The Imaginary Fruits of their Labor
"Ye shall know them by their fruits," but what if there aren't any fruits?
At the barber a little while back, keeping myself occupied while my son got his hair cut, I navel-gazed the way I am wont to do.1 I was thinking about time vis-à-vis one to plies a service that doesn’t produce an actual thing (e.g., me, an attorney) versus one who plies a service that does result in something tangible (e.g., my barber, a haircut), and how in a service economy, your time is money. Time is really what you’re trading in as an attorney because you aren’t actually producing anything!2 You’re a middleman, a paper-shuffler, a professional rules follower. A hall monitor in the high school that is life. So you think to yourself, “I’ve got to charge for this. I know! I’ll do it by the hour!” The problem is, there is only so much time in the day, which is why in order to earn the living an attorney feels entitled to, due to ambition inflation and the historical vision of “lawyer as rich”3 that has stuck to the American perception like a booger. Hence, seemingly ridiculous hourly charges.
I decided to extrapolate this thread of thought to my barber. He runs a solo shop right now, and he charges $25 for an adult haircut. Supposing he can cut a man’s hair in 15 minutes, based on how long he takes to cut my son’s and my hair, and charges $25 a pop, and can fill his schedule to have four clients per every 60 minutes, that’s $100 per hour. Let’s say he’s open ten hours a day. That’s $1,000 a day. He’s open six days a week, so that’s $6,000 per week. Simple math tells us that, assuming he’s able to have the perfect schedule, my barber has the potential to make $24,000 per month, which, multiplied by twelve, equals $288,000 per year in potential earnings. Best of all, his clients don’t hate him and his entire profession!
Thanks for reading. Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
I am truly in the wrong line of work.
I asked him one time about his path to becoming a barber. He told me his story and concluded by saying, “I’m just lucky I’m doing something I love.”
See, a barber actually produces something (a haircut). He provides a service with a tangible end result. He is not alienated from the product of his work; I mean, what’s a spreadsheet? The line from the movie Office Space about how the main characters bust their butts so their shareholders can see their stock price go up a fraction of a percent takes particular resonance when you work long hours for no particular reason.
At the end of the day, a man wants to create. We imitate God the best way we can. A mechanic can say, “I fixed that car.” A carpenter can say, “I built that house.” A barber can say, “I made that guy’s hair look good.” Someone with an email job can say, “I entered data.”
Alienation, my friends. It’s a real thing.
The quest for cheap labor is related to this. I contend the quest for cheap labor is the cause of untold American ills.
In my line of work, I see firsthand the disastrous effects of American deindustrialization. In decades past, the greedy gaping anuses who run the show decided they weren’t “maximizing value,” realized that they had to pay American workers too darn much (the thought of not giving C-suite denizens exorbitant salaries never occurred to them), and convinced everyone that the future was in services, a nation of people selling insurance to each other.
Manual labor was déclassé, and all respectable people didn’t want their children doing that. Better some Mexican4 or Chinese or African who’ll do it for peanuts (that part wasn’t said out loud at the time, but everyone knew it) to bring us sophisticated people cheaper goods. Thing was, not everyone is college material. Not everyone is cut out, or wants to, go learn to be an accountant or attorney or HR harridan.
Doesn’t matter. The choice was made for you when avenues other than expensive schooling were cut off by the people in charge. Upward mobility still existed . . . if you already came from means. The rest of you? Both mainstream left and right agreed: just go die.5
The weird fact that America still imports cheap labor seems lost on too many people. As does the fact that, if the US got into an actual shooting war with a real opponent, we’d run out of stuff and couldn’t make more in sufficient enough quantities to sustain a full-scale war effort. The smartest people in the room have been reduced to drooling imbeciles far dumber than the religious folks they like to mock. Christians believe God came to earth, performed miracles, was executed, and rose from the dead, but at least we also realize you can’t build stuff without machines, you can’t run machines without people, and you can’t have people if you’re aborting them or otherwise preventing new ones from being born in the first place. I bring this last point up because population replacement—a literal great replacement—is the rational American and European leaders use for indiscriminately bringing in the rest of the world.6
So now not only are we a civilization of elderly, poorly educated yet morally self-righteous7 morons selling insurance to each other, and so damn smug about it, we’re in the unenviable position of needing to buy the raw materials for our munitions and other gadgets from our professed enemies. If this is progress, I’m firing the DeLorean up to 88 mph and heading back to the 90s. The 1590s. There might not have been as many cool, time-wasting technologies (or modern sanitation), but from what I’ve read, people at least understood cause and effect.
Anyway, I haven’t even touched upon the biggest problem America had with its never-ending thirst for cheap labor, nor am I going to, mainly because it’s been discussed to death.
On the basis of zero scientific studies, I think this hits men harder than women. Females—and thank God they are like this—are more collaborative and enjoy, indeed may be better, at solving interpersonal problems. That’s great! Men are different. Men are, dare I say it, all on the spectrum in one form or another, and like to solve physical problems. We may even be better at it. A man is much more apt to sit alone for hours on end working on some esoteric, minute design problem than figuring out how to negotiate a peace treaty.
Men and women, working together, playing to their strengths and covering each other’s weaknesses . . . it’s a beautiful thing.
Women engineers and inventors and the like exist—no one is disputing that. But most people in the building trades, and who like to construct big things in general are male. If you take away a male’s ability to make stuff, you create a hole in his being, where his God-given talents have no outlet. It results in a life of violent crime, a life of quiet and unfulfilled desperation, or a life spent disengaging from the real world and into the virtual: a fantasy version of mastery and competence, of power, is a pale substitute for the real thing, but at least it’s something.
In light of these factors, I completely understand the rise of the Internet guru and the grifter economy, endlessly scamming each other, hawking Gumroad courses and producing little of lasting value.
It’s a bad habit which lends itself well to writing, but not so well to living.
Don’t tell me “Yes you are, dummy: what about contracts?” A contract is a fictitious thing. And what’s the first thing that anybody who signs a contract tries to do? Figure out how to get around its terms. At least, that’s my experience.
Only the really big assholes get rich. I know what you’re thinking: “Most, if not all, lawyers, are assholes!” And that’s true. That’s why I qualified it as the really big ones.
Coincidentally, some of these Mexican manual laborers might have been named Manuel Labor. Okay, I’ll show myself to the door now.
As can be seen by the linked National Review piece, mainstream conservatives competed with mainstream progressives to see who could hate downscale white people more.
I can’t even get mad at the migrants themselves. On a personal note, our small town was just forced to take around 50 migrant families by our governor. She, the people around her, and the people who voted for her, are who I have anger towards.
Self-righteous despite an absence of actual moral authority.