The Worth of Work

Sippican Cottage muses on the difference between working and making:

Unlike most of the world, I am not allowed to have the Process be the Product. At the end of the day there has to be something tangibly different with the world or we don't eat. Sometimes we don't eat anyway. Most of the world we inhabit now is all Process and no Product. What is Twitter, or Tumblr, or Facebook, or a million other things you could name that consist solely of: This is how I go, when I go like this.

The federal government thinks the process is the entire product. The public school system can produce only public school teachers. The EPA is now supposed to protect the air from humans. The Department of Energy doesn't make any, and would prefer you didn't as well --or else. Cities like Detroit are trying to exist with no population now. Search your mind. You'll have to search hard to find exceptions, not examples.

As I have complained more than once, talking about jobs and creating jobs misses the point. What matters is creating value. Not just something you value, or that has an abstract value, but something that has tradable value. Something you can exchange for food and shelter.

The speedometer doesn't make the car go faster. Showing up to a job is no guarantee that the effort is genuinely adding to the global wealth. Process is a cost, an expense. It may be necessary, but keeping busy isn’t a sustainable strategy. The process must lead to a product. Otherwise, after all the effort, somebody ends up more hungry than if we didn’t go through the process at all.

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#1 Bulldog : Re: The Worth of Work

With all due respect, sometimes the item of 'tradable value' is process in itself.  I will point only to this blog as a case in point.  The end result (posting of your opinion - usually one I agree with) is part of a process, and the work employed to get tot the end result is usually minimal.  A bit of thinking, a bit of typing. 

Capital has made it pretty simple to blog, and it's usually someone else's capital that you're renting or you've purchased.  Software, for example. 

I agree with the larger premise that providing value is important, not just creating jobs.

But if the government would just see its way fit to set everybody up with a blog so they could post their thoughts each day and get paid for it, then the world would be a better place, wouldn't it?  LOL.   I keed, I keed.

Ostensibly, that's what Facebook and Twitter (and blogs, to a degree) are for.

Except that you only get paid on blogs, and usually not well.  You could get paid by Twitter if you're rich and famous or a big enough company.

If you're opinion is followed by enough people (or some publisher likes you enough to give you a soapbox), you can deliver a 'product' every day and get rich (like George Will) by trading your thoughts.  You're producing 'something', though it's hardly a tangible, tradable product.


Or, you can become a politician and have as many opinions as you want, have others pay you to have them, change them regularly or hone them to appeal to certain groups....etc.

Process is important, it just shouldn't be the centerpiece.  The speedometer may not make the car go faster, but it can sure be helpful to keep you from going too fast (or help figure out if you need to go faster).  Here at my job, we 'benchmark' ourselves to others in the industry.  It's a useful tool, until it isn't anymore.  Usually it stops being meaningful when the benchmarking becomes the goal - "How can we beat company X at doing Y?"  Um, beating Company X isn't the goal - making a regular, reliable profit IS the goal.  After that, company X may become our bitch.