What you don't know can't hurt you.
That silly old saying ignores the intensified hazard of not knowing when, where and how danger lurks.
But what you do know about how much money others make can hurt your feelings - and your on-the-job motivation.
So the Charleston County School District wants to teach a convincing lesson about the need for - and fairness of - the revised pay structure it announced Tuesday.
District officials came to this newspaper last week to persuasively pitch the marketplace logic driving those compensation changes, which include raises for more than 80 percent of employees.
As Superintendent Nancy McGinley told us: "We're always in competition for talent."
The district, like other employers, is also always in peril of serious morale problems if too many employees think they're not getting their square share.
McGinley, for the pay-explanation occasion, brought a 2006 Post and Courier clipping with a headline heralding "winners and losers" in the district's last salary shift.
McGinley, who was making $223,022 a year as of last summer, evidently didn't like that wording.
Hey, when it comes to who gets paid what, there are bound to be winners and losers - including sore losers.
And to expand on the timely "How to find the right income equalizer" column that ran in this space last Thursday:
The more you know about who gets paid what, the more likely you are to feel envy - or guilt - about where you land on that scale.
Bad for what ails us
Our material-world obsession with money inevitably invests misplaced resentment against the well-paid. That scorned group includes not just seemingly undeserving co-workers but pro athletes, coaches at both the pro and college levels, venture capitalists, entertainers and robber barons.
Yet that doesn't mean you should begrudge Roper St. Francis Healthcare President/CEO David Dunlap his $1.04 million salary.
After all, that's way below the $1.3 million Clemson pays assistant football coach Chad Morris, whose offense still has scored only five touchdowns in his three games (all losses) against South Carolina.
And as reported on our front page Wednesday, Roper Hospital did turn a $53.4 million profit (eighth highest in the state) in the 2013 fiscal year - and Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital was $44.2 million in the black (10th).
That's not bad profit production for the "not-for-profit" Roper St. Francis enterprise.
And Roper St. Francis isn't the only S.C. hospital generating long green. As also reported on our front page Wednesday, hospitals in this state combined for a $1.1 billion profit last year - a 70 percent boost since 2011.
However, a spokesman at for-profit Trident Medical Center, which ranked fourth in the state last year with a $79.2 million profit, said Wednesday that the salary of President/CEO Todd Gallati is "private information."
Back to the public sector:
Money's root-of-all-evil influence is exacting a rising price on our political system.
Yes, filthy lucre has always been a driving force in the electoral arena.
But Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, who was our governor for four years and one of our U.S. senators for more than 38, has long sounded informed warnings about campaign funding run amuck. As he has repeatedly written in guest columns on our Commentary page, federal lawmakers have over the last several decades spent increasing time seeking campaign loot and decreasing time seeking bipartisan solutions to our nation's problems.
Who's buying what (and whom?) with those contributions?
Who can afford to run for any office when even lower-level races demand high-stakes cash?
Why do new campaign finance laws routinely spring new loophole leaks?
Even state regulations on political contributions are bewildering.
Just ask S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell and S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Why not just require full and rapid disclosure of who's giving what to whom - and that campaign money be spent on campaigns?
Futility's rising toll
Back to the working class:
For too many Americans, the relentless grind of toiling for almost-a-living induces cumulative gloom.
So does Wooten's Law of Personal Economics:
Expenditures will rise to meet or exceed income. (OK, so that line is borrowed from disputed origins.)
Regardless of its source, though, that harrowing maxim reflects the bottom-line jitters of most Americans. We wonder if we'll ever catch up in our exhausting race with our bills. We wonder if our ship (the nest-egg kind, not the cruise kind) will ever come in.
So sure, lots of us also wonder why some other folks are rolling in dough while we're reeling from one pay period to the next.
At least keeping a proper perspective on what's really important - and it isn't how much money you or anybody else makes - is a treasure transcending financial measure.
Just don't try selling that high-minded notion to your low-down creditors.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.
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