in approximately the same fashion as the TOP/Ni ratio increased, indicating that the decrease could be mainly attributed to increases in the amounts of capping layer and oxidized surface atoms.

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Molecules, Vol. 21, Pages 1243: Curcumin and Resveratrol in the Management of Cognitive Disorders: What is the Clinical Evidence?

A growing body of in vitro and in vivo evidences shows a possible role of polyphenols in counteracting neurodegeneration: curcumin and resveratrol are attractive substances in this regard. In fact, epidemiological studies highlight a neuroprotective effect of turmeric (rhizome of Curcuma longa L.), the main source of curcumin. Moreover, the consumption of red wine, the main source of resveratrol, has been related to a lower risk of developing dementia. In this review, we analyzed the published clinical trials investigating curcumin and resveratrol in the prevention or treatment of cognitive disorders. The ongoing studies were also described, in order to give an overview of the current search on this topic. The results of published trials (five for curcumin, six for resveratrol) are disappointing and do not allow to draw conclusions about the therapeutic or neuroprotective potential of curcumin and resveratrol. These compounds, being capable of interfering with several processes implicated in the early stages of dementia, could be useful in preventing or in slowing down the pathology. To this aim, an early diagnosis using peripheral biomarkers becomes necessary. Furthermore, the potential preventive activity of curcumin and resveratrol should be evaluated in long-term exposure clinical trials, using preparations with high bioavailability and that are well standardized.

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