That is the question, isn’t it? In this monetary-based system of thought, we always ask that one, and the follow-up: What was the price paid, and was it worth it? Are the two questions and issues divisible, or are they inseparably linked like Siamese twins sharing a vital organ?
As to the first, the question can encompass an entanglement of intricate complexities that flow from the second — when, in fact, it is a simple question requiring merely a fundamental answer. We ask first, What is the price paid?
We begin to hem and haw and hesitate: Well, it was really beautiful and I’ve always wanted it and it was worth it because it brought back the warmth of childhood memories and…. Once such explanations and justifying delineations occur, you have conflated the second issue into the first; for, the first requires a simple and straightforward answer: the dollar-amount; a monetarily-objective response; a unit from a designated numerical set, etc. Thus: “I bought X”. “How much did you pay for it?” “It was priced at X-dollars, and I purchased it for Y-amount”.
Then, the inevitable follow-up: “Was it worth it?” It is this second question that evokes a conflation with the first; for, such a query is not so simple inasmuch as it involves psychology, emotion, rational and irrational underpinnings, and the subjective encompassment of often-unexplainable attachments.
The worth of a thing may not parallel the price of it; for, what what paid for it can spread throughout a spectrum of differentiating circumstances: Perhaps one got a bargain; maybe the seller didn’t realize the true market value and vastly underpriced it; or, it may be that a person needed to do a “quick sale” because he needed the cash, and was willing to part with it at a basement-bargain price, etc.
Take the following hypothetical: At an auction, a painting is bid upon. It is a rather unassuming piece that depicts a woman, fully clothed, with a slight smile. It is not an exceptional painting, and is expected to be auctioned off for about a thousand dollars. The bidding begins, and very quickly, it becomes clear that primarily 2 individuals are vying for the painting — one, a very wealthy individual; the other, a middle-class bloke barely able to meet his monthly debts. The bidding exceeds the expected price to be gained by the auctioneer, which makes him happy beyond description.
This is the cake that dreams are made of for the auction house that expects very little: Two or more individuals who are willing to pay a price exceeding the monetary worth of the item. After a series of back-and-forth bids, the middle-class bloke wins the bid — at $20,000.00. When later asked about it, he replies: “The painting reminds me of my mother.” Bankrupt and considered a fool by everyone in the neighborhood, he nevertheless feels for the rest of his life that it “was worth it”.
Now, turn the hypothetical around and let’s say that the wealthy man won the bidding. When asked about it, he simply stated: “Oh, I was just bored. I plan on trashing the painting when I get home, but it was exciting to just rob someone else of his desire and pleasure.” In either case, was the price paid “worth” it?
That is the question that Federal and Postal workers have to answer when determining whether or not to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — the price of one’s health; whether it is worth continuing in a job or career that persists upon a track to demoralize, deteriorate and destroy one’s health; or, whether a reduced income at the price of being able to focus upon one’s health may be “worth” it.
Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM itself has a price — of the long wait, the complex administrative process and the stress of waiting; but like the painting being bid upon at the auction house, it is always the balancing of the price paid and the worth of the gain that must be considered when preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire