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« Molecular manufacturing showstarters | Main | Military Implications »

September 08, 2006


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I would argue that "service" jobs do, in fact, create or produce wealth. Why do you believe they do not?

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Some service jobs do; some don't. Service can mean anything from cutting your yard (which is a straight swap of money for time, while you watch TV--net value negative becaue you're getting fat) to managing your stock portfolio.



Nonsense like pet manicures, personal shoppers, various other lackey jobs don't really add anything of value to the economy; it is no better than the rich dangling money in front of someone saying, "I'll give you a hundred dollars if you make monkey sounds." It's also a rather round about, and often degrading way to redistribute wealth. In the future, either through robotics/AI or MNT the rich factory owners will have to work overtime coming up for ways for us to amuse them for rent money; seeing how almost everybody will be unemployed. It is either that, or people wake-up from their slumber and take back the power that is rightfully theirs.

Mark Plus

Regarding the "productivity" of service work, I have held a job in the hospitality industry for over 15 years, and I most emphatically deny that I do anything "productive." Oh, I play a role in the distribution and consumption of tangible wealth produced by others -- utiliites, linens, furniture, food and so forth. But I, personally, have had nothing to do with creating real wealth, yet I derive an income regardless. These goods would still exist for someone to consume whether I "worked" at this job or not.

Tom Craver

Do we only count activities that actually convert raw materials into something more useful, as productive?

Is it productive to clear land for a factory, that can't be built until the land is cleared?

Is it productive to transport goods from a centralized production point (where the goods are of little use to most consumers) to widely scattered stores where they can be conveniently obtained? How about to inform people that those goods are available, or even encourage them to go to the store to purchase them, so they don't sit unused in stores?

Is it productive to provide day care, or yard work, or cook, or provide other services, that free up time for others to go do other work that is counted as productive?

And do those answers change after MNT becomes capable and trivially easy to use at home?

Chris Phoenix, CRN

I don't think there is a single definition of productivity. Shipping goods is productive if the goods themselves are useful.

Selling goods may be actively destructive, depending on the goods. (An obvious example is illegal drugs. But what about adjustable-rate mortgages that are only saleable to fatally optimistic or uninformed people?)

If my lawn is adequate, and someone offers to make it look nicer, and the only reason I care is to keep up with the Joneses, and then the Joneses hire the same person... is that productive?

I do not subscribe to the idea that economic churn is a good thing in and of itself. If I create a perceived need that wasn't there before, just so you can pay me to satisfy it, and no further good comes of the activity, was that productive?

Let's take an extreme case. Suppose I am rich, and I hire people to wear uniforms of my design and stand bored in my driveway all day, just so other people know I have money to burn. Have I produced anything? Have the people standing in the driveway produced anything? I would argue that *nothing* was produced.

Now let's take a case only slightly less extreme. Suppose I am rich, and I buy an SUV to sit in my driveway all day, just so other people know I have money to burn....

I would argue that a lot of service jobs are somewhere between the bored servants, the SUV, and the sale of addictive stuff (ARMs and drugs), in terms of productivity.


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