Saturday, September 28, 2013

No Jobs but Plenty of Work

Rust Never Sleeps

Rust Never Sleeps used to be a jingo for Rustoleum paints.  Later, it was used as a title for an album released by Neil Young in 1979.

But it is not just rust.  It is rust, rot, depreciation and the other forces of entropy that never sleep.  And it takes work to set thing right.

Jobs vs Work

For most of human history there was no such thing as "a job".  Only work.  Day laborers got that name because they worked a day at a time.  These were the workers that the owner of the vineyard hired to pick his grapes on a day-by-day basis.  He might pick different men every day or he might have a core group that he mostly stuck with...adding a few and dropping a few based on how the owner felt about each individual.

Farmers might find themselves in need of a few extra dollars to pay the tax man or the bank.  They would leave the farm during slack periods and cut some lumber, or lay some rail or pick fruit.  In general, it was a temporary gig to earn some money for a specific purpose.

Jobs became the aspiration when Ford introduced the concept of buying an automobile "on time".  The magic piece of paper that made this possible was a "pay stub" from a "job".  In other words, evidence that you had a reliable stream of future income.  That evidence allowed the holder of that magic piece of paper to enjoy the artifacts of wealth long before he "earned" that money.  It really was like magic.

While real estate had been purchased via financing for a long time, the critical difference was that real estate was not mobile and did not depreciate.  A property going into default exposed the lender to little risk.  Automobiles, on the other hand, are mobile and do depreciate thus exposing the lender to greater risk if the buyer was not able to make the payments.

Jobs vs Work continued

Walking up to a business owner or home owner and saying "I want to work." is like walking up to a pretty girl and saying "I want to buy you a slice of apple pie and a cup of coffee."

Walking up to a business owner and saying, "I want a job." is like walking up to that same girl and saying, "I want you to marry me and give me copies of all your credit cards."

The person wanting work is offering the business owner (or girl) a nearly risk-free proposition.  She can walk.  Or, if the young man proves to be a sterling character it might lead to greater things.

The person who wants a job is offering the business owner a proposition with all the risk loaded at the front end and any pay-off somewhere in the misty future.

No Jobs

I read that there are no jobs.  That our communities have become wastelands of vacant homes and vacant stares.

I run around my small town.

I see work.

I see Poison Ivy growing up maple trees on North River Street.

I see sidewalk blocks heaved on Center Street.

I see maple trees growing in eave troughs, porch steps rotting, broken windows, peeled paint, hedges that obstruct vision at corners.

These are all things that diminish the quality of life for most people.  There is plenty of work.

But there appears to be a lack of appetite for work unless it leads to a guarantee of a pay stub.

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