If You Only Ever Understand One Thing About Work, Let It Be This

It’s not merely for money that healthy humans work.

Before free-exchange which created specialization which created the division of labor, the vast majority of human exertion was directed toward one thing only, and that was the production of food.

For most of human history, people labored their entire lives, from sun-up to sundown, six or seven days a week, and they did it just to survive, and life was nasty, brutish, and short.

Free-exchange changed all of that.

Free-exchange created specialization which created the division of labor, which unleashed human ingenuity and human productivity.

Consider what your shoes and your clothes would look like now if you had to find the time to make and stitch and skin and tan and sew all the material yourself — in between the never-ending labor of producing your food.

Consider what our transportation would look like if it was up to each to come up with our own means of it — whether horse, camel, boat, wheel, or airplane.

Consider how much would be required for each to produce the fuel alone for an automobile or airplane.

Or our medicine, including care for broken bones, strep throat, appendix bursting, gallbladders, abscessing teeth, birth control.

Now consider how we have all this and so much more at our very fingertips. The reason for this is so basic that most people don’t fully see it: free-exchange and the division of labor.

Because of free-exchange, we can trade with others who have things that we ourselves want and cannot do or do not want to do — be it all manner of food production, shelter, clothing, medicine, transportation, light, entertainment, and much much more.

This process is the essence of economic growth.

Because of specialization, more and more people are doing what they want to do, and not what they must do for bare subsistence.

Because of specialization, our work has now increasingly become an expression of what we love and become good at — an expression and an emphasis of it — and this is one reason that work has become such a fundamental component to human happiness: it expresses our efficacy as we keep doing it — practicing it, in essence — becoming better and better. Work gives direction and expression to the movements of our bodies as dictated by our brains.

Work — all work — is our person and personality concretized in human action and human motion.

Work gives physical form-and-shape to our psychological-epistemological existence.

In fostering and developing a sense of self-efficacy and productiveness, work also, as a corollary — a necessary by-product — develops a sense of self-worth.

This life-affirming truth about work is one of the countless things which power-lusting politicians, in their reckless, impulsive, uninformed responses to Covid-19 and their push to establish dependency among voters, have completely missed:

Successfully panicking the majority over a virus that makes sick only a small portion of the population and kills even less, the same voter-obsessed politicians expressed their panic by means of the only method at their disposal: force. The forced shutdown of economic activity.

If you remember nothing else, I ask you to remember this: Government is by definition an agency of force.

Thus, terrified by something beyond their powers of comprehension, government agents substituted their myopic, minuscule knowledge for that of an incomprehensibly vast marketplace — putting millions and millions and millions of human beings instantaneously out of work thereby and exploding millions and millions and millions of businesses into which people had invested their entire lives.

Reader, if Covid-19 has blinded you to the sheer monstrosity and injustice that this is, you are beyond beyond, and I mean that as much as I’ve ever meant anything in my life.

Having enacted overnight an economic collapse that wiped out the livelihoods of tens of millions of human beings, these same politicians then proceeded doubling down and then tripling down in their reckless panic: acting still in blind-panic and uncertainty, extracting trillions of dollars from the private economy, and accordingly they began throwing money indiscriminately at this problem largely of their own devising. Let us also note and let us never forget: they were only able to do this (albeit temporarily) thanks to the economic growth that has nothing to do with politicians and absolutely everything to do with people becoming passionate about their work.

No matter what your political convictions — no matter how far to the left or no matter how far to the right, no matter the political-moral ideologies you’ve grown up among or learned in school or anything else, no matter what you’ve come to believe and accept, whether implicitly or explicitly — I ask you to grasp that last thing, and this is why I reiterate it and will continue to reiterate it. Because it is the truth:

The only reason any government can spend any money on any problem in any realm of human activity is this: the economic growth created and produced not by politicians and their bureaus but by people who care about their work.

I ask you in all sincerity to pause for a moment and consider that.

Human ability is rooted in the human brain, and what we ultimately become grows out of this root, and nothing more fundamental than work is required for the life we want for ourselves. No matter what moral code anyone tries to force upon you, whether secular or non-secular, the true measure of value is found in our work: in our effort and passion for learning and striving and becoming better.

The truth is that only a small minority of the world’s population understands firsthand how jobs are created, how income is generated, how payrolls are met. The majority of the world’s population thinks wages and wealth appear more or less magically. If businesses are shutdown for our own good, therefore, surely those business-owners will simply wave their magic wand to conjure their magic wealth in order to start up those magical businesses all over again, when, at last, this panic has ended.

The fact that business-owners and entrepreneurs are being sacrificed in such an appalling manner now — because of a virus that overwhelmingly, irrefutably affects a specific demographic and age-group — is of no importance to elected politicians. Most people know, at least implicitly, that this is how politicians operate. The real crime and the most terrifying and dangerous thing of all is that most non-politicians (i.e. voters) also now do not care about this colossal destruction.

That is how thoroughly the terror-campaign which has grown alongside the real Covid-19 pandemic has infiltrated the world in less than two month’s time.

“It is only a government that can count on the support of the governed which can establish a lasting regime. Whoever wants to see the world governed according to his own ideas must therefore strive for domination over human minds. It is impossible, in the long run, to subject people against their will to a regime that they reject.”

Wrote Ludwig von Mises.

For this very reason, I say, we are not witnessing a usurping regime now imposing unpopular measures on a resistant but helpless citizenry. What we are witnessing is a version of mob-rule, the central characteristic of which is rule by the majority, without regard for the rights of dissenting minorities. The government may now, at this moment, be ruling by decree, but it is in most places doing so with the approval of the vox populi.

That is the most horrifying part.

And if it doesn’t horrify you, this is only because you’ve come to fully accept an ideology that is anti-individual-rights and pro-state.

Politicians have told us that a certain type of worker can’t be trusted, just as certain types of businesses can’t be trusted to remain open during a pandemic. Their message was that they’d lock us down for our own good — and yet try to pay us off by means of the economy they’d simultaneously shut down, while we were at the same time forced by governmental decree to remain idle.

How these out-of-touch elitists miss the entire fucking point:

Precisely because so many working-people love doing the work they do and have become good at it, these selfsame workers would have made all manner of changes to their daily routines so that they could continue to work.

How can I be so sure? Because free workers already had made all manner of adjustments in their working habits to avoid spreading a virus, so that they could do what makes them shine — what makes them happy — and they began doing it before mandatory lockdowns.

Chef Eric Ripert in his book 32 Yolks described the star-like “charisma that comes from those who are truly good at what they do.”

I think every politician and bureaucrat on the planet should read this book. It doesn’t matter at all that the overwhelming majority of them wouldn’t understand the truths expressed therein about the nature of work and the joy and passion and self-worth that humans beings derive from their work — the importance of competency and skill, how the meaning of life can be found precisely there, in purposeful action, the motions of the human body in concert with the human brain — it doesn’t matter at all, I say, because for one out of a thousand of these bureaucrats, it just might spark a light inside the mind. And that is enough: because for this one-in-a-thousand few, they might then begin to grasp why work is so much more than merely a way to pay the bills:

Work is the physical expression of our thoughts.

Work gives shape to our minds.

Work is the literal extension of our selves — our very person.

Work is the flesh to our spirit, the body to our brains.