I’ve been reading Robert Heinein’s 1959 military science fiction masterpiece, Starship Troopers. I found interesting this discussion about value (during a flashback to a high school):
“‘Value’has no meaning other than in relation to living beings. The value of a thing is always relative to a particular person, is completely personal and different in quantity for each living human—‘market value’is a fiction, merely a rough guess at the average of personal values, all of which must be quantitatively different or trade would be impossible….
“This very personal relationship, ‘value,’has two factors for a human being: first, what he can do with a thing, its use to him . . . and second, what he must do to get it, its cost to him. There is an old song which asserts ‘the best things in life are free.’Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted . . . and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears.
“Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain.” He had been still looking at me and added, “If you boys and girls had to sweat for your toys the way a newly born baby has to struggle to live you would be happier . . . and much richer. As it is, with some of you, I pity the poverty of your wealth”