opinion

The Diminishing Fruit of Labor

Tom Hymes
I hate coming up with titles for columns that reek of despondency and despair, and even more with describing them alliteratively, but in this case once the thing popped into my head and the idea of the column began to coalesce into something to do with value, work and the decreasing number of places where the two intersect, there was no alternative but to go with it. There's something positive in that despite the two D's.

Work has inherent value, of course; it produces or fixes something and people feel a sense of satisfaction after having done it. Even the dullest job, and I've had a few, brings with it even a masochistic smidgen of accomplishment. We all know people who avoid work like the plague and others who make an art out of never working, but most of us work and at one point or another come to terms with what work means to us. It's one of the horrible necessities of life that is completely beside the point.

What really matters is the value we place on other people's work and the value they place on ours. I've been thinking about this a lot lately just like millions of others who find themselves in deep doo-doo without having done anything particularly wrong, unable to point to a self-inflicted cause, crime or accident to explain the apparent erosion of value attached to what they have done for years.

Upheavals in the marketplace are inevitable, of course, just as the global economy and evolving technologies always alter or displace some jobs and professions, but none of that explains the palpable diminution in the value of labor, unless you are lucky enough to work in the rarefied heights of corporate banking. If you do not, what you do today is valued less than it was a year ago, even if you're making a killing. On this point I am a conspiratorial nutcase, by the way. I think you have to be insentient not to see a global conspiracy by the capital elite to demolish the value of labor to the point that it becomes virtually worthless.

Still, they wouldn't be capitalist pigs if they didn't want to crush labor and they're kind of fun to keep around. In my book, the murderous masters of the universe pale in comparison to the sadists and zombies who use the supposed loss of a decade's worth of wealth that vanished, dissipated and somehow, somewhere, went up in smoke to suddenly decide that a person's labor is worth what they arbitrarily decide it to be.

By arbitrary, I mean the random, illogical, subjective, ignorant, illicit, immoral and perverse reasoning by which these people make decisions that impact other people's lives in the most fucked ways. It's not even their callousness that disturbs me, because what is one to expect from philistines, or their effortless lack of appreciation, since one can only pity juvenile turds from a generation zed of addled freeloaders who think boredom with sex and family and a soulless aptitude for coding makes them the darlings of intelligent thought.

No, it's the idea that this pool of insipid wannabe's whose awe-inspiring idea of creativity is to lie, steal and cheat is going to inherit the future that burns my ass. They haven't earned it and don't deserve it. I'm not ageist. My war is with a way of thinking, not an age bracket. But I see the detritus of their behavior all around me and I think the worst response is to ignore the little monsters.

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