Re: Very first world mindset...
I value my basic services highly. Such that I spend somewhere between £1,500 and £2,000 on water, leccy and interwebs alone. That's far more than I spend on anything else except my mortgage. And taxes, so healthcare, roads etc. My next biggest bill is food. If any of those bills suddenly go up, then my spending in other areas will drop accordingly, in order to cover the difference.
No-one I'm aware of has come up with any better approximation of value than price. I rmember when I started studying economics being introduces to the util. A measure of the utility that something provides to an individual or society. As soon as you start to look at this, you see the difficulty of trying to come up with a true 'value' for anything.
We might value firefighters higher than road maintenance workers. I believe they're paid more. And seen as more 'heroic'. Yet I've never personally benefited from the services of a firefighter. But have used many roads. They're probably reasonably similar skill levels (at entry level) and amounts of physical effort and unsocial hours. Road maintenance is far more dangerous than putting out fires too. Obviously if I'm on fire, I'm going to really value the fire service very highly indeed.
It's basically impossible. Partly because almost no-one willl agree with anyone else on how they'd value stuff. So you have to work in the aggregate.
There is a market that very crudely attempts to work out what price my labour is worth. It's highly imperfect, but it is a two-way street. Sure, the market mostly imposes a salary on what I do, but I don't have to take that salary. I could take less, for a different job I found better in some way, or go and get training to do a more highly paid one. Or decide the market was totally undervaluing my skills, and set up my own company to try and keep more of the value for myself.
The same applies to goods. A whole bunch of people collectively decide whether to buy or not, at a given price, and prices tend to move around to get the most profit they can manage. Either by selling lots cheap, or few expensively (or somewhere in between).
Until governments are able to read minds, and have sufficient super-computing power to assign the 'corrrect' values to everything, we're basically stuck with markets. Particularly as we don't have any good theories as to how to assign any of these values to people, or how they interact. Thus imperfect markets assigning resources by trial-and-error is what we've got.