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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.